Monday, May 30, 2011

Was It The Ozark Howler?

It's been awhile since I had read anything referencing the legendary 'Ozark Howler' until I received the following email:

Lon - I don't have any idea what I witnessed Saturday evening (5/28) but it was the most frightening experience of my life. My wife and I were camping at an RV park near Jasper, Arkansas and planned to be there for several days. We arrived early Saturday and got situated soon after.

My wife wanted to look around the area since she had never been in the Ozarks. I was born and raised in the mountains and was familiar with the terrain and wildlife. After we tinkered around the campsite we decided to take a short hike through a nearby valley. There were a few caves and caverns along the way but nothing where I would have guessed any large predator would be living. After walking for an hour we started to head back towards the RV park.

Not long after we started walking back down the trail something caught my eye on the right in a sassafras thicket. My wife sensed it as well and stopped to look in the same direction. I could see this dark four-legged creature moving back and forth slowly through the brush. We immediately started to walk at a fast pace back towards the park. This creature was moving along as well, keeping it's distance, but tracking us. This continued for what seemed like 10 minutes until we reached the clearing.

We got back to the campsite very shaken and nervous. All my years growing up in these mountains and I had never seen anything comparable to it. From what I could gather it was very large, almost the size of a black bear but moved close to the ground like a cat. It was also very dark in color. We didn't say anything to others camping nearby.

The rest of the evening was very quiet and peaceful until around 2:15 am, we heard what sounded like a high pitched howl coming from a distance. It was loud enough to wake both of us and I noticed several campers were looking outside, milling around and talking as well. Someone said it was just a coyote - but that was not a coyote or anything else I had ever heard before.

The next morning we woke around 9 am. When I stepped out of the RV a woman walked up to me and asked if I had heard the howling. I said that I did and had no idea what it was. The woman, who was camping nearby, said that she believed it to be the 'Ozark Howler' and that there had been a few sightings recently. I knew the stories about the 'Ozark Howler' but never believed any of it.

Well, my wife wanted to leave ASAP. Now I'm not sure what to think. We came home today and I looked up the 'Ozark Howler'. There isn't much to go on. I read your blog and thought you may want to get the word out. Is it possible this creature may live?

NOTE: the witness wants to remain anonymous. Information on this cryptid is scant...as well, the history is vague. There are a few anecdotal accounts but nothing to really 'hang your hat on'. I have posted some descriptions and known information below. Follow up from the readers would be appreciated...Lon

Could it be a black bobcat...like this one captured in Florida?

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The Ozark Howler, also known as the Ozark Black Howler, is a legendary creature that is said to live in remote areas in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. It is usually described as being cat-like but the size of a fully grown black bear...thick body, stocky legs, black shaggy hair as well as sporting prominent horns from the forehead. The sound associated with this cryptid is often described as being a combination of a wolf's howl and an elk's cry. The name was derived from its troubling cries at night which echo down from the area where it is commonly said to be seen, the Ozark Mountains. Aside from the creepy howl and horns, the Ozark Howler is said to have glowing eyes which allow it to spot and perceive its prey even at a distance. This creature is said to feed on smaller animals in the woodlands, as well as livestock.

There have been a few interesting, though vague accounts of the Ozark Howler over the years. Many cryptozoologists claim the tales to be a hoax that was given renewed life through the internet and a supposed research group that has since faded away. Nonetheless, the following is an interesting account from an individual who claims to have hunted the Ozark Howler:

Frank Wall says he is an experienced hunter of stag and fowl, certified hunting guide for waterfowl with 25 years field hunting experience from the time he was "yay high"! Missouri native, born and bred.

EDUCATION

I first got interested in the Ozark Howler from listening to the guys my dad went together to process his deer with. They'd always tell stories, a lot from people they knew and a couple incidents of their own! Well, I've been a full grown huntsman for a good number of years now, and I've set my sights on this most elusive of quarries: the black cat of the Ozarks!

I've learned quite a bit of what I know about Ozark Howler from Lisa Leigh, local journalist who's taken a professional interest in the development of the Ozark Howler story. You can read a good number of her articles in local papers, and she's been successful even in getting coverage of some Ozark Howler sightings on local TV news! If you want a true authority on the Ozark Howler, talk to Lisa.

I decided I wanted to understand the Ozark Howler from another perspective: that of the hunter. Hunters are some of the best biologists there are, we know our quarry, it's habits and where it lives.

There's some sort of academic debate about what the Ozark Howler is and what it isn't. Well, all I know is that it exists. There are just to many people who have seen the thing to ignore it any more and say that it isn't an "important question".

Folks I know mostly agree that it's a pretty big cat, much bigger than the bobcat or lynx that professors who haven't even seen the thing say it probably is, explaining away the important differences, like the long, stocky body, the dark thick fur, the consistent reddish cast to the eyes, and the appearance of both horn-like and beard like appendages on the head. It's easily close to three feet tall at the shoulder, and I'd like to know what bobcat gets to be that size! I'm a hunter, so don't try to kid me!


THE OZARK HOWLER

The problem with trying to find out more about the Ozark Howler is that, like most cats, it's nocturnal. That means that it mostly moves around at night, and I can tell you from experience tracking cats that if it don't want to be found during the day, it won't be. I have a friend who kind of takes up a hobby of nature photography, and she tells me that there's just not much chance of ever getting up close to a wild predator during the daytime, at least close enough to get a detailed sort of description.

The upshot is that most sightings of the Ozark Howler have taken place at night. See, it gets confusing because almost everyone insists that the Ozark Howler has black fur. Now, it could be dark brown or even very dark red, but you just can't tell that in the dark or even dusk-like conditions.


THE QUESTION

People who spend their time researching animals like the Ozark howler are finally admitting that it almost certainly exists, but then they say that it's not as important as the beast of Bodwin Moor, which is clear complete across the Atlantic. Can someone explain this to me? Why hasn't good research on the Ozark Howler caught up with all of the sightings? - Frank Wall - ozarkhowler.20m.com

1 comment :

DSmith73 said...

I lived just outside of Jane, Missouri back in 2008 off of Highway 90. Well one night I stepped out on my back deck and heard this loud scream. At first I thought it might have been my neighbors up the road fighting, so I walked up the road a ways to see if it was them, but to my suprise they were not home. As I was walking back down the road I heard this scream several more times. It was pretty loud, and sounded more like a woman than anything I've ever heard. I went into to my house and grabbed my pistol and went back outside. I walked over to the bluffs that ran along my property and heard the noise again, it was probably about 50 yards or so away from where I was standing, and I actually could hear something walking in the leaves. It sounded like it was walking toward my direction, because the rustling of the leaves kept getting louder and louder. I backed up to a clearing just about 20 yards from the noise and sit down by a tree and raised my .357 and was waiting for whatever it was to walk out where I could see it. It stayed just inside the tree line as I could still hear it walking, and it let out one more hair raising scream as it walked off. I have never heard anything like that before, not sure what it was, but would like to find out.

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