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Halloween isn’t here for a couple of months yet, but the werewolf masks — or at least, some old photos of them– are already coming out. There is one making the rounds on some groups that someone clipped from my old, now static and partially dismantled BeastofBrayRoad.com site (which is about to be reborn). It’s very definitely a person in a mask, and the photos were sent to me by Wisconsin friend Donna Pulkowski, after she posed in them just for fun and made sure I knew that. The one above was taken on Potter’s Road, Elkhorn. Another, below, is set on Bray Road.Scan_20170821 (2)

The one that has been causing all the fuss is below, along with the text from the old site. But please wait just a second before scrolling all the way down for that.

First, I want to post one that was sent to me anonymously some time ago. The appearance of it doesn’t come together as a canine for me, but is one of the best of this type of photo I’ve received. It was sent as a print, taken outdoors, so I have the full shot and the zoomed detail. I can’t recall seeing it anywhere else but that doesn’t mean it didn’t. It looks to me like someone wearing a wolf pelt with head, and clothing. The legs appear human. But that’s just my opinion. Please have at it!

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Post from the past: October 29 2009 HOAXES NOT JOKESES 

Look closely at this pic – see a familiar face?

People send me similar things all the time: Cousin Pete in a werewolf suit, or a landscape with a brown blob that is supposed to be a dogman. Sometimes the senders even helpfully add outlines in red crayon to show where the head or legs go.

Why do they do it? Some of these senders want my endorsement so they can sell the pic on e-bay, others are just sort of kidding themselves that they have captured proof that cryptids exist.  Some, I have no doubt, really did capture a photo of what they saw but the pic just isn’t good enough to identify it. I truly hope that some day, someone WILL come up with a clearly defined, measurable, unfaked video or pic of an upright wild canine that the world can chew on.

It’s the folks who just like to trick others that I worry about. I know of at least four Beast impersonators on Bray Road alone (hint; Halloween is their fave time for critter-scamming).

For one thing, they could get shot. It has happened to hoaxers in other places such as the so-called Choccolocco Monster of Missouri whose fun ended when someone aimed a rifle at him. (He survived but learned his lesson.)

I also worry about the safety of innocent motorists who may be passing by. Causing someone to have an accident would not be cool.

Beyond those considerations, I wonder about the psychology of the pure prankster. There is a degree of mean-spiritedness there, along with disdain for the hoaxees. A hoaxer is actually mocking those people who have had real unexplained experiences, and makes it harder for researchers to do their work.

However, I’ve never been able to link any known hoaxers to reported Beast sightings by date or location. And  I have a feeling that most people know a human in a bear or gorilla suit or werewolf mask when they see one.  I’ve received far too many sightings of unknown upright canids over time and geographical distance to blame them all on hoaxers. In other words, hoaxes do not prove or disprove the existence of cryptids, they just gum up the binoculars.

My final word is a plea to would-be Halloween jokesters is to curb your enthusiasm and stick to scaring trick-or-treaters at your own front door this year. At least you can then give them some candy to make up for it.

 

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I like to release book reviews in twos, for some reason. I think it’s because when I finish reading one really good book, it piques my appetite for another great read right away.

This time I’m pairing Ken Gerhard’s A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts and Barton Nunnelly’s Mysterious Kentucky, the Dark and Bloody Ground. These two gentlemen, and I mean that in the highest sense of that word for they are both truly gentlemen, have each written a book with the word “mysterious” in the title and a wide swath of unexplained beasts and phenomena cavorting through the interior pages. While Gerhard goes global, however, Nunnelly sticks to his home turf of Ol’ Kentuck. Together or one at a time, these books provide a rich harvest of unknown tidbits that will have readers gobbling every word Gerhard and Nunnelly have served up. To quote the immortal request of Charles Dickens’ urchin Oliver Twist, all I can say is, “Please, sir[s], I want some more.”

A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts; Encounters with Cryptid Creatures by Ken Gerhard

Most people probably wouldn’t consider a quiet cluster of children more frightening than, say, a modern day version of a werewolf – until they look in the children’s eyes and Scan_20170428see only glistening black pools. At that point, for me, the Black-eyed Kids or BEK’s gain a few points on the mysterious creature horror scale. These and other creatures that are not your grandfather’s monsters are discussed alongside more traditional entities in Ken Gerhard’s “A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts.” Readers will find themselves contemplating the Polish Wilkolak, sort of a vampire/werewolf combo, for instance, or pondering whether a photo of an alleged Chupacabras is truly a depiction of the blood-sucking goat killer or something else that simply appears otherworldly but has a mundane explanation.

Mundane is not a word I’d use to describe any part of this book, however. Whether readers are newbies still wrapping their craniums around the vast array of beasties, or seasoned enthusiasts seeking to hone their knowledge of favorite cryptids or catch up on the latest reports, Gerhard’s ghoulish gathering provides an irresistible gateway to the unknown. It’s a volume I’ll be keeping close at hand.

Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 2; the Dark and Bloody Ground by Barton M. Nunnelly

20170410_211045This is it…the book I and many other fans of Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 1 have been pining for Barton Nunnelly to finish and deliver. Well, he has at long last delivered, and how!!

Mysterious Kentucky, Vol. 2 covers more strangeness of each area of the huge state Native Americans considered cursed land, from historic lore to present day happenings. And joy of joys, the section on Kentucky Bigfoots alone comprises 118 pages of pure Sasquatch encounter bliss. It’s a hefty tome, packed chockablock from the first story which concerns, appropriately, Kentucky’s first people, to the last entry, Kentucky’s Chernobyl! The book must be seen and held to convey just how info-dense and well organized it is.

Nunnelly is also a gifted artist, and his illustrations enlighten the research and careful writing that take this book to the level of must-have permanent collection shelf of my personal library. The sense of immersion in the Blue Grass State is so complete, I almost looked around for a few blades of teal-colored grass as I sat and read. And as spooky as Nunnelly has revealed Kentucky to be, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a few stems materialized on my bookshelf. After reading this book, I can guarantee stranger things have happened.

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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.”

MississippiRiver

(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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Only a couple of days after my last blog about the differences between pterosaur-like flying creatures reported today and what scientists have learned about the actual, prehistoric birds, a new witness came forth. This sighting took place in 2008, about twenty miles north of San Jose, California. It occurred in daylight at close range, and the witness had time for a good look at something that is not supposed to be! In the witness’ own words:

Hello Linda,

I’m delighted to have come across your website. Here’s my report of a sighting of what I believe was a pterosaur in 2008. My sighting was a little different than the drawings in the article you posted, “Pterosaurs or Terror-Sores.”

On or about Sept. 3, 2008, on a clear, sunny day around 11 a.m., I was driving North on Hwy. 680 between Fremont and Pleasanton, California. Just at the Hwy. 84 off-ramp, I looked up when something large caught my eye and what I saw was a small Pterosaur flying about 30 ft. above my car. Talk about “driver distraction!” It flew directly over me (perpendicular to my direction), heading East toward Livermore. The reason I can estimate its distance from me, is that it appeared to be about 10 feet above the top of the traffic cam located at the Hwy. 680/84 junction which I was approaching at that moment.

The creature looked very similar to the paintings of the “Ropen” of Indonesia. I would estimate it had about a 3-5 ft. wingspan. It was light tan, all leathery skin, and the most astonishing thing was that it had no feathers! I could see the wrinkles & texture of its skin moving over its bones as it flew. The eyes were very large, round eyes, and it appeared to be young, or at least I had that impression because of its size and some of its features, like the tail and the bump on the back of its head were not as developed as those depicted of adult Ropen/Pterosaurs. I thought it probably flew at night because of the size of its eyes, which were perfectly round and HUGE – much, much larger than an Owl’s, for example. The eyes probably took up 40%+ of its cranial-facial area. As my rational mind was striving to take this all in, I wondered why it was flying in daylight, though it did not seem to be alarmed by anything.

The wings were triangular, slightly rounded at the tips, but I did not see any “hands” attached to the wings as these creatures are sometimes portrayed. The back of its triangular-shaped head came to a rounded point, jutting out a few inches. Its tail was not much more than a pointed “stump.” It had a fairly broad triangular-shaped beak that was longer than the “bump” at the back of its head, perhaps about 10-12 inches. Again, I was surprised at the breadth of its beak because it differed from drawings I’ve seen in books. But this was no Pelican, Bat, nor anything else I’ve ever seen flying through the sky. It had no feathers. As it flew, it’s clawed feet hung down slightly, from its body positioned more toward the middle of its underside (i.e., they were not positioned at the back of the body under the tail, nor were they attached to the wings). Its large claws were slightly curled and facing backwards. I thought it looked a bit clumsy as it flew, in that its feet and legs were not tucked up tight against the body during flight like birds, they were just dangling down. I recall there were 3 visible “toes.”

I was so shocked, but also felt awe and excitement and wanted to pull over to watch it. But, alas, I had to force myself to take my eyes off of it and mind the driving. It would have been a dangerous place to stop on that busy freeway, let alone to get out of the car, and by the time I could have pulled over, the hills would have blocked the view in the direction it was flying, and of course it would be far away by then. I witnessed this creature for 6 – 8 seconds before I had to tear my gaze away, but that was enough time to absolutely know I was looking at something very, very strange — something I had only seen in books about dinosaurs.

I have a keen interest and curiosity about nature and the nature of reality, cryptozoology, metaphysics, and spirituality. Some would consider me a good observer. This experience felt like a privilege to have been a witness to a secret aspect of our natural world. Perhaps I somehow briefly interfaced with another dimension, but it was as real and 3rd dimensional as any other animal. I told a couple of family members about it and most of them do not believe me — but I know what I saw. It’s exciting and validating to read that more sightings of similar creatures are emerging in many locations.

Thank you for your great blog. I’m sure to be a frequent visitor.

Sincerely,
Kris

[Also see this article for ROPEN, the flying cryptid mentioned by Kris]

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