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Artwork by Linda S. Godfrey 2017

Flight of the Mid-Michigan Dogman

Could a dogman travel from tree to tree in a snowy woods? That is what appeared to happen in a 2016 incident according to a report from a Michigan man in 2016. And this was only the beginning of his sightings of upright, wolf-like creatures. Between February and October of that year, he had no fewer than three encounters with creatures he said reminded him of a werewolf. The woods where this occurred are thought by local residents to be filled with ancient Native American burial mounds. Indeed, local historical records tell of a massacre of Potawatomi people by a rival tribe there in 1642.

The geography of the area also helps support the possibility of large cryptids there. Montague, a city of about 2500 people, lies only about four miles from Lake Michigan. Its wet and woodsy habitat is perfect for predators looking for food or a good hideout. To the east lie wide swaths of forest land, and an hour to two hours to the north and west are the known Michigan dogman sighting areas of Big Rapids, Luther, Baldwin and others.

The writer’s own words tell the tale, with only a few minor edits. He did not give me permission to use his name, and my accompanying sketch is my own artist interpretation of the large, wolf-like head he describes in his report:

Hello Linda. I live in a town called Montague here in west Michigan. About an hour to hour and a half as a crow flies southwest of both Big Rapids and Reed City. I live with my father on the family farm that sits on 30 acres of woods, creek and marshlands.  All of my encounters have come this year [2016] from February to about a month or so ago [October].

The first came on or about the eighth of February [2016] at approximately 3:52 am.  A heavy winter storm was hitting the area with some nasty weather. I was up early to get a jump on the snow shoveling, so the driveway was accessible for the propane delivery guy later that morning. As I was about halfway down the driveway I heard a loud splash in the creek to the south about 25 yards away, thinking it was a deer or two I had jumped. I stopped shoveling and scanned the creek and wood line for any movement.  As I scanned the creek I came to the wood line and saw this pair of yellow/amber eyes about 7 1/2 to 8 foot tall standing right next to a huge oak tree.

It took off with a super burst of speed to the west, it then leapt into the air and all I heard for the next few seconds was the tree tops clanging against one another. It was like it was riding the treetops.  I stood there for the next few minutes questioning my sanity. For the 6 to 7 seconds I saw this creature it stood 7 1/2 to 8 feet tall, stood on two legs that looked like a dogs hind legs. Big wolf like head, with a snout and ears that resembled that of a German Shepard, and those eyes of yellow/ amber in color.

SIGHTING TWO

The second sighting came on or about March 24, at approximately 2:38 pm. I had decided to walk up the creek and clear brush. I always carry a firearm with me on these occasions. I had gotten about 450 yards up the creek that flows through entire acreage of the property, it was strange to me how completely quiet or as I say “dead” the woods were. I always jump something up whether it’s a deer or turkey or ducks that are always there. I didn’t even hear any birds which was really strange. I rounded a bend in the crick when up ahead about 55 yards is what looked to be the back of a black bear that was digging into the bank of the crick.

As I was setting my firearm down on one of the little islands in the crick I snapped a branch and it stopped completely what it was doing. I froze and watched as this thing stood up on two legs and started to turn around towards me. It stood 8 feet tall and had a huge wolf like head, snout and ears of a dog, and all black fur. In the first encounter the creature’s fur was grey in color with some white, this one was all black.

It kept glancing over to the east and back towards me. It had not yet seen me, it put its snout into the air and looked like it was sniffing the wind.  I’m completely freaking out at this point and reach to pick up my firearm to get out of the area quickly when there was a splash up the creek I looked up and now this thing was on all four legs, it still stood 5 to 5 1/2 feet tall. At this point I don’t want to run out of fear that it will give chase, so I stay frozen. It looked at me and snarled, and I thought it was sizing me up and then all of a sudden it looks to the east, back at me one more time, and took two giant leaps toward the east, and onto the bank of the creek, that’s about a 25 foot distance. It then jumps towards the treetops and disappears to the east. I stood there in total disbelief.

I got home and my mind just kept racing. So I decided to confide in my father about what I had seen and he looked at me as if I were an alien. Said I was crazy and I should get my head checked out. I know what I saw!

ENCOUNTER THREE

The third and final encounter came on May 29, 8:52 pm.  My dad and I were having a fire down by the creek and we were getting low on wood.  He asked if I could go get more wood for the fire from behind the pole barn. I hesitated and said in a few minutes.  I was afraid of those woods, which is something I thought I would never say. After about ten minutes I start to make my way towards the back of the pole barn it’s just about dark and I keep hearing this rustling and a lower growl like dogs are playing and when I reach the back of the barn it stops. I light a cigarette and look out into the woods which are 10 yards away, again the woods had gone completely silent, it was eerie. Then there was a sound like a zipper being zipped up.  It was about 30 yards to the south. I waited for a minute and decided to look out to where I heard the sound. As I glanced to my right I saw something move.
It is just about completely dark, and there is a stench in the air that is absolutely putrid. It smelled of rotten guts and urine. I figured it was a rotten carcass of a dead animal. And then as I was shining my flashlight a deep guttural growl, like a raccoon would make came from the area I had heard the rustling sound.  So I shone my light over towards the sound and I saw eyes about 5 1/2 feet off of the ground, the eyes were red in color and were very shiny. It really didn’t freak me out as a lot of critters have red eyes when exposed to light. Then this thing stood up on two legs, this thing was really tall 8 to 8 1/2 feet, it growled again and literally turned around and walked away to the south.

I thought I had crapped myself, I came back home and my dad asked where was the wood? I said I didn’t feel well and was going to bed. I went out the next day to look around the area I heard the noise. I found only a deer skin, the rest of the deer was gone, including the head.

Also two neighbors of mine have heard very eerie howls coming from my family’s woods, saying they only come at dusk. They have been in the area for 50 + years and said they have never heard a sound like the one that they heard.

Also my friend’s cat Albert was trapped 60 feet up in a tree for 3 days during that storm that hit here just recently and refused to come down. It took tree cutting experts with a bucket to get him back. The rescuers said the cat hissed at them and did not cooperate with the rescue, and was shaking uncontrollably.

And one more thing. I set apples out for the deer every week and noticed the other day that all the apples were gone, and a rock was in every place where there was an apple. I have a trail cam on the area as I write this so hopefully I can get some pics to you. I also found some tracks that look like a huge wolfs. There used to be deer around here all the time. Had a herd of 50 or so. Now you’re lucky to see one or two, it’s like they disappeared. Been really strange around here for the past couple of years and I don’t know what to think about it. In all three of my encounters the thing I saw reminded me of a werewolf. I no longer go near the woods. I was told by a family member that a lot of the wood acreage is Indian burial grounds. I don’t share this with very many people at all in fear of getting laughed at or called crazy.

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            This report includes a couple of unusual features. In the first two encounters, the man saw the creature leap for the treetops. In the first, it appeared to be following him by jumping through the trees. That is not known canine behavior. Canines are not built with the brachiating or branching limb structure that allows them to swing by their arms as primates do. Perhaps it jumped from tree to tree. Dogmen have been seen making tremendous leaps and bounds.

A second thing I noticed was the presence of the Oz Factor, or a general bubble of silence, that seemed to envelope the area during two of the incidents. This unexplained phenomenon frequently appears in tandem with cryptid sightings of all kinds, as well as with various paranormal experiences.

Since it seems to be a recent and ongoing set of sightings, I hope to hear back from the witness if any more incidents occur. And during this final month or so of Midwestern winter weather, I’ll be listening in every ice storm for werewolves in the trees.

 

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Image by Linda Godfrey copyright 2017 all rights reserved

About eight years ago I did something I always try very hard not to do: I lost a file on a possible upright canine case alleging there were werewolves roaming the sewers of Minot, North Dakota. I remember having been intrigued by the story and setting my printout of the report aside  to investigate further. Much to my chagrin, it then disappeared. It had somehow slipped between two file folders, but I only just discovered that the other day while arranging my office after a recent move. I was delighted to find it, and decided it was about time I posted the short account  in case someone else might know more.

I’d received the email February 24, 2008, from a man who claimed to be a law enforcement agent in North Dakota, and who wanted to stay anonymous for fear of affecting his employment. The man I’ll call Pete said he’d been talking to an associate who told him about a recent interview he’d had with a burglary suspect. The associate said the suspect asked him if he had heard about the “werewolves” in Minot.

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Credit: City of Minot, by Bobak Ha’Eri, photo via Wikimedia Commons

“The guy [burglar] went on to explain,” said Pete, “that he and a friend of his were fooling around by a large culvert down by the river. (This particular culvert is about six feet across, easy for a man to walk in. It is inside the city of Minot and leads right out to the bank of the river.) The suspect said that he and his friend had seen something in the shadows that was about seven feet tall. He told my friend that they had also stepped on what they thought was a body while they were walking in the culvert. He stated that he and his friend had run out of there.

“The suspect had said that werewolves were living in the sewer system. While this sounds, of course, crazy…I have been noticing a few things since hearing the story: The city police department has had a couple of calls within the past couple of months concerning manhole covers being displaced, or off of manholes around town. Normally I wouldn’t think twice about those types of calls, but it now strikes me as odd.”

Pete said he put the information in the back of his mind until he heard me on the Coast to Coast AM radio show and suddenly wondered if there might be more to it. I’ve been trying to reach him, in return, but to no avail. I did confirm that he was indeed a law enforcement officer at the time and place he stated. But I like to have a bit more info when I post a case, especially when it’s a third-hand report and the original source is an alleged burglar. Since I’ve mentioned the report briefly in a book and on some radio shows, however, I decided to offer the information I have. I’ll be sure to update here if I do finally reach the original writer or find other sources.

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Manhole Steps, by Silenzio76, photo via Wikimedia Commons

Personally, I’ve never been able to shake that mental image of two criminals stumbling over a dead body as they flee the culvert after spotting a seven-plus-feet-tall “something” watching them from the shadows. And Minot may not be the only place where people should take extra care around city water and drainage systems. In “Monsters Among Us” I shared the story of a brother and sister who claim to have seen something similar in a Los Angeles suburb. And Minot does boast a river and lies near several wildlife refuges so the habitat is certainly there.

As I said, I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime I wouldn’t blame anyone for deciding to give manhole covers a wider berth–just to be on the safe side.

 

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This beauty, Ken Gerhard’s Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts, recently arrived in my mailbox and will be my first big read of the new year! Can’t wait to dig into what looks like a thorough compendium of the wild world of weird creatures. Happy 2017 to all!

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photo from Lincoln County Sheriff’s Dept.

This time of year seems to be when reporters go looking for oddities — or oddities come looking for them. Such seemed the case yesterday when a bold young black bear was seen begging bipedally from cars passing on a highway near Gleason. It was eventually captured and taken to a wildlife refuge. It seemed utterly unafraid of humans, leading to speculation it was either a pet -YIKES – or someone had been feeding it in a habituation situation.

When Hannity Show Came to Bray Road

There’s also a short compilation of Wisconsin beasties in a 3-year old article in Whoo New online blog, including the Beast of Bray Road, Muskego’s Haunchies and others. I’ve had a few people ask where to see the Sean Hannity episode on The Beast (one of the best short documentaries on the subject, I think) and the blog included this handy link.

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Minnesota is a state with far fewer reports of dogmen than I would expect, given its heavy forests and abundant water sources. So when a report came last week describing a very recent encounter, I was glad to see it. And the best part is that this witness is a professional artist and so provided some very compelling illustrations. She also found the courage to return to the spot this past weekend and take a few photos. I’ve left most of the report in her own words, with minor edits mostly for the natural repetition that occurs during a multi-email exchange.

Here is her account of what happened the evening of Monday, November 7, 2016.

Hi Linda. I wanted to report a sighting. I am 41, a graphic designer. I was driving just out of the town of Duluth, MN on Maple Grove Road. It was a dark night, the clouds covering most light of the 47% full moon. The area I drove was on the very edge of a residential area where houses were sparse, leading to old farm land with a very old barn. As I drove I noticed something dash in front of me from right to left. I saw it heading from the very edge of a residential area where houses were sparse, running into a field with a very old barn.  My eyes struggled to make sense of a very tall creature, 7 feet I would guess. It wasn’t on hind legs.

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The creature moved faster than normal. The face was wolf/dog-like with a longer snout and high set, small pointed ears. The back was very angled with extra-long front legs in comparison to the back. The leg length discrepancy caused it to walk more stiffly, almost with an injured type stride. The forearm was muscled, but it wasn’t primate or walking on its knuckles. It had more of forward stride like a deer, just not as smooth. Since the night was shadowed, it reminded me of a shadow person as the black was such an intense black, it’s hard to describe if you’ve never seen a shadow being. The eyes seemed maybe orange in my view.

For a second I wondered if it was my imagination, but I continued to watch and saw a far-coming vehicle’s lights shine through [between] the moving legs

The oddest part was the feeling of incredible fear and dread. I was literally so scared later I sat in a lit gas station until my husband came home. It definitely wasn’t a deer or moose, (angled shoulder too tall and steep, leg height different, wrong head), not a bear (wrong ears and head, not round, body bulk proportioned wrong) not a Bigfoot, nothing ape or humanlike. Anyway, it felt unlike any animal I’ve ever seen, with almost unnatural speed.

My sister said she, her ex-boyfriend and a friend have all seen it on its hind legs a few years ago. It lives near her house. She said it stood and watched them on the edge of the field with red eyes. Mine was a side view. It felt otherworldly. I am a [psychically] gifted person, as well. I am familiar with spirits and such.

Fear does not begin to describe it. The feeling lingers, like feeling a thick sludge weighing on me, really like an energy attack. I was an active camper, hiker, etc. Now I don’t want to be out in the dark, the woods, or driving alone at night. I know better, to fear these things is not good, it’s just hard to shake. It also felt like a bad omen, as silly as that sounds.  It took me a week to want to drive up there to the location to see if I could see anything, but I didn’t see any prints as most of the road was paved. In the daylight I could see it definitely went up into a field with a barn and an old building. The area is very close to the town of Duluth, but oddly this is just far enough out that the field runs along a road that is surrounded by birch woods and swampland. Our temps were really nice, 60 degrees at the time. This is hunting season and the deer are super active. Our normal temps are much cooler than this every other year.

Here is the illustration/sketch of what I saw that night. I am a wildlife artist with a very keen eye and photographic memory. I am use to drawing musculature, accurate portrayals of animals so when I explain what I saw hopefully there is a bit of credibility.

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The reason I drew what I did was because common response from people compared the animal to a wolf, bear, deer, and moose. I went online, drew each animal as a real representation of actual shape, and looked up the average height. None of these look accurate, the main thing I noticed was the sheer size, slope of the back and very different, long limbs. I drew this to mainly try and figure out what I saw. I don’t care if my name is mentioned, I am definitely not seeking any attention, just to understand what this thing was. I just call it the Bray Road Creature, closest thing I could come to in what I saw. –

I have just a few comments; the first one is that if this creature stood seven feet tall while on all fours, it would be even taller if it ever stood on its hind legs. Since bipedalism is the hallmark trait of any dogman, we can’t be sure that’s what the witness saw, but it certainly seemed larger and differently built than your ordinary wolf or dog.

Another unusual thing she mentioned was the overwhelming, lingering sense of fear and dread she experienced from seeing the creature. This is a common occurrence in cryptid sightings and other types of anomalous encounters, but doesn’t normally happen in the case of  mundane animals crossing a road.

The third thing I took note of was the presence of the old barn. For some reason, barns and other outbuildings often play a part in encounters with both dogmen and Bigfoot. I don’t know whether the buildings serve as shelter, hiding places or hunting grounds for small, tasty mammals, but they do pop up fairly often in such reports.

Finally, my unfortunately necessary disclaimer: Although  she included the rough location, that land is undoubtedly private property and must be respected as such. Trespassing is strictly illegal, and can bring harsh prosecution and fines. I believe — from long experience — that sightings of such creatures are random and rare, and are more likely to happen for those who are not searching for them. Yet I do believe there must be many more places in Minnesota where strange canid creatures abide.

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A certain weird hayfield in SE Wisconsin threads its way throughout the pages of my latest book, Monsters Among Us; an Exploration of Otherwordly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena. Today I spent a few hours threading my own way through the weedy tree lines of that field with its owner, “Roy Smith,” who decided he would like to reveal his actual name and say a bit on camera. I’ll refer to him as Smith here, however, since that is the name used in the book. My video of his introduction may be found below, but first here’s an important postscript on one strange phenomenon in Monsters Among Us.

(All rights reserved on photos and video; may not be posted or printed elsewhere without written permission.)

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On April 29, 2015, one of Smith’s trail cameras caught a black figure silhouetted against the growing green field. At first we thought it was a blackbird or crow, but when we zoomed in (zoom view shown above), it looked more like the head, back and arm of some large animal presumably crouched in the hay. There were two other partial shots of it taken within one second that showed very fast progression across the screen from left to right.

I trudged out to what we judged to be the spot where this happened one dewy morning not long after, wearing a coat with hood, and Smith took photos from where the trail cam had been set up. We ended up concluding, based on comparison to trees in the background and to the original photo, that it was at least as big as me (five foot one) and much larger than a bird would have been from that distance.

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The creature’s shape also seemed to match the stance I took in my photo: crouched over, one arm reaching forward. I wasn’t able to crouch as well, but my lower legs were also hidden by the grass. It would have been heading straight for the treeline area where Smith had been noticing various wildlife carcasses, mostly deer, that displayed oddly munched and crunched areas or were carried off entirely by unknown predators.

Return of the Creature

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Skip ahead one year or so to early May, 2016, and a similar type of creature showed up on another trail cam in the same field, heading in exactly the same direction. It looked black, furry, and seemed to be in a kneeling position. There was an evident shadow around it in the grass.Unfortunately, book production was already well underway so there was no way to add it. But we still set up a comparison shot with Smith trudging out to the field this time.

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The 6-foot 3-inch tall Smith (left, in baseball cap) appeared almost the same height as the creature as he knelt in the hay, but only half as wide! Compare the sizes of Smith and the creature compared to the round-shaped tree at the right. Whatever this black thing is, it’s roughly human-sized or larger. Just one more mystery at this field of bad dreams.

Meet “Roy Smith,” otherwise known as Lee Hampel, a retired math and physics teacher from Illinois, and owner of the mysterious field featured in Monsters Among Us. Hampel had chosen that pseudonym himself, but has since decided to go public. I always feel the witnesses should be the ones to choose in this matter, and honor Hampel’s choice by posting this video taken Oct. 25, 2016 on site in the field.

 

 

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Thunderbirds, mothmen and other unknown flying things are some of the most puzzling of cryptids. They appear in the sky or a nearby meadow, amaze lucky witnesses, and then fly away without any hint as to their intent. Sometimes they seem to portend doom, as in the famous case of Point Pleasant, W. VA’s Mothman, which many think was a harbinger of the tragic Silver Bridge collapse.

 

In other cases, such as the northwestern Wisconsin daylight sighting by John Bolduan that begins my “American Monsters” book, witnesses are left feeling perplexed yet privileged to have witnessed such a spectacle. Bolduan watched in awe as the tall, silvery-feathered bird took to the air and displayed a 22-foot wingspan.

 

There’s another example of that flighty ambiguity in my next book due out this fall, titled “Monsters Among Us, an Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms and Odd Phenomena.” In this incident, a central Wisconsin woman witnessed a gigantic, large bird standing on a bridge near Black River Falls. She was told by a Native American elder that she had seen a Thunderbird.

 

Why am I bringing these examples up now? I’ve often wished that I had some way to help  interpret these incidents, but had never found much contemporary material aside from well-known Thunderbird lore. I was thrilled recently, then, to stumble across a gleam of illumination in my summer reading pile, in a book about one man’s solo canoe adventure down the Mississippi River. The beautifully written work, Nick Lichter’s The Road of Souls, Reflections on the Mississippi, also describes many of the places long considered sacred or otherwise important by our indigenous people.

 

One of these places is Rock Island, Illinois (specifically, the area known as Rock Island Arsenal across the river from Bettendorf, Iowa). Lichter cites the translated autobiography Life of Black Hawk to explain that this island was once considered a hunting, fishing and horticultural paradise by Blackhawk’s people, the Sac or Sauk. I’ll quote just the last half of Chief Blackhawk’s own statement from  Lichter’s book:

 

“In my early life, I spent many happy days on this island. A good spirit had care of it, who lived in a cave in the rocks immediately under the place where the fort now stands, and has often been seen by our people. He was white, with large wings like a swan’s, but ten times larger. We were particular not to make much noise in that part of the island which he inhabited, for fear of disturbing him. But the noise of the fort has driven him away, and no doubt a bad spirit has taken his place!”

 

Lichter adds, “The swan’s cave was long ago dynamited out of existence.”

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(Image shared from http://cdn26.us1.fansshare.com/photo/mississippiriver/shannon-mississippi-river-watershed-wikimedia-commons-delta-333095664.jpg)

Might the big birds seen up and down the Mississippi since Chief Blackhawk’s day be embodiments of that wandering spirit bird? Blackhawk doesn’t directly call the spirit bird a swan; he merely says it is white, has wings like a swan and is ten times its size. That’s very reminiscent of what Bolduan described. And Webb Lake, where it appeared, is only about five or six miles from the Mississippi in Burnett County, Wisconsin. Moreover, the other encounter I mentioned on the bridge in central Wisconsin was near Black River Falls, a tributary of the Mississippi.

 

This is just my own fanciful thought, but maybe that great, spirit bird is still winging over the Mississippi, setting down now and again as it searches for another place of peace– another earthly paradise to watch over. I believe it’s as good an explanation of these huge creatures as any.

My final thought is a question inspired by Blackhawk’s words when he suggested a “bad spirit” might have taken the great bird’s place… I can’t help but wonder what shape that bad spirit might have taken…

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