A few years ago, fantasy writer Stephen D Sullivan a.k.a. “Manwolf,” and yours truly cohosted our own weekly radio show called Uncanny Radio. My friend Cass recently reminded me that those podcasts are still up and available, so for those of you who have asked me to post a list of online recorded radio shows, this could be a start. Just click http://www.blogtalkradio.com/uncannyradio and listen away! Topics include everything from strange creatures to ghosts to UFOs to all things uncanny.
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:
Author event at Racine Barnes & Noble Saturday, February 16 I’ll be reading from God Johnson and giving free signed color copies of the cover with every purchase of the e-book 3:30-4. I’m also on the panel for the writers workshop from 1230 to 2 PM, please come say hey if you can! Chatting about Weird Wisconsin and Real Wolfmen too!
Bigfoot in the British Isles? The idea of huge, hairy man-apes hiding out in the manor-dotted, bucolic countryside of the British Isles seems as likely at first blush as the queen switching out her Earl Grey for chugs of Red Bull. But Nick Redfern’s new book, Wild Man! The Monstrous and Mysterious Saga of the British Bigfoot, (CFZ Press, 2012) makes an exhaustive and surprisingly compelling case that people have indeed been seeing anomalous, Bigfoot-like creatures from Shugborough to Derbyshire, perhaps for centuries!
Redfern has to be one of the most prolific current writers on strange and cryptozoological topics — he releases books faster than I can find time to review them. But I wanted to make sure that I got this one posted because it covers so many topics of interest to the worldwide cadre of Bigfoot-seekers. It has the additional advantage of being authored by a native of the British soil who possesses many area connections and much firsthand knowledge.
Redfern starts by grounding the wild man topic in medieval history, harking back to the wodewose, or hairy, naked men seen throughout the forests of England since at least the early 14th century. But he notes that the wodewose was described as very close to human underneath all that fur.
The nearly 300, large pages are packed with anecdotes in a timeframe that ranges from ancient to contemporary, but the book is about more than mysterious case studies. Redfern doesn’t shy away from possible explanations for the anomalous creatures, venturing into possibilities such as misidentifications with primates released from the private zoos of eccentric collectors. He also notes the difficulty of explaining how large predators could subsist in the English countryside without detection and lays out a theory that they may be “semi-physical” or products of some other process that is not presently known to science.
Whatever these wild things are, Redfern’s examination of them belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in anomalous creatures, especially those of the hairy hominoid kind. There may be more beasties hiding in that famed British mist than anyone has previously guessed.
It happened last night — my urban fantasy “God Johnson; the Unforgiven Diary of the Disciple of a Lesser God” became open for download on the vendor sites below. It’s been 3 years in the making and I have 3 unpubbed, full-length novels already sitting on the shelf, so this book co-published with my literary agent, Dystel & Goderich as an ebook was not a hasty venture. Please have a look if you’ve a taste for unknown gods, hidden worlds and orange scones…
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!
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!