The Eerie World of Bigfoot Sound Recordings

In the world of Bigfoot research there are many forms of supposed evidence that have been put forward over the years. One is photographic evidence, which includes various videos and countless photographs allegedly taken of the mysterious creatures. While some of these have turned out to be compelling, they are generally famous for their blurry and inconsistent quality, and have remained very controversial and inconclusive. There is also the physical evidence, such as footprints, hairs, supposed Bigfoot shelters, and rockpiles out in the wilderness with inscrutable purposes, but this evidence too has remained inconclusive, often faked, and merely serves to be alluring but ultimately frustrating. Perhaps one of the more intriguing, and indeed eerier of the different forms of Bigfoot evidence is that of the auditory kind, wherein recordings have been put forward alleging to capture the sounds of the elusive creatures. Here we have spooky vocalizations of purported Bigfoot that not only capture the imagination, but also serve to create an unsettling feeling with their unearthly howls, whistles, wails, and even speech.

By far the clearest, most compelling, well-known, and oft-debated of the numerous recordings of Sasquatch sounds are what have come to be commonly called “The Sierra Sounds.” The origins of these anomalous recordings begins in 1971, when a man named Ron Morehead, of Merced, California, heard an account from a friend of his in which he had been on a hunting trip in the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and Nevada, during which his he and his hunting companions had encountered a huge, hairy ape-like beast that had approached them and issued otherworldly screeches and howls.

The Sierra Nevada Mountains

This unnamed friend convinced Morehead to go back to the site with him to search for any physical evidence left behind, and they ventured out into the remote wilderness area along with a journalist from Sacramento named Alan Berry, who was just along for an interesting story and did not at first put much stock into all of this talk of hairy wild men. They were unsuccessful in finding anything of interest at the high altitude deer hunting camp on their first trip, but a follow-up excursion would prove to turn up some bizarre things indeed. Morehead and Berry came up with the idea to place microphones in the bushes and the trees and see what happened, and after several rather uneventful nights, the group was apparently finally able to make contact with the elusive creatures. What they would catch on tape is some of the clearest, most puzzling audio evidence of Bigfoot ever obtained.

The Sierra Sounds themselves consist of a truly bizarre sequence of a mixture of apparent wood-knocking and odd vocalizations, including grunts, whoops, howls, whistles, and rapid-fire utterances that are thought to be perhaps actual Sasquatch speech, and have been nicknamed “Samurai Chatter” as they sound vaguely like a non-Japanese speaker trying to do an impersonation of a Japanese samurai from movies and TV. During these encounters, Morehead and Berry claimed that the massive creatures would boldly come rather close to the camp, but would melt away into the wilderness as soon as anyone tried to leave their tent, meaning that the group had very little visual confirmation of what they were seeing, instead hunched down in their tent listening to the spooky noises echoing out through the night, which must have been tense indeed, as the creatures do not always sound particularly friendly in the mysterious recordings.

Other than this, the alleged Sasquatch, of which there were clearly more than one, were not shy about freely vocalizing, being recorded, and even interacting with the men, as there is a good portion of the recordings where the humans can be heard trying to mimic the sounds they are hearing, calling out to the mysterious intruders and actually getting a response, incredible instances of possible communication between the two caught on tape. The next day, they would find giant footprints in the snow outside, convincing them that they had indeed heard the sounds of a group of Bigfoot. Morehead and Berry would make several more trips to the site over the next year, making further recordings of the enigmatic creatures, as well as collecting numerous plaster casts of the enormous footprints they allegedly left behind. Unfortunately, the strange beasts were supposedly extremely adept at avoiding camera traps, and so no photographic evidence was produced, but the collection of recordings made by Morehead and Berry are still considered to be the best alleged audio recordings of Bigfoot ever made, and are still considered to be the gold standard for such evidence.

Ron Morehead and Alan Berry

The sounds were baffling to everyone who heard them, and even the journalist Berry, who had been highly skeptical at first and convinced that he was having his leg pulled by the other two men, but was unable to find any evidence of fakery and was ultimately forced to concede that they had truly heard something beyond conventional understanding. The recordings were so intriguing and inexplicable that they made the rounds amongst several experts. One of the first of these to listen to the tapes was retired U.S. Navy linguist R. Scott Nelson, who had over 30 years of experience as both a linguist and code-breaker, and is a speaker of four languages. Nelson would come to the conclusion that the creatures caught on tape were utilizing an actual unknown language with its own grammar and syntax. Nelson would go on to craft a whole theory on the workings of the potential Sasquatch language, as well as a phonetic alphabet for it, and has said of the language he believes is on the Sierra Sounds tapes:

Sasquatch Language is spoken approximately twice as fast as any known language in most analyzed recordings, therefore it must be slowed down to be transcribed accurately. Because of what I did in the Navy, spending years and several thousand hours speeding the human voice up and slowing it down, I could just detect language in those vocalizations.

Others who analyzed the tapes, including a year-long evaluation by a Dr. R. Lynn Kirlin at the University of Wyoming, concluded that the sounds seem to come from something with a larger lung capacity and vocal range than a human, and that they performed verbal acrobatics, thunderous howls, and high pitched squeals and whistles that no human being would possibly be able to orally duplicate. There was no evidence at all that the tape had been sped up, slowed down, or altered in any way. Most came to the conclusion that whatever made the sounds was likely some sort of large, non-human primate. Rone Morehead himself has said of the extensive analysis done on the Sierra recordings:

Years ago it was established that the vocalizations which were recorded were not manufactured by an alternative source, i.e., speakers, amplifiers, or man. Most of the vocalizations are outside the human range. In 2008, it was established, through a Crypto-Linguistic study, that the sounds have a complex language structure and, anything with a language ‘must’ exist.

It is unfortunate that Morehead has always remained secretive about where the site where the recordings were made is actually was located. He has only cryptically suggested that it is a deer-hunter’s camp 8 miles from the nearest road over perilous terrain and rough wilderness, that it is at an altitude of over 8,000 feet, and “somewhere between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park,” in other words, it could be anywhere. Morehead further explained that there was never any signs whatsoever of other humans anywhere near the area. Wherever it is, it seems to have an incredibly high frequency of Bigfoot activity if these reports are to be believed.

Of course, not everyone is convinced of the veracity of the “Sierra Sounds” recordings and there have been many skeptics who say that there is nothing on the tape that could not have been done by a human or dedicated hoaxer. This would mean that either Morehead was being unwittingly hoaxed, although why anyone would be out in the middle of nowhere doing such a thing remains unknown, or that he was actually in on it, something both he and journalist Berry adamantly deny. One very straight forward criticism of the recording was made by Karen Stollznow, of Scientific American, who does not mince words when she says:

The vocalizations are an amateur impression of how a proto-language might sound if it evolved from non-human primates. This “Bigfoot” is likely human, and the ‘Sierra Sounds’ a combination of hoax and misidentification, like all of the other evidence for Bigfoot. Similar to the claims of the (so far mythical) Orang-Pendek, Bigfoot would probably communicate using vocalizations. However, non-human primates don’t have the physiology to produce a wide variety of speech sounds, so it is unlikely that Bigfoot would have developed language, or would be able to speak existing human languages.

It seems there is much disagreement and debate on the authenticity of the Sierra Sounds recordings and what they are of, but they nevertheless remain the clearest and most compelling recordings ever made of supposed Sasquatch, and by some accounts the best evidence for Sasquatch, period. Ron Morehead has collected the recordings into two complete collections along with narration, Bigfoot Recordings Volume One: A True High Sierra Wilderness Story, and Bigfoot Recordings Volume Two: The Bigfoot Recordings, and he has also written a book of his adventures in the Sierras looking for Bigfoot. The complete collections of the recordings are available on Morehead’s website, and in the meantime, you can here two different portions of the Sierra Sounds recordings here and another part here and make up your own mind.

Interestingly, there is another creepy recording also taken in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 2012, this time along with a static image from a trail cam. The creature cannot be seen at any point, but boy can it be heard. Whatever it is sounds very aggressive, almost like it is challenging what it perceives as a threat and making a bold bluff, as a mountain gorilla might do. Many people have claimed it is merely the sounds of a dog, but on many occasions it does not sound like that at all, and at some points during the recording something like wood knocking or two rocks being smashed together can be heard. You can hear it here. It must be remembered that gorillas make a similar barking sound when they feel threatened or are trying to show who’s boss. What do you think it is?

Another fairly well-known recording of an alleged Sasquatch, which is indeed considered to be one of the clearer examples, is what is mostly known as the “Klamath Screams.” In September of 1992, two boys were out exploring in a wilderness area in Klamath, California at around 11:30 AM in the morning when they had an encounter they would never forget. After hearing something large crashing through the brush, they said they were revolted by a pungent stench that smelled like “rotted chicken.” They then laid eyes on an enormous figure covered with dark, reddish brown hair, which seemed to be holding a branch in its hand and shaking it about menacingly. The thing’s face was described as having a mix of human and ape features, and they would call it the “big hairy man.”

Klamath, California

The father of one of the boys, a Daryl Owen, later investigated the site and would find a series of 34 gigantic footprints measuring 16.5 inches long and 8.5 inches wide, which he would take casts of. He would make his own sighting of something large and hairy with deep set eyes and long, thick hair the color of “burnt orange,” staring at him from some bushes. After this sighting, the night began to be regularly permeated by howls, shrieks and screams by something unknown out there in the dark, usually reported from between 9 and 10 PM. It was claimed that there were more than two of, well, whatever they were, because the screams would seemingly  gather a response from another on a different hilltop. One researcher by the name of Scott Herriott spent 3 days at the location and heard the screams himself. In 1993 a recording was made of the haunting sounds, which sound extremely eery and almost forlorn in nature. You can hear them here.

Similar to the Klamath Screams are some anomalous noises in the wilderness recorded in the 1970s, which bear some resemblance to this recording. In 1973 in Puyallup, Washington, there was a series of Bigfoot sightings made at a gravel pit in the area, and there were reports of something screaming in the night. One man named Mariln Ayers managed to make a recording of the eery noise, which is unlike any known wildlife in the region. The recording of the “Puyallup Screamer” can be heard here. Another such “screamer” was recorded in 1978, in the area of Snohomish, also in the state of Washington, which was continuously heard over the course of 9 months, also amidst a rash of Bigfoot sightings in the area. It is weird just how much they match the Klamath screams and the Puyallup screams. You can hear the “Snohomish Screams” here.

Puyallup, Washington

Another recording from the same area at the same time features some odd whistling noises from possibly the same creature, and can be heard here. Another somewhat similar recording was taken in 1973 of a Bigfoot apparently moaning in pain after being fired at in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, which can be heard here. A year before this, in 1972, there was also the curious recording called the “Estacada Call,” taken near Estracada Oregon by a man named Dave Cleveland, who had seen the creature roaming about on his property. Listen and see what you think.

Such strange alleged recordings of Bigfoot have been made right up into more present days. In 2013, the Umatilla Indian Reservation, near Pendleton, Oregon, was terrorized by a spate of odd, chilling screams in the night coming from some nearby swampland. Considering that the area has a long history of Sasquatch sightings, many became convinced that this was what they were hearing. Authorities tried to explain the noises as coming from foxes or coyotes, but many of the residents know what those sound like and disagreed, with one local by the name of Sylvia Minthorn saying, “Foxes do sound creepy. But it’s not the same sound, not even close. It’s causing an uproar around here.”

One local man was convinced that it was a scared young Sasquatch who had gotten separated from his family group. Whatever it was, the sounds were so persistent and terrifying that many people were afraid to go outside at night. One employee for the reservation housing authority managed to make a recording of the sounds, saying of them, “It’s kind of spooky. Some say it’s foxes, some say it’s a female coyote and some say it’s Sasquatch. I don’t know what it is.” Whatever it is, you can hear it for yourself right here. Even more recently was a recording made in 2017, in the wilds of Canada, where the witness claims to have been out camping when he captured the spooky noises. Is this Bigfoot or something else?

There are many other purported recordings of Sasquatch sounds and vocalizations, and this is just a selection including some of the more well-known and stranger of this phenomenon. There are of course myriad theories as to what any of these could be, such as misidentified known animals or hoaxes, but there are also plenty of people who have taken notice of such anomalous recordings and wondered if these just may be actual compelling evidence of these elusive cryptids. If they are, then they provide a potentially very important trove of information as to what their vocalizations sound like, and indeed a look into the possibility that they even possess speech and their own language. Whatever the origins of these weird sounds may be, they are certainly not something that at least this writer would want to hear echoing about while camping out alone in the boondocks at night.