Partly because it’s National Poetry Month and partly because a fan sent me some surprising poetry centered around unknown creatures, I give you a sample of the work of Jacob Gene Lenhardt of Menasha. This is not sweet or sentimental work, nor is it some sort of disguised sighting report. It is dark, a tad disturbing and I think it comes from some interior place that witnesses occasionally hint at but seldom know how to express. I found myself responding to these lines on a visceral level, and thought some of you might appreciate the chance to do so as well.
Poetry, I remind you again, is the most personal and subjective form of writing and not everyone’s cup of Starbuck’s. But if you’re game for a quick alternate look at the unknown, read on:
While waiting along with everyone else to see whether Dr. Melba Ketchum’s DNA study and/or the allegedly captured Bigfoot code-named Daisy hold any water worth wading into, I have been looking back at some of the better ‘Squatch reports I’ve received and collected from SE Wisconsin over the years. One of my favorites is the so-called “Bad Hair Day Bigfoot” observed by Matt Wakely in September 2005 SE of Lake Geneva, near the WI-IL border.
The incident is described in full in my book Hunting the American Werewolf, and Wakely passed a polygraph exam of his story on the Monsterquest “American Werewolf ” episode. (The show didn’t mention he saw a Bigfoot rather than a dog man). This was a daylight sighting where the witness had a good long look at the creature. He called his mother and told her he had just seen a caveman, naked and covered with fur. The creature seemed totally unafraid of Matt, and its most unusual feature may have been its rather wild hairdo. My best guess is that it was perhaps an adolescent that had just risen from a midday nap in the cemetery, where it stood with 1 foot on a head stone.
It also had less facial hair, according to Matt’s description, than any other Bigfoot ever reported to me. This also suggests an adolescent age group, but more importantly, it gave Matt an unusually clear look at facial features.
Matt drew his own sketches ( below) and then worked with me to achieve what he agreed looked a pretty fair facsimile of what he saw. At that time, I privately thought the face seemed a bit too human, but my job is to draw and report what the witness saw without projecting my own biases.
Over the past year, as I had my own encounter and gathered more local evidence, it’s occurred to me that if Ketchum’s study proves valid and Sasquatch is indeed genetically part human , then this drawing may be a closer stab at a real portrait than I previously believed. And Matt’s tag of “caveman” may have been very accurate!
Mike Agrusa in Ghillie Suit copyright Linda Godfrey
First there was the infamous “Gable film” video that purported to show the Michigan Dogman in attack mode, and then we had the tragic case of the Montana man fatally struck by two vehicles while dressed in what he hoped looked like a Sasquatch costume. Both of these rather bad ideas had one thing in common – – the perpetrators wore ghillie suits.
The ghillie suit, common wardrobe gear for hunters, is a ragged, head to toe covering made of camouflage fabric. It seems to be the latest fashion of choice for anyone seeking to hoax large cryptid sightings – – and has also now provided one Wisconsin law enforcement agency a possible explanation for an otherwise unexplainable encounter.
An incident in Vernon County, Wisconsin, in late August 2012 was widely reported in early September of that year as a Bigfoot sighting. Milwaukeean Rich Heiden follows news about the paranormal, UFOs and cryptids, on a state-wide basis. He found about 20 newspaper articles on this topic but noticed that dates given for the incident were either inconsistent or totally missing from the stories. After he investigated these discrepancies, he received a message from the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department blaming the encounter on a ginseng thief in a ghillie suit. The sheriff’s administrative assistant, Carol Oliver, wrote,”Sighting was August 29, 2012, at 5:00 p.m. Called in the next day. Later believed to be an illegal harvester of Ginseng, dressed in a camouflage ghillie suit. The camouflaged person had been seen earlier on the 29th on the Reserve land, carrying two bags.”
The reserve land she refers to is the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. This area encompasses nearly 8600 acres and is indeed rich in ginseng, which has become a hot commodity for thieves. I have no doubt that illegal harvesters abound at that time of year and that it would be very logical for thieves to camouflage themselves in ghillie suits. However, the eyewitness account describes something that doesn’t really sound like a camo-clad human.
According to the La Crosse Tribune, Sept. 5, 2012 edition, the witness called Sheriff John Spears after his sighting near South Jug Creek Road. Reporter Matt Johnson said the sheriff told him, “they saw what they described as a dark-haired … Sasquatch. It looked like it was hiding in the ditch line. When they went by, it jumped.”
The sheriff said the witness described the figure as large, dark black/brown in color, with no clothing. The witness added that the creature appeared to be covered only in fur and told the sheriff there was no way that it could have been a wolf. If he indeed saw the creature at 5 PM there also would have been ample daylight at that time of year in Wisconsin to distinguish between nearly black fur and the tousled, green/brown strips on a ghillie suit. I assume that the creature was fairly close to the observer since this was a narrow back road and it leaped up just as the car passed. I also wonder why a thief attempting to hide himself would jump up as the car went by.
It may also seem odd that a Bigfoot would expose himself to view, but reports of a Sasquatch running or walking in a ditch or crossing the road in full view of a driver are fairly common. I might add that there have been many sightings of Bigfoot in this area of Wisconsin which is a well-watered terrain of sandstone outcroppings and deep valleys –the type of land many Sasquatch researchers consider perfect Bigfoot habitat.
Could it have been a hoaxer? The “jumping” behavior does suggest that possibility, but hoaxers usually choose better traveled roads since their main goal is to be seen. This was very remote location on a hot August Thursday at 5 PM.
Another relevant detail I’d like to know is where in that vast reserve the ginseng thief was spotted. I made my own call to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department and their records did not show the location of the alleged poacher. They also would not release the name of the creature witness.
The sheriff sent a squad car to the sighting location but the dispatched deputy found nothing. Yes, it could have been a ginseng poacher or a thrill hoaxer, but until the sheriff finds the suit wearer (unlikely) and determines this person jumped up at a driver on S. Jug Creek Rd., I believe this case should remain open.
And I proclaim Richard Heiden Digger of the Month!
I’m a fan of fan art. I am always tickled when people send images inspired by my books on upright creatures, and am often amazed at how accomplished these efforts are. Here are two sculptures created by the Wentz family which runs a backyard haunted attraction in Ogden Utah. The first looks like a classic hellhound…
And the second is surely a Manwolf, although a bit nekkid. Kudos to the Wentz’s!
And then there is this painting by California eyewitness Anthony S. Chaney. It includes a lot more background than I reproduced here, and is a great rendition of the dogman described by many other witnesses.
I also receive many notes from writers, musicians and film makers that my research has inspired them to create something werewolfish. I applaud all original efforts and say go for it! After all, there is no more perfect metaphor for the tortured soul of an artist than the transformative loup-garou!
(Image copyrights belong to individual artists, used by permission)
Mystery cat taken in Rock County several years ago
The DNR’s investigation into the Deerfield horse-killing Dec. 29 is concluded today with the release of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory necropsy, said DNR Deputy Spokesman Robert Manwell in a phone interview. He sent me a copy of the lab’s report, which said the wound was not consistent with an animal attack at all.
The official description: “The distance from the soles of the front feet to the midpoint of the wound
is four feet (120 cm). The laceration is consistent with that produced by a sharp linear or curvilinear metal edge, entering the ventral aspect of the neck with considerable force at an angle. The wound is consistent with a single, large laceration. The cause of death is exsanguination.”
It sounds to me as if some warped human tried to cut off the poor horse’s head with a big knife or sword, failed, and then the animal bled to death. Why? In October, 2007, someone beheaded a juvenile alpaca on a farm near Delavan for no apparent reason. Until the culprits are caught, it is only possible to speculate about such brutal acts. And there should have been boot or shoe prints in the snow.
I should mention that the tan quarterhorse weighed over 1,000 pounds and should not have been an easy target.
Paulette Stelpflug, co-owner of Freedom Stables in the town of Deerfield in eastern Dane County, Wisconsin, experienced a sad and shocking holiday week when a stable worker found a seven-year old tan quarter horse dead with its neck torn out on December 29. Something powerful enough to take out the carotid and jugular with one “swipe” was the culprit, according to veterinarian Rene Reynolds. He added that the cut was too deep for the horse to have accidentally cut itself on something, and that no structure or machinery that could have caused such an accident was found in the vicinity.
There were, however, some good-sized animal tracks nearby in the snow. Stelpflug said they included “pokey marks” made by claws, according to a series of nbc15.com articles by reporter Zac Schultz. She believed they were cougar tracks, not an unreasonable assumption given the fact there have been confirmed cougars in southeastern Wisconsin in the past several years.
There are several potential problems with the cougar theory, however. For one thing, cougars nearly always walk with claws retracted, although claw marks could possibly show up in a track made just as the big cat was about to pounce. DNR wardens examined the entire property the following day and said the only tracks were “dog” tracks, perhaps due to that very reason. No measurements of the tracks were given by the owner or DNR.
DNR official Greg Matthews also said the attack was uncharacteristic of a cougar because no other marks were found on the horse, and no part of the horse was dragged It didn’t have to be a cougar; there are other large predators around. Black bears and timber wolves might make occasional forays into this part of the state, but a bear would have left distinct footprints. Wolves normally hunt large animals in packs, but do leave large, dog-like prints. A huge, feral dog would best fit the tracks. But none of these possible culprits seems to fit the facts of this case very exactly.
All of this reminded me of an incident in 1972 about two miles from Jefferson, Wisconsin, and only about fifteen miles east of Deerfield Township. In this instance, a horse received a thirty-inch slash in its neck and survived. But according to a DNR official I interviewed about 20 years later that had been on the scene, the horse owner saw an unknown, upright, hairy hominoid on her property immediately before the attack. The former warden, David Gjetson, told me she seemed very credible and sincere.
The woman first called him to report that she had seen a large, upright “apelike”
illustration by Nate Godfrey - hominoid bringing down a deer
creature walking in her farmyard. He investigated the site but found nothing. Two weeks later, the creature returned and boldly walked up on her front porch and rattled the front door of her house. It left deep scratches in the siding seven feet off the ground. It then walked to the woman’s horse shed, and the woman heard her horse whinny in fear. The creature then crossed the farmyard and trampled her vegetable garden where it left foot-long tracks (no description of their appearance was given). When the woman finally dared run outside to check on her horse, she found it had a deep, 30-inch gash on its neck.
Gjetson said he remembered the incident very well, and that he had been able to provide no official explanation for the attack, and could not explain what the woman saw.
These are not the only strange creature sightings recorded in the vicinity. Jefferson is also the site of the former St. Coletta Institute where in 1936, night watchman Mark Schackelman encountered a tall, unknown hominoid with long claws digging in an ancient burial mound. The beast produced a polysyllabic utterance that sounded like “Gadarrah” to the man. Gadara is a region of old Judea where the New Testament says Jesus cast spirits out of two demon-possessed men (Matthew 8).
I listed a total of about a dozen separate sightings of Bigfoot-like (as opposed to dogman-like) creatures that have occurred mostly within a corridor that runs from southwestern Jefferson County south into the western side of Walworth County and extends westward into northeastern Rock County. These incidents began with the 1936 St. Coletta sighting and span the decades until the most recent — which occurred at about 4 p.m. on July 15, 2010 just east of Fort Atkinson in 2010.
The entire region is filled with lakes, marshes and rivers and lies at the southwestern tip of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit. A few miles north of Jefferson and about 15 miles northeast of Deerfield is the restored ancient Mississippian village now known as Aztalan State Park with many ancient mounds, some of them flat pyramids. Nearby Rock Lake, Lake Ripley and Red Cedar Lake have all been rumored to harbor lake monsters, and a lane east of Jefferson called Paradise Road is a local spook lane where a large, winged humanoid was spotted in 2005.
In fact, my 2006 book Hunting the American Werewolf calls out a 13-square-mile area I dubbed the Jefferson Square of Weirdness because of these anomalies and more, concentrated in such a small area. Deerfield Township lies just west of my imagined square. It includes several small lakes and marshes which are present in a high percentage of anomalous creatures – but of course also provide hunting habitat for other predators.
I do NOT mean to imply that I think Bigfoot attacked Stelpflug’s horse. Bigfoot would, after all, have left those famed, ginormous tracks. Something canine seems more likely, although it would need to be a very large canine. The snow-prints from whatever it was have already disappeared due to a few days of unseasonal high temperatures, but I am hoping someone took pictures.
Although I try to be a fairly serious researcher most of the time, around Christmas the sightings slow down and — for the sake of a holiday card design — my creature thoughts turn fanciful.
This year my inspiration came from the chorus of a 1969 Tommy James and the Shondells song, Crystal Blue Persuasion. The chorus words, “There’ll be peace and good, and brotherhood,” were sticking with me like an earworm, so I decided to pass them on. Here is the resulting artwork, starring my two fave cryptids.
I did have one second thought about featuring the song. Many tunes of the late 60s had something — ok, a lot — to do with altered states of mind and to be honest, I had no idea whether this one did or not and I didn’t want to be pushing LSD on my Christmas card. I was pleasantly surprised when I found the answer in this interview with Tommy James at SongFacts http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1884
It turned out to be appropriate, indeed. The funny thing is that my creature-mapping indicates more and more that most Bigfoot and Dogman sightings occur in specific, separate territories within given hotspot habitats, which should make them rather bitter enemies. But in the spirit of the season, I prefer to think of them in temporary truce mode. It works better for a card than trying to portray a crypto-turf war, anyway. Sets a better example for humans, too.
UPDATE: As of July 8 2011 please note that I now have reason to doubt the complete truth of the information given me below so I am removing names but leaving the story for now – reader beware!
Bray Road is a popular place on Halloween, usually for little reason since the original sightings heyday. But this year, on Friday October 22, four of six 20-somethings cruising around 1:30 pm saw not one but two furry upright canines about 200 yards away in the middle of a muddy field. The group from the Union Grove area were headed toward the Hwy 11 end of Bray Road (the other end joins Hwy. N in Elkhorn) when the 22-year old driver of the Pontiac Grand Am and another passenger spied a tall, brown-furred creature vanishing into some brush to their right. The photo below was in this vicinity but taken earlier.
They turned in the nearest driveway and sped back. Twenty-two year old C. soon yelled at the driver to stop because he now saw the tall creature — and a companion — in the middle of a muddy field behind the brush. He and his friend, 24-year old A., saw them at the same time. The creatures walked on “three-jointed” doglike legs clearly silhouetted in the bright moonlight, and stood an estimated seven feet tall with long slender arms. When the car stopped so did the creatures, which turned their heads to reveal long canine muzzles and tall, pointed ears. One of them had eyes that glowed a faint yellow.
First one canine, then the other, dropped to all fours and ran off into the darkness. Two of the other passengers with C. and A. saw part of the incident, and the last two passengers missed the whole thing before they could scramble into good viewing positions.
I interviewed C.and A. by phone and also spoke with A. in person. They both remained consistent and convinced by what they saw.
Does this mean the Beast is back? It is hard to say whether this was a glimpse of habitation or just two creatures passing through. It is doubtful the alleged creatures were hoaxers since rain earlier that night had turned the fields very muddy, and humans would not be likely to navigate it as quickly as the creatures were observed to do, even if they were out in the field for some reason. Humans also would have been unlikely to have run away on all fours. I am still talking to the witnesses but so far they appear credible. (ed. note: not sure this is still the case)
One question I get a lot is whether there is any link between cryptid canines and UFOs. My answer is: not directly, but often Manwolf sighting hotspots turn out to be in the same areas as UFO reports.
Last Sunday, I experienced a somewhat different kind of UFO-werewolf link. I was invited to a private gathering of UFO buffs in Milwaukee, hosted at a nice home in Mequon. The 30 or so people were a well-educated and pleasant bunch, and the host had a pet vervet monkey!
The main program was the screening of an episode of The Invaders starring Roy Thinnes (1967) and then we had a conference call with Thinnes himself, on speaker. Thinnes has had his own UFO sighting, worked with John Mack and others, and advocates for full government disclosure. Here is one quote from Thinnes: “Strange things happen to people who write about things they are ‘not supposed to’ write about.” Gulp.
After the main show I gave an impromptu talk on unknown bipedal canines, and a policeman who lives in the northern Kettle Moraine area told the group he has two colleagues who have had multiple sightings of manwolves — mostly at roadsides — but they are too scared to report it to their own authorities. He trusts them as credible and promised to try to persuade them to e-mail me. I am checking my e-mail hourly.
In short, I go to a UFO meeting and get a great “werewolf” tip.
Was I supposed to write about it? I guess I will find out when the strange things start happening.
New Press Release: (This should be a highly interesting show!)
MONSTERQUEST EXAMINES NEW VIDEO AND HUNTS FOR THE WOLFMAN
March 24, 2010, “MonsterQuest: America’s Wolfman” 9pm/8pm CENTRAL on History.
On March 24, 2010, the MonsterQuest Season Finale examines one of the most controversial pieces of video evidence ever captured, as the team scours the Midwest for a seven-foot wolf-like monster that witnesses believe is a werewolf.
A still of the enigma of Gable Film 1
On Wednesday at 8 p.m. Central on History, the episode “MonsterQuest: America’s Wolfman” closes out the fourth season of the popular investigative cryptozoology series. An expedition team will try to uncover the truth about what is striking fear into witnesses, while the science team will expose the truth behind “The Gable Film,” an internet phenomenon that is possible evidence of a werewolf-like creature. The film, shot on grainy 1970s Super 8, captures a hairy creature running on all fours toward the camera in an apparent attack, prompting widespread debate over its identity and authenticity.
This episode of History’s highly acclaimed series features appearances by Wisconsin werewolf researcher Linda Godfrey and Michigan DJ Steve Cook, who first posted the Gable Film. There are frightening stories from witnesses including a former contractor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and a Deputy Sheriff, who all claim to have encountered this mystery creature that has been part of local legend for centuries.
MonsterQuest is produced by Whitewolf Entertainment; the episode “MonsterQuest: America’s Wolfman” is produced by Chicago’s Frank Haney Films.
As an artist and recovering overachiever, I always try to offer something original in the Christmas cards I send every year. And since becoming embroiled in the mystery of unknown animal sightings — especially the canine and lupine variety — cryptid forms often sneak into my yearly greetings. I am still working on this year’s, but here are a few ghost cards of Christmases past:
My fave so far; sort of a Native American influence wedded to the Noel carol:
Then there is the photographic approach, requiring cooperative family. This was taken about three years ago and my hair is weirder than the beast…
And finally, crossing the species divide, I had to use a drawing to depict this guy as he will NOT stand still for a photo