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The Sniffer

The Sniffer

On the 30th of March 2011 I recorded something sniffing and checking out my recorder at my main research area. Now when I place out remote recorders they are usually an object of interest by the forest critters. Most of the time I assume it is raccoons, possums or even field mice.

This audio was a little different and made me wonder if it wasn’t something a little larger. It had a long approach getting to the recorder and leaving. Also heard are several different types of owls, coyotes and the long rumble of a train. I could not filter at all because it would lose those lower sounds. The best way to listen to this sound is with headphones and the volume turned up. Although the subject was very close to the microphone the noises it made were very subtle. Is this the same way gamecams are inspected, by coming up slowly and and staying out of the front of the camera? It would be interesting to have audio recordings on those gamecams that have revealed out-of-focus fringes of hair around the edges of the vision of field.

Click here to listen to sound clip:  Sniffer 1

Waveform View

Spectral View

Location of the recorder placed underneath a log. As the small recorder was not visible to any casual passer-by my hunch is that it was detected by the animal having smelled it. None of the leaves appeared to have been moved so I would think that what ever was inspecting the recorder was careful not to touch either the recorder or the leaves that were close to it.

By | 2011-04-02T11:59:39+00:00 April 2nd, 2011|Audio Recording, My Research|10 Comments

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  1. T April 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Hi Stan:

    How far from the mic would your recording gear pick up that sniffing? Seemed close enough to produce some spiking in the recording

    Reason being, I was trying to determine the sniffing noises as opposed to the shuffling-in-the-leaves noises.

    If the recorder is on the ground, then there might be a delay for a large upright critter to shuffle to a spot around the recorder and then have to lower its torso and head to produce the sniffing sounds we hear. I was trying to see what delay if any existed. I've only listened to the clip 6 times and haven't really studied it in depth at this time.

    However, the critter could be on all fours, and the time to shuffle and get the nose back down to the recorder's to record the sniffs at that location would be lessened.

    One other item I thought of is extrapolated from the notion that the recorder held your scent and that's what attracted the critter. Would you be open to leaving a piece of clothing or cloth – just a patch- that carried your sweat and leaving it with or around the recorder, but exposed enough to have its scent drift to attract critters?

    By that, I mean that this sniffing critter picked up your faint scent on the recorder and understood that the faintness of the scent meant you, the originator, were long gone.

    If you laid a scented piece of clothing out around the recorder, a critter would catch the scent but not be warded off because the remaining scent would not be strong enough to indicate to the critter that you were still around. The critter would simply "say" – well a human's been here, but he's gone.

    Catch my drift? (pun intended)

    $0.02 worth.

    Thanks, Stan!!!

    • stancourtney April 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      Hi T,

      I am only guessing but I think the loudest sniffs were within a foot or so. Wish there had been some mumbling to go with it.

      Good idea about the cloth. I have been in this research area for six and a half years so I am well known among the Locals. They know that I mainly walk around looking at birds and flowers, I leave food for them and I love my dog. I have heard quite a few vocals, wood knocks, whoops and branch breaks during the daytime also.

      They know my scent so it would not be a bad idea to leave a "calling card" as well. thanks for the suggestion.


  2. buffman April 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Do you think that they were watching you and were checking out what you had left them? I think scent is very important to them. I also think that the only way that we will be able to get good evidence is with the use of scent elimination products, and I plan to use them in my research. I am an avid hunter, and the nose is the hardest to fool. I will keep you posted with my results.

    Thank you!!!

    • stancourtney April 6, 2011 at 2:01 am

      This sound was picked up at least 36 hrs after I left the recorder. I always assume they are watching me. If my scent had not been on that recorder I doubt very much they would have inspected it. For my pursuit of sound recordings I don't think scent elimination would be of any use, I am not trying to hide my presence or any of my equipment. They know who I am.

  3. Barry Cullen April 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm


    was it a solid state recorder or a sound activated tape recorder? If the latter then the sniffer probably heard it because there are oscillators in those devices to drive the motor and the motor rings at the drive frequency.

    I also noticed a twig snap ~2/3 thru the recording. Could sniffer have approached from the other side of the log?


    • stancourtney April 9, 2011 at 12:45 pm


      I only use digital recorders running continuously. My assumption is that the device was discovered because of smell. I also think the animal took a long approach, went around the other side of the log to check it out from that side, and then took a long exit. If I disguised my scent I would not have gotten the recording.

  4. randy vinge April 29, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Stan,i have a question that still puzzles me to this day. I do believe in them,but cant seem to figure out what happens to them when the snow flies,or why no one has tracked one.There were pics in the snow of tracks in canada this year,why didnt any one track them? im rather sceptical about illinois,especially with the hunters.Im more inclined to be thinking the most remote country there is. B.C maybe…thanks,randy

  5. Glinna May 18, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I am very amazed by the things on your website. At first when I heard the "sniffing" I was thinking maybe a pig. But its not just quite right for that. I have a pot bellied pig had her for years. As dumb as this sounds, I think the squatch was imitating the sounds of a pig. It at some points sounded like a gorilla almost. My pig, used to imitate a donkey when she was little. You could only hear the donkey in the early morning. She would imitate it, I was amazed and would say what is that? She got where she would do it when i said that. Is there pigs nearby? Do you think that maybe the squatch is like most wild creatures and has an area it roams? like a territory? Do you think they visit and leave or they are constantly on near your property? Also it sounded like it circled the log. I really do believe it knows your scent. Your wife was prob right, not to want to feed them to close to house.

    • stancourtney May 19, 2012 at 2:06 am

      I don't believe whatever is sniffing is mimicry of any type on this sound clip. And yes I believe they a territory that they make the rounds in. Similar to what wolves, cougar or most mammals do.

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