If Outdoor Life Network's upcoming Mysterious Encounters series finds what it's looking for, most viewers might not want to head into the woods again. Starting later this summer, the program will track big furry beasts like Bigfoot and lake monsters like Upstate New York's Champ (he or she is partial to Lake Champlain) and will deploy NASA technologies to do it.
The challenge was laid at the regular-size feet of Doug Hajicek, executive producer of White Wolf Entertainment, which is producing the series with Bosch Media LLC: Find an ape. "There's never been a scientific study of these sorts of things," he says, "just some amateurs trying to get pictures of a Bigfoot-type creature."
Because the animals are primarily on the move at night, night-vision and thermal technology will be an important part of the tracking process. "We need technology that will not only cut through the veil of the forest canopy but will also allow us to sneak up on them."
Among the systems being used are a Floatograph Skydock balloon, which will be used in an upcoming NASA launch to Mars. The balloon is about 320 feet wide and can travel at speeds above 90 mph. Attached to the balloon is a prototype of a NASA remote-controlled robotic camera base. A Mikron thermal imaging system will be mounted on the camera base to survey movement on the ground from up to 20 feet in the air.
Hajicek has experience delving into the unknown, having created the first camera system used to show life within a beaver dam. That led to the discovery that one of the muskrat's loves is living alongside beavers.
A Sony DDSR-570 DV camera is being used to record the coverage along with a number of Sony night cameras and lipstick waterproof cameras. Hajicek has already traveled to Louisiana and is now up near Lake Champlain looking for Champ. His team will be spending a large amount of their time out west, particularly near Mount St. Helens in Washington.
"We'll be in each location for around five days, which is enough time to at least do different attracting methods," he says. "We've already gotten some scream evidence and hair samples that were confirmed as unknown primate."
The Mikron thermal camera is the most expensive investment. With a price tag of $50,000, it has sensitivity to 0.01 degree Fahrenheit. Says Hajicek, "We'll be able to see what's approaching us, leaving us, how big it is, and even take the body temperature."