Olympic Peninsula Sasquatch Symposium, 11/25 in Port Angeles

Have You Seen Me?

Studio Bob in Port Angeles will be hosting the Olympic Peninsula Sasquatch Symposium on November 25 from 7 to 10 Pm. The Sasquatch Symposium will present a new way of knowing about the Sasquatch and their interactions with humans. Over the years many individuals and organizations have tried to prove the Sasquatch exist or collect a specimen. All of which has failed to produce anything that could be used as proof to modern science.

The Sasquatch Symposium is not an effort to prove the Sasquatch exists. Anyone who has ever seen a Sasquatch already knows they exist. The Sasquatch Symposium reflects the personal interactions between the Sasquatch and the people who have attempted to communicate with them.



Pat Neal
Neal is a columnist on the opinion page of The Peninsula Daily News, a Hoh River fishing guide and former historian for the Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation whose research concluded the Sasquatch have been here as long as humans have. In his thirty years as a fishing guide floating the rivers of the Olympic Peninsula Rainforest he has had numerous occasions to observe his client’s reactions to seeing the Sasquatch while out on what they thought was a normal fishing trip. Their reactions range from shock, fear and total denial that they even saw what they saw. Neal will describe the history of the Sasquatch on the Olympic Peninsula and read from his new book, “Wildlife Volume Three, Fishermen’s Holidays,” about the failed efforts to document, explain and exploit this wild and mysterious phenomenon.

Ron Morehead
Best known for the Sierra Sounds, Ron Morehead is an adventurist, researcher, author, and producer. He’s been known for decades for his world-wide research into the Bigfoot/Sasquatch phenomenon. The Sierra Sounds are the only Bigfoot recordings that have been scientifically studied, time-tested, and accredited as being genuine. Ron has documented his personal interactions with these giant beings and produced his story on CD and in his book, “Voices in the Wilderness.”

Very few researchers of his caliber are brave enough to publicly consider the hundreds of reports that include that “spooky action at a distance,” (Einstein). In his new book, “The Quantum Bigfoot,” Ron goes above and beyond, combining decades of experience and tireless hours of research into the realm of quantum physics as it could pertain to Bigfoot/Sasquatch.
Besides being the Keynote Speaker at many conventions, he has been featured on countless radio programs such as Coast to Coast, BBC TV documentaries, and the Learning Channel.

Judy Carroll
An avid hiker of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains whose experiences with the Sasquatch motivated her to discover a whole new way of documenting the activities she has personally witnessed. Carroll presents a new way of knowing the Sasquatch. She will share her own adventures in communication and interaction that will provide a unique perspective of the Sasquatch personality. Carroll’s research demonstrates that the Sasquatch are shy sentient beings capable of abstract symbolism, humor and forgiveness.

Symposium attendees are invited to share their own experiences at an open mic portion of the event. Admission to the event is $10 per person. Studio Bob is located at 118 1/2 E Front Street in Port Angeles. A no host bar will be available. Further information can be obtained at (360) 683-9867

Edward meets the beast

In last week’s episode Edward is sent out on his job as a biologist to check a smolt trap where he finds himself confronted by a large hairy animal approaching in the twilight.
The creature comes nearer, breaking logs and making grunting noises that shiver the hair on the back of Edward’s neck. The beast staggers out of the woods and looks directly at Cullen, who by this time is shaking like a leaf.
It is definitely not a bear. It’s on two legs and bears don’t walk on two legs. The face is shaggy with the appearance of bangs. It has almost no neck. The shoulders are stooped with long dangling arms that might almost define the term knuckle-dragger.
It carries a forked stick with a steelhead hanging off it, the tail dragging in the mud. That, with the hip boots, ball cap and fishing vest stuffed with beer cans allows Edward to quickly identify the creature, a steelhead fisherman.
The Boss Biologist had warned him there would be days like this.
Now Edward would have to engage in what had to be the worst part of anyone’s job, dealing with the public. It was a cycle of abuse.
The fishermen hated the biologists because the biologist wouldn’t raise enough fish and the biologists hated the fishermen because there was just too many of them. The steelhead fishermen were part of a lost tribe of primitive people who still inhabit the dark corners of the rainforest. They fished through the brutal winters in an attempt to catch the rare steelhead.
As the steelhead became more rare, the authorities constricted the steelhead fishermen into smaller and smaller areas where overcrowding caused the same sort of social anxiety and habitat degradation that has been exhibited in lab rats.
All of which made talking to fishermen a difficult and often pointless exercise in a form of ritualized marathon cursing called a “rigging fit” that could blister the paint off a humvee.
Luckily Edward had taken a class in how to talk to the locals in their own dialect, a fast-talking form of pidgin American, punctuated by a lot of spitting.
“Wan bir?” The steelhead fisherman said. It was a good sign, that Edward might be accepted on the river.
Edward had to think fast. To say no to beer might raise suspicions. If Edward was to operate and not blow his cover it might be best to give the impression that he was constantly inebriated. Luckily he had a cover story he’d learned at the biologist academy.
“Na, diwi.” Edward said, shaking his head. Hoping an alibi about getting busted for driving while intoxicated might give him enough stream cred to get away with not having to drink a canned beer.
It worked.
“Gotnychew?” The fisherman grunted.
Edward said not wanting to explain how he’d just had his fangs cleaned.
The steelhead fisherman drew closer, drinking, spitting, smoking and smelling like the fish that just slimed him from head to toe.
“Cupla slackbellies.” Edward lied, momentarily forgetting that he was holding a shotgun instead of a fishing pole.
“Conk ’em,” the redneck said, obviously OK with Edward shooting the fish or however he got them on the beach.
Leaving Edward to seeth in his vampire rage at being offered a canned beer. He’d get even with those steelhead fishermen if it was the last thing he did.
He vowed to stuff that creek so full of log jams you couldn’t throw a rock in it so forget about fishing here anymore.
Edward went home with the feeling his enemies had fled before him.

Die-hard Twi-hard

A previous column revealed how the diminishing returns of Twilight fans to the Olympic Peninsula has had a dramatic effect on our tourist industry.
I suggested that a sustainable alternative to mitigate the effects of the loss of the Twi-hards would be to invent a better tourist trap. The hunt for Bigfoot could revive the tourist industry that makes this country so cool.
Coincidentally on that very same day in February, Twilight author Stephanie Meyer took the opportunity to reveal on her Web site that she “would be glad to make another Twilight movie, if she ever wrote another Twilight book.”
Maybe there was more to her statement than just a mere coincidence.
As writers, Stephanie Meyer and I share a kinship that is beyond words. I felt a connection the first time I saw her, on Oprah where she admitted changing the ending of her book at her mothers’ suggestion.
That’s my philosophy. Who cares what the critics say about your book, as long as your mom likes it?
So if Stephanie Meyer needs a little help stepping up to the plate to pen another blockbuster, I am only too happy to postpone my hunt for Bigfoot to work on a Vampire script.
Here goes:
Picture a little love nest, out where the roses cling. There’s Edward, the 160-something-year-old vampire, plus Bella the child bride and their baby in a log cabin in a suburb of Forks.
In a relatively short time, they run out of things to talk about. Money is tight. Edward is depressed. He sits around and watches a lot of TV. He sees an episode of Ax-men and decides to go logging.
At least it will get him out of the house.
With his tailored hickory shirt and Italian designer cork boots Edward is subjected to a brutal hazing ritual on his first day on the job. A small chip of wood is placed on a stump.
To prove he is not a TV logger, Edward must strike the chip with his ax, with his very first try, which he does dead center. Next, Edward is blindfolded and told to chop the chip again. Edward heaves a might chop. The crew says he missed the chip to the right, to the left, over and over again.
Edward keeps chopping until he hears everyone laughing. Edward takes the blindfold off to discover, he’s hacked his kidskin rigging gloves to pieces.
Humiliated, Edward is forced to seek alternative employment opportunities. He makes a hopeless attempt to be a fishing guide. He is polite, reasonable and efficient. He doesn’t drink, chew, spit, smoke, cuss, or lie, but they let Edward have a fishing guide license anyway. Edward fakes it for a while but screams like a girl when he has to touch a fish.
Edward just couldn’t hack it as a logger or a fisherman. It’s tough to hold down job when you’re a vampire who sleeps all day. Down on his luck, with no employable skills or experience beyond being a blood sucker, Edward applies for the one job for which he would be uniquely qualified, a government biologist. It was a detail-oriented, fast-paced work environment and Edward was a multi-tasking, self-starting, out of the box team player. During the application process, Edward is asked if he has a college degree.
“Forks U,” Edward sneers.
He is hired.
It is a perfect job for Edward. Sitting in a dark room in the basement of the capitol building with a gang of biologist spinning a big roulette wheel. Each spin of the wheel sets another fishing season or emergency closure somewhere.
At his first day on the job, the boss biologist, (Double B) had Edward placing voodoo pins into a picture of a newspaper columnist and in no time at all he is closing down fish hatcheries like a pro.
Being the new guy, Edward has to go outside once in a while. He finds himself up a creek, electro-shocking bull trout. He’s sitting on a log eating his lunch, blood sausage on rye when he sees her. A
vision of female pulchritude, even if she is eight feet tall and covered with hair. It is a Sasquatch. The mythic creature that has haunted this land since the beginning. The creature just sort of appeared and walked into the woods
Edward left in such a hurry he ran off and left his blood sausage sandwich and the electro-shocker. Edward was afraid the Double B might be mad back about the lost gear but he said they had plenty more where that came from. Besides, they had a new job for Edward and he had a brand new tool. It was an eight shot, three inch magnum twelve gauge shotgun with boxes of shells.
“You want me to shoot the bull trout?” Edward asked.
“No! You idiot!” The Double B said. “We want you to shoot the owls!” The Double B went on to explain how the Canadian Barred Owls were invading our borders, crowding our American owls out of nest sites and eating the Spotted owl’s white lab mice. There had even been stories of the Canadian owl attempting to breed with the American Spotted Owls.
“Is this the kind of country you want for your children?” The Double B asked Edward. “An America where you can no longer hear the hoot of an owl at night? Instead we are forced to listen to a Canadian owl calling Eh, eh eh. Think of our children’s’ children’s future and of their children as well. Don’t they deserve to hear an American owl? If we as biologists have to shoot some owls to save owls, I think it’s the least we can do.”
Edward was shocked.
As a vampire Edward could suck the blood out of a carcass or slaughter werewolves like rats at the dump with a wild joy on his heart-strings but the idea of harming an innocent creature was abhorrent to the very fiber of his being. Besides, it was one of the reasons he and Bella got together in the first place. Edward was one of the few guys in Forks that didn’t hunt.
“How can I shoot a defenseless owl that’s just sitting on a limb?” Edward asked.
“It’s easy,” The Double B laughed, “You just don’t have to lead them so far.
That night at the Cullen house is not happy one. Despite the fact that Bella had cooked one of his favorite dishes, Edward can’t even finish his blood soup. Bella thought it was the full moon that was getting Edward down. He used to run with his vampire pals when the moon was full. Now Edward just sat around and complained about his job as a government biologist.
“I didn’t mind shutting down the fishing seasons and closing the fish hatcheries,” he said.
“Heck it was kinda fun really. Watching those old red neck fishermen scream like a scortched warewolf because they couldn’t fish anymore. And there was nothing they could do about it.”
“Electro-shocking the bull trout was really fun. Just flip the switch and they float to the surface so you can count em. I must have set the knobs on my electro-shocker wrong by accident. About half the bull trout got a little singed so I thought I’d fry them up for a little shore lunch for the crew.”
“And you know what? It’s like they said. Endangered species just seem to taste better out in the fresh air. But I just don’t know if I can shoot an owl.”
“Shoot an owl!” Bella said. “Why on earth would you want to do that? You’re a biologist not a bounty hunter.”
“I know, Edward said. “ But the Boss Biologist, we call him the Double B, said our Spotted owls are being endangered by a bunch of Canadian Barred Owls. They must have snuck acrosss the border at night. Now the Barred owl is trying to breed with the Spotted Owls and it just ain’t natural. We can’t have all these wild critters breeding like that out where the tourists can see them. Something’s got to be done.” Edward said. “We got orders to shoot the Barred owls on sight.”
“That sounds awful,” Bella said. “I’m sure you’ll make the best little owl hunting biologist ever.”
Edward can’t believe his ears. Listening to Bella he thinks it might be the cabin fever talking. He skulks into the office before daylight the next morning. There must have been a biologist party the night before. The place looks like a biker gang had spent the weekend. There are empty shotgun shells all over the floor and a half eated bucket of chicken on his desk.
“Have some,” The Double B says as he lurches into the office about noon. ‘We saved it for you.”
“Thank you,” Edward said. He had to admit he was hungry. Bella was a loving and supportive wife but she couldn’t cook her way out of a Glad bag. At last night’s dinner the blood soup was clotted. Edward wolfs down the chicken chicken at the office until he bites into a chunk of buckshot.
“Where did did this chicken come from?” Edward asked.
“Who said it was chicken?” The Double B said. “That’s Southern fried owl. You know the rules. You find the buckshot, you wash the dishes.”
Edward goes to the kitchen and puts on his rubber gloves, sensing somehow that he has hit rock bottom.
It is while washing dishes in the basement of the capitol building, Edward begins to suspect that maybe he just isn’t cut out to be a biologist. He doesn’t want to shoot a Killer whale with a radio tracking dart, electro-shock a bull trout or shoot an undocumented Barred owl just because the poor bird got lost and found itself on the wrong side of the border.
“Cullen! Hurry up with those dishes!” The Boss Biologist bursts in whacking his leather hip boots with a gaff hook handle. “I think we finally found a job you can handle. I want you to get out there and empty those smolt traps!”
“What’s a smolt trap?” Edward asked.
“A smolt is a baby salmon that is migrating down the creek to head out to sea ya see? We dam up the creek and catch the smolts in a trap so we can count them!”
“But isn’t it illegal to dam a salmon stream? If you block the creek how are the other fish going to migrate upstream to spawn. I mean don’t smolt traps endanger the same threatened fish that we are trying to restore?”
“That’s a real good question Cullen. And someday we’ll get us a big ol’ government grant to study the problem. But right now we have a big ol’ government grant to trap smolts. Just remember one thing son. We’re biologists. We make the laws here. So unless you like washing dishes I suggest you get out there and count some smolts! I got some owls to shoot!”
For Edward, the worst part about being a vampire biologist is having to go outside during the daylight hours. Nevertheless he drives out to the smolt trap with a new found sense of professionalism. When Edward gets there, he sees something has gone horribly wrong. The smolts are gone! Edward hurries back to the office where the Double B is plucking his daily bag of owls. He tells the Double B that something got into the smolt trap.
“Could’a been anything,” the Double B said. “Bears, raccoons, mink, otter, they all like baby salmon. Here kid, I’ll let you borrow my riot gun. Just remember to hold low with the buckshot. This is your last chance Cullen. Try not to screw it up.”
After the pep talk Edward decides he is going to be the best little vampire biologist ever. Sure the biologists played a little rough. But in all of his hundred and sixty some odd years of being a vampire, this was the first job he had been able to keep for more than a day.
Edward likes the feeling of power that being a biologist give him. Of being outstanding in his field by himself, playing god with the Eco-system with a riot gun and a brand new four wheel drive with the wind in his hair, lead in his foot, the windows down and the stereo up.
Secure in the knowledge that the proletariat has but to give him some static and Shazzam! Edward can bring most any field of human endeavor to a crashing halt just by inventing another endangered species.
It’s twilight by the time Edward gets back to the smolt trap. He hides in a patch of brush and waits for whatever is stealing the fish.
In the gloaming night sounds come from the woods, heavy footfalls breaking logs and a call that sounds like a cross between a whistle and the mewing of a kitten. As it comes closer Edward raises the riot gun to his shoulder.

River monkey mania

There are strange sights seen on the Hoh River in winter.
“I saw a monkey sitting on a log,” my fancy friend said one day as we floated through the rain forest.
“Was it a big monkey?” I asked.
“A very big monkey!” he said.
“That’s just Harvey the brush ape. He doesn’t mean any harm,” I lied. There was no time to explain to the poor person sitting in the front of the boat that we had to get out of there before something bad happened, again. We were in mortal danger of being casualties of a primate behavior research project gone berserk.
Bigfoot or Sasquatch, also known as Stick Indians, Skookum or Seatco, are part of a tradition of large hairy ape-like creature that has haunted this land since before the beginning. Every tribe of Native Americans on the Olympic Peninsula has an oral tradition of these creatures.
They tell of a village wiped out by Skookums on Hood Canal, a war above what is now Blyn on Sequim Bay with a cannibal ogress that was stealing children. There was a battle between the S’Klallam and the Quileute when the giant buried them under a landslide to form Lake Crescent.
A gathering of Quinault, Cowlitz and Chehalis were wiped out at Enchanted Valley up the South Fork of the Quinault River. The same thing was supposed to have happened up the Wynoochee River.
The Press Expedition spent the winter of 1890 lost up the Elwha River. They had been warned of Seatco, by Washington’s former Territorial Governor Eugene Semple.
Seatco had a bad reputation for causing landslides and knocking over giant trees with a stick. That’s how they got the name “Stick Indians.”
The Press Expedition met a party of S’Klallam hunters up the Elwha Valley near what is now the Olympic National Park boundary. The hunters told the explorers they had no idea what was upstream.
Of course this might have just been a S’Klallam story to keep the hunting and fishing for themselves. Their traditions say the Sasquatch had their own territory where the S’Klallam did not go.
In 1924 S’Klallam journalist George Totsgi wrote in the Olympic Tribune, a Port Angeles newspaper in July 18, 1924, that “Indians would not go up the Elwha River without many white men along because of their fear of the Stick Siwashes.”
History records another example of the Native American dread of what lurked in the rugged, unknown interior of the Olympic Mountains.
In July of 1885 Lt. Joseph P. O’Neil hired an “old Indian guide,” for his U.S. Army expedition south of Port Angeles. That was until the guide found out where they were going, up Ennis Creek.
O’Neil describes how once the guide saw where the expedition was camped and where they were going, no amount of pay or death threats would detain him. The guide ran out of camp the very first night. O’Neil chalked it up to a native superstition, a fear of the Thunder Bird, the mythical monster bird large enough to catch whales, said to nest in the Olympics but it might have been something else. Maybe it was just a coincidence but O’Neil also mentions a lot of screaming at night around their camp. The mules were stampeded into the timber.
This camp was on Skull Creek, a small tributary of Ennis Creek, named for the discovery of a well preserved human skull the expedition turned up while cutting a trial.
Native Americans did travel up into the interior of the high Olympics. The Stick Indians obviously didn’t kill everyone who went upriver.
The S’Klallam hunter, Boston Charley, was the last medicine man of the Clallam. He hunted the high Olympics. Boston Charlie told of breaking his leg in the headwaters of the Elwha and being cared for by a Sasquatch who brought him berries and water. Maybe it was the same Stick Indian that followed him home one autumn down at the mouth of the river and took all of the fish out of his smokehouse and left a calf elk in trade.
Many people have seen the Sasquatch since that time. Many more have heard calls and screaming around their camps in the woods at night. That’s normal in these hills but you should have heard the scary noises at night around camp once my hunt for Bigfoot started.
There was the chest beating, posturing and eating noises coming not from the surrounding wilderness but from the nightly buffet at the Bigfoot hunter’s camp. The terrifying scream of the Sasquatch seemed tame by comparison.
I’d be the first to admit I was only in the hunt for Bigfoot for the money and possible future product endorsements. I could have been a contender. A lot of folks claimed to be hunting Bigfoot, but I had Bigfoot hunting me. He was always hanging around, knocking over coolers, raiding the garbage can and removing the 100-pound metal screen that was over the compost pit so he could get at the fresh salmon parts inside.
He liked to push trees over for fun. Or just stand there and watch me chop wood. You always knew when he was around when you heard the calls of ravens and other birds that were too loud to come from a bird.
You generally see a raven when he calls. They want the world to look up and take notice. Anything that doesn’t is liable to be the raven’s next meal. The fact is some bird calls in the woods weren’t made by birds at all. Harvey was a mimic who could sound like anything from a bugling bull elk to a police siren. He liked to scream around the camp at night when he ran out of beer.
That was a mistake, leaving bowls of beer on the riverbank at night. I thought I could lure the creature in and get him drunk enough for a quick ride to the zoo. Instead it was just another failed experiment in primate research.
For whatever reason I failed to find funding for my hunt for Bigfoot. I had to cut costs. Expenses were mounting.
Accidents will happen. Like when the plaster of Paris used to make impressions of the creature’s track was dumped into the pancake batter. Or when alcohol intended to preserve stool samples was dumped into the punch.
Then, a series of large footprints with a stride about six feet apart that were found in the mud along the edge of a pond. It looked like a human foot except it was large enough for my size 12 boot to fit inside with room to spare.
This called for expert analysis. I called Professor Grover S. Krantz, a physical anthropology professor from Washington State University who retired in Agnew, near Sequim. He has been called “the father of cryptozoology,” that is the study of animals that have yet to be officially “discovered” by modern science.
Dr. Krantz was one of the few scientists who not only researched the existence of Bigfoot; he believed the creature existed based upon physical evidence. Hand and foot prints of the creature exhibited dermal ridges and the physical mechanics of a large creature that walked on two feet and did not have an opposable thumb. Krantz found that suspected Sasquatch hair did not resemble the hair or fur of any known animal. Sasquatch dung was found to contain a parasite found in pigs in Northern China.
For his research Dr. Krantz was denied grants and promotions. He could not get his research published in peer-reviewed journals. It took him 10 years longer than normal to become a tenured professor.
Dr. Krantz had never seen a Sasquatch himself but he thought they existed based upon tracks, hair, dung and a fossil record that stretched back a million years or so.
He made a cast of the track I had found. While he was mixing up his special plaster of Paris solution, Dr. Krantz revealed that the goal of his research. He wanted to collect one of the creatures so it could be protected. I asked the Professor how he planned on “collecting” a Sasquatch. He said it would have to get shot. By then we were sitting in the kitchen of the lodge which was packed to the rafters with elk and deer horns with some bear and varmint hides thrown in. I told Dr. Krantz that I was a was a fair shot with a .338 magnum with hand loaded two hundred grain boat tails going 3,000 feet per second that will blow a hole in an elk a half a mile away and kill the one standing behind it, but I wouldn’t have the guts to shoot a Sasquatch. Besides, I told him.
“That would be murder.”
Dr. Krantz disagreed. No matter, he was one of those guys with whom you could disagree and still have a conversation. It was one I’ll never forget.
Dr. Krants left the lodge with a cast of the print that he would subject to a series of measurements, the details of which he would not reveal. He called a week later and said the track was a fake. That was the last time I talked to Grover S. Krantz. I felt terrible; to think he thought I was lowdown enough to make a fake Sasquatch track. Like I needed another chore!
The possibility that the track was a fake created a far more terrifying possibility. The prospect of a large hairy ape stalking the camp was one thing, the idea of some obviously deranged person walking around bare foot in the middle of hunting season when the woods were full of hunters shooting at anything that moved 24-7, was really scary. The hunt for Bigfoot sort of fizzled after that. It was OK.
Dr. Krantz wanted to collect a specimen of this undiscovered ape species to prove it really existed. That’s what got me wondering, who the real savage beast was. Except for knocking over a few trees, throwing some rocks Harvey had never done anything to me to get shot over. Meanwhile the human race had plundered the natural resources of this land into economic extinction in just a few short years.
I told Harvey he was lucky he was a fake and a fraud and didn’t exist. He’d stay that way if he knew what was good for him. Many creatures from the hundred pound salmon to the Olympic Mountain Moonshiner have gone extinct shortly after they were discovered. I was through studying Bigfoot. I cut off his beer ration.
Harvey just moped around the woods near the camp, moaning. Once in a while he’d yell “Hey!” like he was ordering another round. I could tell he was depressed but I had my own problems. Once you discover Bigfoot, how do you get rid of him? I thought he was one of those problems you could ignore and they would just go away.
The run of fall salmon had started running. The Eagles moved upriver to hunt the salmon. They are the fishermen’s friend. Eagles sit in the trees and watch the fish. Once you figure out the eagles it’s like having your own private bird dog for fish. I thought it was only fair if I fed them the heads and guts. I started cleaning the fish at the same spot along the river. Some days the eagles seemed to be waiting, some days they weren’t. I threw the fish heads and guts on the same stretch of beach anyway. I figured the eagles would get them eventually but I was wrong.
Something else started hanging around that stretch of beach. It smelled worse than a dead skunk. There were no more eagles or any other birds on the gut pile. We heard a raven calling from back in the woods. We never saw the raven.
“That sure is a loud raven,” my fancy friend said from the front of the boat.
“It sure is,” I lied. “I rowed down river as hard as I could.
We hadn’t caught anything that day. Fishing is like that. Some days only sure way to get a fish is to go to a supermarket.
Harvey did not understand this concept of not catching fish. It was my fault. I had violated the prime directive of wilderness travel. I fed the wildlife. I was the supermarket. The shelves were bare. Harvey registered his displeasure.
When were kids we used to play “sink the navy.” That was a game where we threw a stick in the river and threw rocks at it. Whoever hit the stick, “sunk the navy.”
Before I knew it Harvey was trying to sink my navy.
“Kersploosh!” A big rock sailed out of the woods and landed with a splash five feet of our stern.
“What was that?” my fancy friend asked.
“A fish jumped!” I lied.
“Why don’t we try to catch it?” He asked.
“Oh, it was just an old spawner,” I lied, launching into a guide yarn about how no real sportsman would try to catch fish off their spawning bed.
“Yes I would!” my fancy friend said. “I’d like to catch … something.”
“Let’s go downstream. This hole has a lot of snags.” I lied again. He made a cast anyway and wouldn’t you know it, caught a big bright steelhead. He wanted to catch another one but it was starting to get dark.
I cleaned the fish, threw the guts on the beach. It was way past time to get out of there.

Twilight Time for Twilight

These days it seems fewer and fewer Twilight fans are making the pilgrimage to Forks.

With the commercial success of the Twilight book and movie series, the once proclaimed logging capitol of the world had morphed into the vampire capitol of the universe.

I remember the good old days when hoards of soggy teenagers huddled in the rain in front of the “Welcome to Forks” sign while the rest of the family who’d been drug from across the country and around the world, waited in the car.

Waiting, to find the rest room facilities, cash machines and drive to LaPush and hassle the Indians about what time they were going to turn into werewolves.

All of which startled the locals until they figured out the Twi-hards were tourists and the season was suddenly opened year-round.

The next thing you know there were Twilight camp firewood bundles.

I’m not bitter. Just because the Twilight phenomenon boom thing didn’t work for me.  Even though I was the only  fishing guide on the Peninsula to offer a Twilight Fishing Fantasy where for a limited time only with additional fees and service charges, the Twi-hards had the once in a lifetime opportunity to go fishing with Edward and Bella.

OK, maybe they were just cardboard reproductions of the Twilight characters but I sell dreams, of hooking silver fish in blue water while partying with the latest Hollywood heart throbs.

Things went OK on the first Twilight Fantasy Fishing trip. Unfortunately the Twilight figures were not waterproof.  I should have known better.

We were fishing in the Hoh Rainforest where it rains. A lot. After a soaking I had to tape Edward to a kindling stick to give him enough backbone to sit upright and poor Bella got so bleached out she looked like an anorexic version of “The Mummy.”

Then there were the other fishing guides, whose uncharitable remarks only revealed how bitter they were about not thinking up the idea first and the delusional Twi-hards who wondered if we were going to catch a 100-pound salmon. I said it was a good day to try.

Instead we snagged into a spawned out bull trout that tore off downriver like a runaway shopping cart to where the river dove into a brush pile called, “The Tunnel of Love” in the brochure.

That’s where tragedy struck. Edward and Bella failed to execute a crucial limbo move. They got ripped and laid together in the bilge for an eternity or the next trip to the dump I don’t remember.

So I retired from the Twilight industry. Looking back I realize how wrong it was to prey upon the deranged fantasies of city slickers who were convinced they were going to see a werewolf swinging on a vine around the next bend of the river with a big old vampire on his tail.

Instead I decided to devote my life to sharing with our tourist’s friends the experience of seeing a real creature, the Sasquatch.

According to the Bigfoot Field Research Organization, Washington state leads the nation in Bigfoot sightings, at 525!

Most if not many of these reports were not sightings of me walking in the woods.

The BFRO has a TV show called “Finding Bigfoot” on the Animal Channel where they hunt for the creature with gangs of people and high-tech gadgets.

This does not work.

You cannot hunt a Sasquatch. Your only chance to see one is if they are hunting you.

To attract a curious creature, you must exhibit curious behavior.

 Next: The Bigfoot Hunter’s Cookbook



Extincto-mania hits the Peninsula

Pat Neal meets the Manis mastodon at the Museum and Arts Center of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley on West Cedar Street.

Thank you for reading this. If you don’t, no one will and we would be deprived of the luxury of your criticism.

I think it was the famous Greek philosopher, “What’s His Name,” who said, “Criticism is easier than craftsmanship.” I should have known better than to criticize the biologists.

I can offer no excuse for saying that these brave scientists would profit from the extinction of the fish, whales, birds or any other organism they happen to be studying.

I’m probably just bitter for not being a biologist myself. I could have been a crackerjack biologist except for one thing: the 4th grade. That’s when they hit us with the new math, which I didn’t get. The math teacher said pie are square when anyone knows pies are round. Blackberry cobblers and apple crisps are square.

Math is the language of science.  I had to take off my shoes and use my toes to count beyond 10. So I became a fishing guide where each number is divided or multiplied by a factor of two, depending on who you are talking to.

It was only by accident I became a wilderness gossip columnist, a bottom feeder in the shady underworld of print journalism, spewing misanthropic venom in a crude attempt at humor. That was no excuse to tar all biologists with the same wide brush when it’s really just the 90 percent of them that give the rest a bad name.

Just because I am a fishing guide is no excuse for me to be angry about the fish going extinct. The worse fishing gets, the more you need a guide. And besides, why should we care about fishing for salmon for our own food when there’s canned tuna at the food bank.

It’s an historical fact that extinction is a way of life on the North Olympic Peninsula.

It began shortly after the last ice age near Sequim, where archeologists discovered the remains of a mastodon with a spear point in its rib. One theory suggests that an exploding population of Stone Age hunters in the new world was responsible for the extinction of the pleistocene mega-fauna, the mammoths, giant bison caribou and other species that once roamed this place.

Doesn’t matter, they are gone now.

Our next big extinction occurred when the American Capt. Gray traded some iron chisels for sea otter skins at the mouth of a river he named after his ship, the Columbia. This set off the treachery and slaughter of the fur trade that wiped out the otters and many of the Native Americans who hunted them.

Spanish explorers were sure the Strait of Juan de Fuca was the Northwest Passage connecting to the Atlantic Ocean because of the abundance of all types of whales, including blue, sperm and humpbacked.

James Swan visited the Strait of Juan de Fuca with an eye to build a whaling station but Victoria, British Columbia, beat him to it.

As man moved inland the larger land animals went extinct.

In 1885 Lt. Joseph P. O’Neil reported large herds of tame elk in the high Olympics.

They had never seen man. By the 1900s the elk had been wiped out by market hunting, thrill seekers who massacred entire herds and the trade in ivory elk teeth for a gentleman’s watch fob.

To preserve what was left of the elk, the wolves were hunted to extinction in the 1930s.

Meanwhile, with the invention of the soldered tin can, the fishing industry took off.

The question isn’t why are the salmon going extinct on the Peninsula but, why did it take this long?

The emergency closure

log jam on Salt Creek

Engineered log jam on Salt Creek

It was another tough week in the news. The dreaded emergency closure reared its ugly head and stopped us from fishing many of our beloved rivers flowing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Emergency closures are not a new thing. The way our fisheries are managed there is always an emergency somewhere.
While emergency closures because of low numbers of fish have become a common management tactic, it’s interesting to note that there is never an emergency opening of a fishing season because of a sudden abundance of fish.
Rumors of the current emergency closure were first heard back in December when government biologists said there were low returns of native steelhead in rivers running into Puget Sound.
How the biologists knew there were low returns in December when the native steelhead don’t generally return until February is anyone’s guess.
Predicting the numbers of returning fish is an inexact science based upon a number of factors like smolt traps where the baby fish migrating downriver and out to sea are counted. This is a lot like counting your chickens before they are hatched, except an unknown number of smolts are killed in the smolt traps, but as they say you can’t make an omellette without breaking a few eggs.
With the recent budget cuts, shutting down the fishing season just seemed to make sense to people who don’t fish. After all, if no one is fishing, you don’t need fish cops or fish checkers or anyone to sell the licenses or count the punch cards.
The emergency closure worked so well on the Puget Sound Streams that it was decided to try it on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In addition there are rumors of more emergency closures on the Chehalis River system. This of course has all been decided before one fish was actually counted.
The actual numbers of fish don’t really matter. All that is required is to have the fish declared threatened and or endangered.
Then the gravy train of federal funds will flow and the fish restoration industry can work its magic.
I can think of no finer example of this phenomenon than the Dungeness River. Once called the finest spring steelhead river in the state, the Dungeness had huge runs of humpies, spring Chinook, chums and silvers.
Now, after 20 years of Dungeness salmon restoration, these same fish are rare, endangered or just plain gone. Today the Dungeness, a river with two fish hatcheries, is closed to fishing most of the year.
It all began with the simple emergency closure.
Then it was decided to cut the fish hatcheries’ budget. The money was used to buy property from “willing sellers.” The phrase is defined by the current Wild Olympics campaign not as a land-owning citizen, but as a “mechanism by which land can be acquired.”
Anyone who was not a willing seller risked having a biologist knock on their door to declare their home as bull trout habitat. Many then quickly became willing sellers.
Their homes were then bulldozed, thrown in the landfill and replaced with native vegetation. The river was then landscaped with engineered log jams tied together with steel cables, which made it impossible to fish even if the season was open.
The Dungeness is not unique. Coincidentally, all of the other streams that were just closed to fishing because of the “emergency” have been “restored” in much the same manner with the same dismal results.
The endless repetition of a failed experiment has been called a form of insanity.
I call it salmon restoration.

A biological study to remember

If I had but just one wish, I would be a biologist.
What could be better than to wake up in the morning and spend your days playing God with the ecosystem.
Heck, I’d work for free if they’d just buy fuel for the Humvee, ammunition, gill net, crossbow, bullhorn, dart gun, spotlight, harpoons, party barge, pepper spray, seal bombs, radio collars and electroshocking device.
All you need to be a biologist is something to study and a big bag of money. The possibilities are endless.
For example, the Japanese whaling industry depends on biologists to study whales so that the whales can continue to be slaughtered for research. The biologists recently published the results of their research on 4,500 whale carcasses and discovered an interesting fact: the whales are getting thinner. The cause could be global warming or over-fishing but we will need more studies to determine the exact cause.
Anything the Japanese can study, we can study better.
Say what you want about the economy but government grants continue to fall out of the sky like manna from heaven. America is still the land of opportunity where you can study anything you want.
National Park Service biologists recently studied the ear bones of 100 bull trout from the Hoh River. Bull trout are listed as an endangered species that is so rare, that if you should accidently hook one you must release the fish without taking it out of the water. The ear bones or “otoliths” record the life of the fish like the rings of a tree. Otoliths are like flight recorders of the migration from the river to the ocean and back. Unfortunately, to study otolith you must cut it out of the bull trout head, which kills them. That’s research for you.
Even the small fish are not immune to the biologists study. Biologists love to electro-shock streams because the results are so immediate and dramatic. Electric current stuns the fish so they float to the surface where they can be counted, measured and even implanted with electronic tracking devices.
Unfortunately electro-shocking the fish can have serious side effects from burns to killing fish eggs where they were laid in the gravel, deforming the spines on baby fish and making large fish more vulnerable to predators. We’re studying the problem.
Rare and endangered species of birds are not immune to study. The marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl have been outfitted with cute little transmitter packs that track their every movement and compromise their ability to survive. Coincidentally, populations of these rare and endangered birds continue to decline, even inside Olympic National Park.
Now a biologist wants to stick a transmitter on the dorsal fin of a Puget Sound killer whale to see where they go in winter. That sounds like fun but do we really need to stick a whale and risk enraging or infecting them to answer that question?
Puget Sound orcas prefer king salmon. Don’t we all? Except for the immature blackmouth, there are no king salmon in Puget Sound in winter.
The whales follow the fish. Find the fish and you’ll find the whales without torturing them.
Maybe it’s about time someone studied the biologists.
Perhaps someone could get a Federal grant to fit biologists with a small, color coordinated collars that would record their every movement with GPS satellite accuracy along with rates of respiration, temperature, blood-alcohol levels, drug chemistry as well as valuable polygraph data.
I think it is an idea whose time has come. We’ll thank ourselves later if we do the right thing now.

Don’t shoot the weather prognosticator

Thank you for reading this.
Sometimes I think that if you didn’t read this no one would. I know because you send me such wonderful messages.
It might be time to review the letters policy for a wilderness gossip column. Even the most significant expressions of human thought can appear confused if not downright scary when they are presented in a disorganized fashion.
Remember “Kill” is spelled with two “L’s” and “U” is spelled Y-O-U. Use a little more glue on those letters you clip out of the bass-fishing magazines.
Even the most heartfelt expressions can be difficult to read when they are in a jumble at the bottom of the envelope. Work on your scissor skills, that’s if they still let you have sharp objects.
Even if they don’t and you are nothing but a glue-sniffing bass fisherman just remember, your opinion counts as much as the next guy.
When leaving me a telephone message please include your own telephone number with the cursing and heavy breathing if you wish to have your call returned.
I am just a lowly freelance wilderness gossip columnist. “Freelance” is newspaper talk for “unemployed.”
I am not a clairvoyant. If I was then it might have been possible for me to produce a more accurate long range weather forecast of the viscous winter we are now experiencing.
Some of the more uncharitable readers have recalled that this was the winter that I predicted would be wet, warm and mild.
Now that the governor has declared the state of Washington an official federal disaster area with hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity and uncounted millions in property damage it might be time to review my own winter weather prediction methodology.
This is not an exact science. Based as it is on the appearance of spiders in the fall, the thickness of the husk on an ear of corn, the amount of wax on a winter apple and the fat on a buck’s back.
These observations are valuable weapons in the prognosticator’s arsenal that leave little margin for error.
Still weather prediction errors do occur. I blame the government.
You have to shoot a buck before you can check the fat on his back.
Here in Washington, we manage our game in a way that tries not to hurt anyone’s feelings. So we protect the varmints and leave the hunting season open half the year. Then we wonder why it’s so hard to get a deer.
This year it took me all season to get a buck. Even then it was an accident.
I was cleaning my rifle. I didn’t know it was loaded. The rifle went off and hit a deer. I tried to take him to the vet.
The operation was a success but the patient died. There was a celebration of life, a barbecue.
The old rutting buck was tougher than grandma’s army boot. He had a swelled neck and an empty belly. The tips of his horns were broken off and big chunks of hair were ripped out of his hide from fighting. Even worse, there were two other bullets and buckshot in his carcass.
This guy had been through the wars. No wonder there wasn’t a scrap of fat on him. He was so tough you couldn’t get a fork in the gravy.
As for the corn husks, we had such a dismal summer last year a lot of the corn didn’t ripen. It was the same with the apples that flowered in the spring before it was warm enough for the bees to pollinate them.
Still I should not have misread the spiders. The abundance of their webs is a sure indicator. But they spun their webs too early and by the time I went to count them, the wind was blowing too hard.
Given this prognosticator’s record, all I have to say about the rest of the winter is it’s not over yet.

Patience, patience, patience

My last episode emphasized the importance of patience when fishing for the winter run steelhead. This is a waiting game.
First you must wait for the rain to raise the rivers enough to get the fish upstream. So you wait for it to rain, but then it’s a flood. A flooding Hoh River can come up three feet in an hour until it’s 10 times the size it was the day before.
Making it look like a gigantic chocolate milkshake with some trees floating in it. Fishing is out of the question on a river that can take out Highway 101 any time it wants. You have to wait for the high water to drop. You want the rivers low enough to fish. You’ll need a spell of cold weather for that, with crisp mornings in the ‘teens. This is winter fishing at its finest, except the fish become sluggish in the cold. They’ll hardly wiggle when you hook them. Sometimes a frostbit steelhead will just sort of swim right up to you like they want you to put them out of their misery. Once the edges of the river and the surface of the slower holes start icing up, fishing becomes a whole lot tougher.
Back in the last century we used to fish the canyon below the Elwha Dam for winter steelhead. It’s funny how back then, in the 1960s and early ’70s the Elwha River was one of the top steelhead streams in Washington. Then something happened. The fish on the Elwha went from being food to Endangered Species. We’re still studying the problem.
The river was freezing over. That did not stop us from climbing down into that canyon. Where, in order to land a steelhead you had to skid it over a ten foot section of ice that was too thick for the fish to break and too thin to walk on. Many a hefty lunker released themselves on the edge of the ice before a rapt audience of expectant onlookers who dispensed their helpful remarks with the certainty that you would never land the fish.
These were plunkers. At the time I was plunking with them. It wasn’t my fault. Heck, I started out just fishing for sea-run cutthroat with worms.
One day I went fishing with some plunkers. They started catching fish and before I knew it, I was a plunker too. It’s not something you have to be ashamed of anymore. Plunkers are people too.
Plunking is a stationary method of fishing that allows you to fish in the worst weather. It makes me madder than a pepper-sprayed protester to hear how plunkers are nothing but a bunch of lazy drunks who throw a rig out in the river, sit in their truck and do beer curls.
Fishing while intoxicated may not be a crime in Washington, (yet) but driving or even having an open container in your vehicle is.
Drinking and driving on the North Olympic Peninsula is stupid. The Washington State Patrol sends its new troopers up here to toughen up on the loggers. Once the loggers get done breaking in the new troopers, you definitely don’t want to get pulled over by them. You want to mind your manners in town too.
The mayor of Forks recently warned motorists that if they park on the sidewalk “you will meet a police officer.”
The fact is it’s a bad idea to drive at all in this weather unless it’s absolutely necessary. Maybe we all need a little more patience.
I’m going to wait till it warms up to fish.