Class B encounter in the California Redwoods

by Matt Moneymaker, April 2, 2011

In December of 2010, two veteran BFRO investigators from Northern California, Bart Cutino and Bobo Fay, had a class-B encounter in the Redwoods region. A class-B encounter is one whereby the figures are not seen but cleary heard. They heard powerful knocks and were "escorted" (i.e. aggressively paralleled on both sides of the trail) out of the forest. That incident was recorded with a digital audio recorder, but not on video.

Two months later, Bart returned to the area with California state park ranger Robert Leiterman (also a BFRO investigator). Robert brought a camcorder with a nightvision attachment provided by Wally Hersom. Bart and Robert had another class-B encounter, which included powerful trees knocks and a tree being pushed over and pulled apart. This time they were able to document the incident on video. The sasquatches are not seen in the footage, but the footage shows the context of the incident.

Many BFRO members have experienced these types of encounters in different parts of the U.S. and Canada, but they were never recorded on video before, where you could clearly hear the intimidation sounds of sasquatches, and at least see the context of the encounter.

It has been a long trial and error process, over the years, to get this type of Class B encounter footage. The big, clear lesson learned in the process:

It's basically impossible to videotape an encounter with a sasquatch at night if you are using any devices that give off any light whatsoever (e.g. headlamps, illuminators, visible LEDs, LCD screens, etc.).

The only equipment to use for this purpose are devices that rely purely on ambient light at night -- moonlight and/or starlight. Even little LED indicators on the equipment will alter the behavior of approaching sasquatches. Whereas, when there are no lights at all, the sasquatches usually make more sounds. That adds up to a better encounter that can be documented on video.

This video clip on the BFRO's YouTube page contains examples of some sounds sasquatches make in those situations.

Speculation derived from much experience: The reason sasquatches make more intimidation sounds when confronting human figures with no lights on, is to help keep track of the humans' exact positions, and to figure out how many humans there are in the woods.

Sasquatches will make intimidating sounds (knock, growls, etc.) in thick woods when trying to find deer -- the prey of sasquatches. When sasquatches snap branches or growl, the deer will usually bolt and make brush crashing sounds in the process. That allows the sasquatches to hear which direction the deer are headed, and get an idea some idea of how many deer there are nearby. It seems that sasquatches will try the same trick on human intruders to figure out where the humans are, and to keep track of them in thick dark forests.

If the humans all have headlamps on, by contrast, the sasquatches can spot them from a distance, even in thick woods, because even little LED headlamps will make the trees glow a bit above them. Lights carried by humans are like locator beacons to sasquatches. Lights allow sasquatches to see how many humans there are in the woods, and easily figure out where they are going. Consequently, the sasquatches don't need to made any sounds at all to determine where the humans are when they see lights moving through the woods.

With no lights on it is much more difficult to see where the humans are going and how many there are ... not without approaching much closer. But sasquatches do not like to get too close to figures in the dark that they suspect might be human. It's safer to make sounds from further back in the trees and hope the humans react in some way that gives away their position and their numbers.

As described in the "Little Green Men Analogy," sasquatches have much experience with human intruders, but humans almost never walk through the woods at night with no lights. So if sasquatches simply avoid humans during the day and night (by avoiding well-used roads and trails), they never have to worry about a surprise encounter while they go about their business looking for food. It's a whole different situation if humans are moving through the woods with no lights. That puts sasquatches and their families at greater risk, so sasquatches respond more vigorously.

This video was shot, edited and narrated by Robert Leiterman (a California state park ranger) using equipment provided by Wally Hersom. The equipment was our favorite type of camcorder -- the Sony SR100 (see note below for explanation) along with a "Mini-14" starlight scope attached to the front with adapter rings (not easy to find the right combo of rings for this junction, but they exist).

Bart Cutino appears in the video. Bart Cutino is the son of Bert Cutino, the founder and owner of Monterey's landmark restaurant, the Sardine Factory, and he's the nephew of the legendary U.C. Berkeley water-polo coach Pete Cutino. Bart and Robert had selected a wet cold February night as a good month to return to this coastal trail in where they had a compelling class-B encounter the previous winter.

When there is snow and freezing temperatures at higher elevations inland, the low hills at the coast in the Redwoods region will remain above the freezing point, because the air temperature is moderated by the Pacific Ocean, which remains in the 40-50 degree range at this latitude throughout the winter. Temperature extremes in either direction seem to send the sasquatches to the low coastal hills. When the temperature gets very hot, the sasquatches in the Redwoods must either head to the coastal hills or head further inland -- up into the highest alpine elevations where the temperature is always tolerable at the height of summer.

Note about the Sony SR100 camcorder:

This particular model of Sony camcorder has not been manufactured for several years. We bought several through eBay over the years and used them a lot. Among other things, they are amazingly rugged. None have ever failed us, even after years of abuse and exposure to moist air, heat, dust, shock, etc. They have a 30 GB harddrive which can record up to 30 hours of standard resolution video footage. Sony's H-series extended batteries can attach to them, which allows them record for up to 11 hours. That means 2-3 fully charged extended batteries will suffice for a four-day expedition. Most important of all, they can take a video input from other types of imagers, such as thermal imagers, that have no built-in recording capacity. The SR100's were, in fact, the last small Sony camcorder to have video input capacity. All camcorders have a video out socket, but very few new models of camcorder can records a video signal through an input socket. At one time, most harddrive camcorders had that capacity, but not all camcorder features survive over the long-haul. Some features are apparently dropped after a while, if they don't seem to be key features that consumers are looking for.

When a starlight scope is attached to the front of an SR100 with the help of adapter rings, the SR100 goes into macro mode and focuses on the screen at the back of the starlight scope. HD resolution is unnecessary in that case because starlight scopes (and thermal imagers) do not put out HD video, thus it is overkill to record non-HD video onto an HD camcorder. Also, non-HD video is very quick and easy to dub from a camcorder onto any laptop and play it right away with no special software or processing.