The Michigan Recording Project

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July 2, 2007 Bluff/Tree Stand

Selected Individual Vocal Clips

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Bluff/Tree Stand Event Report

Event Report/Field Notes: Monday, July 2, 2007

Team Members in Attendance:
Stacy and Jim Flowers, and kids Bo, Katie, and Sean (Sean was asleep)
Paul Willison
Also present was a teenage son of the Landowner.

Audio Equipment:
HI-MD Sony Walkman MZ-RH910 portable minidisc recorder, two external omni-directional microphones.
Audio recorder was placed at a location about 40 yards outside of the primary base camp, with microphones placed to capture sound coming from the river valley. The recorder was located about 100 yards from the tree stand (and approximately 100 yards from the primary subject of the recordings).
Recorder was set to long duration recording mode.

Video/Photographic Equipment:
None used. Sony 7.2 mp digital camera available, but subject did not present a photo opportunity.

Night Vision Equipment:
Night Owl gen.1

Spotlighting Equipment:
1 mill. C.P., in camp. Smaller light at base of tree used to negotiate uneven terrain when entering or exiting after dark. None in treestand, this night the intent was to be full stealth and observations were to be made with night vision.

Other Equipment:
Tree stand placement location: On east side of riverbank 150 ft. northwest of Base Camp, near bottom of Game Trail. Tree stand is a hang-on design, placed in the canopy of a large aspen tree approximately 30 feet above the ground, oriented to the west/northwest.

Strategies and Planning:
Team members will use a combination of active and inactive methods.
The plan is for Paul to position himself in the tree stand before dark, equipped with a Night Vision scope and camera. The goal is to see one of the subjects and potentialy photograph it if in range of the flash. An audio recorder will be set out WSW of Base Camp at the bend of the river as well.

Precursor to Incident: 
For two nights previous to this event, Jim was in the tree stand using an infrared spotlight and camcorder. On the night immediately prior to this one, two very close and loud "whoop" vocalizations came from an area very close to this incident, but about 5 minutes after Jim had vacated the stand and returned to Base Camp. That was the first time any of us heard the "whoops".

Primary event overview:
Duration of Incident: Inclusive of long distance calls, duration was approximately 15 minutes. Duration as displayed has been shortened by removal of down time between long distance vocals.

Evening of Monday, July 2, 2007
Weather is fair. Observation platform is located approx. 50 linear yards from Base Camp, overlooking river and opening on far bank. Base camp has normal activity (quiet talking, medium fire).

9:30 pm - Paul locates to tree stand. Attempts at complete motionlessness are hindered by insects.
** Personal note here to fellow investigators: Head nets are ESSENTIAL gear in such a setting. In this case, the lack of one may have cost me a photo opportunity, due to my movement possibly alerting the subject(s) to my presence.--PW **  

At the time the vocalizations start, Jim, Stacy, and the kids are all sitting around what's left of the fire, which has burned down to the point where there's almost no flame, occasionally chatting very quietly, but mostly listening silently.  

11:13 pm - For several minutes, a series of vocalizations and physical manipulation of brush originates from a point roughly 20 yards across the river from the tree stand. The immediate area of the audio phenomenon is almost wholly hidden behind a screen of willow and cedar trees. The notes below further describe the incident from 3 points of view.

** - from Stacy’s notes: "We heard a very loud "wooOOUUUA!" (like a whoop) from the usual area across the meadow. A few seconds later, the same subject let out a sound that started the same way but ended sort of in a typical scream, almost like he couldn't decide what he wanted to do... you'll hear what I mean. As Jim and I were looking at each other like "What the hell?", from right down on the river bank across from camp, we heard a real short, low, grunty, chesty, airy "WUHH..... WUHH" sound, which Paul later told us was the beginning of the mumbly-grumbly-chattery sound they were making."

** - Same incident from Paul’s notes: "An extremely loud whoop comes from Subject 1, immediately across the river, behind a couple of individual cedar and poplar trees at north edge of the Clearing, directly across from Tree Stand."

** - Same incident from Jim’s notes: "The first sound on the recording is about 11:13 p.m EST. and is approximately 100-150 yards north from the recording device and about 100 feet WNW from Paul in the tree stand across the river. The secondary "whoo" sound is in the same location as the original, as are the "huffs" and what he described as a mumbling sound in the same area of what he believed to be two individuals in the same area. The long "Aaaa" sound originates from a source about a 1/2 mile to the west by estimation and walking the area several times in the past, and the following morning. He also noted that, after the series of mumbles and other assorted sounds, that through his night vision he saw a large dark shape rise up through the foliage at the point where the sounds originated. After the ... whatever it was, moved off, he called me on the radio to meet him on the lower trail leading to the tree-stand, and, for what it's worth, in my opinion, was visibly shaken by the experience. … The recording device is part of a triangular area encompassing the recorder, the camp and the tree stand. All about equally distant from one another."

11:13:02 or :03 – An answering “AAHHHHH” scream comes from Subject 2, from west of the Meadow toward the road.

11:13:04 onward – A chain of calls from Subject 1, starting with “Whah! Whah!” huffs, moderate in volume, whoops, and a very low, soft mumble/chatter which is not picked up by the recorder.

All this time, the brush is snapping and breaking in front of Paul (across the river), at times quite loudly.

There are "answering" chatters from the North Woods.

(** Personal note from Paul. The very low chatter from the north and the very low frequency "mumble" from the subject immediately in front of me are unfortunately not apparent on the recordings. This is one of the few times that a secondary recorder outfitted with a directional or shotgun mic would have been of benefit.)

When the louder whoops and “whah” sounds are going on, the distant “AAHHHH” screamer will reply.

There is the possibility that at least 3 Subjects are making sounds.

Toward the end of the event, through a hole in the trees (some of which are on the east side of the river), Paul observes through his Night Vision scope a very large obviously vertically oriented but indistinct subject move up and to the right in the trees on the far side of the river, originating from the apparent source location of the closer vocals. This subject is very large, but indistinct due to the trees and distance and the fact that the smoke from the fire has settled down in the low area and seems to have really reduced the distance that NV-IR will work ... This renders the IR output of the N.V. device somewhat reduced, but still allowed for the observation of the large but obviously upright and vertically oriented subject that moves up (rises up) and to the right, just for a second or two of observation.

(** Personal note from Paul: I was, while sitting in the stand, later able to observe Jim and Stacy trace a path though the same general terrain that the subject did, when they returned from a vigil on the far side of the river. The vertical nature of them was equally apparent, but the size difference between them and the previous subject was extraordinary.) 

After the visual, the last two screams were like long distant calls. They were much farther apart than the recording indicates ... Paul removed about 3 minutes of dead air between each, just to save space.

During the early part of the activity, Paul does not engage the IR in his Night Vision, but does use NV with ambient lighting only. He only engages the IR at the end, when he sees the large shape rise up and move to the right behind the trees.

 - End of Report -

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