The Argosy Project is a field research effort to collect as much photographic, audio, and physical evidence of the Midwest hominid, generally referred to as Bigfoot.

A concurrent emphasis of the Argosy Project is to educate the public about the behavior and traits of Bigfoot. Bigfoot is a unique species, and there are many inaccurate myths perpetuated by the media, and some Bigfoot researchers..

The ultimate goal of the Argosy Project is to get local ordinances passed, and laws enacted at the state, and federal level to protect Bigfoot as a treasured species.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Frozen in Time

Long before the Internet or cable television, there were very few champions in the media seeking the truth about the world around us. Magazines like Saga, Argosy, and True were virtually the only sources available for anyone to learn about UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, or Bigfoot.

I thought a lot of people would find this May 1969 cover of Argosy magazine very interesting. This is the face of the Minnesota Iceman, at least the first one. Normally I don't delve into past accounts of Bigfoot lore, but the artist's rendition of the face really popped out at me.

Cryptozoologists Ivan Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans viewed the block of ice encasing the creature dubbed, the Minnesota Iceman. They nicknamed him "Bozo." Sanderson had authored the book," Abominable Snowman: Legend Comes to Life."

This is what Sanderson wrote in the issue bearing this cover:

"Bozo's face is his most startling feature, both to anthropologists and anyone else- and for several reasons. Unfortunately, both eyeballs have been 'blown out' of their sockets. One appears to be missing, but the other seems (to some, at least) to be just visible under the ice. This gives Bozo a gruesome appearance, which is enhanced by a considerable amount of blood diffused from the sockets through the ice. The most arresting feature of the face is the nose. This is large but only fairly wide, and is distinctly 'pugged,' rather like that of a Pekinese dog- but not like that of a gorilla, which actually doesn't have a nose, per se. The nostrils are large, circular and point straight forward, which is very odd. The mouth is only fairly wide and there is no eversion of the lips; in fact, the average person would say he had no lips at all. His 'muzzle' is no more bulging, prominent, or pushed forward than is our own; not at all prognathous like that of a chimp. One side of the mouth is slightly agape and two small teeth can be seen. These should be the right upper canine and the first premolar. The canine or eye-tooth is very small and in no way exaggerated into a tusk, or similar to that of a gorilla or a chimp. But- to me, at least- the most interesting features of all are some folds and wrinkle lines around the mouth just below the cheeks. These are absolutely human, and are like those seen in a heavy-jowled, older white man."

In their heyday, Argosy, True, and Saga were not considered fringe magazines. Their circulations together reached well over two million readers each month. Sadly Argosy reached its demise in 1979. The name Argosy came from Greek mythology's tale of Jason and his search for the Golden Fleece. The vessel he sailed on was called the Argo. His men were called the Argonauts.

In 2002, even though Argosy was a now-defunct magazine, I still remembered it from when I was just a boy growing up in the 1960s. After I got done playing on my baseball team early in the summer, my parents would cart me off to Ohio to stay with my grandmother. She lived out in the country and didn't like to drive her Buick Electra, so my parents would stock us up on food before they went back home. It was also one of the rare occasions when my parents would give me money so I could buy comic books and magazines. I loved Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica, but I also bought the latest issues of Saga and Argosy. I was a bit more sheepish about buying True, because to me it seemed a little more racier. It always seemed to feature a girl in a swimsuit.

Reading those magazines gave my young mind my first knowledge of a creature called Bigfoot. In high school, I would sometimes listen late at night to Larry the Legend on WIND radio in Chicago. He was sort of the local version of Art Bell, long before there was an Art Bell. By the time I reached college my mind had no room for ETs, UFOs, or Bigfoot anymore. I had slipped into mainstream society.

Then in 2002 I heard that rumor of Bigfoot being out in the woods again. Maybe it was that little boy still inside me that wanted to get back out again? So I followed that rumor into the woods on that Labor Day. When I walked back out of those woods that day I knew Bigfoot was no longer a rumor. A month after my first Bigfoot encounter I found myself scribbling the name Argosy Project on a piece of scrap paper. I had given very little thought as to naming what I was just getting involved in. I don't know what sparked me in writing the name down, but I liked the way it sounded. It was like: "Okay- I've got a name for this thing- but what do I do? And just what is this thing?" I was rudderless.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bigfoot and Rock Clacking

If I'm wrong, then I'm sure someone will correct me, but I think I have recorded the first recording of Bigfoot clacking rocks together.

When on September 3, 2006 I recorded a Bigfoot clacking rocks, I was startled. I had heard that Bigfoot will clack rocks, but I had never experienced it personally myself.

In fact, I had never bothered to inquire what it sounds like when Bigfoot clacks rocks. Over the past four years I have periodically clacked rocks together in order to get the attention of the Bigfoot at my Main Research Box. It would be incorrect for me to state positively that my banging rocks together ever gave me any type of success. The last time I could remember clacking rocks was probably sometime in August at my Spotter's Station.

Banging rocks together is rather monotonous. When I do it, it is only for a minute or so. I always figure if the the Bigfoot were around, they would probably hear me banging rocks right away. It always seems inevitable when I clack rocks, I seem to resort to pounding out the beat used by the Kansas University Jayhawk fans at their home basketball games. You've probably heard the chant before: "Rock chalk- jay hawk."

You can go here to listen to the initial rock clacking back on September 3, 2006:

Rock Clacking - 09.03.2006

I hadn't listened to the sounds the two Bigfoot were making that day for over three months, until several weeks ago. It suddenly occurred to me that I could not recall hearing any other recordings of Bigfoot clacking rocks from any other sources. I asked two of the researchers I work most closely with if they had ever heard any recordings of Bigfoot clacking rocks. They both checked out my request, and both came back empty-handed.

No Big Bucks- No Bigfoot

"Nothing happens, until something moves."
-Albert Einstein

In one of the many memorable scenes in the movie, The Right Stuff, two of the test pilots who would later become Mercury Seven astronauts are in a bar conversing about joining NASA's manned space program. Gordon Cooper plants the suggestion in Gus Grissom's head that he could be the next Buck Rogers. Grissom takes a liking to the idea. But Cooper adds that it will take a lot of money to put a man in outer space. "No big bucks- no Buck Rogers."

After over four years of fieldwork pursuing the creatures commonly called Bigfoot, the line from that movie resonates in my head oftentimes. However, I've altered the words to reflect the current status of Bigfoot research in general: No big bucks- no Bigfoot.

Even though I've seen a Bigfoot twice, people always want proof from me of their existence. I show them the evidence I have uncovered, but they always want more solid, unequivocal proof. Despite all the time and effort I've put into my research, the biggest obstacle to overcome has been the question of money. Of having enough money to properly conduct an ongoing research program. And I think I don't speak for only myself, but for other researchers spread across North America who are also caught in this quandary.

All of the money I have put into the Argosy Project has come out of my pocket. I often describe my budget for the project as being like a rubber band- it stretches and contracts depending on my income. I'm not ashamed to admit that it has been for the most part in the shrink mode. So it is very frustrating to realize a lot of field research is being hampered bythe lack of funds. Especially since I'm very aware I'm on the cusp of discovering something very extraordinary. If you ask many other Bigfoot researchers why these living bipeds still elude realization as being accepted as fact by our mainstream media, they will often point out the lack of any type of funding from any group, association, organization, or governmental agency. Without the inertia of money supporting field research, these large, hairy primates will probably remain in the gray shadows of being improbable at best, to most folks. It's a Catch-22. No big bucks- no Bigfoot.

We've all heard stories of how hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on wasteful research inquiries. Some very recent items come to mind, such as a study on why that big cat bit Roy, and dragged him off that Las Vegas stage. Or how a lot of money went into researching the different dialects of cow moos. Yet to get anyone to release funds for Bigfoot research is not even a near possibility, as of today.

Perhaps no one is willing to shake up the latest model of the primate tree? Too afraid of what will fall out of it?

Maybe to some it sounds like I'm harping a bitterness against the inaction of modern-day science. I'm more perplexed by how primatologists remain idle on the subject. And there is a tone of frustration I'm revealing here. Yes, there are some academics who take a negative reactive role when the topic of Bigfoot is breached, but there are very few in the academic wilderness who are willingly on the active trail of Bigfoot.

Everyone wants a Patterson film, part two. But the1967 film footage shot by Roger Patterson has been like an albatross hanging around the neck of Bigfoot research for the past four decades. The film has fueled many amateurs to venture out into the field. Yet at the same time, the film has also impeded any serious research into the study of of these large primates. That short clip has been a focal point of an ongoing debate. It has been a major distraction as people argue over- for and against- its authenticity. Meanwhile the fieldwork of small groups of serious-minded folks, and individuals like myself, goes mostly unnoticed.

Researchers face the hammer of ridicule from the general public, and the "tee-hee" factor from the media. Most scientists dismiss and scoff at the repeated eyewitness sightings of these shy bipeds from the tenured safety of their armchairs. To most anthropologists the mere suggestion of a great ape inhabiting North America rues the indoctrination they've invested in. Only a handful of scientists (Most notably Dr. Jeffery Meldrum and Dr.John Bindernagel.) have defied the gauntlet of peer pressure from their academic brethren, and bothered to follow-up reports from laymen. The few who have gone out in the field and taken a look, tend to come back and admit there is enough evidence to suggest the phenomenon generally called Bigfoot is a very real possibility.

However even with their academic credentials, these scientists are met with scorn from their colleagues across the hallway. And their hands are tied because no institution is willing to support a request for grant funds from any government branch to do serious research. Instead, they depend almost solely on evidence from a handful of selected amateur researchers, or people who have encountered Bigfoot accidentally.

As I've already stated: No big bucks- no Bigfoot.

The academic science world was a little slow in reacting back in 1938 when Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer discovered a living fossil. It took about two months of constant urging until the scientist JLB Smith finally arrived on the scene. The South African woman presented Smith the remains of a coelacanth, a fish that was supposed to have been extinct for 65 million years. Back in 1960, humans were thought to be the only species capable of making tools, until an Englishwoman studying chimpanzees in East Africa killed that theory. Jane Goodall is now revered without question today for her commitment to wildlife research. Several years later an American woman began her fieldwork studying the behavior of mountain gorillas in Central Africa. Dian Fossey's research ended at the ultimate price two decades later when she was murdered by her own species in the field.

Perhaps it is not a coincidence all three of these women made big contributions in the their dedicated fields of study. Being women, they were kind of shunned aside by many of the gents of the day, and had to take a more challenging road where no men were willing to go.

To any scientist who might stumble upon this article, and belittle the suggestion that Bigfoot research is something a credible scientist should contemplate, you should be informed that a precedent was set a long time ago by one of your former colleagues. Over thirty years ago Dr. John Russell Napier did journey into the Bigfoot phenomena, crisscrossing the country following up reports of Bigfoot activity. Napier was busy as the Director of the Primate Biology Program at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC at the time, yet went out into the field on the possibility the reports of pongids in our midst were true. He later authored a book on the subject, "Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality." Napier's conclusions are open to interpretation, but his superb credentials shouldn't be shunt aside.

In this piece I'm not attempting to attack the scientific community, in as much as I'm challenging it. Isn't one of the tenets of science the attempt at discovering the truth?

Unfortunately, no amount of photographic or field evidence will ever convince scientific skeptics of the existence of the elusive Bigfoot. And despite the thousands of reported sightings- not to mention the thousands of sightings that remain unreported- the profound truth of this species will stay hidden in the parallel shadows of our contemporary world, unless a more disciplined effort is applied to the field.

Sadly, I fear, it will not be until the day a hunter pulls into town with the carcass of a Bigfoot sprawled out in the back of his Chevy pickup truck, will our smug society accept the species as a larger reality to life.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Book Review: The Language of God

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief
By Francis S. Collins
Published by Free Press, 2006
294 Pages

It's only befitting that the head geneticist who led the international Human Genome Project to success, dare to follow-up his accomplishment with an almost as daring task to tackle. Basically, that a "rigorous scientist" who believes in evolutionism- can also believe in a Creator.

In "The Language of God," Francis S. Collins argues, "that belief in God can be an entirely rational choice, and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science." The recent success of sequencing the human genome that consists of all the DNA of our species, unlocked "the instructions for building a human being." Yet Collins was humbled and happy to evoke his awe of God to the world for this milestone in biology.

The crux of Collins's book is his firm view that the scientific and spiritual world views do not have to be antithetical.

Collins spent his youth in "willful blindness," with a willy-nilly attitude about religion he inherited from his parents. By the time he reached Yale graduate school he had become a full-blown atheist.

As a young physician in training in North Carolina, Collins faced an awkward moment from an older woman suffering from severe untreatable angina. His patient asked him what he believed. "I'm not really sure." he replied.

The brief encounter with the older woman haunted Collins: "Was I answerable to someone else other than myself?"

Collins set out to "disprove faith on the basis of logical argument." However, Collins ran into a stumbling block early on when he read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. More specifically, Lewis' Moral Law argument. Which became the basis, and later foundation, for Collins forgoing atheism, and becoming a Christian.

As should be expected, Collins never breaches the subject of Bigfoot. But he does briefly discuss our closest known living relative, the chimpanzee. "The chimpanzee genome sequence has now been unveiled, and it reveals that humans and chimps are 96 percent identical at the DNA level."

Collins does elaborate on the occasional genetic glitches between humans and chimps. Here's an insightful example:

"We can also now begin to explain the origins of a tiny fraction of the more mechanical differences between us and our closest relatives, some of which may play crucial roles in our humanness. In one example, a gene for a jaw muscle protein (MYH16) appears to have mutated into a pseudogene in humans. It continues to play a significant role in the development and strength of the jaw muscles in other primates. It is just conceivable that the inactivation of this gene led to a reduction in the mass of the human jaw muscle. Most apes have relatively larger and stronger jaws than we do. Human and ape skulls must, among other things, serve as an anchor for these jaw muscles. It is possible that the development of weaker jaws paradoxically allowed our skulls to expand upward, and accommodate our larger brains. This is clearly speculation, of course, and other genetic changes would be necessary to account for the much larger brain cortex that represents a major component of the difference between humans and chimpanzees."

The steep polarization of the evolutionists versus the creationists Collins fully acknowledges. Collins also realizes the vast majority of Americans, including scientists, are caught in between these two opposing world views.

The heart of "Language" is heady, and will read like a dissertation for many folks. Collins runs the gamut from St. Augustine to the modern-day atheist, Richard Dawkins, to demonstrate arguments from both sides the great divide.

Collins calls for "a truce in the escalating war between science and spirit." A war that "has been initiated and intensified by extremists on both sides."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Supermarket Theory

It was startling self-evident I was completely wrong about my immediate impression of the locale after my first Bigfoot encounter. I remember so distinctly standing on a country lane bordered by corn eight feet tall on that first day. It looked like the typical Midwest countryside. I asked myself: "Why are they (Bigfoot) here?

As I studied the area more and more, it became obviously very clear why the Bigfoot were there- FOOD. I've had two other researchers visit the area with me. Both were deeply impressed by the overabundance of food sources readily available for the taking. Namely, the large variety of fish, fauna, wild flora, and the crops and fruit grown by man himself. This is the Midwest- the breadbasket for much of the world's population.

I'm a creature of habit like everyone else. I usually shop at the same supermarket, and so I envisioned this location is pretty much like a supermarket to the Bigfoot who frequent the locale. If you know someone who shopped at a certain supermarket that was open 24/7- and you wanted to see that person- all you'd have to really do is stand by the front door and wait for them. They may go to the store only once a week, maybe twice a week, or even everyday, but eventually they will show up. That's my supermarket theory.

I firmly don't believe the Bigfoot family are in the area all the time. That my MRB is only an area they like to frequent. How often they frequent it, I don't know. I do know they frequent the area all year-long.

Main Research Box

When I first came to the general location of what I now call my Main Research Box back on September 2, 2002 I was greatly disappointed. The area was surrounded by farms and croplands, with patches of woodlots interspersed. The terrain looked rather mundane to me- rolling countryside at best.

I had come on a second-hand rumor of possible Bigfoot activity in the area. I was a bit embarrassed for myself. Somehow I thought the location would have small mountains, deep river gorges, large crags, rocky bluffs, and numerous ravines. I had forgotten that this was the American Midwest- not the Pacific Northwest.

As I parked my car I thought to myself: "Bigfoot here? No way."

It had been a long drive, so I decided to take a look-see as long as I was there. Bigfoot wasn't even a blip on my radar screen at that time in my life. I had heard of Bigfoot being in Ohio, and I remembered the television reports of MOMO back in the 1970s. Otherwise I knew very little about Bigfoot, with only a passing interest on the subject.

Certainly I was no scientist, and knew very little about the outdoors and wildlife. I hadn't been camping or hiking for about a quarter-century. In other words, I was a complete novice and my mind was a blank slate in my knowledge on the subject of Bigfoot. To many folks that may have seemed to have been an initial disadvantage, but I think it gave me an edge in that I didn't have any preconceived notions of these bipedal creatures living in our midst. Basically I wasn't carrying the baggage of prejudiced ideas of what I should expect. Nor did I know any of the signs of Bigfoot's presence I should be looking for.

I managed to find a hiking trail, and little did I know that in about a half-hour's time my life would be changed forever. I stood in awe when a massive bulk thrust itself down a giant oak tree. There, only about 60 feet away from me, stood a Bigfoot. It paused for a few moments before it twirled itself through some bushes behind the tree, disappearing from my view.

In what was only intended to be a half-hearted mini-adventure that day, turned me from being just a believer in Bigfoot, into knowing Bigfoot did exist. I left those woods that day thinking: "That was easy. What's so hard about finding Bigfoot? The next time I come here, I'll have to get a photograph of a Bigfoot."

Never did I imagine I would become a Bigfoot researcher.

As the weeks, then months progressed after my initial encounter, I kept expanding my research area. Even before I had my second visual encounter with another Bigfoot 16 months later on January 7, 2004, I was realizing that it was futile for only one person to cover many square miles of territory. Gradually I came to concentrate on one small area where I had the two visual encounters. I drew a box on an aerial photograph of the location. The box was roughly a quarter of a square mile. This is what I now call my Main Research Box (MRB).

I know to most folks my MRB is an incredibly small area to research Bigfoot, but hear me out.

Besides the two visual encounters within my MRB, I've also had many sounds and signs of Bigfoot activity. I've seen numerous footprints, and have heard whistling, hand slapping, whooping, mumbling, grumbling growls, and very recently rock clacking. In the summer of 2003 I found a den with two apples inside it. The kind of apples I had been leaving out for the Bigfoot. Also at that time I discovered a shingle oak tree that had most of its limbs and branches ripped off its trunk, and placed in a large pile next to it. The pile measured about 20 x 12 feet, and was over three feet in depth. I simply refer to it as the Bed, although it never showed any signs of anyone ever sleeping on it.

I had established what I call my Food Drop between the Bed and the 2003 Summer Den quite by accident. Before I had been leaving food out for the Bigfoot at various locations. One day during that summer I couldn't hike any further because I was worried my stitches were going to break from a recent appendix operation, so I dumped the food and left hidden in the nearby brush a hammer and trowel. The hammer and trowel were intended for use in erecting a food stand in the area. When I came back several days later the hammer and trowel were gone, as was the food. So I decided to start leaving the food there ever since. About a week after I lost my hammer and trowel, I found a small, smooth stone at the Food Drop. I kept it as a gift.

It took me about a year after I started going to the location that I could never out fox the Bigfoot family, or troop, there. So instead of camouflaging my HI-8 cameras, I decided to leave them out in the open, mounted on tripods. My hope is that over time the Bigfoot there will become accustomed to my cameras and tripods, and realize that my equipment is non-threatening. At first I don't think the Bigfoot were too thrilled with the cameras. In September 2003 I had left a camera on a tripod near the 2003 Summer Den. Just before nightfall a large tree limb can be heard off-camera being snapped, followed by the sound of a couple loud thumps of someone(s) hitting the ground.

For the most part, I stay inside my MRB when I'm at the location. As small as it is, you get to learn which trees have recently fallen down, and what is out of place.

You don't have to deal with these Bigfoot too long, to learn a poignant perspective. It's not so much me observing them, as they are observing me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Child's Play

As an active field researcher I must be careful not to attribute human characteristics to Bigfoot. Yet I believe there should be some room for being imaginative in trying to gain some insight on how the Bigfoot behave. It's like a bit of a juggling act being performed on a skinny tightrope- trying to be objective in collecting Bigfoot evidence- while not overlooking something that seems insignificant at first glance. So here I go...

Recently I found a small hole in a grassy clearing about 50 yards from the area I call my Food Drop, where I leave the Bigfoot food at my Main Research Box. It looked as if the freshly dug hole had been made by someone scooping the dirt out with their hand. The hole was about the size of a peanut butter jar. Inside the hole I found a small handful of ripe corn kernels.

A few more kernels on the ground led to an ear of corn about 25 feet away. The ear was less than five inches long, and its husk had been peeled away. And a small pile of kernels lay next to it. Rows of kernels were still uniformly intact on the ear of corn. Someone had very neatly started on one end, and was picking off the kernels and was working their way to the fat end of the cob. My immediate impression was that I had interrupted someone at work.

I was a bit baffled as I tried to reason out a possible scenario: Did a squirrel do this? A raccoon? A deer, or another critter? A person? Bigfoot?

The big why was why weren't the kernels eaten? Instead they had been plucked off.

If it was a Bigfoot, why would it be attempting to bury just the kernels? Why not the whole ear? Or a whole bunch of ears, like the Indians who used to inhabit this area did? Plus it was late September and the feed corn crop was fully mature, just waiting to be harvested, why bother going through with the tedious task of picking kernels off a single ear? Especially if arm loads of ripen ears could be easily grabbed just a few feet away?

The following Sunday I returned to the site and found the small hole still uncovered. All of the kernels of corn had been removed, and replaced with a handful of leaves. I recovered the small cob I found a week earlier. There were only a few kernels left on it.

During the week I had given some thought to what I had stumbled on the previous Sunday. It finally dawned on me that I was thinking too much like an adult. I realized what I found was the workings of a child at play. It made sense to me- I envisioned a child idling away its time as an adult(s) stood watch. I remembered my childhood when I would spend countless hours playing with Lego pieces or Lincoln Logs. There was no aim in my play- just having idle fun.

In 2003 I first noted a small Bigfoot print only about seven inches in length. The last time I had seen a similar print was in the late summer of 2004, and it was then eight and a half inches long. So I knew I was dealing with at least one juvenile inside my research box. On several occasions I've heard what sounded like kids playing inside the woods.

At the base of a nearby ridge I found a small pile of stones in September 2003. I was a bit bewildered how a pile of small stones happened to be placed there. They seemed out of place. Then in the springof 2005 I discovered another pile of small stones placed atop some leaves, further down the same ridge. I placed one stone in my back pocket, and moved on. Gradually I began to realize that the small stones I had seen reminded me of how I used to play with marbles as a kid. Even how on family trips my mom used to let me take some of my marbles with me, so I could idle away the time playing with them in the backseat of the car.

A few weeks later I returned to find the second pile of stones I had discovered. I looked very intensely for over an hour for the pile of stones, but couldn't find them. I still have that small stone I had put in my back pocket. It's roughly the size of a marble- but in no way is it perfectly round in shape. It is very smooth in texture when I rub it with my fingertips.

After I had found the small hole empty of corn kernels, I placed two cookies inside it and covered it back up with leaves. I was really hoping to make some type of personal connection with a juvenile Bigfoot by sharing the stash hole.

When I returned the next Saturday I found the two cookies still inside the hole, but crawling with insects. I was disappointed. But nearby at my Food Drop a small ear of corn was laying on the ground. Half of its kernels were neatly picked off by rows, and a pile of ripe kernels lay next to the ear.

I'm always telling people how the Bigfoot surprise me in the things they do. I have to remind myself that I think like a human. The Bigfoot do what they want to do, when they want to do it. Bigfoot is its own unique species.