investigators have described being in the right place at the right
time, and not having their cameras or recorders at the ready. Examples
come to mind, such as the Six Rivers Expedition in Northern California,
when Dr. Greenwell's team heard a long, loud, unidentifyable vocalization
while sitting around camp. Unfortunately, they hadn't gotten around
to unpacking their digital audio recording equipment yet. Or, when
a researcher on Mission Night Scream got out of his vehicle, and
was busy playing with his camcorder when something let out a "very
loud howl" from a steep hillside within 200 yards of his location.
I have tried
to learn from these experiences myself. Whenever I am in the field,
I always keep my audio recording equipment set up. I usually have
my tape recorder set to record, with the PAUSE button engaged, and
placed in the passenger seat next to me in my vehicle. I then have
the external microphone mounted on the exterior of my truck, with
the mic cord running in through the passenger window to the recorder.
When I arrive at a location that I want to check out, I disengage
the PAUSE feature as soon as I shut off the car engine, and leave
it running until I leave the spot.
I am camping, I employ the same methods, up until the point that
I retire for the night. At this point, I engage the PAUSE feature,
and go to sleep, in hopes that if I hear something, I will be able
to hit the button and catch it on tape. This does present the possibility
that you will miss recording whatever wakes you up, as only one
vocalization may occur. But, you may also catch responses to the
vocalization, or simply repeated vocalizations.
These procautions apply to all types of electronic equipment. Each
investigator and volunteer must be properly prepared at all times,
with every piece of equipment they have with them. Always make sure
that you are carrying at least 2 sets of extra batteries for each
electronic device. Always carry extra cassettes for your camcorders
and tape recorders, and extra film for your camera. One
approach is to put fresh batteries and cassettes into camcorders
and audio recorders, and leave them running all night at a campsite.
how well prepared you are, there will always be down time, either
replacing batteries or changing tapes or film. These moments present
the possibility of missing something good. I
missed something good that way. I was driving northeast of Mt. St.
Helens, and had to pull off the road for a pit stop. It was 6:30
PM, on a beautiful summer day without a cloud in the sky. Although
I was out scouting for possible active areas, sasquatch was the
last thing on my mind at this particular moment.
As I returned to my vehicle, something let out a very loud, shrill
scream, that sounded exactly like Moneymaker's Ohio recording. The
call emminated from about 80 yards beyond where I had just tended
to my business. The terrain and brush prevented me from see the
source of the vocalization. I immediately pulled out the recorder
and had it going. But, in the following half-hour that I sat there
listening, I did not hear the call again.
to develop and practice your own system to keep your recording gear
ready at all times. If you practice your system enough before you
are in the field, when you do get in the right place at the
right time, your tapes will already be rolling.
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