Cryptid Casefile: The Ozark Howler
Type: Feline / Mutant
Height: 4ft tall at the shoulder,
Appearance: Shaggy black fur coat, large fangs, red glowing eyes, horns
Location: Ozark Mountains Region, USA
Abilities: Death Omen
Between the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma lays a mysterious region known as the Ozark Mountains. for hundreds of years the people who live there have told tales of paranormal entities, strange creatures and monsters that inhabit these mountains. one such beast is said to fill the mountains with a haunting cry and should you encounter it, death will soon follow. this is the story of The Ozark Howler.
The Ozark Howler is a creature known by many names. some call it the Hoo-Hoo and to others its known as The Devil Cat, The Whistling Campus, or The Nightshade Bear. Its appearance varies in description, but most seem to agree that is a stocky and hulking beast. This abominable horror is said to sport a black, shaggy fur coat with the closest anatomical equivalent being some kind of big cat, bear or some unknown mutant subspecies of the former. Many accounts also describe the Howler having a prominent set of horns and fangs, placing it in a distinct class of its own from the regions usual fauna. Those who have encountered this cryptid say it has piercing, glowing red eyes. It is also known to project an unearthly cry, likened to a combination of a wolfs howl, an elks bugle and a hyenas laugh, distinguishing itself from any other animal call in the region. Moreover, legend says that bearing witness to this beast is an omen of death.
As with many cryptids, eyewitness reports and legends of The Ozark Howler seem to date back centuries. One of the earliest reports appears to be from the early American pioneer, Daniel Boone. He wrote in a letter to his sister-in-law about an unknown black, horned creature that he shot and wounded in 1816 on a hunting trip near the Platt River in what is now Cuba, Missouri. Boone also described the creature as having a terrible howl.
According to Jason Offutt's book, "Chasing American Monsters" accounts of the howler stretch back at least to the early 1800's. Interestingly, in January 2020, the counting creatures podcast uncovered a potential connection between the Howler and a fraternal order known as the Concatenated Order of the Hoo-Hoo. This order was created in 1892 in Arkansas by a group of lumberjacks, magazine editors and lumber mill owners from Gurdon, Arkansas. Their mission was to aid in the preservation of forests. The membership base of this order was evidently were largely involved in forest industries. It should be noted that at the conception of this organization the term "Hoo-Hoo" was synonymous for lumberjacks at the time.
According to the Counting Creatures Podcast, there was a conspiracy as to why the order was created in the first place. Allegedly, the lumbermen who started it knew of The Ozark Howler and wanted to protect the lands it inhabited. There is compelling connection between the Order and the Howler with the fact that the orders logo depicts a black cat and the Howler is often depicted as being cat-like. Two men that would later become United States presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding were actually members of the order. As many know, Teddy Roosevelt was the president that first pushed the conservation movement and created several national parks in his tenure as POTUS. Perhaps because of his connection to the Hoo-Hoo Order, Roosevelt made a proclamation in 1908 preserve thousands of square miles of land that would become known as The Ozark National Forest. This theory goes much further in detail, but thats a story for another time.
In the Ozark Region Between 2005 – 2010, the Howler was reported to be sighted several times. One family who lived north of Van Buren, Arkansas spotted a strange looking, out of place creature on their land one day and set up a trail cam to try to figure out what it was. They managed to catch something on the cam that appeared to be a large cougar. Officially there is no breeding population of cougars reported in this area. However, authorities have stated it is possible solitary big cats could be traveling through the area or living in the nearby mountains. Some believe sightings of the Howler are simply misidentified cats like a Cougar, Lynx or Bobcat and the family who caught one on a trail cam seems to support this hypothesis. If it is simply a big cat, its origins could be explained as an escaped exotic cat from a zoo, or private collector (who will never financially recover).
Another theory suggests that The Ozark Howler may be some surviving population of Creodont species. Creodonts were the apex predators from the Tertiary Period (66-2.6 mYa) in the Northern hemisphere. These carnivores were divided into 2 categories. The first, Oxyaenids were cat-like. The second, Hyaenodontids, were more dog-like. This idea however, is largely dismissed as the fossil record shows these creatures went extinct some 9-20 million years ago. Furthermore, Creodonts did not have horns, like the Howler is reported to have. The last nail in the coffin for this theory is the largest creodont that would match the purported size of the Howler, Megistotherium Osteothlastes found its home in Africa, not North America.
Some folklorists have postulated that the Howler may a related branch off of the British Dark Dog of Death otherwise known as a Hellhound. This dog is also known as the Church Grim, Black Shuck, Cù Sìth or the Gytrash. Like the Howler, these mythical beasts are also said to predict the death of those who witness them. Anthropologists point out that peoples of the British Isles settled in the Ozark Region and likely brought their ancestral tales and mythologies with them which evolved over time into stories of the Howler.
In the early 2000's many cryptozoologists received e-mails from several accounts claiming to have evidence of the howler. These e-mails were investigated by prominent cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and traced back to a university student who was trying to prove how easy it was to hoax cryptids and fool the cryptozoology community. Many cryptozoologists, like Coleman however believe that ultimately, the Ozark Howler is just a hoax. However, it is important to mention that stories of the creature date back some time and it is even mentioned in books written in the 1930's and 1940's such as "Tales of the Ozark Howler" by Saul Ashton and Hawthorne Cornus was originally published in 1936 by a small local printer and republished in 2018 which includes folktales and eyewitness accounts of the beast.
Another interesting reference is that in Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiographical book, "Little House in the Big Woods" she recounts a story about her grandfather encountering a large black cat creature. Evidently this creature chased him on horseback through the woods, leaping from tree to tree, finally jumping overhead in front of him. If that story was true, perhaps it was the Howler, or a similar beast.
The story of the ozark howler is an interesting one. despite the confusion and conflicting information about its origins, it seems to have a rich history. if you do find yourself deep within the Ozarks, pray you don't find a set of red eyes staring you down because it might mean the worst for you...
• A hoax to discredit cryptozoology
• Misidentified cougar or other big cat
• New subspecies of big cat
• Simple folklore
Thanks to my Amazon Affiliate partnership I'm able to provide links to great reads about fortean subjects. As mentioned and linked above, Saul Ashton and Hawthorne Cornus' book, "Tales of the Ozark Howler" chronicles the compelling stories of a strange and ancient beast haunting the hills and mountains of the Ozark Region of America. If you love the Ozark Howler, this is a must read book! If you follow through my link it helps me out and keeps the lights on with a small commission from Amazon. Thanks for reading! Buy the book here (or click the book image)!