Saturday, August 11, 2018

Interview with a Black Panther Witness

Following is a short interview I did with a young lady who claims to have had an encounter with a large, long-tailed black cat on her family's property outside of Greenville, Texas. A more extensive interview  had already taken place, which prompted my visit. This brief conversation took place at the actual location of the sighting.

*NOTE* : I made an error when I said the incident took place along the Trinity River. The incident took place along the Sabine River. Getting this video uploaded was surprisingly difficult so I did to want to redo it. The important part of the video is what the young lady had to say and not how I introduced the interview, OR I'm just lazy, lol.

I did an audio only interview as the witness is very young (7th grader) and I did not want to put her photo or likeness up on the internet. I'm sure you can all understand why. Her account is very simple and matter-of-fact. Her older brother and a friend had an encounter of their own later while out hog hunting on the property. He was away at college when I visited so I could not interview him on video or audio recorder.




I thought  it would be interesting for some of you who are following these reports to hear an actual voice associated with a sighting. I should be checking the cameras on the property in the next month or so.

If you would like to know more about where black panther sightings are taking place in Texas, visit my interactive black panther sightings distribution map. More than 150 credible sightings have been charted. If you would really like to dive into the topic pick up a copy of my book on the subject titled Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America. It is full of color photographs and, at 240 pages, a fairly quick read. You can pick it up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere online books are sold. Click one of the links above or the photo of the book to the right in the margin, if interested.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sasquatch Classics: The "Caddo Critter" and the "Hawley Him"

Not many think of Texas when the subject of bigfoot is mentioned. Places like Oregon, northern California, or Washington are far more likely to come up in any discussion of where wood apes might be located. Few realize that the Lone Star State actually has a rich and long history of encounters with large, bipedal, ape-like creatures. The few who are aware of this fact are drawn to the eastern half of the state; places like the Big Thicket National Preserve or the Piney Woods region that spills over into western Louisiana and southwestern Arkansas are most often the areas of interest for would-be monster hunters, and rightfully so. The woods, river bottoms, and swamps of this part of Texas have long been associated with “boogers,” “wild men,” and “bush apes.” Not many, however, bother to consider visiting west Texas to look for these creatures; after all, bigfoot – if it exists at all – lives in heavily wooded areas and not the arid scrublands of the west. However, if history is any indication, this assumption might be completely wrong.

Caddo, Texas is all but a ghost town these days. It is an unincorporated community in Stephens County that, as of the 2000 census, is only home to 40 residents. The entire county is sparsely populated with only 9,630 people calling it home. More than half of these souls – 5,780 of them - live within the city limits of the county seat of Breckenridge. The remaining 3,850 people are spread throughout the county’s 921 square miles. This quiet west Texas community briefly became the epicenter of all things bigfoot in the summer of 1964 when an unidentified animal, soon dubbed the “Caddo Critter” by the local media, made several appearances in the area. The animal was first seen by a Caddo resident named Charlie Gantt about 11:30 on two consecutive nights in July. Gantt “unloaded his gun at the critter, but apparently missed,” according to an article in the July 20 edition of the Abilene Reporter-News. The animal was seen subsequently by other Caddo area residents and a full-scale furor erupted. Jo Roberts, a correspondent for the Abilene paper who was covering the story said, “Everyone has said the same thing; it is about seven-feet-tall, four-feet-wide, and covered with hair.” After the first incident, Stephens County Sheriff Chase Booth and the Texas Highway Patrol (DPS), along with a dozen or so area residents searched for the animal with no luck.

It would come to light after the Gantt encounter that residents of the area around Caddo had been seeing the creature for at least two weeks prior. The media that covered the story were convinced the people had seen something and were “genuinely concerned, if not scared.” Roberts wrote that every yard was lit up by outside lights and that the populace was armed. “They were sitting up last night to shoot whatever it was,” she said in the July 21 edition of the Abilene Reporter-News. “If it’s a prank, it’s a highly dangerous one; someone could get killed.” Deputy Sheriff Edgar Martin, too, did not doubt that the people of Caddo had seen something real. “No doubt they’ve seen something, but we don’t know what it is,” he said. As the days went by, more Caddoans claimed to have seen the “critter.” 9-year-old Gene Couch said he saw the creature only 200 yards from his house as he was walking to a fishing spot. His mother could not confirm her son’s account, but did add, “Something has been fighting the dogs at night.” Another mother and son claimed to have seen the beast while walking near a stock pond. According to an article in the July 23 edition of the Amarillo Globe-Times, the boy saw the creature first and pointed it out to his mother. The animal turned around to face them, growled, and then began throwing rocks at them. After a minute or so, it fled. “My boy turned white as a sheet,” the mother said.

The sightings soon stopped and many locals and members of the media began to question the veracity of the dozen or so people who steadfastly insisted they had seen the creature. Some expressed their doubts to local newspapers. One John Luttrell is quoted in the Abilene Reporter-News as saying, “Mr. Gantt probably saw a buck deer.” The 72-year-old Gantt – a lifelong Caddo resident – was understandably insulted and annoyed by such talk. Having lived in the area his entire life, Gantt certainly knew what a deer looked like and was adamant that what he saw, and fired upon, “looked like a gorilla.” Soon, others chimed in on what Caddo residents had likely seen. Everything from black bears to wayward yaks were bandied about as suspects, but no resolution was ever reached. 

While most soon put the whole “critter craze” behind them, residents of Haskell, about 70 miles to the northwest, began to suspect that the creature terrorizing Caddo residents might be the same animal that had been seen many times in and around their small town. While the “Haskell Rascal” was rumored to be much larger than the “Caddo Critter,” the parallels did not go unnoticed. The Haskell County Sheriff at the time – last name of Garrett – said, “If the critter was an even four-foot taller, it just could be our varmint walking on his hind legs.” According to locals, the “rascal” had been spotted, off and on, for the previous 80 years. Rascal mania had hit a high-water mark just the summer before (1963) when a series of livestock attacks were blamed on the creature. Residents swore the “rascal” did its dirty work within a 60-mile radius, which could put it very close to the community of Caddo. Noted bigfoot researcher, John Green, wrote in his classic Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, “The residents here (Haskell) claim that the ‘Haskell Rascal’ and the ‘Caddo Critter’ are one and the same. Although the Haskell creature has been reported for 80 years, I have had difficulty finding descriptions of it. Residents claim that it spends summers in the Kiowa Peak area, west of Haskell, and that it prowls in the lowlands during the winter, killing and feeding on livestock." While official documentation of encounters with the “Haskell Rascal” were hard to come by, it would not be too very long before the similar experiences of the residents of another small town in the region would be very well chronicled.


Roughly 82 miles west of Caddo and 42 miles south of Haskell, tucked in the southeastern corner of Jones County, sits the small town of Hawley. Even smaller than Haskell – as of the 2010 census there were only 634 people living in the town – Hawley seems a most unlikely place for a flap of ape-man sightings, yet that is exactly what took place in the summer of 1977. It all started in early July when two boys – Larry Suggs (15) and Tom Roberts (14) – were clearing brush from the property of the Abilene Boys Ranch where they lived at the behest of ranch owner Bob Scott. At approximately 10:00 a.m. the two boys sat down to take a break. They were soon startled by the sounds of branches breaking and a rain of rocks, seemingly hurled in their direction from the brush. Suggs was hit in the leg by one of the flying rocks. The boys then got a glimpse of their attacker. “Whatever it was, he looked like kind of an ape, but still a man,” said Suggs. “He had huge arms. They hung down to his knees. You’d have to see him to believe it.” Seeing their attacker was enough to convince the boys to flee to the nearby home of Mr. Ed McFarland. The McFarland’s daughter, Renee (15), grabbed a deer rifle and headed back out to the sighting location with the boys (news articles are not clear on whether or not Renee’s parents were home at the time). The trio of teens investigated the area where the sighting had taken place and soon encountered the creature again. The sight of the beast rattled Renee who handed the rifle to Suggs and said, “You shoot it.” Suggs took aim and fired at the ape-like animal from a distance of only about 40 yards. The teen missed and the recoil of the gun knocked him to the ground. Fortunately for the frightened youths, the shot was enough to send the animal running. It crashed through brush that would have been impenetrable to a normal man and made its escape. Footprints were later found at the spot where the teens watched “Him” dive into the brush. When interviewed by the media, Bob Scott said that he had never seen anything like the animal described by the three youngsters, but recently lost 21 goats from a pen. The goats had disappeared without a trace. No blood, no broken fence, no nothing. A few goat carcasses were later found in the brush, not too far from the sighting location, but the rest were just gone. Jones County Sheriff’s officers felt that coyotes had likely killed the goats found in the brush but could offer no explanation for the 18, or so, others that had vanished.

The incident hit Texas newspapers on July 7 and it wasn’t long before monster hunters descended upon Bob Scott’s ranch. One such hunter was Ed Nash, who along with his step-son, David Woods, and a reporter armed with a 35mm camera, decided to hunt for “Him” in a tangle of stunted oak trees dubbed the “chinry” by locals. The chinry forms the  dense jungle of entangled brush that runs through most of southern Jones County and often rises to heights of five-feet or more. Traveling through the chinry is all but impossible on foot except on established game trails. Nash expressed optimism that the rain that had fallen over the previous two days would make it more likely that the creature they sought would leave tracks. He would be disappointed, however, to find that he and his step-son were far from the first hunters to search the area. Nash cursed the carelessness of previous monster hunters, and himself for not getting to the ranch sooner, as he found mostly boot prints on the game trails. Finally, while searching an overgrown and long abandoned dirt road deep in the chinry, Woods discovered fresh footprints left by a creature with toes. An article in the July 11 edition of the Abilene Reporter-News said, “The prints clearly showed the impression of four toes and the ball of a foot as if whatever made the tracks walked upright on its toes. The prints were approximately five-inches wide and from their distance from each other looked as if their creator had a four-foot stride.” Frustratingly, no photographs of these prints were included with the article. After examining the prints, Nash said, “There is something out there and he is running around barefoot. Whether it is a monster or a man in a bigfoot disguise I can’t say.” When asked about the likelihood of the tracks being made by a human, Nash added that anyone running around in the thorn-infested chinry barefoot would have to be “kind of a lunatic.”


It was not long before the skeptics came out of the woodwork. Some people simply said the teenagers had made the entire incident up; others believed that they had been frightened by something, but certainly it was no monster. Papers began printing insulting hack pieces that insinuated the whole thing had been one big hoax. One piece that appeared in the July 15 edition of the Abilene Reporter-News in the “Page One” column of writer Katharyn Duff is a good example. In the piece, Duff had little to say about the “Him.” Instead she harkened back to a flap of sightings of a creature back in the 1960s she called the “Haskell Thang,” which was likely just another term for the aforementioned “Haskell Rascal.” In the column, Duff recognizes that encounters with 7-foot tall ape-like creatures had been reported in the Haskell/Hawley area for at least the last 15-20 years; however, she quickly threw cold water on the entire phenomenon by propagating the theory of a Texas Tech geologist named Dr. Frank Conselman who felt the “Thang” had been nothing but an ocelot. Dr. Conselman’s response when asked how people could mistake a huge, hair-covered biped for a small, spotted wild cat? “Why not an ocelot?” he said. The absurdity of this position is so apparent no more time need be spent on it; however, many similar explanations from various skeptics – none quite as insulting as that of Dr. Conselman – continued to roll in from all corners of the country.

The “Hawley Him” remained on the minds of local residents despite the tongue-in-cheek explanations offered by skeptics. Some even attempted to capitalize on “Him” mania. One notable example was when the Hawley First Baptist Church provided a space on their VBS invitations - mailed out to local children - to draw and color their idea of what the “Hawley Him” looked like. The “Him” gimmick proved effective as a then record 109 children attended VBS at the church that summer.


Some outsiders did take the “Him” sightings more seriously. Oil man Jack Grimm – who was sort of a poor man’s Tom Slick – offered a $5,000 reward for the capture of “Him.” The stipulations were simple: the creature had to be captured unharmed and had to be a previously unidentified species. “I don’t want to pay a reward for a bear or a gorilla that escaped from the zoo,” Grimm said. Interestingly, Grimm had the same reward posted for the capture of a “red-eyed monster” said to be roaming southeast Oklahoma. Alas, no one was able to claim the bounty and sightings of the “Him” became fewer and farther between.

There has not been a rash of monster sightings from this area of west Texas that can approach the mania caused by the “Caddo Critter,” “Hawley Him,” or “Haskell Rascal” back in the 1960s through the late 1970s. To say that there have been no sightings, however, would not be accurate. A quick search of the databases of three bigfoot research groups active in Texas revealed a handful of interesting accounts from the nine-county region (see graphic below for the counties). The North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC) has one report in its database from Callahan County. The sighting took place only 41 miles southwest of Caddo in 2005. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) has two sightings from the region: a 1977 sighting that took place outside of Ranger in Eastland County only 19 miles south of Caddo and a 1988 sighting that occurred near Throckmorton, in the county of the same name, just 32 miles east of Haskell. Finally, the database of the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Researchers Organization (GCBRO) includes one 2001 Jones County sighting that took place near historic Fort Phantom Hill, a mere 11 miles from Hawley. Certainly, this handful of sightings – spread out over a 28-year period, with none more recent than 2005 – do not grab the attention or the imagination like the flap of sightings in in the 1960s and 1970s. They should, however, make us wonder if, at least occasionally, wood apes do not wander up the riparian areas paralleling the Leon, Colorado, and Brazos Rivers into west Texas. Texas still contains thousands of acres of uninhabited, lonesome country, especially west of the I-35 corridor. Though most of it is privately owned these days, few humans lay eyes on vast tracts of property for weeks or months at a time. It is the domain of domesticated cattle, the coyote, rattlesnake, and red-tailed hawk. There remains, even now, plenty of room for a large animal to, if not live permanently, pass through the region with very little risk of detection by human beings.


 I believe that the rich deciduous forests of the eastern half of the Lone Star State are a more ideal environment for a large ape; however, the more I study primates, the more I learn just how amazingly resilient and adaptable they really are. That being the case, maybe having the perfect forest habitat is not the most important aspect for their survival. Maybe the most important factor as to whether or not wood apes can survive in Texas is isolation. If there is one thing west Texas has, it is vast tracts of lonesome country where humans do not spend much time.

I find the stories of the “Hawley Him” and the “Caddo Critter” more credible than I thought I would when I started researching for this post (there is very little documentation on the “Haskell Rascal,” but it fits the narrative of what was going on in the area during the 1960s and 1970s). Rumors persist of sightings in the area, but nobody seems to want to talk about it. Perhaps they learned their lesson about media attention back in the 1960s-70s. I personally heard a couple of old-timers discussing some kind of large creature that was harassing their livestock near Cross Plains in Callahan County just a couple of years ago. I am a bit embarrassed to say I was eavesdropping on their private conversation while I was in line at a convenience store/gas station in Cross Plains. I think they noticed me listening in as they clammed up and gave me the stink-eye pretty good until I left the store; chastened. I have also heard tales of some very intriguing incidents at the cemetery near the old ghost town of Belle Plain in Callahan County (I actually did a post on these events in 2015; you can access that post here). Visitors to the old cemetery have reported hulking, hair-covered creatures “twice the size of an athletic man” roaming the back portion of the property. More common than visuals are the reports of long, powerful howls, deep growls, and “mumbling” made by something that remains in the shadows and just out of sight. 

It all begs the question, could the “Hawley Him” or “Caddo Critter” still haunt the region? I am afraid I cannot give you the answer. The residents of the nine county area discussed in this post probably know, you might be thinking. That is likely true, but trust must be earned before west Texans open up, especially when it comes to something as strange as monsters roaming the countryside. Earning such trust takes time. Maybe one day a reader of this site or others like it will decide to share what they know. For now, though, nobody is talking.

Sources:

“Gorilla-Type Animal Hunted In Caddo Area.” Abilene Reporter-News, 20 July 1964, p. 14.

“Caddo Residents Take Up Arms, Watch For 'Critter'.” Abilene Reporter-News, 21 July 1964, p. 48.


Bruce, Bob. “Caddo's 'Critter Jitters' Aren't Total.” Abilene Reporter-News, 22 July 1964, p. 1.


Bruce, Bob. “'Critter Talk' Takes Heat Off Caddo Conversations.” Abilene Reporter-News, 22 July 1964, p. 51.


“Yak Suspected Of 'Crittering'.” Abilene Reporter-News, 24 July 1964, p. 16.


“Opinion Divided in Caddo On Existence of Critter.” Amarillo Globe-Times, 23 July 1964, p. 41.


“'That' Yak Still Free.” Abilene Reporter-News, 12 Aug. 1964, p. 8.


“Blue Planet Project - 03.” Cattle Mutilations, www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vida_alien/blueplanetproject/blueplanetproject03.htm.


Green, John. Sasquatch: the Apes among Us. Hancock House, 2006. Page 184


“'The Hawley WHAT?' Asks Jones Sheriff.” Abilene Reporter-News, 7 July 1977.


“'Hawley Him' on the Loose.” Corsicana Daily Sun, 7 July 1977, p. 13.


Downing, Roger. “Abilenians Go to Hawley to Hunt 'Him'.” Abilene Reporter-News, 11 July 1977.


Duff, Katharyn. “Page One.” Abilene Reporter-News, 15 July 1977, p. 1.


“Incident Report Locator.” North American Wood Ape Conservancy, woodape.org/reports/report/state?state=TX#allRegions=screen.


“Reports for Texas.” Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, bfro.net/GDB/state_listing.asp?state=tx.


Hamilton, Bobby. “Sightings Encounters Texas.” Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization, gcbro.com/txdb1.htm.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Update to Black Panther Sightings Distribution Map

I have just updated my interactive black panther sightings distribution map to include the latest reports. You can visit the map by clicking here.


Once you get to the map, you can click on any pin to get a brief description of the sighting details, zoom in or out, and see the date the incident was reported to me. As you will see, the sightings continue to be reported more often in the eastern half of the state.

Check it out and if you have questions or a sighting account of your own you would like to report just send me an email at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com.

Friday, June 29, 2018

New Black Panther Sightings in Texas

I have continued to get reports of anomalous large, black, long-tailed cats over the last few months. I have compiled some of the more interesting and, in my opinion, credible accounts here.  To repeat something I have mentioned many times previously, I know that - according to science - there is no such animal as a black panther. Black panthers seen on television and the movies are either melanistic jaguars or leopards. Despite this fact, people continue to report sightings of these enigmatic cats.

I will be the first to admit that sighting reports are strictly anecdotal in nature, unless they are accompanied by physical evidence or photos/video. Anecdotal evidence does not constitute proof that the black panthers of Texas and the American South are real flesh and blood creatures. To dismiss such sightings outright, however, is folly. Many species have been "discovered" after biologists and explorers took the time to listen to indigenous people and follow up on their stories. The mountain gorilla and okapi are two good examples of this. I am hopeful that my efforts in documenting these sightings will lead someone with greater resources to investigate this phenomenon and find out exactly what people are seeing out there. Now, on to the reports...

4/12/18

I'm a bit late in this blog, but last year during the summer at Inks Lake state park in Burnet county, I saw a black or almost black panther or the like crossing Park Rd 4 and saunter behind their maintenance area. Looked to weigh 70 lbs., long tail that curled up and large paws.”

-      Lori XXXX


TCH Comment: Lori provides a pretty much textbook description of the cat people in Texas and the American South have labeled a black panther. The sighting area – Burnet County – has been the source of sightings in the past.


4/12/18

“These cats come around 1-2x/year... I’ve shot at them but have failed to bring one down to date. Most encounters are night time, usually unprepared shots with a handgun... some are Great Dane-sized with short fur... others are more squat, with longer fur. not sure what to make of the species... hybrid vs other. One cat had a checkered type pattern noted at night, approximately 30 yards, noted under red-light... I fired with a .22 revolver and I upset it. the animal in this picture is walking from your left to right... not sitting.  It is approximately 3 yards behind the cacti not right up on them. See the how the facial fur flares out like a bobcat, but they do have long tails.  It doubled back so we couldn’t get another shot. Any input would be appreciated.

-      Oscar Perez M.D.


TCH Comment: Very interesting photo and description. Oscar seems to have a wide variety of animals visiting his property. It is possible there is some hybridization going on, but that is strictly speculative. The photo is intriguing as it does resemble a bobcat in the face. Bobcats can exhibit melanism, though it is rare. The ears appear a bit more rounded than I would expect to see in a bobcat. If this cat has a long tail then it is certainly not a full-blood bob. The whole thing is perplexing. The cat Oscar saw with the “checkered coat” could be a jaguar, leopard, or, if it is a smaller cat, ocelot. It is hard to say as Oscar did not specify his location. The best advice I could offer Oscar would be to put up a few trail cameras and be ready, either with a camera or long gun - each time he goes out on the property. Oscar, if you see this, please email me back with your location. Thanks.


4/17/18

It was about 8:50ish-9 pm in Gonzales county. South east to be precise, around mid-November, 2017. We were going for a cruise down back roads like we usually do, having seen bobcats, coyotes and foxes out here, we were sure we’d see something. Little did I know. While on the road, I pulled out my flashlight and looked to my right side and bam, big yellow/greenish eyes caught my attention. They were a different color, the positioning on its head too was so unfamiliar. Un-like anything I’ve ever seen. It was crouched down, it did not want to be seen. Maybe it thought we didn’t see it but I did, I tried to get my uncle to stop the truck but by the time he did we had passed him. My light was still focused on him, as were his eyes fixed on us. As we started to reverse he kept watching. Before I got closer to get a good look at him, he got up and turned to his right, then made another right running behind the brush. All I saw was his hind leg and a large black tail that curled up a bit before it hit the ground. It was fat and round, He was about 15-20 yards from the fence line. I’m 23, 5’6 with normal size arms, I’d say his tail was easily as wide as my wrist-lower arm. I had goosebumps and immediately started looking up sightings.

-      Dro Hernandez   

TCH Comment: Dro, thank you for submitting your sighting. The yellow-green eye coloration is something that I have heard from many witnesses in the past, especially those who had a nighttime sighting. A quick internet search for melanistic jaguars or leopards will show that a yellowish color to the eyes of these cats is not unusual. The effect could be exacerbated by the "eye shine" produced when light strikes a structure in the back of the eye called the tapetum lucidem. This structure improves night vision in animals of many species. The eye shine color often varies depending upon the angle at which light is striking the eye of the animal. Yellow, orange, and red are the most common eye shine colors seen in animals. Green would be something different. The description of the color, leg, and tail sure point to a cat being what you saw; however, since you didn't really get a good look at the entire animal, we can't be absolutely sure.  I will have to leave the sighting off my distribution map. Keep those eyes open and a camera handy. Good luck.


4/24/18

I have a small farm just outside Canton, TX and have heard stories for years about a black panther that has been seen by many of my neighbors. I have been skeptical of these stories. Last week, one of my neighbors got these pictures of the “black panther”. Can you help identify this cat?

Thanks 
Kevin Swindle


TCH Comment: Thanks for taking the time to email the photos.
Those are some very interesting pictures. It is hard to make a determination, however, due to the fact I have nothing by which to judge scale (the size of the cat). The good news is that this could be done pretty easily. Someone could stand in the spot where the cat is in the photo and a second person could snap a photo from the location where the photographer was standing for the originals. If only one person is available, that person could take an object that has a height or length that is known and place it where the cat was in the original photo was at the time. That person could then take a picture of the object from the same spot the original photos were snapped. By comparing the cat's size to the size of known objects we should be able to get at least a rough estimate on how big this animal is. The photos remind me quite a bit of the cat videoed in Iberia Parish, Louisiana several years ago. I used a still from that video as the cover for my book.

If any tracks have been found advise your neighbor to lay a ruler down next to them before snapping photos. Plaster casts could also be made.

As to what kind of cat it might be...clearly, it is no bobcat. The tail alone eliminates a bob as a suspect. The head looks too small in comparison to the body to be a jaguar. The body is thicker than I would expect to see in a jaguarundi and the head doesn't look right for that species. That leaves a feral cat or mountain lion as suspects. As I'm sure you know, there are not supposed to be any black mountain lions. If we can get a reliable size estimate - using the methods mentioned above - we will have a much better idea of what we are dealing with.

If you - or your neighbor - would like me to come out and place a camera or two in this spot let me know. I'm in Temple and the Canton drive isn't too bad for me.


5/7/18

Back in 1989 I was deer hunting with 2 friends east of Jefferson TX. in a heavily forested area. After dark, we were driving out of the lease on the small trail. As we topped a small hill, we saw a doe to our left about 10 feet off the trail. And about 30 feet ahead to the right was a large jet-black cat crouched down ready to attack the doe. When he saw us he jumped up and ran into the forest. We had a clear view of him for roughly 4 seconds before he disappeared into the woods. It was at least 100 pounds and possibly larger. And the body was about 4 feet in length. I've seen many, many bobcats and this was many times larger than that and jet black. We always assumed it was a black panther. There's no doubt that these large cats exist in Texas. We clearly saw it right in front of us. Regardless of what you want to call it, it was very large and jet black.”

- Lanny


TCH Comment: Certainly, northeast Texas has been the origin for many black panther reports over the years. If Lanny is right, and this cat was around 100 lbs., our suspect list is very short. This is either a mountain lion or a jaguar. There is simply no other cat out there capable of reaching that size and weight. As long-time readers no doubt know, melanism has never been documented in mountain lions.


6/10/18

Year: 2009 / Location: 3070 Anderson County Road 163, Elkhart/Palestine, Texas  (I attached a photo of the pinned location. The sighting was in between the black lines I drew.)

My friend & I were driving down the county road late one night & we had just slowed down & turned a sharp curve by a pasture that keeps livestock. As I slowly drove around the left-hand curve, a very large cat with a big head, glowing eyes, shiny black coat (No details or markings stood out), and a very long, thick, wispy tail ran out in front of my car heading towards the pasture to my left & I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting it. The entire animal was so sleek & almost elegant in the way it sort of galloped across.
My friend and I sat stopped in the road in silence for a few seconds before I asked if she had just seen what I did. We both agreed that it was definitely NOT a large dog and most certainly nothing we had ever seen before.  It truly scared us because we spent many late nights with friends out in a neighboring pasture more times than I can count. We all stopped doing that. My grandma lived in Buffalo, TX & she would always talk of “panthers” coming into her yard & mating & eating the deer her & my grandpa fed. She said the sounds they made were terrifying. Like babies crying. 

Also, my boyfriend’s parents recently moved out to Neches, Texas. His step father claims that their new neighbor caught a bear on his game camera a little before Easter of this year. If you would like me to find out more details on that, let me know. I’ll certainly do what I can. I love what you’re doing on the subject of spotting unlikely animals. I’m so glad to share my information that not too many people believe. I hope my submission is useful! 

- Katie 

TCH Comment: Katie’s encounter is fairly typical in that motorists are second only to hunters in sightings of these black cats. Katie mentions that the cat was "big," but doesn’t give an actual size estimate. Katie, if you see this, could you please estimate/compare the size of the cat you saw to some other animal with which you are familiar? A Labrador Retriever, Great Dane, etc.? This would give me a better idea of how big an animal we are talking about.

Also, Katie, yes, I would very much like to get the photo of the bear and hear the details on that as well.


6/11/18

On April 28th, 2018 around 6:30 pm, myself and 2 other ladies were driving into Breckenridge to go to dinner. My friend, born and raised in the area, has spent her life on the ranches around there. At one time, she spent 10 years managing a cattle ranch with just a good horse and an Australian Shepherd or two. She would only go into town once a month for supplies. I tell you this, so you will understand, my friend has spent her 70 years seeing everything that moves around that brushy, dry area. She was driving and I was sitting shotgun. We were watching for deer, when this very dark colored weasel/cat-like creature stepped into the road ahead of us. My friend slowed and this strange cat paused on the side of the road, so we were able to watch it for several seconds. I was struck by how cat like it moved, but how strangely shaped it was. The body was very, very long, with a long, thick tail. It was too tall to be a domestic cat. (I grew up with an 18-lb. cat. This animal was much bigger.) Sadly, there was no time for a photo. I was too dumbstruck to move. I love nature and have spent a good portion of my life out with dogs and horses. I can identify basic animal tracks and bird calls, as well as noticing animal behavior. I had never seen or heard of anything like what I was looking at. I asked my friend who is knowledgeable about anything in that area, "What in the world is that?" She answered, "I can't think of the name, but it's one of those cats that is rarely seen. I've never seen one out here before." I was thrilled and awed to see such a rare creature in the wild. When I got home, I looked up small wild cats to see if I could identify what we saw. As soon as I laid eyes on the image of a jaguarundi, I knew that was it. There is no question. I have 2 other ladies that can verify what I'm telling you here. As I read about them, I knew it was very unusual to consider north Texas as part of their range. There's one living outside of Breckenridge-or there was one in April. No question.”

-      Tricia Millsap


TCH Comment: Tricia’s account is very interesting for multiple reasons. She was with a long-time rancher who is very familiar with the wildlife in the area. This makes misidentification of something more mundane much less likely. Also, she gave a spot-on description of what a jaguarundi looks like. If Tricia was right about the size and weight – compared to her own 18-lb. cat – this was a jaguarundi on the large side. Breckenridge is west of Fort Worth in Stephens County. The county is sparsely populated and rural. There is plenty of room for a large cat to make a living there. Black panther reports have come from this general vicinity in the past.

I am greatly encouraged that not only are reports continuing to roll in on a weekly basis, but more and more often these accounts are accompanied by photographs. People seem to be a bit more prepared to document what they are seeing than they were in the past. This is excellent news. 

I can be reached at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com should anyone want to report a sighting or share a photograph. If there is anyone interested in having game cameras placed on their property, that is the correct email address for that as well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Concho Casino Flap Sixteen Years Later



This past weekend, I had the pleasure of traveling north to Lexington, Oklahoma in order to promote my book Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America and to give a couple of presentations at Glen McDonald’s Anomalist Books & Brews bookstore. The gathering was small but I had a great time and had the chance to meet some really nice people. If you get the opportunity, I would encourage you to visit Glen’s store; it is a charming, quirky, and all together cool place. There was an added benefit to this trip as well. I stayed with my good friend and NAWAC Chairman, Alton Higgins, at his home in Oklahoma City. I have been pestering Alton for years to take me out to Concho, Oklahoma in order to visit the site of the infamous “casino footage,” allegedly captured on Cheyenne-Arapaho lands in 2002. My visit this past weekend finally provided us with the opportunity to do just that.


            It has been a while since the Concho flap took place so I will do my best to summarize the series of events that have become so well-known among those who are interested in the bigfoot phenomenon. It all started when footage shot by security cameras at the Lucky Star Casino in Concho captured a very large and dark figure approaching and passing by a dumpster-style grease trap at the rear of the building. I will tell you right up front that I have never seen the footage. I do, however, know several who have and they all give pretty much the same description of it. Basically, a very dark, tall, and bulky figure appears in the back parking lot and walks up to the previously mentioned grease trap. A lot of people say the figure paused and rummaged around in the grease trap, but people I talk to deny this. The figure may have slowed its pace a bit as it arrived at the trap but it never stopped. There is a security light on a pole right next to the grease trap. The most popular version of the story is that the figure had to duck in order to walk under the light. Others say only that the head of the creature was very close to the bottom of the light. Either way, this subject was immense in bulk and extremely tall. No details regarding anatomy or facial features were able to be gleaned from the video as the black and white footage was too grainy. Below is a recreation of the footage that was made for a television special a while back. I am not sure how close it comes to the real footage but it gives you some idea of what we are talking about with the incident.



The video footage was just the beginning of the weirdness on these tribal lands in Concho. Around this same time a young man claimed to have come face to face with a wood ape outside of his home which sits approximately a mile from the casino. The story, investigated by Alton Higgins and others, is that the young man was outside in the backyard of his small wooden frame house. There was an infant inside the home that began crying. The young man, who had been left in charge of watching the baby, went inside and retrieved the infant. He then carried the baby, still crying, with him back outside. As he emerged from his backdoor the young man saw a large, hair-covered creature matching the classic description of a sasquatch approaching him. The youth fled back into the house and the creature left the scene. Many have speculated that the ape was attracted by the cries of the baby, something that has been discussed in other incidents throughout history as well. Investigators located a trackway in the soft tilled-up soil of a garden in the area near the home. They also found what appeared to be a massive handprint on the top of an old junk car near the property. Investigators thought so much of the handprint that they cut the top off the old car and took it with them to be analyzed. What happened to this evidence, I cannot say. The trackway and the handprint on the car were found between a heavily wooded area and the house. If one were to connect the dots – wooded area to handprint to trackway to house – the route would have formed an almost straight line.


The strangeness was not over yet. Later in the fall, a work crew was cleaning up following a tribal function in a heavily wooded area. A member of the crew named Russell Lumpmouth snapped two photos of what appears to be an immense and hair-covered figure in the nearby tree line. The photos might be the clearest ever taken of an alleged wood ape. The first photo shows the subject facing the camera with its 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 a manner I’ve seen in other alleged wood ape photos and videos (this is particularly noticeable in the famous Freeman footage). The chin seems to nearly sit on the chest of the figure. 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 Mr. Lumpmouth, the figure 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 read an abridged copy of that article on the NAWAC website.


Alton was kind enough to play bigfoot tour guide for Phil Burrows – also a NAWAC member – and me and showed us all of the spots where these events took place. One extra item of interest was our collection of some hair samples from an old barbed-wire fence near the spot where the handprint was found years ago. For the most part, the hairs were a deep auburn, almost orange. There were a few very long black hairs mixed in as well. The hairs seemed too long to be cow (Alton said he did not believe the tribe kept cattle) and too fine to be hair from the mane or tail of a horse. It could be absolutely nothing, but we figured nothing ventured, nothing gained. I will be submitting the hair for microscopic analysis soon and will announce the results once I know something.




Between my speaking engagement in Lexington, my visit to the site of some historic wood ape activity in Concho, and getting to visit with friends I do not get to see nearly often enough, it was a great trip up to Oklahoma.