Monday, July 18, 2016

New Game Camera Photos From Central Texas

I have been out of pocket the last few weeks. I spent a week in the Ouachita Mountains as part of a NAWAC team attempting to obtain evidence that supports our hypothesis that the wood ape (bigfoot) is a real flesh and blood animal. I was home only a day and a half before loading up and heading to the White Mountains of New Mexico. This second trip was more of a family vacation but, my interests being what they are, I just could not help making some forays into the Lincoln National Forest and hiking some areas where alleged wood ape sightings have taken place. While I had no sightings of unusual wildlife (I did get up close and personal with a cow elk and several mule deer) I was struck by just how much richer an environment the deciduous forests of the Ouachitas are compared to the coniferous forests of south-central New Mexico. That is a topic for another day, however, as I would like to take this time to begin catching you all up on what I have been up to the last month or so. I will start with my activities prior to my trips.

I received a message from a gentleman in early June who reported two separate sightings of a large, black, long-tailed cat by a total of three different people on and near his property. I was particularly excited as the sightings were very recent and the property was only about a thirty-minute drive from my home. I had two game cameras available for deployment and the landowner generously agreed to let me place them on site. Once deployed, I let the cameras sit for a month before going out and checking on them. I was disappointed in that I did not capture photos of cats of any kind but encouraged to see the amount of wildlife that does live in the area. Certainly, there is a solid prey base for a big cat to sustain itself upon, at least for a few weeks. Following are some of my favorite photos from the set.


Species other than those pictured were photographed as well but nothing outside of what would be expected in Central Texas (skunks, opossums, raccoons, etc.). Despite the lack of photographic evidence, the witness seems very credible and is absolutely sure of what he saw. I can only hope that the cat in question cooperates by remaining in the area long enough to have its picture taken.

I am due to check the cameras again in the next week or two and will update with new photos at that time.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Cameras Placed at Black Panther Sighting Location

I received an email two weeks ago from a gentleman requesting that I call him. I did and it turns out he wanted to question me about “black panthers” and whether or not they have ever been seen near the area where he makes his home. I gave him my opinion on what I believe these animals to be and told him that they have been reported on multiple occasions near his location. He then shared with me that there had been two visuals on his property in the last week. His wife saw what she called a black panther just before turning onto their property and he and a friend saw a large, black, long-tailed cat matching the description she gave only a few days later after entering the property gate. At most, the sighting locations were no more than 1/4 mile apart and separated in time by only a few days. I was greatly intrigued and was especially excited as the area where the sightings took place is only about a 30-minute drive from my home. I asked if he would be open my visiting the property and putting up a couple of game cameras. He was very gracious and said he would, indeed, like it if I came out and put up a couple of cameras.


Two days later, I made my way out to the property (I will keep the exact location confidential for the time being). It was more difficult to get there than it normally would have been due to recent flooding. I encountered road closures, due to high water, on the first two routes I tried. Finally, after taking a rather circuitous route that added quite a bit of distance to the drive, I was able to get to the property. A theory began to form in my mind as I encountered these flooded roads. I felt it was very possible that this animal, whatever it was, had been using the river bottoms (again, I will withhold the name of the river as it could compromise the location of the property) as a travel route or, possibly, as its home and was forced to higher ground by the rising water. I have no way of proving this hypothesis, but it seems reasonable.

Once on site, I met the property owner and a friend of his who had been with him when the visual had taken place. They showed me the layout of the property and gave me a tour of the entire place via ATV. All together, the property belonging to the witness is made up of only 30 acres; however, family and close friends own the surrounding property. All together there are about 300 acres of undeveloped, mostly wild land on site, some of which that is only a few hundred yards from the river.


After the tour, we returned to the sighting location and set about looking for any sign. The property owner had seen some tracks on the dirt road that connects his land to the main road shortly after his sighting but heavy rains since had washed them out. He did have some photos but the tracks, while clearly there, were a bit indistinct. What was interesting were that there were two sets of tracks. One set of tracks was large and the other set significantly smaller. At one point, the smaller set of tracks disappeared from the muddy road, just vanished, while the larger set continued. It was posited by the property owner that, perhaps, the smaller animal was a cub and the mother had picked it up in her mouth upon hearing the vehicle approach and then bolted into the brush. He admitted to not having noticed a cub being carried at the time of the visual but stated the whole incident had only lasted a few seconds.


It was suggested that we go into the woods and have a look around. The property owner was all for it but did stress he felt that what he had seen could potentially be dangerous. He returned to the ATV to retrieve a machete and then took a look at the holstered pistol on my hip and asked, “Are you handy with that weapon?” I reassured him that I was and he said, “Ok.” The three of us then went “brush busting” into the heavily wooded area where the cat had retreated after crossing the road. The area was incredibly dense and gnarly. Initially, near the road, cedar and mesquite trees dominated. Vines, of both the thorny and wild grape variety, made walking tough. After about a hundred yards, maybe less, as we approached a live creek, hardwood trees began to appear. This made the walking a bit easier. The creek was pristine and animal sign abundant. As a matter of fact, we came upon a fawn bedded down in deep brush on the opposite side of the creek. We were able to get within 10-feet of it before it bolted (just before I snapped a picture of it, naturally). Sign of deer, opossum, raccoons, fox, coyote and bobcats were found but nothing to indicate the presence of a large cat. We did find a spot where it looked like something had vomited. It was quite the smelly mess but there was no way to identify what might have been responsible for it.


I placed two cameras in the woods near the creek and close to the two sighting locations along an established game trail that cut through the brush. I advised the property owner to go about his business as usual but not to go looking about in the woods near the cameras, as we wanted things in that area to get back to normal as quickly as possible. He agreed and we retreated back to the dirt road where the trucks were parked. At that time, I questioned him one more time about what he had seen. His description remained consistent; a very large, solid black cat with a long tail. He said it looked like it was half as long, from head to tail, as the dirt road was wide (this would be about 6-feet). The visual took place between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. in broad daylight. There was no mistaking the color due to low or poor lighting conditions. “That cat was coal black,” he said.

I thanked him for his hospitality and for granting me access to the property whenever I wanted and made my way home. The water in the area has receded quite a bit, to the point the roads are all open again, but remain much higher than normal. I am hoping these conditions keep this animal on the property long enough for me to get a photo.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Interactive Black Panther Distribution Map Updated

I have updated my interactive black panther distribution map with the latest sightings (detailed in yesterday's post). You can access the map by clicking here.

Once you have clicked the link and the have the map on your screen, you can click on any pin to get a brief description of the encounter that took place in that location. Feel free to offer any thoughts on patterns that might be apparent.

I have included a couple of screen shots of the map below to give you an idea of the distribution of sightings. As you can see, sightings along the I-35 corridor and east dominate. This correlates directly to the amount of rainfall the state of Texas receives. The eastern half of the state gets significantly more rainfall than the western half.



Again, to actually use the interactive feature, you will need to click the link above.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Enigmatic Black Cat Reports From Texas

Texans continue to send me reports of their encounters with large, black, long-tailed cats, most commonly referred to as black panthers in this part of the world. Before we begin, let me repeat a few things that I have said before. I know there is no such animal as a “black panther.” The known big cats that have been given this moniker are either African/Asian leopards or New World jaguars exhibiting melanism. When I use the term black panther, realize it is a colloquialism, a catchall phrase, if you will, that is commonly used in Texas and the American South to describe any large, black, long-tailed wildcat.

Some of the reports below are older than some I have already published in previous posts. There are various reasons for this, but, suffice to say, it has nothing to do with me having any doubts about their veracity. The reports appear below just as they came to me with the exception of my having redacted the names of some of the witnesses in order to protect their privacy. This step was not necessary in some cases as the reports came to me in the form of comments to existing blog posts and were submitted anonymously.

5/26/16

“I live just outside Lockhart on a 100 acre heavily wooded ranch. Driving up the driveway tonight I saw a large dark feline walking slowly up my driveway. From behind it reminded me of a tiger walking at the zoo-long thick tail and all. I flashed my bright lights at it and it turned and looked back at me with yellow eyes. It was definitely not a bobcat because we've seen those frequently on the property.”

- Anonymous


TCH Comment: Lockhart sits about 20 miles to the east of San Marcos in South-Central Texas. The San Marcos River flows only a few miles south of the community and numerous creeks wind through the area providing ample water and travel corridors for wildlife. The witness lives on a ranch. People who ranch for a living typically know their wildlife and are familiar with predators that could become problematic for their livestock. The area certainly could support a big cat.



5/23/16

“My boyfriend who lives in Alvord TX had a very large black cougar looking cat run through his pasture. It was May 7, 2016 around 2:00 pm. After talking to some of the local people around our area they say they have heard of some people spotting large big cats also. It's not frequent and ranchers in the area have had small calves killed and drug off. I'm wondering how many others have ever seen these large cats? We do live near Panther Creek in Alvord TX. Although it's rumored that these are Mexican cougar cats. Curious if anyone else has spotted these cats.”

- XXXXXX (Relayed to me by Sharon Hill of Doubtful News)


TCH Comment: This report is pretty typical of what I usually get. A witness spots a large, very dark cat of some kind, asks around to find others have seen similar animals, etc. What caught my eye was the use of the term Mexican cougar cats. In the mid to late 1800’s and well into the 1900’s similar terms, the most common of which were Mexican lion and Mexican tiger or tiger cat, were used to describe jaguars. There is no reason to doubt the person reporting the story. She does not over embellish the details and the area in question has had its share of black panther sightings. I will add this report to my distribution map.


5/23/16

“I've often wondered about this as I have had my own experience with a large black cat about 15 years ago at Pedernales State Park. My family and I were camping there at the last site open, campsite 13. My youngest daughter, who was 3 at the time, and I went for a walk on the trail behind the campsite just before dusk. She walked ahead of me, picking up rocks or leaves that fascinated her. I happened to spot movement in the shadowed path ahead. I really couldn't believe what I was seeing- a large black cat with green eyes. I grabbed my daughter in a split second and stood mesmerized for just a few moments, still not really comprehending what I was seeing. I quickly turned and went back to the campsite. I asked my daughter what we just saw and she said "cat". I told my husband, which sounded quite unbelievable when spoken. I went back to see if it was still there, but it was gone. When I returned, deer came trampling through our site as if to be running from something- a big black cat! I ran up to the Ranger station to make the report and was met with ridicule. I forced them to take the information. So sad. We packed up and left when I returned. What an experience that I will never forget! I still love Pedernales!”

- Kami XXXXXXX


TCH Comment: Pedernales Falls State Park is located in Blanco County 10 miles east of Johnson City along the Pedernales River. As of the 2000 census, there were only 8,418 people residing in the county. This works out to an average of only 12 people per square mile. While Austin continues to sprawl to the south and west, there is still a lot of space for a predator to roam in the area. Mountain lions are seen in the area from time to time. If cougars can survive in the area there is no reason to think another species of large cat could not do the same.


5/21/16

“About 15 years ago, my husband and I used to ride out bikes at McAllister Park in San Antonio. Believe it or not we saw a large black animal that looked like what everybody has described in your blog. It was way too big to be domesticated, it was the size of a large dog but it was feline...very stealthy and ran quickly across the road at a distance from us...”

- M. XXXXXXX


TCH Comment: I have had what I believe to be credible reports of large cats come out of surprisingly urban areas; however, I am a bit dubious on this one. Understand, it is not the witness I have an issue with as I believe she and her husband did see something, I just am having a hard time figuring out how, and why, a large predator would come to be in this area. McAllister Park sits right off of Wurzbach Parkway, a very busy road, inside of loop 410 (the “inner loop” of the city). A big cat would have to traverse a lot of city to get to this location. Urban sightings are plausible when there is a route in and out of an the area that a large animal could traverse unseen like a greenbelt, a creek or river, etc. There is no such feature coming from outside of town all the way into McAllister Park. It is true that Lorence Creek comes close to this site but it peters out back to the west just as it gets to 281, well short of 1604 (the “outer loop” of the city) and beyond where it does get pretty lonesome and wild pretty quick. In addition, McAllister Park has an area especially designated as a dog park. It is possible that a large, black dog got away from its owner and made a brief appearance on the trail. I certainly could be wrong but all of these factors lead me to believe the possibility of a misidentification in this particular incident are strong. For that reason, I will be leaving this sighing off of my distribution map.


5/20/16

“I came across your site searching for possible answers to what my daughter saw. We live in Del Rio, Tx and my daughter (21 not a child btw) was out walking one of our huskies, when she saw a large black cat run across the street, from the neighborhood into the brush in an undeveloped area. She came running in the house, scared, saying she's just seen a black panther. I told her we don't have panthers in Texas but she said it was about the size of our huskies, with a long tail and jet black. I spoke to our neighbors across the street about it because their house is adjacent to that undeveloped area, and they said they have been hearing two large cats in the evenings, for about a month now. They said it sounds like a child a screaming. The property the cat ran to eventually goes back into ranch land and Mexico. Any ideas what my daughter saw?”

- Donna XXXX
X

TCH Comment: That is certainly the million dollar question isn’t it? Del Rio sits just north of the U.S.-Mexico border along the Rio Grande River and just to the E-SE of Amistad Reservoir. There is no question that a big cat could be living in this area. It is sparsely populated with miles of open space to roam. It should be noted here that jaguars have been documented crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in Arizona and New Mexico. If it can happen in these border states, there is no reason to believe it could not happen here in Texas, too. Did Donna’s daughter see a black jaguar? Obviously, I cannot say for sure. I can say that if it really was as big as a husky, it could not be a jaguarundi or domestic/feral cat. The tale described eliminates the possibility of a misidentified bobcat and cougars do not exhibit melanism. What does that leave?



4/24/16

“I live in Willis, TX, North of Houston, I saw a large black cat chasing a deer through the back of my neighborhood. Went back today and got photos of the tracks.”

- Jennifer XXXXXXX


TCH Comment: Short, sweet and to the point. Willis sits just north of the Houston suburb of Conroe and, while not in the national forest proper, is surrounded on three sides by the Sam Houston National Forest. The area does have a history of sightings of large, black, long-tailed cats. Jennifer, I would love to see the photos of the tracks. If possible, please email me the photos at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. I will hold off on placing this sighting on my distribution map until I can get a look at those tracks.


4/9/16

“We are in Emory, Texas and seen a big brown cougar twice with s big head and a black jaguar sized cat twice in own back yard. They hunt our deer in our brush.”

- Anonymous


TCH Comment: I think it is important to point out that this witness clearly differentiated between two different types of big cats he has seen on his property. Nearly all Texans, even those living in urban environments, know what a mountain lion looks like. Even if it is uncharacteristically dark, a cougar is a cougar. Folks also know when they have seen something different. That seems to be what has happened here. I would encourage this witness, and anyone reading who has seen one of these enigmatic cats, to get a game camera up on the property.


1/29/16

“Sitting on the back patio of our hill top house with my wife I spotted a large black cat about 250 yards away coming out of a creek wash in the pasture and weed over grown field behind our property. I pointed out the creature to my wife and then grabbed binoculars from the house to watch as it travelled across the field. Upon my return it spotted my movement and began moving slowly away toward some over growth weeds and mesquite brush, stopping twice to look over it’s shoulder back at me, before disappearing into the over growth of weeds and mesquite brush. The animal was about 18 to 20 inches tall and had a body length of about 40 inches with a tail about 25 to 30 inches in length. It appeared to be half again larger than a Bobcat but smaller than a full-grown mountain lion and possessed a fairly small head in relationship to the body. The color was dark charcoal black to a dull black with no distinct markings. The animal walked in a manner I would refer to as ambling and did not hurry to exit even after seeing my movement. In it’s travels I observed it walked past three horses upwind from it without spooking them and then after disappearing it past about 7 or 8 cows downwind from it 100 yards sending a yearling calf scampering at full run into the safety of the herd. The herd then moved as a group toward the cat and in the direction of a road bridge that lay in the direction it had last been seen traveling toward. In a few minutes the cattle lost interest and returned to grazing. The cat had probably passed under the roadway at the bridge moving along the winding creek bottom.”

Earl XXXXXX, Prairie Dell, Texas


TCH Comment: The description of this cats appearance given by Earl is almost a textbook description of a jaguarundi. The size, the long tail, small head and charcoal/black dull-colored coat described all fit the jaguarundi bill. Even the fact that the cat did not overly alarm the livestock would make sense as a jaguarundi would not be a threat to an animal as large as a horse or a cow. The Prairie Dell area could still sustain a large predator. There is an ample whitetail deer population and more feral hogs than can be counted. Numerous creeks and stock ponds could provide water and, to this point, the sprawl from Austin has not reached quite this far north. I will be adding the sighting to my distribution map.


11/18/15

“OK…three things have recently come together and have me scratching my head. My wife and I live in East Texas in a well-known RV Park / Campground in the Pine Forest. The park is Wolf Creek Park, located in San Jacinto County just outside of Coldspring, TX. Last month, my wife mentioned that one of our campers had seen a “black panther”. I didn't listen much to the story but did let her know that they must have mistaken something else for it because big cats do not exist in this part of Texas. She knew the campers well and thought they would not make something like that up but I didn’t give it another thought.

This morning, a friend who recently bought a ranch about 20 miles from here, told me that after moving his horses from his previous ranch to the new one about a week ago a “cat” had gotten hold of his #1 competition horse and seriously mauled it. I asked him if it was a bobcat or if the horse had somehow tangled with a domestic/feral cat and he replied “it was a panther or cougar or whatever you call them up here, it took 480 stitches to sew him up!” He said someone from Parks and Wildlife advised him that large cats moved “up and down in this area”???

I was shocked and on my way home realized that I may have actually seen one myself, on two occasions. First, I used to travel to Louisiana quite often on business. When I have to be in Baton Rouge or Lafayette I will usually elect to leave very early in the morning from my home rather than stay overnight in a hotel. I have seen just about every kind of creature we are familiar with in this part of the country on or near the roads I travel at these early hours. Several months ago I was only about 2 miles from the Park and approaching a home that I knew had several dogs that could often be found close to or even laying on the road. I slowed up just before getting there and was not surprised to see an animal cross from left to right up ahead just barely in my headlights. I could see that it stopped on the shoulder of the road and was facing me. As I got closer and passed it, I got goose bumps over what I thought I saw. It appeared to be a large black cat, its fur was a dull looking dark gray or black and not “fuzzy”. It was much bigger than a bobcat and had a large squarish head and didn’t stand very tall but its legs appeared to be unusually thick which gave it a very squat and powerful appearance. I noticed no spots or tail. As I drove on, I eventually convinced myself that my imagination had gotten the better of me. I've often wondered what it was I actually observed. My friend’s story reminded me of this. The creature I think I saw would certainly be capable of such an assault.

The second time was a couple of months ago. About an hour before sunset, I was preparing to dispatch some feral cats that I had trapped during the previous night at my house (I have some choice words for those who think they are "freeing" their cats by dumping them in the woods!!). I was entering some property just across the road from the Park. I got out of my truck to open a gate and observed a dark creature cross the highway about a quarter of a mile away. It appeared to be slightly raised up in the back and its general outline and motion actually made me think of a wolverine. I realize that wolverine’s do not exist here but for some reason that's what it made me think of and why I continued to watch it. What was curious was the way it moved, it was fast and covered about 40 yards very quickly but it didn’t seem to be trying to run, more like a smooth lope rather than a dead run. I didn't see much more than an outline and can't remember a tail but I can say it was bigger than a bobcat or coyote and did not have the shape or movement of anything I’m familiar with.
Lastly, I do occasionally hear an animal make a loud and annoying screech-like noise at night. I have always figured it was probably a bird like a heron because they make a lot of noise when they are disturbed and are forced to fly away. I could not imagine anything else that would make this awful noise.
Now I wonder???”

- Cliff XXXXXXXX


TCH Comment: Let’s take Cliff’s sightings one at a time. I will not comment on the story he shared about the TPWD personnel telling him cats come through the area from time to time. No new news there. The description he gives of a large black or greyish cat with a large square-shaped head would seem to rule out a cougar or jaguarundi as both of these cats actually have a smallish head in relation to their body size. Jaguars on the other hand, have very large heads and are considered a suspect in the black panther mystery due to the fact that they do exhibit melanism from time to time. The area in question is right on the edge of Sam Houston National Forest and the shores of Lake Livingston, an area with a history of enigmatic black cat sightings. The lack of a tail bothers me, however, and will prevent me from putting this sighting on my distribution map. To be clear, this does not mean I do not believe Cliff. I just want to keep the quality of sightings on the distribution map very high and the lack of a tail on this animal leaves open the possibility of a misidentification of some kind.

Cliff’s second sighting interests me a great deal as well. I am wondering if he did not catch a glimpse of a juvenile black bear. These bruins are slowly, but surely, returning to East Texas and sightings are becoming more common. Still, it has been so long since they have been around that people are not used to seeing them. This leaves the possibility for misidentification high should someone catch only a fleeting glimpse of one.


11/9/15

“Hey Mike, attached is a picture of a cat seen from a deer blind just North of Llano, TX yesterday (Sunday) by my co-worker. Was just curious if you might know what this is? I was thinking just a large feral house cat, but my co-worker thought it was too large....

Note the small doe in the background for reference.”

Regards,
Lang XXXXXXXX
Austin, TX


TCH Comment: Looking at the photo (below) I think Lang is likely correct and we are seeing a large domestic/feral cat. Perspective is always difficult to figure in photos taken at any kind of a distance so it is really hard to say just how big this cat might have been. The doe in the background seems close but that could be a bit of an illusion. I will say that the cat seems to have her attention, though. The body and head shape just look like a domestic/feral to me so I will not be putting this sighting on my distribution map. I would like to commend and thank Lang for being aware enough of the interest out there in these cats to get the photo from his co-worker and then sending it to me.



11/7/15

“Hi, I came across your website this morning when I searched for "Big Black Cats North Texas." Yesterday while exploring the area around Lake Nocona just northeast of Nocona, Texas, I saw a black cat crossing the road in front of me. It was smaller than a mountain lion but shaped like one. It was black and had the long, curled tail. This was not a bobcat, nor a large domestic cat. It moved like a mountain lion. The coordinates where I saw this beautiful creature are: 33.869469, -97.635031.

I'm building a home in this remote area and will be keeping my eyes and camera alerted for another sighting of this creature.

Thanks for your website and info.”

Pen XXXXXXXXX


TCH Comment: The sighting Pen describes is fairly typical of the reports I receive on a monthly basis from Texans who have seen these large black cats. Nocona is located on the northern edge of an area with a rather large cluster of sightings of large black cats. The coordinates given correspond to a spot along Oakshore Road near Lake Nocona. The area is lightly populated and has an adequate prey base and enough water to support a predator of the size described.

Again, the question of what people are seeing must be asked. Is everyone mistaken or lying? Many biologists would say that is exactly the case. I just have a hard time believing that. I would like nothing more than to validate the claims of those who have had run ins with these large black cats with proof that they exist. I strongly encourage anyone who has had any sort of big cat sighting to invest in a game camera or two. I series of photos or a short video clip might not be enough to prove the existence of these phantom cats but it might intrigue some mainstream scientists enough to get involved and at least look into the phenomenon.

I will be updating my distribution map with the sightings above soon. I will publish that here once it is updated.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Vietnam Veterans Speak About the 'Rock Ape'

I have done a few posts over the years on sightings of large, upright apes of some kind that were encountered by American servicemen during the Vietnam war. At the end of each of those posts I have asked any Vietnam veterans who might have had an experience with one of these creatures to contact me. There has not been much of a response to my request but I cannot say that I am surprised. Most of the veterans I have met over the years who did tours in Southeast Asia do not like to talk about it much, at least not with people who were not there. This is, of course, more than understandable.

I have had some response, however, for which I am very grateful. Recently, I have received three email communications from Vietnam veterans who claim to have encountered what they called rock apes. Their messages are below. I have redacted their names so as to protect their privacy.


“In ‘69 I spent my whole tour in the bush (iron triangle) One night in ambush position I had last guard duty before dawn. We were positioned on the outside edge of a tree line. About 15 minutes into my watch I heard loud movement coming from a ways in the trees. As they got closer I determined it to be a troop of monkeys. But as they got closer these were really big monkeys. They started making loud noises like they were yelling and just tearing up the jungle. As the twilight became brighter I could see trees being shook, big trees that no human would be able to shake. I had a starlight scope mounted on my 16 but was never able to get a glimpse of what they were. There was so much racket going on I wondered why the noise didn't wake any of the other guys. They kept getting closer, I wondered if they knew we were there (maybe smelt us?) but they were so close I took the safety off the daisy chained claymores and was on the edge of blowing them when all of a sudden they just quit. It was lighter now and I would have been able to see them but they just vanished back into the jungle. It was so quiet it was eerie. One thing for sure, if they got hold of a human I'm sure he would have been shredded. I've always thought about what if they got just a little bit closer how many would I have killed because I was certainly loaded for bear.”

- XXXX XXXXXX USMC


TCH Comment: The behavior described sounds like classic great ape intimidation behavior. The problem is that there are not supposed to be any apes in Vietnam.

“Rock apes are the real thing. I saw a band of them up on "Carlie Ridge" in Quang Nam Province in the spring of 1970. It was nightfall and I saw them through a Starlite scope. 10-15 of them headed away from us up a steep incline. They weren't VC because they walked as a pack side by side in the jungle and not in a military type line. They all looked to be very broad bodied and up to 5 ft tall.”

- XXXX XXXX A/1/1..USMC


TCH Comment: Whatever this soldier saw, it certainly was not VC. The broad body and height described are typical of the rock ape reports I have read.

“I spent my whole tour in the bush in Vietnam. Have seen them both alive and dead. Only thing I can say I never seen them attack anyone. Had to kill one coming into lines one night. Never thought much about them other then they were apes. Yes, they did walk upright. About four and half to five tall. Saw them mostly around the Rock Pile. Heard a lot of different story about them in Nam. Like the throwing of rocks but never seen that myself. In my unit I would say that over 3/4 of the guys have seen them. As much as us Marines smell they were worse.”

- Anonymous, USMC


TCH Comment: I wish this marine had taken a picture of that dead ape. What he says about not thinking much about them other than they were apes is something that has been echoed many times. Most of the G.I.’s in Vietnam were very young and not up on what wildlife makes southeast Asia home. They simply did not know what they were encountering was not a species documented by science.

I have presented these emails exactly as they were sent to me. The stories are very similar to others I have been told or read about. The descriptions of appearance, behavior and even smell are very similar to those given by people across the globe who claim to have encountered large, bipedal, hair-covered “apes.”

Is there an unknown species of great ape or some kind of Wildman roaming the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia? Perhaps, time will tell. Until then, we have the anecdotal accounts of our servicemen to ponder.

Make of them what you will.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Western Diamondback and Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes Terrorizing Texans

Rattlesnakes are nothing new to Texans. While dangerous, most would agree that the fearsome reputation of these snakes is completely overblown. Certainly, they are capable of doing great harm and are to be respected and left alone; however, when encountered, 99% of the time all they want to do is to get away. That being said, some Texans are beginning to see some changes in not only the behavior of rattlesnakes in the Lone Star State but in their appearance as well.

The buzz of a rattler's tail is something that you know instantly, whether you have ever heard it in person before or not. It is something that causes people to freeze in their tracks and slowly retreat from the area holding the snake. The rattling often keeps the snake and the human interloper safe. Something has changed, though, and fewer and fewer Lone Star rattlesnakes are giving their universally recognized warning.

“Behaviorally, the biggest change we are seeing in the Western diamondback is the reluctance to buzz or rattle,” said herpetologist Sid Finch of Caprock University. “More and more of them are staying quiet and behaving in a more stealthy and menacing manner.”


The reason for this change in behavior is debatable but most agree it is likely a combination of two factors that are the leading causes: rattlesnake roundups and feral hogs.

Finch said, “The explosion in popularity of these rattlesnake roundups has put a great deal of stress on the population. The snakes have learned that the loud individuals get taken away and only the quiet ones survive.” Finch continued, “If only the snakes who are more wary and quiet survive and breed, then their offspring are going to exhibit that trait as well.”

Feral hogs are playing a part in behavioral changes as well, according to Finch. “Hogs eat snakes. A rattlesnake buzzing its tail might as well be ringing the dinner bell for a hog,” he said. “This is another stressor on the population which has accelerated the learning curve of these snakes.”

As disturbing as the thought of a rattlesnake that does not give you a warning before striking might be, at least these Western diamondbacks still look the same and are easily recognizable. That is not the case in the eastern portion of the state where a new type of rattlesnake has appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, over the last ten years.

Finch explains, “The Bluebonnet rattlesnake is truly a remarkable case study, a miracle of evolution, if you will. The coloration, behavior and, it seems, seasonal appearance is unparalleled in snake annals.”


The Bluebonnet rattlesnake, as it has been dubbed, appears only in the spring months when the brush and trees begin to leaf out and the wildflowers start to bloom. The snake has a classic diamondback shaped pattern but the coloration is startlingly different. The Bluebonnet rattlesnake has purplish-blue markings that allow it to blend into the vast fields of Texas bluebonnets that pop up in the early spring. It is a strikingly beautiful animal but one that has been responsible for much heartache. It is a tradition in Texas for families to find a patch of bluebonnets and sit their young children in them in order to take a truly original Texas-style photo. Numerous children have suffered bites during these photo shoots and fear is starting to keep Texans from enjoying the treasure that is the official flower of the Lone Star State.

“Next to the coloration, the oddest thing about this snake is that it completely vanishes once summer sets in,” said Finch. “We have no idea where it goes. It just seems that when the bluebonnets are gone, so is the snake. It is quite remarkable.”

The next time you are out hiking in west Texas be sure and watch your step as you may not get a warning from the suddenly silent population of Western diamondbacks in the region. Those in central and east Texas need to be even more careful, as the Bluebonnet rattlesnake seems to have actually earned its nasty reputation.

Be careful out there.

Source: I.M. Kidding, (2016). The Gotcha Gazette. “Happy April Fool’s Day”

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Another Large Black Cat Report From South Texas

I had a few minutes so I thought I would update you on the latest report I have received of an anomalous black cat in the state of Texas. I am going to try to get these reports documented as they come in as opposed to letting them stack up as I have done in the past. The original text of the message I received is below.

“March 19 2016 I am a gate guard in Tilden Texas and yesterday night I killed two rats and put them about Twenty yards out my bus door I had my door window open and heard some growling I looked out and didn't see anything so I stared for awhile and damn a large black cat came from under my bus and ran and grabbed one of the rats. It was at least 4 foot long with a huge tail. I'm going to try and get a picture next time to send to you. And by the way the other rat got eating by a coyote.”

- Anonymous


TCH Comment: Tilden is an unincorporated community in McMullen County approximately 60 miles to the south of San Antonio at the intersection of state highways 16 and 72. The climate here is typical of south Texas in that it is hot and dry during the summer and enjoys mild winters. The Frio River flows to the west and north of the town until it joins up with San Miguel Creek and empties into Choke Canyon Reservoir. The creek and river are paralleled by a greenbelt through which all manner of wildlife travels on a regular basis. The Tilden area is sparsely populated though the Eagle Ford Shale boom has provided a boost over the last few years. Despite this increase in population, there is ample room and resources for a big cat to roam.


My first thought upon reading the report and seeing where the visual took place was that the cat seen might have been a large feral or, possibly, a jaguarundi. It is true that McMullen County is farther north than these furtive cats are thought to live but not far enough to make the thought of one making its way there absurd. The fact is, nobody is really sure how many of these cats live in Texas or how far north their habitat extends. Having said that, if the witness is accurate in his estimation of size, he did not see a jaguarundi. What he did see is open for speculation.

Here is the link to my interactive black panther map. Visit it and click on the pins for a short description of each sighting and the date it occurred.