Silver and gold, mule deer and big horn sheep or buffets and blackjack tables - Northern Nevada is known as rich territory to explore by big-game hunters of every ilk.
For ghost-hunter Richard Senate, it's an absolute specter safari.
The area has more than its share of local haunts, according to Senate.
After a dig on the night of July 3, 1978, the archaeologist and historian had a run-in with the ghost of a monk that left his hair standing on end and his mind reeling trying to explain it all.
A pragmatist at heart, Senate searched his mind for answers. When the scientist in him couldn't convert it into an equation, the fire of fascination was lit. Nearly three decades, 14 books and appearances on TV shows like "The Merv Griffin Show," "Sightings" and "Coast to Coast AM" with Art Bell, Senate has gained the reputation as one of the premier spook chasers in the business.
For the summer semester, Senate's sharing his years of experience with the other-worldly at Western Nevada Community College, teaching a class on ghost-hunting.
Holding an electro-magnetic field indicator as he shows off some of the tools of the trade, like copper dousing rods and a handheld twin-antenna static-electricity tracking device called a "cyber probe."
Senate says the best instrument for ghost-hunting is actually the head. His still wears the hat of a skeptic.
"I follow a very scientific set of principles during my investigations," he says. The very first thing he does before investigating a specific area for apparitions is research.
He pours over all the facts he can get his hands on about a place's history. He checks out who lived there, who died there and tries to find out everything that happened in between.
History and anthropology, he says, are necessary in order to establish the solid ground apparitions float over.
"The disbelief in ghosts is a much more recent phenomena than the belief in ghosts," he says.
"People have been seeing ghosts since the ancient Egyptians while disbelief only came about during the Age of Reason during the 18th century."
While he firmly believes in what he's seen, Senate stays very cautious about his craft.
"Everything is theory," he says. "The point is that we don't know exactly what these phenomena really are. Whether they result from some psychokinetic force, have something to do with alternate universes, are a sign of religious after life or are some kind of transmutations in time, Senate is quick not to pooh-pooh possible theories.
"Anything is possible," he says.
Senate looks forward to a full, exciting class as well as some field trips and ghost-hunts to some of the area's most haunted places.
"If people don't believe in ghosts I totally understand," he says. "I know I didn't until I saw one for myself."
"I don't claim to know all the answers," he says. "But it's a fascinating dimension to explore."
- Contact reporter Peter Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1215.
What: Learn how to capture spirits on film, video, and how to record their ghostly voices on cassette recorders from certified ghost hunter Richard Senate.
Where: WNCC, Cedar building room #205
When: June 1-June 22 from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday nights
Other: Registration ends May 31