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IMG_1542 (800x598)Sly of the old Sly and the Family Stone band  famously sang about “different strokes for different folks,” (1968) but I’ll riff on that line to describe two crypto-tomes I recently read: “Different Books from Different Blokes.”
Both authors are prolific writers and long-time investigators of strange creatures great and small. Each, though, has his own distinct style and writing goals. I’ll start with the book that is dedicated to one certain, well-known creature.

The meat of author Nick Redfern’s Chupacabra Road Trip; in search of the Elusive Beast, comes sandwiched in the colorful mini-memoir style his fans have come to crave from him. Redfern describes his far-ranging personal travels and experiences and provides research showing that these odd predatory creatures whose name means “Goat-sucker,” are not only quite different from some recent reports of beasts mis-labeled as chupacabras, but that they have been reported as early as the mid-60s in Puerto Rico. It’s a wild trip that covers all possible aspects of the creature.

The flavor of Albert Rosales’ Humanoid Encounters; the Others Among Us 2000-2009 is more along the lines of the old Dragnet TV series character Joe Friday — “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” Rosales’ reports provide the important details of every encounter in an economical but convincing manner. And, similar to many of Redfern’s works, it’s a world-wide hunt. Rosales takes a far-ranging, multinational track to search out all types of mystery humanoids from the Ukraine to Bolivia to my own neighborhood of Jefferson County, Wisconsin. (The latter described a 2007 sighting of two yellow, seven-foot tall flying humanoids! I’ve described this area as the “Jefferson Square of Weirdness” in my own books.)

Rosales presents his subjects in chronological order, identified by location. The creature variety is terrific, and at 292 pages, it’s a massive assortment. Many of these reports haven’t been documented elsewhere. This book was preceded by the 1995-1999 volume, and I presume will be followed by a compilation of the most recent reports. I would love to see Rosales add a separate index (online, perhaps) by humanoid categories to make a wonderful resource even better.

Humanoid Encounters and Chupacabra Road Trip have both earned permanent spots on my shelves – highly recommended and vive la difference!

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GoatmanLSGLast night on Sanjay Singhal’s Beyond the Forest radio show (archived podcast now up) I discussed an update to the Wisconsin Goat Man story published just previously here. The drawing in the post below was my original forensic sketch based on what the witness described, but at the time it was posted I didn’t yet have the witness’ confirmation as to the accuracy of the sketch. That came yesterday in an email. He said, “We saw that thing,” and characterized my drawing as very accurate.

Yikes!

And by the way, that radio show was one of the most fun programs I’ve done. The first 25 minutes were devoted to Sanjay’s tribute of his late friend, Joshua, who first got him started in blogging and radio, but after that we discussed everything from Sanjay’s and my UFO encounter last August while staking out a dogman site with a property owner, our own thoughts on Bigfoot awareness of humans in its territory, trail hike safety considerations, spook lights and more. I’ll be doing another show with my good friend and colleague Sanjay on January 26, 8-10 pm Central.

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HD DVD Template

One witness described the creature he saw as resembling those in the movie, “Dog Soldiers.”

Two detailed and interesting dogman reports showed up in my e-mail this past week; one from New Jersey and another just a couple of hundred miles north of that near Bancroft, Ontario. Both occurred in 2015. They’re also both quite lengthy and the submitters asked me to withhold their names. I am still communicating with the writers about certain usual questions, but here are (still subject to change) my somewhat abbreviated versions of their reports:

The Weird Wolfman of Worthington State Park, New Jersey

A 55-year old man who works as a physical therapist, does not drink and says he has never had paranormal experiences decided to walk his malamute dog in Worthington State Park on August 23, 2015 at about 12:30 am on a bright night. The weather had been too humid and warm for the dog in the daytime, he said, and they had set off on a pleasant park trail with no problem viewing their surroundings.

Suddenly he spotted something strange as they neared a pond. There were two figures; one lying on the ground and the other crouching over it. As he watched, the crouched figure rose onto its hind feet. He quickly pegged the prone figure as a dead deer, but squinted at the now upright beast to identify it. He quickly ruled out another deer or a bear.  Its large head featured tall, pointed ears and a long muzzle, and he described its torso and upper legs as “densely muscular,” with a thin waist. “I was an avid bodybuilder for years,” he said. “The creature’s physique resembled a ‘roid-rat,’ as we called them.”

He also noticed that it walked on its toe pads as a canine does, and estimated the creature weighed something over 200 pounds and stood at between six and seven feet tall. He noted that the creature seemed poised and balanced on its hind legs, “as if to step over the deer and deliberately, adroitly, attack.”

The well-trained malamute had been sniffing intently as it waited for a cue from its owner, and did not quibble when the man backed carefully away until they reached a spot where they could safely run to the car.

“The creature is out there!” he wrote. “I do not know what I saw as far as an exact species, but I absolutely know it is something that is not recognized by professional zoology. Again, it was real but also surreal at the same time.” He did not notify park authorities, and now walks his dog near home.

Odd Ontario Canine

A man who went fishing for brook trout alone on the night of July  7th, 2015 near Bancroft, Ontario, found much more than he bargained for as he returned to his cabin via a gravel road. It was light enough out that he could see fifty feet ahead of him even without his truck headlamps on when he saw what he thought was a person standing in the middle of the road about 20 feet away. He slowed down and flicked his four roof lights on.

“It was a creature about seven feet tall, black with greyish-silver parts, hunched over with a dead rabbit in its hands,” he wrote. “Yes, hands with fingers and claws as far as I could tell. Its feet seemed to be bent backwards. It turned its head and shoulders and looked right at me. I could see its yellow eye shine.” [Typical for canine eyes, I might add.]

He could also hear it growling at him in a “low, low” tone that made the hair stand up on his neck, and at that point stomped on the gas in panic, half-bracing for impact and closing his eyes for a brief second. The creature either jumped to the ditch or laid down to let the truck, which rides 22 inches off the ground, roll over it. The man saw nothing in the rear view mirrors, however, and just kept going. He compared the creature to those in the movie, Dog Soldiers. But the episode was not over.

He made it safely back to his cabin and sat down trying to calm himself, when he heard something large walking around outside his cabin. He thought there may have even been two of them but wasn’t sure. He had a cell phone but did not have signal coverage. He did have the presence of mind to put it on camera setting and then aimed it through the slats of his window shutters. It took 3 photos of something that admittedly looks like a shadowy, dog-shaped head. I am awaiting permission from him to share those pictures.

After spending a long, anxious night, near dawn he finally thought of turning on his vehicle alarm from inside the cabin in hopes it might scare the creature away. As the alarm beeped, he made a mad dash for the truck, jumped in and drove for home, a five-hour-plus trip. He says he still has bad dreams about it.

Many thanks to both of these witnesses for sharing their experiences!

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GoatmanLSGThe image of a creature part man, part goat is one of the oldest in the history of civilization. It brings to mind the ancient nature god, Pan, those licentious Greek and Roman satyrs, and has long served as the basis for illustrations of the Christian devil. Most people think of anything resembling these creatures as mythical allegory. But every now and then, sightings of upright goats with sharp horns and bad attitudes show up in contemporary reports of encounters with unknown creatures. Wisconsin author J. Nathan Couch has written a well-received book, “Goatman; Flesh or Folklore,” that has had many researchers — myself included — taking a second look at the bleating beast.

I admit I was one of those who generally categorizedthe idea of goatmen  as folklore or urban legend. For one thing, there ARE quite a few localized legends around the country that follow a couple of oft-repeated story lines. One such trope always involves some secret lab experimenting with human/animal hybrids until one half-goat escapee terrorizes the countryside. Another tale,  usually set a century or so in the past, describesa goat-like monster killing a just-married man while his terrified wife hides in a wagon or carriage. The latter legend that I’ve described in several of my own books is prominent around Washington County, Wisconsin and is supposed to have occurred on Hogsback Road in the Town of Erin.

That particular area of the state is also very rich in modern-day reports of both Bigfoot and dogmen. So imagine my surprise when a man who is related to me by marriage (a couple of times removed) mentioned at a family gathering a week or so ago that he and a companion had personally witnessed a creature in the general vicinity, perhaps 10-15 miles to the northeast of Erin. It appeared to be an upright goat sauntering across the highway as the two young men drove along Trenton Road just east of West Bend, Wisconsin, sometime around 2003. He was in his twenties at the time, and said that he and his friend completely agreed on what they’d seen. They were both extremely shocked, he added.

He described it as man-sized, with hooves, big muscular legs and smaller forelimbs held out in front of it “like a T-Rex.” And it had horns. I made sure that point was clear, because over the years I’ve had a number of people tell me they had seen a satyr or goat man, only to change their minds when I showed them a forensic sketch of what most dogman witnesses describe. But those witnesses saw neither horn nor hooves.

The sketch accompanying this article is one that I made for my own entertainment and has not been corroborated by this witness who wishes to remain anonymous. I added features such as the slightly larger “arms” and pointed teeth that I imagine would be necessary for an animal able to tear apart a sturdy young bridegroom as described in the old stories. I’ll do a second version and an update if the witness agrees to talk further.

I will add that I consider this person entirely credible. And his sighting was only 11 or 12 years ago, not such a long time as cryptid reports go. It was not a dogman, not a Bigfoot. Perhaps Goat Man does live on, after all, and this gentleman, unlike the unlucky bridegroom of the Civil War era, lived to tell its true tale.

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New cover by Nathan D. Godfrey

New cover by Nathan D. Godfrey

Werewolf doodle; individual drawings will vary

Werewolf doodle; individual drawings will vary

“The original account of the 1992 bombshell news story that revealed reports of werewolf-like creatures in southeast Wisconsin –The small town of Elkhorn, Wisconsin made national headlines in the early 1990s with reports of a strange, hairy, wolf-headed creature that walked upright and seemed unafraid of man as it stalked the cornfields just outside of town. Journalist Linda Godfrey dubbed the canid sensation “The Beast of Bray Road” after the location of the first reported sightings. Two decades and hundreds of nationwide sightings of similar creatures later, no one has ever proven whether the beast is a flesh-and-blood canine or will-o-the-wisp, demon dog, or a magical werewolf. But the author provides plenty to chew on, with sightings of related creatures, Native American connections, historic lore and a keen-eyed look at possible explanations.”

So many people have asked me for a new print edition of the Beast of Bray Road ever since the former publisher popped a silver bullet in it, that I finally decided it was time for the creature’s return. I’m so glad and excited to announce that the Beast is now indeed back! In concert with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management and Amazon, here is the link! The interior includes the entire contents of the first book–photos, art and all. The cover, however, is brand-spankin’ new, and was created by my son, Nate, an artist who has contributed his work to some of my books and also History Channel’s Monsterquest for the American Werewolf episode.

To celebrate, I have a special FREE offer for those who would like my autograph with the book; until December 25, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to me and I’ll send a hand-autographed sticker decorated with an originally drawn “werewolf doodle” that can be applied to your book’s inside front page. One sticker per envelope, and please specify if you wish it inscribed to anyone or would like a special (tasteful only) phrase included. Mail to me at Linda Godfrey, PO Box 702, Elkhorn WI 53121. Offer starts immediately! (You can also mail the whole book with return postage and suitable envelope.)

braysign

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By Cédric Boismain from France (centaure agonisant) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Centaurs, or creatures with the torso and head of a human and the lower part of a horse, occur in art and literature from very ancient times, but are today most commonly associated with Greek and Roman mythology. Nonetheless, I received a report this week from a woman whose co-worker urged her to call me after she told him about the encounter she and a friend and their siblings had as children. It occurred on the outskirts of southern Richmond, Virginia, in 1966 when she was 8. The now 54-year old former IRS employee and Greyhound bus driver spoke by phone with me on Sept. 1, and she seemed as serious and credible as any eyewitness I’ve ever talked to.

“I remember the sighting vividly,” she said. She and her friend, along with a few younger siblings, had sneaked out to play in a nearby four-acre park and rec area at dusk one summer night. A creek ran through the acreage, and the group followed a path from their apartment buildings through a tree line that opened onto the play area. The children had been there only a short time, however, when they heard a familiar sound that the writer described as between a movie-style, ghost-like moan and the whinny of a horse. They’d often heard the same thing from inside their apartment. Her parents always tried to blame it on a nearby trucking company, but the trucks were most active in the daytime, she said, and the weird moan was only heard at dusk and night time.

She looked around and saw a tall, dark figure watching her from about a block away. It looked human from the top of its head to the bottom of the torso, she said, but the rest of it resembled the bottom part of a horse — horse legs, hooves, tail and all. It was too dark to see its face, she said, but there were no ears and the head area looked much more hairy and shaggy than the smoothly furred remainder, but she knew at once that no human could imitate the thin legs with hooves. “This was not someone dressed in a costume, this thing was real. It was a creature. It was alive,” she said.

As soon as the beast noticed she was watching it, it began to run toward her, the human-like “arm” limbs being held in a bent position with elbows slightly to the side. She shrieked, grabbed her four-year old brother, and the whole group began running for the tree line with the creature in pursuit. It sounded like the beat of horse hooves even on the grass, she said. When they reached the tree-line that marked the edge of the park, she turned around to see where the creature was. It stopped too, about half a block away, its rear end and haunches partially turned as the torso and head twisted to watch her. She estimated it stood about seven to eight feet tall. The small group continued beating a hurried path to their home. Their parents, naturally, did not believe them but she says her friend and brother still talk about it with her to this day. She added that she was not one to believe in ghosts and never had any other weird or paranormal incidents.

Jacob Jordaens [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Half man, half horse? The creature the children saw in Richmond reminded me of classic depictions of a satyr, or goat man, although those are always two-legged. And satyr reports are a bit more frequent. Many parts of the US have their own goat man legends. I also receive an occasional deer man report. In both types, it sometimes happens that the witness will see one of my sketches of the upright wolf-like creatures I more often investigate, and will say, yes, that’s it! So perhaps some cases are examples of mistaken perception, but this writer was quite sure there was a total of six limbs.

So what, then, to make of a centaur report I received last May? This incident happened around 1970 in Arizona, between Sierra Vista and Benson, as two young men drove along Hwy. 90. They were forced to stop when their car’s engine suddenly stalled, and got out to take a look. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so they got back in and were sitting there when they heard the sound of hooves running right at them. They turned to look out the rear window, and there saw a “half man, half horse creature rear up and start smashing in the back end of the car with its front hooves.” There was no mention of separate arms, so I’m not sure about that point. His friend began screaming to get them out of there, and the driver’s frantic efforts to restart the engine somehow worked and they sped away. The driver told his parents when he finally reached home, and recalled that his mother said, “What were you doing that caused the devil to show you that demon?”  One family member added they remembered that the back of the car was deeply dented all over as if someone had been banging it with rocks.

One more came to me yesterday, except this was from a woman who was driving with her son on a mountain pass in the western US eight years ago. She wrote: This happened on the summit of Bridge Creek between Inchelium and Nespelem, Washington. It is on the Colville (Arrow-Lakes tribe) reservation. I was told by some of the elders that there has been sightings of a “deerman” who has been seen near Nespelem. The elders say that when he is seen, it’s a sign that the person is going to die. I don’t know anyone who has seen him, but I’ve heard stories. I’ve never heard of an elk man before. What my son and I saw was a herd of elk, and in the middle of them was one that from the neck up was a man. He was reaching up into a tree. There was no way it was a costume. He was ugly and had ratty black hair and a bare chest.  It was only for a brief second that we saw it but it was long enough that we both looked at each other and said, “Did you just see what I saw?”

I agree that her sighting is different than a “deer man.” Elk are MUCH larger, and it’s unusual to hear of such a creature traveling with a group of ordinary animals.

Perhaps I’ll hear more from others. Do these sightings relate in any way to those of dogmen? Perhaps. Centaurs, elk men and dogmen — none of these seem like normal animals, or even aberrations of natural animals. There are many speculative possibilities. For now, I’d simply like to thank those who shared these sightings for giving us the opportunity to ponder them.

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HillsboroHairlessI always feel a twang of chagrin when I find out more about a story long after it’s gone to press. But it’s also a chance to make good on the additional facts and keep faith with my readers that I’ll try to put forth the best information I have–late to the party or not. Such is the weird tale of the 1992 creature known as the Hillsboro Hairless Thing, aka the Hillsboro Mutant and the Hora Horror, which I wrote about briefly in my 2011 book, Monsters of Wisconsin.

The news accounts I’d found then that seemed the most consistent  told of a small, gray, hairless critter that jumped out of a hay mow in the barn on the Joe Hora farm and attacked a beagle owned by Hora’s grandson, Brian. But I have long-time Hillsboro, Wisconsin newspaper writer Steven Stanek to thank for a treasure trove of original news clippings that add much to the story.

In actuality, according to an article Stanek wrote two weeks after the first breaking story in the Hillsboro Sentry-Enterprise, the beagle was the aggressor as it pulled the creature from its hiding place in the hay. All the stories agree that the farmer hit the two-foot-long beastie with a pipe and quickly killed it. Left is a picture of Brian Hora holding the carcass. Below is a scan of the printed newspaper story and photo that includes the curious beagle and a better view of the creature.

IMG_20150130_0001

This later article also mentioned that not everyone agreed with the DNR’s conclusion that the creature was a raccoon with mange. Two veterinarians who examined its post-mortem photos said the hairlessness was too complete to be mange. The creature also lacked the strong smell and thickened skin associated with mange, according to witnesses. As for the animal’s identity, a raccoon (perhaps hairless due to genetic mutation) still seemed to be the top local contender although a few citizens suggested a quill-less porcupine or a Mexican hairless dog as possible candidates.

More surprisingly, it turned out that another one of the creatures, very similar except with larger ears, had been spotted on a farm in nearby Yuba twice in summer, 1991. The animal appeared to be very healthy despite its naked appearance, said property owner Phil Connors in Stanek’s article.IMG_20150130_0002

Even weirder, yet another one turned up in adjacent Juneau County along Highway 71 in July, 2011 (right after my book had gone to press, naturally). It was found dead by Highway Patrolman Jeff Potter. About the same size and shape as the previous animals, it also displayed the same long, raccoon-like toes and bare tail. The headline in the Juneau County Messenger read, “Does Wisconsin Have Chupacabras?”

So, does it?

My own opinion is that they were all raccoons with a genetic mutation for hairlessness. I learned during my research for American Monsters on the famed Texas blue dogs also  at first also termed Chupacabras that hairlessness is not a terribly unusual mutation in mammals and that it’s a dominant trait. If that’s true, there are likely more of them hiding in the woods and hollows of Juneau and Vernon Counties. I just hope that the next one will be preserved and subjected to scientific analysis so that the legend–if not the carcasses–of Hillsboro’s Hairless Horrors can at last be properly laid to rest.

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