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With the advent of technology things have become simpler, easier and faster. it brings us together, informs us, warns us and comforts us. Technology can be a very useful and powerful tool in the right applications. The downside of technology is that it is composed primarily of electronics and regardless of impermeability have the potential to fail. It is because of this that I would highly suggest that one should use technology as a back up with skills being on the forefront of how you operate in the wild. Back in 2009 I was coming back from the high country during spring. I had recently bought a GPS and was enjoying it helping me verify peaks and landmarks when a storm started brewing. Within minutes a sunny sring day had turned into a white out snow storm and as murphy's law would have it, my gps ceased to function. It was my ABILity to be aware and prepared to what was coming that allowed me to navigate my way out. If I had not had the skills to navigate and relied on my gps, i doubt i would be here today telling this story.
Today we are saturated with many sorts of wonderful technological toys. The researcher must navigate themselves through this sea of gadgets as they determine what are tools and what are toys. In order to determine what catagory each gadget goes into one must first contemplate what their true goals are and if that gadget will help them meet their ultimate goal. My goal is for a sustained repeated contact without interference of their natural behaviors, so my personal goals are not so high tech. The following are some of the more popular tech tools/toys and the pros and cons of each. Even though there are many pros and cons of each i will only focus on a few points. I am also going to provide techniques that also have become popular under this catagory because it can also be considered technology whether high or low. regardless of level of technology they are considered intrusinve and disrespectful and have all shown inconclusive at best.
Thermal cameras- the flir technology has really touted some great potential of quick accusition and determination of a warm blooded animal rather than dark blobs in the night. it has the ability to scan a vast area in a short amount of time by detecting heat signatures. This technology has finally come down in price enough for the average joe to buy but still comes with a considerable price tag. even though it is able to determine objects through heat signatures it can be blocked by boulders as well as trees. it does not provide details which is essential for verification.
Trail cams- of the technologies this seems to be the most popular. they are relatively cheap and fairly durable. many can take high quality pictures and video and be in place for up to months at a time however, they must be placed inconspicuously and in the right place at the right time. Many use these cameras with a "lottery" mentality hoping to capture an image. the reality of this is that the Patterson film captured film on the subject over 50 years ago yet it is still disputed as being real. there are many examples of trail cam photos circulating the internet but are all disputed because of the technology of altering images as well as unclear images. the typical technique that is prodiminatley used is that the researcher hears of a reported sighting and goes out to that area and sets up bait sites as well as setting up trail cams and other evidence gathering techniques. for something that is generally considered intelligent by most, many techniques are geared for something not that smart. Here is another point that i think needs to be considered. first, we are in their element and if they are anywhere near they are watching us the enitre time as we set up cameras, bait traps, and evidence gatherers. Now consider you in their place watching from a distance knowing where all of the cameras and traps are at. How difficult would it be for you to circumvent these pitfalls ? This technology has not only shown not to produce anything substantial but has also proven to be counterproductive. There has been much antectodal evidence showing that setting up cameras correlate with decreased activity.
drones- This technology also has great potential and would provide higher resolution images. drones can also scan large areas in a short amount of time. drones can be pricey and of course there is the learning curve. they have limited air time and like most technologies you must have a good idea of where to look. they could be considered invasive driving them off to new areas.
microphones- this is a very passive technology and does not require much of a learning curve is very portable and relatively cheap. sound recordings no matter
the quality will not validate or substantiate proof positive. they can however substantiate and validate other evidence found during the same event.
woodknocking - this technique has proven counterproductive. When someone knocks what does that person believe they are saying ? if there are return knocks it is claimed to be of sasquatch origin regardless of supporting data. a return knock is perceived as a positive response just as rockthrowing is perceived as a positive response. Despite the size of the projectile the simple act of throwing something at someone else is a universal sign of not being accepted and for you to go away. It is a primate response expressing repulsion. how that is interpreted as a positive experience is counterproductive and should be acknowledged as what it is. One should then reevaluate their approach and modify their behavior for a positive response. Unlike lower intelligent animals when they are fooled into a response they normally just run away. How do you think an intelligent being would react to being fooled into a response? Could it be seen as disrespectful to them? How do you react to being fooled into something?
Callblasting - here is another technique that requires a person to reproduce a sound by voice or recording into the wilderness and wait for some sort of response. What does the caller think they are saying to them ? Would deception be considered disrespectful to an intelligent being? for some, a perceived return call or rockthowing is seen as a positive response to which all activity ceases thereafter. would these responses be considered productive? What happens next?
Baiting - as long as this has been tried it has not proven fruitful but rather counterproductive. even though the raw data reflects it as futile it is still attempted by many out in the field. This is to include pheromone chips. why this is still attempted despite negative results i like to call the "lottery' mentality which runs rampant in the community. It will be defined in the next category.
firearms - This seems to be the biggest contention that some folks have with my approach since I do not carry any sort of firearm in the wild. I once showed a video that I created to give an example of the importance of awareness. I came to an area and noticed the area was conducive to rattlesnakes and within minutes came across a good size one, my point being that if I had not been aware I could of easily been bitten. Someone had commented, "that's why i carry a gun". obviously they were not making the connection that a gun would of not helped if they were not aware of its presence until after it had bitten. In order for a firearm to be effective it must be within reach at all times (not in your pack or in the tent or vehicle) and the shooter must be proficient with it. As a marine grunt if I found you separated from your weapon and was able to seize it, there was hell to pay. It should also not be brandished or discharged only in times of an emergency. I once visited a researcher at their site who had discharged his 44 magnum prior to my arrival and was surprised that there was no animal activity around.......seriously.
Lottery Mentality - back in 1967 the clearest film of a purported sasquatch was taken in Bluff Creek, Ca by Roger Patterson. After over 50 years its authenticity is still being disputed with no parties having a great financial gain. Today many go out with their trail cams, camera phones, bait traps, woodknocking and callblasting hoping that even though many have tried before them without success, they will be successful hence the term "Lottery Mentality'. It is no wonder that the general public views the phenomenon without scientific merit because of those who practice in absence of scientific practices.
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