Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ohio Bigfoot Conference 2014


There’s a great Cryptozoology conference coming up this weekend in Ohio. If you’ve never been to the annual Ohio Bigfoot Conference, now in its 26th year, this weekend is your opportunity to check it out.

Featured speakers this year include Lyle Blackburn, author of the Beast of Boggy Creek and Lizard Man, true story of the Bishopville Monster. Grab your copies and get em’ signed and of course, you’ll get a chance to hear Lyle lecture.

Also appearing is Cliff Barackman, star of Animal Planet’s hit show Finding Bigfoot. Cliff is the real deal and has spent tons of time in the field, well before he became an international TV star.

Additional guest include Charlie Raymond, Tom Yamarone and the legendary Bob Gimlin of Patterson-Gimlin fame.

Check it out at the Salt Fork State Park Lodge & Conference Center.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Jackalope: Mythical Icon of the West

The Jackalope has long been a part of American folklore. Depicted as a large jack rabbit with the horns of an antelope or deer, the mythical hybrid animal is a solid icon of popular culture in the west.

The origins of the American jackalope are shrouded in the past. Some of the first stories of the animal may have come from the exaggerated campfire tales of lumberjacks in the early 1900s. These rugged men spent much time in the forest and the telling of tall tales became their entertainment. Outrageous stories of rare animals and strange things that lived in the wild were standard fare at lumberjack camps.

One popular origin story for the American jackalope says the creature was the brainchild of a Wyoming hunter named Douglas Herrick. An article published in the New York Times claims that Herrick got the idea when he saw the carcass of a jackrabbit next to a set of deer antlers. Using taxidermy skills he learned from a mail order course, Herrick and his brother put a set of antlers on a jackrabbit head, mounted it for display, and the jackalope was born.

Herrick sold his first mounted jackalope to a gentleman named Roy Ball who put it on display in the LaBonte Hotel in Douglas, WY. It drew a lot of attention and an entire legend began to unfold around the Jackalope. Herrick’s mounted jackalope remained on display at the LaBonte Hotel until it was stolen in 1977.

Herrick may have actually gotten his idea for a jackalope from lumberjack tales, or, he may have seen depictions of so called ‘horned hares’ in early animal encyclopedias.

In the 18th century, many "Bestiaries,” (fanciful animal encyclopedias) contained depictions of various horned hares. They were in fact listed in so many “scientific” texts of the time that they were given their own, formal Latin name—Lepus cornutus translated as “horned hare.”

The animals were purported to exist in many parts of Europe, especially Germany, but were supposedly very rare. It’s possible that the tales of these European beasts were simply transposed to American soil by Europeans.

As with many tales, there may be a grain of truth to the early stories of rabbits with horns. Around the same period that Herrick created his jackalope display, a Canadian writer and naturalist named Ernest Thompson Seton was publishing a series of books titled “Lives of Game Animals.” Included in volume four of Seton’s work was a hand drawn plate showing sketches of rabbits with horn like growths on their heads and faces. It turns out; there actually had been sightings of animals with this bizarre condition.
The odd condition was documented by biologist Richard E. Shope. Shope discovered that a virus could cause the growth of hard tumors on the heads of infected rabbits. The virus, now called the “Shope papilloma virus,” could create the appearance of horns on rabbits. On rare occasions, people still spot animals infected with this condition.

Humorous and outlandish qualities have been attributed to the jackalope over the years.

According to the lore, there have been rare sightings of groups of jackalopes. Such a gathering is called a “flaggerdoot.” More often than not, it’s solitary jackalopes that are spotted. Full moons are considered the best time to catch a glimpse of the animals as they like to sit in the moonlight and sing in a human voice. Jackalopes can in fact, mimic any human voice that they hear as well as the sounds of other animals. This makes them notoriously difficult to catch. When pursued, they will throw their ‘human’ voices and emit misleading cries such as “Over there!” or, “He’s this way!”

Over the years, cowboys discovered that the best way to catch a jackalope was to use a bottle of whiskey as bait. It seems the animals can’t resist the potent beverage.
Today, jackalope items can be seen in gift shops all over the west. From postcards, to t-shirts and statues, to mounted jackalope heads.

The creature is celebrated in Wyoming, especially in Douglas, the proclaimed “Home of the Jackalope” where the annual “Jackalope Days” are held each June.

Zoologist Karl Shuker did an excellent piece on European horned hares on his ShukerNature blog, linked below.

Horned hares, mythical jackalopes and the tall tales of early America have given the west its crazy icon, and let’s face it; it’s a lot more believable than a giant rabbit delivering chicken eggs on Easter!

Karl Shuker on Horned Hares:

Douglas, WY Jackalope Days:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

4 Corners Beyond the Edge


Be sure to tune into this week’s Beyond the Edge with hosts Lon Strickler, Eric Altman and Sean Forker as they welcome Crypto Four Corners founder JC Johnson and Native elder Chief Leonard Dan.

This is sure to be a great round table as they guys discuss current and historical investigations in the four corners region.

Listen live and join in the chat on Sunday night, April 20th.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tweeting Sharks

shark16n-1-webScientists have tagged a massive great white shark off the Western coast of Australia. The female shark was estimated to be at least sixteen feet long and weigh a staggering 1.6 tons.
Great whites are impressive animals, considered highly intelligent with a curious nature and highly developed senses. They can reach up to twenty feet in length and over two tons in weight. Great whites can swim at speeds up to fifteen miles an hour and despite their size, can leap completely out of the water in pursuit of prey. These huge sharks have three hundred teeth arranged in seven rows. They have been known to attack humans and have killed a number of divers and swimmers off the Australian coast in the last several years.

Australia has received a lot of flack recently due to a culling program designed to keep swimmers and surfers safe from shark attacks. Critics point out that many shark species are at risk and, while the great white is not officially endangered, it is considered ‘vulnerable.’ Wildlife supports believe that alternatives to killing the sharks are needed to protect the species. Biologists have devised a tracking plan using acoustic tags surgically inserted into the sharks. The tags allow scientists to track the movements of sharks and should last for at least ten years per tag.

The great white, nicknamed “Joan” was tagged in King George Sound. Once the shark was hooked, fisheries staff had to attach ropes around it and roll it upside down. Rolling it over caused the shark to slip into a state of “tonic immobility,” similar to being asleep. Keeping the shark in the water, a small incision was made in its stomach and the tag was inserted.

Mark Kleeman, project head for the Shark Monitoring Network stated that tagging a great white of such size is unprecedented. He told the Newcastle Herald:

“This is very exciting and potentially a world first. Lots of juveniles get tagged, but to have a fully mature female and get 10 years data out of it is a big thing for us. We are excited by the potential of what this shark can give us.”

The tags are linked to a satellite network that includes over 320 seabed monitors to help record the movements of the sharks. Kleeman said that the program greatly improves the safety of Australian beaches and provides extensive data to scientists studying shark behavior.

“Over time we will be able to build the data and then we can see if there are any patterns forming, which is great for understanding more about them.”

This innovative program is another step to learning more about the mysteries of the ocean and the creatures that live there.
In a clever use of modern technology, the shark tagging program computers are now linked to a computer feed that sends out alerts via twitter. The tweet notifies people of the size, breed and approximate location of over 300 individual sharks now tagged by the program.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Paradigm 2014

I have the pleasure of returning once again to speak at the Paradigm Symposium in Minneapolis, MN this year. 
If you're interested in alternative ideas and thinking, you'll feel right at home at this event.  Drawing speakers and attendees from around the world, the Paradigm Symposium has quickly become a premiere event in the field.

Symposium organizers Scotty Roberts of Intrepid magazine and Egyptologist DR. John Ward, have put together an amazing lineup this year including Graham Hancock, Erich Von Däniken, Andrew Collins and a host of others.

Advanced tickets are available now, register right away if you'd like to take part in the special VIP banquet on Saturday night, a crowd favorite that's sure to sell out.  Details available here:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Admissible" Reviewed

I’m often asked for recommendations of books useful for new investigators and those interested in taking a serious approach to the paranormal and related fields.  Although there are thousands of books published on paranormal topics, there are very few practical manuals to assist investigators in learning the proper process of gathering evidence and pursuing cases.  Fortunately, Chase Kloetzke and Richard Dolan have stepped in to fill the void.

“Admissible,” the new release from this pair of veteran investigators fills a big gap in the field and proves to be a useful text for both novice and seasoned explorers of the strange.

In recent years, there’s been a boom in the number of people interested in investigating the paranormal.  Fueled by the popularity of paranormal reality shows, this new crop of investigators is an enthusiastic lot but they often have little investigative experience.
For those approaching the field as a part time hobby, this is less of an issue.  However, for those who have a deeper interest in probing strange cases and want to take a more serious approach, it’s essential to learn investigative techniques and proper evidence collection.

Subtitled “The Field Manual for Investigating UFOs, Paranormal Activity, and Strange Creatures,” Kloetzke and Dolan’s manual fulfills its promise to provide practical, useful information in a clear and concise manner.
The book walks you step by step through the investigative process.  The authors begin with an introduction to the basics, including organization and planning.  Following sections cover investigation conduct and the interview process, evidence collection and cataloging, and investigation closure.  The book is rounded off with clear guidelines for maintaining records and an appendix of useful forms that can be copied and utilized for individuals or groups.

But don’t think for a moment that this is a dry technical manual.  Bullet points and checklist throughout help note special items of interest and the illustrations by Chuck Harrison add to the shear entertainment value of the book. 
Kloetzke is a former MUFON Star Team manager and has traveled extensively in her pursuit of strange cases.  Dolan of course is a well known figure in the field of UFOlogy for his outstanding work, the two volume “UFOs and the National Security State.”

Overall, this is a valuable reference guide and you certainly can’t go wrong adding it to your library.
Published by Richard Dolan Press, Admissible is available at Amazon.  For more information about Chase’s work, check out her website at:


Public Investigation Event


For tickets, visit the website.

RIP Peter Matthiessen

Sad to report that American writer, researcher and activist Peter Matthiessen passed away April 5, 2014. After being diagnosed with leukemia over a year ago, Matthiessen died of the disease in New York at the age of 86.

Matthiessen’s life story reads like an adventure novel and his travels spanned the globe including Asia, South America, Africa, Europe and Australia. A highly educated man, he served time as a journalist, explorer, novelist, professional fisherman and even a spy.

MathiessenIn 1953, he co-founded The Paris Review, a well known literary magazine. Years later, in a 2008 interview with Charlie Rose, Matthiessen admitted that he “…invented The Paris Review as a cover” for his CIA operations. He worked for ‘the company’ for two years before moving on to other ventures.

After the passing of his first wife in 1927, Matthiessen spent time in Nepal trekking into the Himalayas. Also during the 70s, he experimented with LSD, practiced Zen meditation and later, became a Buddhist priest. He believed that his Buddhist path was a natural progression that evolved from his experimentation with hallucinogens.

Matthiessen was a three time National Book Award winner and a prominent environmental activist with a focus on the effects that humans have on the animal world.

764165He also had a long standing interest in reports of Sasquatch type creatures from around the globe. In his 1978 bestseller “The Snow Leopard” he spoke about his search for the Yeti, a creature he would write about again in his 1995 book, “East of Lo Monthang: In the Land of the Mustang.”
Matthiessen was in attendance at one of the first gatherings of those interested in the study of the Sasquatch, a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia in May, 1978. The list of attendees reads like a who’s who of Sasquatch studies and included John Green, Rene Dahinden, Bob Gimlin and Grover Krantz.

In later years, Matthiessen gave talks on the topic including a lecture hosted in Idaho by Sasquatch authority Dr. Jeff Meldrum. The presentation, “A Naturalist’s Impressions of the Wildman” featured Matthiessen’s knowledge of the elusive creatures and he discussed legends of Wildmen ranging from the Pacific Northwest to the high Himalayas.

Even his massive bestseller, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse” mentioned the Sasquatch, specifically, Lakota legends of the “Big Men,” the regional, native term for the mysterious, furry beings.
Scientist and writer, Stephen Jay Gould dubbed Matthiessen “Our greatest, modern nature writer in the lyrical tradition.”

Peter Matthiessen’s final book, a novel titled “In Paradise” is scheduled for release this week. He will be deeply missed.