Bigfoot and Cryptid Investigations - Choosing Equipment
One of the first considerations new investigators have is what equipment they will need. There are certain things that simply go without saying you will need for all investigations. We'll simply list them here first; the only qualification is to use good quality models where applicable. A cheap flashlight that falls apart the first time it is used does no one any good! That said, all investigators should carry:
- A good, bright flashlight ("D" Cell type, for extended use.)
- Notepad and two or three sharpened pencils.
- Cellphone or two-way radio to keep in touch.
- Basic First Aid kit, just in case.
- Small folding knife.
- Tape measure.
- Spare Batteries for whatever other equipment you use. (including your flashlight)
- Plaster of Paris - Taking any impressions of tracks or imprints.
- Clean/Sealable containers - Collecting samples if any exist.
- Latex surgical gloves - Collecting and handling samples
- Camera - (We'll discuss this in detail shortly)
- Audio Recorder - (We'll also cover more on the recorder later.)
- Forms - (It is helpful to have report forms printed up and ready to go.)
- Professional Contacts - Experts in various fields you may consult as needed.
These items are needed for most investigations involving a sighting of a creature or animal. A little preparation ahead of time keeping all your equipment in one place will save a lot of time. Generally Bigfoot sightings are done after the fact, however on occasion you may venture out to see what you can find. Such trips require the preparation one would take anytime you go into the outdoors. Be prepared to deal with wildlife or weather changes. It is not uncommon to combine a Bigfoot adventure with a camping trip, so in addition to the basic investigative tools you should be prepared to spend a night outdoors.
Field trips should always be with a group. Anything can happen when you venture into the wilderness so the best thing to do is be ready for it. The important thing to remember is to take your time and gather whatever you feel is applicable when you are dealing with something unknown. Take your time and be safe!
We'll take a look at still cameras first. It should be noted that many of the same requirements also apply to video as well. There are two ways the camera can be expected to be used. By far the most common is to record the scene of a sighting after the fact. Generally this is done in daylight with the witness present at the time of the initial interview. The witness simply takes you to the area where the creature was seen and relates what was seen to you. The camera is used to take photos of the area.
Generally photgraphs are taken of the immediate area and any evidence which may be recovered before removing it from where it was found. Your camera should be able to zoom in on any such residue and provide good detail as well as take pictures 10 - 20 feet away. Lighting is generally good so flash is not a major consideration unless you are in some close-up condition. Almost any decent quality camera will suffice for these types of investigations.
Perhaps the most extreme conditions might be night photography while you are out on a camping trip searching for some elusive creature. Often this requires long range flash or slave flash capabilities and a good quality zoom lens. Cameras used for these types of applications should also allow the use of a remote shutter release which can be adapted to an electronic control. More about that under motion sensing.
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The type of audio recorder used for Bigfoot or creature research depends on what you intend to use it for. If you are simply keeping a log of the investigation any modate priced digital recorder would suffice. it generally does not record actual evidence, rather it is used to either keep a log of the investigator's observations or to take a witness statement. For this purpose almost any reasonable quality digital voice recorder is fine.
The primary concern is its ease of use. Since it is probable the recorder may be used to take witness statements, it is likely you may want to transcribe the testimony onto paper at a later time. The recorder should have a means of starting and stopping playback that takes this into consideration. Plus a time stamp may be beneficial, although not a necessity.
Overall quality should also be taken into account. It does little good to show up to do an interview with a recorder that is a piece of junk. While it certainly doesn't have to be expensive, at least take one step above the bottom of the line and get something dependable.
The exception to this s the creature hunt. It may be desirable to set up a recorder to capture the sounds of a Bigfoot or other animal. This is done using a high gain amplifier and parabolic or shotgun microphone. If you are doing this type of project your recorder should have provisions to accept an external line level input from a mixer or preamplifier unit. Stereo recording capabilities are also desirable since by using a dual channel system you can gain the depth and clarity to better hear the sounds of the outdoors including any animal you may manage to capture on the recorder.
Unlike EVP work, you will probably not be doing any extremely low level recording so special processing is not normally a concern. You can use either analog or digital recording systems, although the quality of the final audio is detrmined by the quality of the recorder and microphone system you use.
Mixer and Preamplifier
While we are discussing audio, one piece of equipment is very helpful if you are doing outdoor recording of nature or other sounds. The mixer allows you to blend a couple microphones into a dual channel input on you recorder. It will also provide a boost in the signal level improving over all quality. The one shown here is what I use for both EVP work and capturing the sounds of the woods. I reduce the gain settings since it does not need the sensitivity used for EVP. However it does have filtering adjustments that can help to maximize the range of frequencies where many animal calls occur.
Now we enter the area of specialty equipment. The EMF monitor has not been shown to be particularly useful in Bigfoot cases. One exception might be in doing long distance audio recording where it might serve to detect a stray field which could interfere with your audio.
There is a consideration whether thermal imaging is useful for Bigfoot and some creature sightings like Thunderbirds or Mothman since these possibly may not be flesh and blood animals according to some researchers. But for animal reports like cougar sightings and other out of place animals it could be helpful. Most large animals of this nature are warm blooded and if the report suggests a common animal simply not native to the area is being reported, then a FLIR system would pick it up. But for more exotic creatures like Bigfoot or Chupacabra there is no information that even says these are warm blooded. It is still open to conjecture whether a FLIR system would be beneficial here.
Ultrasonics and Infrasonics
The sound most commonly associated with Bigfoot sightings is well within the normal audio spectrum. There seems little reason to extend beyond it. But there have been various sounds which extend beyond the audio spectrum that may be detected. Bats for instance make sounds ranging well above the human range of hearing. So even though all sounds so far reported related to Bigfoot have been audible, who can say that is simply because we haven't captured anything else yet? If you want to do research into those areas you will need this equipment. But you are in uncharted territory, the outcome is still open to study.
Temperature and Environmental
To date there has been little correlation of temperature and humidity to Bigfoot sightings. They have occurred in summer, winter, heat and snow. Environmental data should be a part of any investigation, but exactly how this relates to whether or not a creature is seen is still undetermined.