Sunday, December 30, 2018

New/Old Black Panther Sightings

While I have not been very active on the blog over the past year, that has not stopped new black panther sighting reports from coming in to me via email. The sightings below actually reached my inbox this past summer. While I never managed to prepare a post detailing them, I did get them posted on my interactive black panther sightings distribution map. That being the case, anyone who has perused the map since that time may recognize these accounts. I present them here for two reasons. First, I am trying very hard to catch up on the backlog of accounts and clean out the old inbox. Second, the emails provide much more detailed accounts of each sighting than the thumbnails available on the distribution map.

I think you will be impressed with the quality of the accounts below. More and more witnesses are stepping up and providing their names as opposed to submitting their stories anonymously. This makes things so much easier on me and adds to the credibility of the reports. These people saw some type of animal they did not recognize. Science says there is no such thing as a black panther. If that is the case, what are people seeing?

Reported July 8, 2018

I sighted a Black long tailed panther in late summer, 1982, on CR 154 south of CR 156, northeast if Cisco, TX. See the attached picture. The red mark near the tracks is about where it was. I was driving south on 154 and it ran from west to east across the road, barely within my headlight beams. 
Judi Jones

TCH Comment: Cisco sits in Eastland County in north-central Texas and is known more for being the location of Conrad Hilton’s first hotel and the Marshall Ratliff gang’s infamous “Santa Claus robbery” than it is for cryptid cats. Eastland county is comprised of 932 square miles and has no large cities. There is ample room and resources for a big cat to survive in this rural area. This is the second documented sighting of a large, black, long-tailed cat in the immediate area around Cisco. The previous report also involved a motorist who saw a big black cat cross the road in front of him near Lake Cisco in 2014. The witness in this case took the time to mark a map showing the location of her sighting. I have added this report to my black panther sightings distribution map.

Reported July 16, 2018

Hello there!

My name is Aynslie Andrew, I am from Honey Grove, Texas. My apologies for it being so late, but I’m shaken from what I saw tonight! 

As I was on my way back into town around 10:30 PM, headed from Telephone, TX to Honey Grove, I was coming out of Bois D’Arc bottom. With the new municipal lake coming in, a lot of dozing of trees has taken place... (Driving at night, I am always alert and looking for little critters in the road) Ahead of me, I saw a reflection of eyes, and I slowed quickly as I usually do. With my bright lights on, I saw a figure, cat-like, LARGE creature. I slowly drove closer, probably going 15 mph. The animal, scurried into the ditch, as it did that, I got a better look. It was a large black cat-like, I wanna say like a jaguar or panther type animal. VERY long tail— almost as long as the animals body. Anyway, as it entered the ditch, it was as if it had hunkered down, with the reflection of my headlights it seemed as if it was watching me, (keep in mind at this point i was probably going 4-5 mph, barely rolling) I was shocked!! It was something I have NEVER seen before. Once I got home, I began googling for other sightings, and I came across your blog. I’m not sure if you’re as active as you used to be, but I thought I would send my sighting in to you anyway! 

TCH Comment: Another road crossing report. The details of this sighting are very similar to other reports I have received. The behavior of the cat – crossing and then hunching down low to watch the vehicle pass – is one that has been observed several times. The sighting location is just south of the Caddo National Grassland area. The Grassland has two bodies of water – Coffee Mill Lake and Lake Crockett – and is bisected by the Bois d’Arc Creek. The Bois d’Arc, as creeks go, is a major waterway that stretches from just west of Whitewright, west of the sighting location, to the Red River on the Texas-Oklahoma border to the northeast of the sighting location. It is a major thoroughfare for all types of wildlife and some rather odd animal sightings have taken place up and down its length. Other sightings of “black panthers” have been reported from the areas surrounding the spot where this visual took place. I have added this report to my sightings distribution map.

Reported July 22, 2018

I saw one cross a dirt road about 12-14 feet in front of me on the LA/TX line in the Sabine river bottom in DeSoto Parish LA about 6 miles below Logansport. I was riding an ATV and it happened back in 1990. It was a huge black cat with a small pointy head. Its neck seemed bigger around than its head. I thought that was odd. It was about 7-8 feet long tail and all. Several others I know have seen them in the same area. You can find lots of huge cat tracks in muddy parts of clearings around there. People says we're "crazy" or "lying" but I really saw one...very close....and it wasn't a little kitty cat. It was in the evening before sundown so it was daylight and there's no mistaking what I saw. I'm so glad I got to see one. It was a thrill!

-       Thomas Ratcliff

TCH Comment: Normally, I do not chart sightings outside of the borders of Texas, but am making an exception in this case as the visual took place practically on the Louisiana border. This sighting took place just north of the spot where the Sabine River has been impounded to form Toledo Bend Reservoir and the Sabine National Forest. It is prime habitat for a predatory cat as it is loaded with prey species like hogs, deer, and smaller mammals. “Black panthers” have been rumored to roam the area for decades.

Reported July 22, 2018

Hello, my name is Troy Coon. I know your usual sighting reports consist mostly in Texas and surrounding areas, but I thought you might be interested in hearing the reports of “black panther” sightings in close proximity to my home in Appling, Georgia on Lake Clarkes hill/Strom Thurmond. I have lived in the area for 11 years and over the past 6 of them I have heard several accusations from close friends and locals of black panther looking cats being seen off a local road known as Ridge road. Which isn’t but 1 mile from the location in which I saw a large black cat with my own eyes. Early this morning (last night to me) at approximately 3:50 AM on 7/22/2018 I was driving down Keg Creek Dr. and saw a very large black cat dart across the road in front of my truck, so fast it looked almost a blur. I quickly whipped my truck around and shined my bright lights into the tree line and very clearly saw a very dark colored large cat with a tail as long as its body and thick all the way through. I estimate the cat was around 55-70 pounds and roughly 4.5-5” long nose to base of tail. I managed to get a video of the large cat, it’s not very clear but I hope it helps you in identifying the animal. I’m and avid hunter and I’m very familiar with relative size of an animal compared to distance and I can assure you it was no house cat, and the tail obviously rules out a bobcat which are common in the area. I’m excited to hear your input on the matter, for some reason it won’t let me attach the video in this email but I will send it in a separate email with “Georgia panther” as the subject.
Thanks for your time.

TCH Comment: I will not be charting this sighting as it took place in Georgia; however, I wanted to include it so as to show that the “black panther” phenomenon is not limited to Texas. The video included in the report was indistinct so I did not post it here.

Reported August 5, 2018

Hello Sir,

I am a degreed horticulturist, native Houstonian, and spent high school and college years in Angelina County. I also was, and am again, a secondary science teacher.  I currently teach AP and academic science classes at Seven Lakes High School, Katy ISD.  At the time of this incident, I was in my second year managing a private research farm NE of Monaville, in central Waller County.  There are wooded creeks and the Brazos River bottom within a few miles of the site.  I lived at the farm with my wife.

It was early March, 2001, when my dogs, two black labs and two great Pyrenees, awakened me with raucous barking at 4:30 a.m.   I slept lightly until it was light enough to see, about 6:30, when I went out to see what they had.  They were continually barking all that time. We had chickens, geese and ducks at the farm at that time.

Behind the houses was a tank, or pond, for livestock. I approached the direction of the dogs and realized they were at the pond's edge.  I walked up over the bank of the pond and saw the four dogs had cornered an animal against the water's edge.  The dogs were lunging and then backing away, barking all the while.  I was some 75 yards from them.

The creature was at first sight what I took to be a black bear. (As absurd as that idea was, what else could it be?)  But it wasn't.  It was round and flat of face, small pointed ears, a short muzzle, and a bit larger than the size of the male Labrador; he was a good hundred pounds. It was black by all appearances. It was not a bobcat; I've seen many bobcats and this creature was three times a bobcat's size, if not greater.  Its behavior was to have its back toward the dogs, and its head toward the water.  It was on its haunches, but silently swayed its head and neck back and forth.  It would turn its head occasionally to face the dogs, looking over its shoulders.

I was shocked.  I knew I needed a picture, and ran back to get my camera.  I found it, but it was out of film.  By the time I got a roll loaded it was full-on daylight.  I ran back out to where they were, the cat--and I believe without any doubt it was a feline--had run off and the dogs had, too.  I followed tracks across a pasture in the dew from my truck. They all took off to the SE, toward Little Cypress Creek, had crossed the fences, and we're gone. 

Later the dogs returned, unscathed.  A few days later I asked a neighbor about this incident, his reply was "You saw the black panther.  There's one that's been spotted for several years here in the Brazos River bottom."

I know the official explanations for what I saw.  I also know, clearly and undoubtedly, as a research scientist and teacher, that a large black feline was cornered by our dogs that day in Monaville.

Regards, cCc.

TCH Comment: What an amazing account from a highly qualified witness. I know well the frustrations that were 35mm film game cameras. They were extremely limited in their usefulness and caused me many painful moments during the early days of my cryptid research. It is too bad this cat did not show up before the camera had used up all of it film.

Monaville is an unincorporated community in Waller County centered roughly at the intersection of FM 359 and FM 1887. The Brazos River flows just to the west of the community. The area is very rural and lightly populated. Numerous stock ponds – large and small – dot the landscape in the area. Possible prey species such as deer and feral hogs are plentiful. Sightings of large, black, long-tailed cats have been reported up and down the length of the Brazos for years now. This report has been added to my sightings distribution map.

Reported August 16, 2018

Mr. Mayes,

I enjoyed reading your book, Shadow Cats.  You did a great job.

I grew up in Rockdale, in Milam County.  During my high school years, some upstanding people would report having seen such cats, usually in a tone of amazement bordering on awe.  The sightings were often as simple as driving down a dirt road and having a black panther cross the road.  Everybody believed they were there, but it was about a once in a lifetime experience to actually see one.

Later in life I became aware that game wardens and “scientists” would argue that black panthers did not exist.  It was very hard to square those arguments with a lifetime of hearing relatives and friends swear to having seen the cats.

In about 2000, I bought a small piece of land in Bastrop County on the West Yegua.  I moved a junky trailer out there to live in while I made land payments.  Built a small deck on the front.  By and by, I adopted a cat that had been dumped in the area.  One evening, after dark, I went out to sit cross-legged on the deck and pet the cat.  As domestic cats do, it put up with the petting for a little while and then uncurled and got up to sit in the classic upright Egyptian cat statue pose.  It seemed focused on something out in the yard (low weeds) in the security light.  After a few minutes, I began to get curious about what it was looking at, and examined the general area.  To my surprise, one of the shadows in the yard did a 180 and started low crawling away.  Under the security light, I could see it was a black cat with a very long tail.  Probably 3 1/2 to 4 feet long from nose to base of tail, but seemed light, perhaps 40-50 pounds.  It low crawled to the high weeds at the edge of the tank and disappeared. I doubt it was just curious - my little cat might have ended up as the evening meal.

It’s a very odd moment to see something that you have heard about all your life, but had begun to think was as unlikely as Sasquatch.  It’s also very difficult to dispute the evidence of your own eyes.

A few years later, I left my place one morning to run into Bastrop for something.  It was about 10 AM on a gray morning, very overcast.  As I turned a corner on Stockade Ranch Road, I saw a big black cat crossing the road.  I gunned the truck and tried to close on the cat to get a better look.  This cat was bigger than the first one I had seen. It was crossing pavement so I noticed something I would not have otherwise. The paws on the cat were huge, bigger than I would have expected.

The cat was crossing from Stockade Ranch to a low area across the road. I did not realize it then, but found out later it might have been hunting. At that time, the Stockade kept its round bales in a small pen in that pasture so the cows would not tear them up.  I was later told that the big black cats like to get on top of round bales and then pounce on the rat population below.

Sorry this email is so long.  Great book.  

Marshall Enquist
Round Rock, Texas XXXXX

TCH Comment: I found both of Marshall’s accounts interesting; however, I will only be charting the second account on my sightings distribution map. I do not doubt Marshall’s story, but the low light conditions during the first sighting make a misidentification possible. Again, I think it is quite possible, likely even, that Marshall is right and saw a big dark-colored cat. I just am making a true effort to keep a very high standard as to the sightings I catalog on my map. I have no qualms at all as to his second sighting as it took place in broad daylight. I found Marshall’s observation regarding how big the cat’s paws were very interesting. I have heard this from several black panther witnesses. Did these people see a juvenile cat that had yet to “grow into” his paws or is this a trait common to these large black cats? There is actually a small cluster of sightings in the immediate area where this sighting took place. It may very well be an area that bears watching more closely.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, these are older accounts that I received this summer. There are multiple reports that are much more recent that I am going through now. I will have a post prepared on those accounts very soon.

In the meantime, please email any black panther reports – or sightings of any odd or out of place animals – to me at

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Year in Review and Future Plans

2018 is rapidly coming to a close and I thought I would take a moment to review some of the bigger events of the past year and give you all of you an idea of what my plans are in 2019.  

The past year has been a really good one for me in many ways. The biggest event was the publishing of my book on the black panther phenomenon, Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America by Anomalist Books. The publication of the book was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me as I have always wanted to write a book. While I did self-publish a children’s book titled Patty: A Sasquatch Story several years back, this was different. Anomalist Books is a traditional and respected publishing house specializing in non-fiction tomes on cryptozoology, the paranormal, and other esoteric topics. To go through the submission process, have the work accepted, and then published was a lot of fun for me and extremely educational. To add to my excitement, the book was well received and has done very well. Because of the success of Shadow Cats, I have had the opportunity to speak at author’s gatherings, library fund-raisers, book stores, numerous podcasts, and radio programs including the massively popular Coast-to-Coast A.M. with host George Noory. The year ended with Loren Coleman choosing Shadow Cats as one of his top ten cryptozoology books of the year. It has all been pretty heady stuff to this rookie author.

Another highlight of my year was my participation in the NAWAC’s long-term field study in the area of interest we have dubbed “Area X.” This year’s operation was dubbed “Operation Intrepid” and ran from May 19th– September 23rd. I served as the team leader for Team India and was in the bush with two fellow members from July 14th– July 21st. While there were no visuals of our wood ape quarry that week, the three of us managed to record the clearest “whoop” vocalization I have ever heard in person. The vocalization emanated on a hillside no more than forty yards from our location in camp. The call was heard multiple times on two separate nights from approximately the same spot on the hill. The thick brush prevented us from getting a look at the caller – even with high-end night vision equipment -  and the steep incline kept us from being able to effectively investigate during nighttime hours. Even so, the vocalization alone was enough to cement in my mind that the target species is indeed in the area and we are conducting operations in the right place. 

I had another fun experience just last month. I was contacted by Prometheus Productions about helping with an upcoming television program (Prometheus produces the hit series The Curse of Oak Island and many other popular shows). Initially, I was going to be a sort of consultant on an episode that was going to be looking into a cryptid very well known in the Ozark Mountains; however, after learning that I had actually seen one of the odd, hairless canines that the media has dubbed the chupacabras, plans changed. Instead, I will appear as a witness on an episode featuring that cryptid. This was the second time I have had the privilege of being involved in a television shoot of this sort (My first experience was on the A&E Network’s Lowe Files). It is always interesting and fun to see how these shows are shot and the interactions that go on behind the scenes. It was good fun and I will keep everyone posted on when the series and, more specifically, when the chupacabras episode will air.

The year was not without its frustrations. Teaching and coaching full-time left precious little time for the blog and I have accumulated a large back log of black panther sightings that need to be vetted and mapped. Also, I started work on a new book detailing the investigations and experiences of the NAWAC this past summer, but have been unable to make any progress on it due to the time demands of my job. I am not looking for any sympathy here, but the little free time I have had through a very good football season and, at least thus far, a very bad basketball season has been spent trying to catch up on sleep or family responsibilities. It has left little time for me to tap away on a keyboard. This situation is nothing new. Longtime followers of the blog know I have lamented my lack of time to write in the past. I have given the matter a lot of thought and decided that I will be hanging up my whistle at the end of the 2018-2019 school year. While I need to continue teaching (those pesky bills continue to roll in monthly), I do not plan on coaching in the future. This decision was really not that difficult to reach. The coaching part of my life has become extremely stressful as the athletes have become increasingly self-centered and uncoachable. It is a constant battle to get them to act right in class, pass their classes, and practice hard. Dealing with the parents has been even worse. These factors in combination with the fact that I want to write more have led me to the decision to retire from my coaching duties. While I will not get any immediate relief from the time demands of coaching, as I must finish the school year, the light is at the end of the tunnel. No later than the end of May 2019 I should see an exponential jump in my free time. That will allow me to get back to investigating mysteries of the cryptid kind and continue my efforts to write.

So, there you have it. I will be getting back to writing and blogging very soon as long as the good Lord is willing and the creeks don’t rise. I thank all of you who have patiently hung in there with me and the blog despite my lack of activity. I hope to reward that patience with new posts and a new book soon. 

My best,


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.


“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,

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,

“Reports for Texas.” Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization,

Hamilton, Bobby. “Sightings Encounters Texas.” Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization,