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Tonight at 8PM on 30 Odd Minutes: American Monsters LIVE with Linda Godfrey! Watch at: 30oddminutes.com

DSC03794The awesome Fairiechick’s Fantasy Book Reader blog has posted a special one-year revisit of God Johnson, which is now on sale for 99 cents through the month of September to celebrate the release of American Monsters; a History of Monster Lore, Legends and Sightings in America. Thanks so much Vanessa Strickler!  http://www.fantasybookreader.net/2014/09/revisiting-god-johnson-unforgiven-diary.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FairiechicksFantasyBookReader+%28Fairiechick%27s+Fantasy+Book+Reader%29

art by Linda Godfrey

art by Linda Godfrey

Super-sized birds are one of the most tantalizing topics for researchers of cryptid animals. Most of these weird flyers resemble some type of actual bird (often a type thought long extinct) that would seem to put them in the “likely to be ‘real’” category – except for their wingspan usually reported at 20 feet or more, their massive bodies, and their penchant for carrying off live creatures considerably larger than the rabbits, fish and squirrels preferred by even the largest of our known birds of prey.

The 2005 sighting near Hayward, Wisconsin by a Minnesota businessman named John Bolduan that I chronicled in American Monsters describes one of the better observations I’ve seen anywhere of these creatures. Bolduan’s sighting was in close range in full daylight and included seeing the bird on the ground, taking off, and then flapping away, with nearby trees, tall grasses and roadway for size comparisons. It had a stork-like appearance, but Bolduan hasn’t been able to match it to any known species.

Since the time that I had to submit the manuscript for that book, I’ve received other reports of oversized avians that I wish could have been included. A brief summary:

  • Pike County, PA, autumn 1996 or 1997: A woman reported seeing a huge birdlike creature gliding over the trees during the day. She stopped her car to watch it and estimated it was the same length as her car, 17 feet. She tried reporting it to an area animal preserve and to a game warden, who both told her she had probably seen a vulture, but she said it looked nothing like a vulture and could not find anything to compare it to other than something prehistoric.
  • State Line Island, Nebraska, May 1995: In another daylight sighting, a man hiking along the North Platte River encountered two birds standing in a clearing that appeared the size of large humans but were covered with black feathers and had raptor-like heads. No markings. One turned and looked at him, then both spread their wings to an estimated 20 foot span and jumped from the ground. One was carrying a small deer in its talons and had a hard time getting airborne with it as the other bird screeched from the treetops. He believed the deer was the same small doe he had seen at that site the day before and estimated its weight at at least 75 pounds.
  • Clements, Michigan, spring 2014: NOTE — I’m withdrawing this report of a “giant” bird that had been sent by a third party. Subsequent interviews with the actual witnesses revealed this was almost certainly a turkey vulture. According to the father and son, it had the typical pinkish-red, unfeathered head and other characteristics of this bird that is probably the Midwest’s most oft-misidentified bird of prey. Just goes to show the importance of a little extra digging, and my apologies for posting the brief version prematurely!
  • On the other hand, as if to make up for that one, I received another report from Brookfield, a suburb of Milwaukee, that was indeed submitted by the original witness who answered follow-up questions. Her sighting occurred in fall, 2006, in daylight, as she and her three-year old son stood in the backyard of the home they were renting. She noted that the area had enough natural cover that they often saw deer, coyotes and other wildlife. She wrote, “A bird that resembled a golden eagle, except that it was about the same height as me (five feet, four inches) landed 15-20 feet away from us, looking me in the eye. We all remained still, staring at each other for a while. I remember feeling a little scared, as it could easily fly away with my 3-year old, but also a great reverence as I felt the bird was deciding how it felt about us being on that land.”  The woman added that they all stood for about 20 seconds, eyeing one another, before it flapped away with “great ease.” After it left, she took a  yardstick and measured what its height and wingspan would have been according to where it had stood in relation to corresponding features of her lawn, and said it stood 50-55 inches tall (about a foot shorter than she thought at first) with a 12-foot wingspan. A golden eagle may have a 5 1/2 to 8-foot wingspan but stands only about 27-36 inches tall. She added that the breast color of the bird she saw was “creamish,”  which is not usual for this species. Was it a golden eagle? If so, it was a specimen considerably larger than the known dimensions of that species, with unusual coloring. I do think what ever it may have been, it probably was interested in checking out her 3-year old, and that’s the scariest aspect of this encounter. Golden eagles have been known to seize small deer and domestic animals.

Sasquatch illustration by Linda S. Godfrey for American Monsters

Sasquatch illustration by Linda S. Godfrey for American Monsters

American Monsters release day! What a great time I had on CoasttoCoastam.com with George Noory last evening talking about all the creepy critters! Thanks to all who listened, called in, and followed my blog afterward. In case you missed the show (I’m not normally up between two and four a.m. either :-) click HERE.

Also, check out my guest blog running today in Huffington Post on America’s Seven Scariest Monsters. It was extremely difficult to choose only seven, and I’ve seen a few comments wondering why I didn’t include the upright canines such as Michigan Dogman or Beast of Bray Road. It’s true that few things are scarier than encountering a menacing, upright wolf, but since I’m so identified with my wolfmen books and research, I wanted to emphasize that this book is a survey of the whole weird menagerie from giant birds to lake monsters. Besides, the canine crew gets its due in the book’s section on land beasts. And I wouldn’t care to run into any of these creatures on a dark trail at night. 

americanmonsterscoverThe Monsters have been uncaged! The whole furry, scaly, red-eyed, bat-winged, fanged, dripping-clawed, oversized pack of slavering unknown creatures that I spent two years cramming into a 376-page paperback are now free to romp and roam where ever anyone may care to read about them. And in this book, it’s not just all about upright, wolf-like creatures. I wanted to create a work that shows something of the breadth and depth of the unknown kingdom that eyewitnesses continue to glimpse day and night in sky, land and water. I think it’s amazing that people see giant primates, huge flying things thought to have died out with the dinosaurs, and weird beasties like the Chupacabras that looks like nothing ever seen before, and yet we know next to nothing about most of them.

Not that this is anything really new. People like Ivan Sanderson, John Keel and many other investigators were slogging through marshes and tromping far off lands long before I began to collect the experiences of otherwise ordinary people. Nor is my occupation all that unique; I have plenty of contemporary colleagues, friends and investigators from all sorts of backgrounds and abilities–too many to name here but see the acknowledgments page in Monsters for mere starters–to whom I and the whole field of cryptozoology owe an enormous debt for their own research and studies. 

I hope this book, if nothing else, will help make the case that although modern science insists these creatures are not here, they sure look like they are to those who see them. And that there is something more to these anomalous events than mass hallucination, the occasional hoaxer, or misidentifications of known animals. 

“Beast” in New E-book Edition and limited time “God” Johnson for 99 Cents 

New Kindle Edition The Beast of Bray Road; Tailing Wisconsin's Werewolf

New Kindle Edition The Beast of Bray Road; Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf

To help celebrate the launch of American Monsters, the original beast is back! The Beast of Bray Road, Tailing the American Werewolf has been unavailable in print or electronic version, but is now again offered as a Kindle book  I’m working on print availability, too.

The book is nearly the same as the original 2003 edition except for the clean-up of a few typos and new cover art created by my artist son, Nathan Godfrey. Most of the interior art is still there.

And in a purely celebratory move, my fantasy novel God Johnson, the Unforgiven Diary, will be available from all venues for 99 cents from August 28 through September 30. It’s the story of Liberty Abbott, the disciple of a has-been demigod who’s taken the trust-inspiring form of Abraham Lincoln the better to attract energy-rich followers. There are no werewolves, but there are pet sphinxes, sentient plants, a snake goddess, Cyclops and a bartender named Cthulhu. The alternate universe Liberty must contend with is secreted in select spots of downtown Madison, Wisconsin. See godjohnsonnewHRthe link above for download venues and more about God Johnson. (Which has nothing to do with the coincidentally-named TV show The Almighty Johnsons about a whole family of demigods with that name! There really is a human hive consciousness :-) )

Linda Godfrey at site of apparent deer and predator trails

Linda Godfrey at site of apparent deer and predator trails

More mulch churned up by deer and by whatever made those 4-5 inch tracks, a strange “paw” print on the house siding, and a family even more perplexed about what’s lurking literally in their back yard–these were what fellow investigator Jay Bachochin and I found on a return to the residential site in Hartland where a woman saw a six-foot tall, upright wolf-like creature cross her back yard at 1:30 a.m. the night of July 17-18, 2014.

I invited Bachochin, founder of the WPI (Wisconsin Paranormal Investigators) to help conduct a more thorough search of the grounds. The owners also graciously invited us to use their deck for a late night stakeout. We were able to sit quietly in the dark with a perfect view of the yard, cameras at the ready, and confirmed that the eyewitness would indeed have been able to see and identify a large creature from that position. We also spent some time viewing the neighborhood by foot and by car to see just how much cover there was for a large predator — and found a surprising amount of wooded ground that would allow it to make its rounds and then escape to a freeway corridor (US Hwy 16) when ready to return to the lake-and-park-rich surrounding area.

The mulched garden at the back of the yard had seen a lot more activity in the three days since my first visit. There were so many more prints–both from deer and the larger predator–that a lot of them had blended. But as can be seen in the above photo, there still were plenty of distinct trackways. The 5″ print size and the much smaller deer prints both remained consistent.

The owner hadn’t (and still has not) caught an image on her trail cam, but she did find a strange hartlandbearwolfpaw2mark on the house siding that looks like a partial paw print. It seems to be made with fine dirt, and measures a little over four inches. It’s located four feet above the ground, too high (and too big) for a raccoon or the family’s little dog. None of her family members have hands that size, and there was only one print. It may be entirely unrelated to the creature, but there are rear paw tracks in the mulch below and all around the house that tell us something large was there.

She also called the police again to ask whether there had been more sightings. The officer she spoke to this time said no, but that the department would be alerted.

As for our stakeout, we saw one small, scrawny and Hartlandbearwolfpawpossibly sick raccoon in the neighbor’s yard, and what appeared to be a smallish coyote sniffing around another neighbor’s garbage. Neither would ever be mistaken for an upright, six-foot dogman. I consider the case to be ongoing, and I’m staying in close contact with the family. 

I need to make one other note; I’ve received a comment or two from a couple of readers who assume I’m out hunting actual werewolves and using firearms and traps. That’s so very wrong. This is not Mountain Monsters!!! I don’t carry a rifle or create cages from the local junk yard, and Jay and I both left our long coats at home. I investigate with cameras, tape measures and Google maps, and I don’t believe the creatures I document are traditional lycanthropes in any way. And just for the record, July’s full moon was on the 12th. I’ll continue to keep you all posted!

***

American Monsters: a History of Monster Lore, Legends and Sightings in America,is scheduled for August 28th! It’s a wide, wide world of unknown creatures out there, from giant birds to Sasquatch, and this book trails them all by air, water and land. 

Sketch made by eyewitness of creature seen July 17 in Hartland WI.

Sketch made by eyewitness of creature seen July 17 in Hartland WI.

A Hartland, Wisconsin woman wrote me this past Monday to report one of the most chilling sightings I’ve heard lately. Her encounter took place the night of Thursday, July 17 on her property inside the Hartland city limits. And if what I later found in the landscaping around her home is what it looks like, a six-foot tall, bipedal canine creature may have been snooping on her family, particularly a young teen, since early summer. She wishes to remain anonymous, so I’ll leave out names and street locations.

She had arisen that night at about 1:30 a.m. at the insistent yapping of her small dog. She hadn’t actually fallen asleep yet, she said, so she was awake and alert. Thinking the pooch needed to relieve itself, she took it out to the deck at the rear of her home, expecting it to run to the yard as usual. Instead, it stopped barking and cowered behind her on the deck. She could see something moving by the trees at the back of her yard, lit by her deck lights and other lighting around the residential neighborhood.

“At first I thought someone was playing a trick on me,” she said, “or that it was a person wearing a thick, gray jacket.” Then she realized it wasn’t a person. It was gray all over, with the fur thickest on its muscular chest. The head was that of an animal, with short, pointed ears on top of the head and a “short snout” like that of a boxer or other short-snouted canine, but “definitely not flat like a human’s,” she said. Its forelimbs hung at its sides and seemed muscular at the top but ended in longish paws with noticeable claws. They weren’t long like a Bigfoot’s, she said. Its thighs were also muscular but thinned toward the lower limbs, and it walked on its toepads. “The legs were canine,” she said. She estimated its height at about seven feet, gauged by a tree it passed under, and when I measured the tree later the actual height turned out to be six feet tall.

As she watched the creature easily stride across the back of her yard along a treeline that separated her yard from the neighbor’s, the beast suddenly swiveled its head to glance at her. There wasn’t enough light that she could see its eyes or any eyeshine, she said, but she knew that it saw her.

“And then it kept on walking like it didn’t care,” she said. She grabbed her dog and scrambled back inside her house. She did not sleep at all that night, she added.

The next day she called the police and told an officer what she had seen. Expecting a negative reaction, she was surprised when the officer told her he believed her, and urged her to be cautious. She asked him if there had been other reports, and he did not answer. (Which leads me, of course, to think that there were perhaps other reports!)

Single print

Single print

I got to her property to examine it the day after her call, on Tuesday, July 22. We walked around the rear of her yard and found numerous deep impressions in the mulch-dirt mixture. Some were obviously the size and shape of a deer’s tracks, and the others appeared roughly canine and about four and one-half inches in length, with some give-and-take for the distortion caused by the helter-skelter quality of mulch. The prints appeared to be made only from the hind limbs of something taking two-foot strides in bipedal fashion, and led in a path across this landscaping feature to an adjacent small woods. While neither she nor I could make any sort of impression in that ground whatsoever, even by stomping or jumping, these prints were about an inch deep, on average.

They were also very evident in the mulch around her house, especially under several windows. One of the windows belonged to the couple’s young teen, who has a special needs disorder. The teen had been telling the woman that there was a “monster” peering into the window almost every night for a month, she said, but it was never there by the time she got to the room, so she thought the teen was imagining things. She does not think that any more, she added.

DSC03983 - Copy

We also found a couple of small piles of scat near the house and in the rear of the yard that looked canine but did not seem like they were substantial enough to have come from a creature of that size.

While it may seem unusual that such a creature could roam freely in a neighborhood like this, there are several factors that make it more likely. There are abundant deer for prey, and much water; Hartland is very close to Pewaukee Lake, with eight other closely connected small lakes to its east and north. Moreover, the Kettle Moraine State Forest, a source of many cryptid sightings, lies just to its north, as does Holy Hill, the site of the well-known encounter when a deer was taken from a carcass collector’s truck. I’ve dubbed this creature the Holy Hill Bearwolf in my blog posts and books, and I asked the woman if she’d ever heard of it. She hadn’t, she said, but she thought the term “bearwolf” very appropriate for what she saw. “I know it was definitely not a bear,” she said. “The legs were wrong and it was too different, but it had that thicker chest.”

The family had a previous incident in the past  year when a huge, white, blue-eyed wolf walked up to the patio door of a room with a hot tub, and just stared in for a few moments before casually walking away. The woman estimated it stood three feet high at the shoulder. She does not think it was the same animal she saw on July 17, however.

The woman added the reason she was willing to tell me her story was that she believed other people in that lakes area should know that this creature might be out there. I continue to communicate with her and will be checking on the property. In the meantime, she has put up a trail cam. I consider it an ongoing investigation, and hope we will find something definitive.

NOTE: Sorry but comments have been turned off for this post as other duties leave me unavailable to moderate.

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