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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Best Bigfoot Photographic and Video Evidence

Where are the pictures?

This is a common question asked of bigfoot researchers and those who claim to have caught a glimpse of these elusive animals. It is often pointed out that there are thousands of trail cameras out in the woods and, surely, if bigfoot were real, one of them would have captured an image by now. In addition, every phone is now a camera so, basically, there is no one in the woods without the means to capture a photo or shoot video if they are fortunate enough to encounter a sasquatch. This, it is said, has not happened; therefore, bigfoot must not be real.

The questioning of the dearth of photographic evidence is a legitimate one. I understand it. I could take some time here to refute some of the more common assumptions about game cameras and how wildlife reacts to their presence as well as the phone/camera argument but will save that for another time. What I would like to refute is the notion that there is no convincing photographic/video evidence that supports the hypothesis that the sasquatch is a real animal.

I believe there is compelling photographic/video evidence to support the position these animals do exist. Admittedly, there are only a few examples that I believe are likely legitimate. What makes me believe these photos/videos might just be the real deal? Simply, the subjects featured in them share physical characteristics and mannerisms that are far more subtle than what we see in the typical “guy in an ape suit” hoax video on YouTube. The subjects match descriptions given by witnesses for decades but also are very similar to one another. The way they move, head position, reaction to being seen, physical stature and build all are very similar. The subjects in these photos/videos look convincing but also look like they could be brothers (or sisters). The four pieces of evidence that are most convincing to me are the Patterson-Gimlin footage, the Harlan Ford Honey Island Swamp footage, the Freeman footage and two photographs taken in central Oklahoma in 2000.


Anyone with even a passing interest in the sasquatch phenomenon is familiar with the Patterson-Gimlin footage. Shot in October of 1967, the footage shows a large, upright, hair-covered figure walking across a debris-strewn sandbar along Bluff Creek in northern California. The backstory of this footage is well known and I will not spend a lot of time rehashing things that have been stated by others hundreds of times. Instead, I will just point out a few things present in this footage that I have also noticed in the photos/videos I will mention shortly. The creature is clearly large. I am not really talking about the height of the figure (this is one of those details that has been debated ad nauseum); rather, it is the sheer thickness of the creature that impresses me. The creature in the footage is clearly female and many who have attempted to analyze its physical characteristics have become infatuated by the large breasts that are clearly visible (Freud would have a field day with that, I am sure), however, I tend to focus more on the depth of the chest and torso in general. The figure is amazingly robust with very little, if any, taper from the chest to the waist. This thickness and lack of tapering is something that all of the images in this post have in common.

Another characteristic of the Patterson-Gimlin subject that seems to be present in the other photos/videos is the position of the head while walking. The most famous image of the subject is, of course, the infamous frame 352. This is the moment when the creature turns its upper body to face Patterson. The image captures the long swinging arms and odd bent knee gait of the creature perfectly. I am less interested in this image, however, than I am in the rest of the footage where the creature is walking away and not looking back at its pursuers. The head of the subject seems to be looking down at a spot just in front of its feet. It is almost as if it is watching where it will be placing its next step. This downward tilt of the head is something I have noticed in the other photos/videos I find compelling.

The final characteristic that these pieces of evidence share is the way the alleged apes move away once they have been seen by the photographers/witnesses. There seems to be no panic at all, they just stride off into the forest. I will admit this is the one characteristic that I leave some space on as I know that these creatures will, at times, bolt at an incredible rate of speed when they realize they have been seen by humans. People I know and respect have seen these animals do just that and have marveled at how fast they can traverse steep and heavily wooded terrain. My experience, though, is more like what is observed in the Patterson-Gimlin footage and the other photos/videos to be disussed. A friend and I came up on what I believe was a sasquatch while driving on a forest service road in the Sam Houston National Forest in May of 2005. My friend brought the vehicle to a stop and the subject simply turned and walked off the road and into the woods. It moved quickly but calmly in a manner that in no way could be described as running. I believe I was very close to one of these animals again later that summer. My brother and I were hiking the same general area where my visual had taken place about three months earlier when something of interest occurred. We had stopped to rest and were just visiting when I caught a glimpse of movement over his shoulder. I raised my 35mm film camera and took a photo. Whatever I had seen did not run and crash away through the brush. It made hardly a sound at all as it just sort of melted into the forest. The resulting photo is as close to compelling photographic evidence as I have personally captured. I admit the fact that I have directly observed this calm but quick moving away behavior has affected the prism through which I view any photographic/video evidence. Still, it is something these pieces of evidence all have in common and when seen in conjunction with the other factors previously mentioned gives me pause.



The Patterson-Gimlin footage is by far the clearest video evidence out there but it is not the only video I think may very well be the real deal. Another piece of footage I think may very well be the real thing is that shot by Harlan Ford in the Honey Island Swamp of southeast Louisiana in 1963. The footage, shot on 8mm film, shows a bipedal figure moving smoothly beyond the tree line from Ford’s right to left. Admittedly, the footage is a bit grainy, but I believe many of the characteristics exhibited by the Patterson-Gimlin subject are also exhibited by the figure in the Ford footage. The figure is clearly upright and large. It is, at minimum, “man-sized,” if not larger, and appears quite robust and thick through the chest. The creature exhibits a slightly hunched posture and the downward head tilt previously mentioned as if paying particular attention to its foot placement. The Ford subject is clearly moving out of the area quickly but, in my opinion, is not running. I have heard others describe the locomotion shown in the footage as running but I just do not see it that way. A purposeful, quick striding is evident but certainly nothing that would lead me to describe what I am watching as a creature on the run is present. Also, of great interest to me, though not one of the criteria previously mentioned, is that fact that this footage was shot almost four years prior to the Patterson-Gimlin footage. That being the case, it cannot be said that Harlan Ford was in any way trying to capitalize on the “bigfoot fever” that spread across the country after the Patterson-Gimlin footage hit the mainstream. As a matter of fact, the Honey Island Swamp footage was not even known to exist until after Harlan Ford’s death in 1980 (this would also counter any argument that Roger Patterson was attempting to copy Ford’s footage). Ford’s daughter found the reel of 8mm film in a box in the attic of her father’s home while going through his things. Many want to dismiss the footage these days due to Ford’s belief that reptilian tracks he had found belonged to the creature. Most, including myself, belief the tracks cast were nothing more than those of a bull alligator while others believe the tracks were an outright hoax on the part of Ford and his friends. Whatever the truth is regarding the track castings, dismissing the 8mm footage is a mistake, in my mind. Ford never publicized the footage or attempted to capitalize on it as a hoaxer likely would have done. Why? I think it is because he believed he had captured legitimate footage of a bigfoot-like creature and wanted to bring it in himself without any competition. His ultimate goal might have been fame and fortune but, even if true, that does not make the footage any less convincing in my mind.


Next up on my list is the footage shot by Paul Freeman in the Blue Mountains of Washington in 1994. The Blue Mountains footage may very well be the most compelling since that shot by Roger Patterson in 1967. Freeman was running his video camera while following what appears to be a track way when he spotted a large, hair-covered, bipedal figure up ahead. Again, I will not speculate on the height of the subject but the impression one gets watching the video is that the creature is enormous. The depth of the chest and torso of the creature are very impressive and seem to dwarf the chest and torso dimensions of even the hardiest human. The figure moves from Freeman’s right to left and does glance briefly at his pursuer. The video quality is too poor to tell much from that glance but one thing that is perfectly clear is how the subject drops its head and seems to be looking at the ground as it moves away. It is almost as if it is pressing its chin against its upper chest. While the locomotion exhibited by the creature in the Freeman footage is a bit “choppier” than that seen in the Patterson-Gimlin or Harlan Ford footage (some feel it is due to debris and/or the terrain), it does mimic the behavior seen in the other videos as it does not run but quickly strides away. Freeman made no secret of his belief that the sasquatch was real and claimed to have found hundreds of tracks, impressions and other trace evidence during his search for the creature. He also claimed to have seen a reddish-brown wood ape near Walla Walla in 1982. Some feel he simply had too much luck in finding evidence and doubt his findings. All I know is that the huge chest/torso, downward head tilt and quick striding, but not running, retreat is visible in his 1994 video.



The final piece of photographic evidence that I believe is likely authentic is a pair of photographs taken in November of 2000 by an Arapaho tribesman named Russell Lumpmouth. Lumpmouth and a crew were cleaning up an area in Canadian County after a tribal function when he spotted a large, dark figure in the tree line nearby. He managed to snap two photos of the figure before it turned and walked away. The photos might be the clearest ever taken of an alleged wood ape. The first photo shows the subject facing the camera with the body at about a three-quarter angle. The face is partially obscured by a leaf in the foreground but a deep-set right eye and a possible protruding brow ridge are visible. The second photo, taken after the subject has turned away from the camera, shows a low-set head tilted down in the manner already discussed with the chin almost resting on the upper chest. The face appears quite flat but specific features are hard to discern. The figure exhibits a massive barrel-shaped torso and thick buttocks that would be characteristic of a habitually bipedal hominin. According to Lumpmouth, the subject did not run but walked away once it realized it had been seen. NAWAC Chairman Alton Higgins wrote an article on the photos that was submitted to The Relic Hominoid Inquiry that broke down the photos and described the on site investigation. You can view an abridged copy of that article on the NAWAC website. The backstory, location, analysis of the creature’s physical characteristics, etc. are discussed and I highly recommend you visit the site and read it for yourself. I just want to stress that, once again, the presence of a downward tilting head, massively deep chest/torso and a calm manner of retreat are all seen in the photos or described by the witness. I would add, also, that the photographer did not seek to gain notoriety or profit financially from the photos. This would not be the behavior expected of a person attempting to perpetrate a hoax.


Everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding these photgraphs/videos and the men who attained them. What cannot be denied, however, is that these images leave zero room for middle ground. They either show what they are purported to show, a wood ape, or they are hoaxes. Each of the pieces of film, video and the photographs discussed has been dissected and analyzed and the results of those investigations are easily available to anyone willing to spend a little time online. Right now, that is not what I am interested in when it comes to these images, though much of the information gleaned from these investigations only strengthens their case. I am going more by the “eye test,” if you will. The physical similarities between the subjects discussed simply cannot be ignored. They look like the same animal. Certainly, there are other photos and videos that may be genuine but I believe those discussed here are the best evidence supporting the hypothesis that an unrecognized species of great ape exists in North America.


Sources:

Moneymaker, M. (2010, January 31). Was the Patterson-Gimlin Film Ever Proven to b a Hoax? Retrieved from http://www.bfro.net/news/korff_scam.asp

Tom, C. (2013, May 13). Honey Island Swamp Monster 1963. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtXzA3oeypo

Strickler, L. (2015, May 19). Paul Freeman's Bigfoot Video. Retrieved from http://www.phantomsandmonsters.com/2015/05/paul-freemans-bigfoot-video.html

Higgins, A. (2012, May 6). Possible Wood Ape Photos From Central Oklahoma. Retrieved from http://woodape.org/index.php/about-bigfoot/articles/220-oklahoma-prairie-photos

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Still More Black Panther Sightings in Texas

I want all of you to know that I really am planning on posting on some topics other than black panthers very soon. It is just that the reports keep rolling in and if I do not take the time to get them published and mapped they really stack up. I am trying to prevent a back log like I had a month or so ago. That being the case, here are the latest reports to come in to me.

As always, keep in mind that "black panthers" are not recognized by science as a real animal. The black panthers you have likely seen are melanistic leopards or jaguars. Exactly what people are seeing remains a mystery as leopards are native to Africa and Asia and jaguars are thought to have been long extirpated from Texas. So, understand, that I do realize there is not supposed to be any such animal. Realize, too, that the term black panther is a colloquial term used in Texas meant to describe any large, black or very dark colored, long-tailed cat.

Now, on to the latest reports.

2/10/16

"I saw a large black cat cross the road today on 1243 in between Bynum,Texas and Brandon, Texas. It was bigger than my pit bull and had a very long tail. It crossed the road very quickly. I was amazed. I wish I had a dash cam to prove it. I would love to see it again."

Amanda Atkins


TCH Comment: The sighting comes from an area east of I-35 and to the S-SW of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The area surrounding this massive metropolitan area continues to be a source of regular sightings of large black cats. Many dismiss these sightings due to their proximity to a large population center. I take a different view. While there has been much urban sprawl, things get very rural very quickly once you get outside of the city. AIso, it is only logical that sightings occur where there are people. After all, you cannot have sightings where there are no witnesses. I, too, wish Amanda had been running a dash cam when this incident occurred.


2/21/16

"I am a little more than 60% certain that I saw a jaguarundi while hiking through the northernmost part of Sam Houston NF, back in 1994. My then husband and I were on one of the wider parts of the trail -probably used for forest ranger and service vehicles- when our beagle dog started barking wildly. We looked where he was looking and saw what we at first thought was a black bear casually strolling across the trail, from east to west, about 150 feet from us. We didn't even look at each other or talk, we just stood there with our mouths open. As it entered the tree line on our left, we then saw the animal's tail flick upward, and we realized it was not a bear. My husband scooped up our dog into his arms and looked at me with eyes as big as saucers. Our beagle, sniffing wildly but no longer barking, went suddenly quiet and still. My husband whispered, "He's shaking." I whispered back, "Was that a cat??" He agreed -still whispering- that it looked like a panther. We then both realized at the same time that the constant birdsong and chirping from the west side of the forest had gone almost completely quiet. We didn't hesitate after that. Still carrying our dog, we both turned and ran back down the trail toward the trailhead. 22 years later I can still see it in my head: A VERY large cat, definitely black, tail suddenly flicking out behind it as it disappeared into the brush and tree line. Not as big as a mountain lion... But definitely twice the size of a domestic cat. It seemed to have legs shorter than what I'd expect to see in any cat of any size, but that may just be distorted memory or perspective."

Jennifer Nuernberg


TCH Comment: This is an interesting report as the witness speculates the cat in question was a jaguarundi. The actual description of the cat, and the visceral reaction she and her husband experienced, hint that the animal was much larger than what would be expected in this species. The cat may have been smaller than a mountain lion but this does not sound like a jaguarundi encounter to me. I know there are big cats in this area as I, myself, have seen a mountain lion in the Sam Houston National Forest. Stories of large black cats are common in Southeast Texas as well.


2/23/16

"I never knew what a jaguarundi was and didn't know there was no such thing as black panthers. We just got back from my deer lease doing some hog hunting and saw what I thought was a black panther chasing a bobcat in to a tree. It was in broad daylight so there was no mistaking it. We have a mountain lion out there but it isn't black as I've seen him up close. He jumped out a tree five feet away from me. After looking up photos of the jaguarundi I'm 1000% positive that is what it is. My lease is in Luling, TX in Guadalupe county. I know that's far from where they are supposed to be but I know that's what it is now. I was looking up black panthers in Texas because it looked too small to be as big as what I imagined a panther would be. And it was very long. When I saw it I said man that's a weird shaped cat. Long and short. But after seeing photos of the jaguarundi it all makes sense now."

Anonymous


TCH Comment: This is an interesting report and one I mulled over quite a bit before adding it here. The witness seems sure what he saw chasing a bobcat was a jaguarundi and his description of the cat would seem to support his identification. It is a bit odd that a jaguarundi would be chasing a bobcat. A full grown jaguarundi would only go 20-25 lbs. while a full grown bobcat could easily top 40 lbs. Maybe this was actualy a case of two cats at play and not an incident of aggression? I would also like to know more about what happened after the bobcat ran up the tree. What did the jaguarundi do next? It is true that this would be outside of accepted jaguarundi range but not that far outside. In my opinion, it is not outrageous to think a wayward cat could have made it as far north as Guadalupe County, though it would be highly unusual. The statements made by the witness about never having heard of a jaguarundi and not knowing black panthers are not supposed to exist are very common. I hear these statements from folks over and over again.

2/23/16

"I live in Bloomburg Texas which is right next to Queen City and Atlanta Texas. My dad came home one day after leaving for an errand. He told me on his way to town while passing through Queen City on FM 74 a black panther ran across the road and nearly got plowed by a sedan. That being said my landlord at the time who worked and owns chicken houses comes to check them every two hours. She would always tell me about the horrifying screaming from out behind them and that it sounds like a woman crying for help. I managed to get a picture of some tracks unfortunately don't have that phone anymore but I can say it was big enough to make any hardass run. I was also throwing out some garbage one night and on the way back inside I heard one at the end of the trailer. I hauled ass inside which is something I heard you're never supposed to do is run because it makes them think you're prey. But I think I broke my record lol."

Michael Sprawls


TCH Comment: This is not an unusual encounter outside of the fact that it involved a cat that is not supposed to exist, just an animal crossing a road. In my mind, I have to keep the actual sighting report separate from the reports of screams coming from the woods. It is impossible to say for sure what animal was making those sounds since it was not actually seen. A lot of animals can make some absolutely terrifying noises and most people are not familiar enough with the sounds of the forest to know for sure what they are hearing. The screamer could have been a big cat but we just cannot say for sure so I will map the visual but leave the auditory encounter off.


2/23/16

"Hello I never believed there were black panthers or Jaguars in Texas until last year 2015 I was living near the Sam Houston national Forrest on the outskirts of Richards, TX and one night around 12am a friend of mine was leaving to go home and he was showing off a flash light he had bought he shined it across the road about a 100 yards up in the tree tops when we noticed to big green eyes probably 40' in a pine tree I ran and got my binoculars that's when I realized it was a huge black cat with green eyes black sleek fur my buddy then realized what we were looking at and said "is that what I think it is" without saying a word I ran and got my gun my buddy went and got his when he got back I was already propped up against my porch post when he shined back on the cat I shot in fear of the cat attacking me or someone or the livestock nearby I'm pretty sure I missed because I was so excited about it then my buddy shot still looking thru my scope I saw the cat jump to the ground and we could hear limbs breaking like we may have hit the cat still in shock we gathered ourselves and debated if we should go look to see if we hit it once we gathered up enough courage we walked across the road then about 50 yds. into the woods and once we got to the base of the bull Pine there was no cat but we noticed some broken dead limbs about 2-3 inches in diameter that looked freshly broke and on the trunk of the tree you could see bark missing on both sides all the way up it where it appeared to have climbed the tree we were so spooked we high tailed it out of there the next day I told my neighbor and she said that her dogs were acting very strange that night and she didn't doubt it because she had heard other people in the neighbor hood say they have also seen a big black cat in the past. I don't know if we hit the cat because I never did find blood just the freshly broken limbs and bark missing from the tree and judging from the tree which you could barley wrap both of your arms around the missing bark on both sides and the broken limbs this was no domestic cat this cat was huge and from then on I wouldn't let my dog get to far at night and if i was in my shop outside at night I kept a gun close bye. Call me crazy I don't care I know what I saw I have hunted my entire life and I Have never seen anything like this. I recently moved from the property about 6 months ago and I was happy to go."

Matt H****** (redacted by TCH)


TCH Comment: I have to admit to having some reservations about this report. I am very familiar with Richards and this part of the Sam Houston National Forest. It is heavily wooded and it would not surprise me in the least if a big cat were to be seen in this area. I do, however, have some problems with the account as written. Shining a flashlight at treetops 100 yards away? That is a long way off for even the most powerful of flashlights and to see eyeshine from that far away seems unlikely. Next, the witness claims to have retrieved binoculars and spotted the cat 40 feet up a pine tree. Remember, this animal was a reported 100 yards away and the time was about midnight. I find it hard to believe that anyone could see much of anything through binoculars at that time of night at that distance. Maybe the witness could address my concerns and set my mind at ease but, for now, I will be leaving this report off of my black panther distribution map.

2/26/16

"I saw a dark cougar or black panther in Hopkins County Texas in 1986. The cat was crossing the road along a creek."

Bearman


TCH Comment: Simple and to the point, another road crossing. It is probably no coincidence that there was a creek nearby. Clearly, the animal made an impression on this witness as he still recalls it 30 years later.

For a look at my Black Panther Sightings Distribution Map, click here. Once there, you can click on each pin that represents a sighting and read a brief synopsis of what occurred.


Map source: http://naturalhistory.si.edu/mna/full_image.cfm?image_id=952

Monday, February 29, 2016

Fact or Fiction? The Government is Releasing Large Predators in Texas

Periodically, I receive an email that addresses a topic that I think is worthy of discussion on the blog. I received an email back on February 3rd that I feel falls into this category. It involves a story I have heard many times over the years. I have attached the email in question below.

So I stumbled across your webpage earlier this evening while obsessively googling mountain lions. I live in Pilot Point, TX, super small town in the far northeast corner of Denton County. The town is along the northeast side of Lake Ray Roberts. I've lived in this town my whole life, and have heard many stories of Mountain lions, but one story has seriously intrigued me and I need your help. It was brought up to me again tonight, which led me to google and then to you.

It's a very known fact around here that we have mountain lions (this is what we refer to them as), but if you ask any wildlife and parks people or game wardens they say that we don't and it isn't true. So, the story goes back in the early to mid 90’s this guy in southern Oklahoma was catching wild hogs, feeding them and releasing them into northern Texas. No clue why. That part isn't included in the tale. As a result, the population of wild hogs grew to insane numbers and they put a bounty on them. Something like 15-20 dollars for a pair of ears. After they realized this wasn't working, it is said, that "they", I've also heard "a guy" released 6 mountain lions (3 males and 3 females) in far north central Texas to "try to control the hogs". But of course, the wildlife and parks people and "those government people" didn't want the public to be aware of this, as not to frighten them. And that's why they deny any accounts of mountain lions.

I don't want to throw out this possibility, because I’ve heard of this tale for years now and from multiple people, and I also don't understand why mountain lions existing here is so denied, when it is so known that they are here among the public. But yes it sounds insane and I cannot find any valid information on this.

Please tell me if you think the old town folk around here are just crazy.

Thank you,
Kodi.


Kodi relays a rumor that has become something of an urban legend here in Texas. The whispers that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Federal Government or some other entity has released large predators in the state have been around for a while now. The story varies slightly each time I hear it (this is the first time I have heard an Okie blamed for our feral hog problems in Texas, lol). Sometimes it is wolves that were allegedly released, other times cougars. I have even heard some claim that jaguars were the predators released. The reasons for the alleged release of these predators are usually thought to be an attempt to control the feral hog population or a simple reintroduction of native species that once called the Lone Star State home. The reason for the secrecy most often given is that the public would likely not handle the idea of potentially dangerous predators being released in their woods and river bottoms very well.


The strangest twist on this rumor I have heard comes from a gentleman I know in Montgomery County, Texas who swears that a friend of a friend received a visit from two “government employees” after he had lost several cows to an unknown predator. According to my acquaintance, these government men paid the rancher roughly twice the market value for his lost livestock in cash but told him to keep quiet about the incident so as “not to alarm others in the area.” I asked my acquaintance if he would relay a message to this rancher through his friend and ask if he would be willing to speak to me, even if it had to be off the record. Needless to say, I have never heard anything back.

As far as I can tell, there is no truth to the rumors that wildlife officials are releasing, or contracting anyone else to release, large predators in Texas. I think the myth has gained steam due to the explosion of the feral hog population in the state. Certainly, this hog problem is real and nothing the state has tried to do to curb the population growth has worked. On the surface, the idea of reestablishing native predators to help with the problem seems plausible, as the state/feds would be killing two birds with one stone. Native species, all but extirpated in the state, would once again be living free in Texas and would be helping to eliminate the hog problem. The problem is there is simply no evidence suggesting such a program does, or ever did, exist. All the stories seem to originate from a “friend of a friend” or some other second, third or fourth hand source. I have never been able to track down anyone who claimed they had directly interacted or spoken with any government personnel about the release of predators or reparations for lost livestock. In addition, the story has spread to other parts of the country. Following is a post I located on the Lake-Link Hunting Forum. The post sounds pretty familiar.

A friend of mine lives in Southern Marquette county and his wife recently saw a cougar while out on a walk...the cougar was in plain sight and was casually walking in the yard of rural neighbors.... upon reviewing this my friend discovered a few things....that a local farmer had recently reported seeing two cougars within 5 miles of this cougar....then a week ago he ran into a firefighter friend wh0 told him and even more interesting story....basically a person that he knew was going out near some property he has up near Westfield and came across several DNR vehicles in his field...when he approached they told him he had to leave the area immediately even though it was his property...two of the trucks had large cages in the back and one contained a cougar...he left the area went down the road and waited and when those trucks drove past there was no cougar....I know this story is third if not fourth hand so I do not know how much is true but I know the people who have seen the other cougars in the field and I believe them...how they got there who knows...wanderers or released.....but does the DNR have the right to release such animals without public input...I know they have released Wolves in Portage county to help control the deer herd...obviously if they are releasing cougars that could be their only reason....but this animal is totally different than a wolf...while it does not multiply as rapidly as wolves it will stalk a human in the field or a child in a yard....I just thing it should have some public input...what da ya think?

Like most urban legends, there is just enough real information wrapped up in the tale to make it at least somewhat believable. Mix in a healthy dose of distrust for the government, which is not uncommon in our country these days, and you have the makings of a great conspiracy theory, an almost gift wrapped and ready made urban legend.

In the end, I think an urban legend is all we have here.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Black Panther Distribution Map Now Online

I am very pleased to be writing this post. In one way, all I’m doing is presenting a map to you that details alleged sightings of large, black, long-tailed cats. In another way, this map represents more than six years of work and documentation. I started the Texas Cryptid Hunter blog in December of 2008. Almost from the beginning, I have been taking reports from people claiming to have seen an animal that mainstream science says does not exist, yet has lived in the mythology of Texas and the deep south for well over a century.

During the last six years and change, I have collected exactly 202 reports from witnesses claiming to have seen what is commonly referred to as a black panther. As long time readers of this site know, there is no such animal. The black panthers of the movies and that are seen on television are either melanistic leopards, which are native to Africa and Asia or melanistic jaguars, long thought to have been extirpated from all but the southernmost regions of the North American continent. Cougars, wildlife experts tell us, do not exhibit melanism and it is true that not a single documented case of a black cougar has ever been documented. Still, the sightings persist, they won’t go away and they show no signs of slowing down. I want to know what people are seeing and I resolved to do my best to get to the bottom of this mystery. This distribution map is part of that process.


I have tried my best to place only the most credible of sightings on my map. Of the 202 sightings in my archives, only 112 made it on to the map. I had some doubts about some reports, felt misidentification was likely in others and just flat out had a bad feeling about a few. The 112 reports on the map represent reports from people I feel were being honest with me and were of sightings of no known cat or, possibly, of a large species of cat far outside of its accepted home range. Is it possible that I kept some valid reports off the map? Yes, it is. Is it possible that some of the reports that made the map were from liars or hoaxers? Again, yes; however, I truly feel that the map represents sightings of real animals. I think once the distribution is examined, it will speak to that. For example, the sightings are mostly confined to the eastern half of the state. This is the part of Texas that receives the most rainfall, where the major rivers of the state converge and is the most heavily wooded. This sounds like what a distribution map of a real animal would look like, in my opinion.


I have provided several screenshots of the map here for your inspection. I have zoomed in on several major areas of the state and also provided a look at the entire state. You can access the online/interactive version of the map by clicking here. Hit the link and it will take you to the map. Once there, you can click on each pin that marks a sighting and a short synopsis of the sighting will pop up. I really like this feature and hope you will spend some time clicking on these sighting locations to see what people are seeing out there. I invite any of you out there to study the map and see if you can discern any patterns. Who knows? Maybe together we can figure this whole thing out.


To the best of my knowledge, nobody else is tracking these sightings. I would ask that you all spread the word and let anyone who has seen one of these phantom cats know where they can report their sighting. In addition, I am looking for someone who has had repeated sightings on their property who would consider allowing me to place game cameras on site in an attempt to capture a photo of one of these animals. One good photo might just be enough for us to figure out what we are dealing with in regard to these enigmatic felids. Are jaguars making a comeback? Do cougars occasionally exhibit melanism? Do jaguarundis roam far farther north and get far larger than anyone suspects? Is there a new species out there just waiting to be discovered? If you are interested in allowing me to place cameras on your property, please contact me at texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. That would also be the email address to contact me with a sighting.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.