Laura K. Leuter, Charley Lolio, Belinda Connolly, Heather Norcross, Katie Brown
Can you believe it? Back to back Saturday hunts! We decided to keep the streak going and accepted a request to film in Batsto, NJ with a crew that is putting together a potential show on investigating local legends throughout the United States. If things go well, our pilot will be shopped around to networks, and these guys might get picked up to do their traveling show. It seemed like a fun opportunity for us!
Katie, Bel and I met up with the film crew in Burlington, and then drove down to meet the south crew (Charley and Heather) in Hammonton. After a brief review of the ground rules for Devil Hunting, we headed out to magnificent Batsto Village to do some filming out there. It was a good time, but in terms of a hunt, not exactly full of activity. We stopped and chatted near one of the old houses on the outskirts of the village, and did some shots of us 'hunting', but there wasn't much to find out there aside from some old bottles from woods partiers.
The interviewing went well, we thought. Each one of us got to share a little bit about the hunts and the Jersey Devil, as well as our own personal interests. These guys were pretty fun, too. They had specifically chosen certain questions to push my buttons a bit, but it was all in good fun. They wanted me to give some of the answers that we have on the website (for example, one of the questions was about the relation of the Jersey Devil with Chupacabra, which if you've read the site, you know that I'm not a big fan of comparing the two).
After filming at the village for a while, we took the crew over to our preferred area of Batsto, the site where we've had plenty of fun things happen. We did more interviewing and discussing there, as well as giving them a recap of the events the night we heard the noises in Batsto (Hunt #19). They did try to get Bel to scream, but she respectfully abstained from doing so. While these guys seemed pretty trustworthy, you never know what's going to happen once your footage hits the editing room. They also spent some time interrogating Katie, our newest member, which was quite the initiation for her - she's been in the group for a week now, and on her first hunt she had cameras and lights and microphones shoved in her face! She held up very well for her first time!
At this point, it was now becoming dark, so we started to wrap up. We were all incredibly cold from standing around in the 20 degree weather, so we headed back to Charley's house for a break. The decision was then made to get some food, so off to the diner we went!
At dinner, we discussed how disappointed we were that while filming had been fun, we didn't really 'hunt' for anything. Since it was Katie's first official time on a hunt, we wanted to make sure she got the full experience. So we decided to head back out to Batsto and let Katie get a crack at the area without the film crews.
By the time we arrived at Batsto, it was now completely dark and very cold. We grabbed all of the equipment and headed off on the trail into the woods. We all had an anxious feeling in our stomachs as we started out on the path. The first area that we came to was a wooden bridge, which takes us across a small rushing creek. Today the creek seemed to be rushing pretty well. We acclimated ourselves to the sound of the creek while we prepared to dig deeper into the woods. At one point, the noises of the creek seemed to change, and sounded like something large was wading through it. We tried to get a video of this, but unfortunately the sound was too far off in the distance for the camera to pick up. Whatever was causing the noise seemed to be just behind some trees, outside of our eyesight. The noise occurred for a few minutes and then died down. After things seemed to level out, we headed further up the trail.
The further we got into the woods, the more we noticed that it was completely silent out there. Incredibly silent. It was very strange to be in such silence. You could hear anything and everything out there. Unfortunately, we weren't hearing anything but ourselves. On occasion we'd hear a branch break or a small chirping noise, but it was most likely just caused by some small animal out there. At one point, Katie thought she may have seen a deer in the distance, but that was about as close to any kind of wildlife that we got.
After hiking out on the trail for a while, we decided to turn back, as nothing was happening and our hands were beginning to freeze. We had been out in the cold for most of the day, so at this point we were looking to warm up again. We came back out of the trail and stopped by another place in the woods in Batsto, the place where we had been followed by a loud noise in January of 2003 (see Hunt #19). It felt like we were revisiting a crime scene a little, though to our disappointment, nothing much was going on while we were there, either.
So what did we find? A lot of dog poop. I don't know what that was about! We had to keep watching the ground as much as we were watching in front of us so that we didn't end up stepping in one of those land mines. It wasn't pleasant! The team was disappointed that not much else had happened aside from the noises in the creek, which could have been anything - maybe a deer or something. I was disappointed too, but I think hunts like this need to happen. If something weird happened to us on every single hunt, then I would start to question our own integrity as a research team. So, Hunt #34 was a reality check for us, and a good experience for the team to get back out there, but not much else.
After the hunt, I did take a moment to check in with Katie to see if she had any feedback on her first hunt. When I asked her what she thought, she replied, "You guys are hardcore." We will take that as a compliment!
And now, some video clips from the day.