The Case of the Woebegone Camping Trip

Updated: Mar 10

My Esteemed Colleagues,

A few years ago, I was the recipient of a letter from one of my dear cousins who hails from the Ozarks, a mountain range in the central United States of America made up of parts of the states of Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. My cousin, Alexandra, purported that there had been sightings of a strange bear-like creature with twisted horns and red eyes in the region, and invited me out for an exploratory visit.

We hiked up a fair way, and luckily the Ozarks do not reach much above 2,500ft because the last thing we needed was altitude sickness in the party. Alexandra and I were accompanied by Alexandra’s wife Claire, as well as their neighbor and good friend Lyle. We made camp in a little hollow clearing for the night and set up watches so we wouldn’t miss a thing. Alexandra and I also set up a few traps on the ridges around the campsite, to be used to both distract and scare off the creature, should the need arise. While the majority of Cryptids and secretive creatures are obviously afraid of people, there is the odd one that is not, and things always get hairiest when you least expect it.

What had been a beautiful evening up until that point took a harsh turn when a freak thunderstorm broke directly over our camp. By midnight the rain had crept into the tent, which was, of course, our own fault for setting up camp in a valley. We were forced to abandon camp and head back down to our vehicles. As we topped the ridge to begin our descent, a howling scream stopped us in our tracks. A spike of lightning lit up the sky just in time for us to see the figure on the other side of the bowl, prodigiously near one of our traps, as another howl ripped the sky so loudly it drowned out even the thunder.

It was large and bear-like, as Alexandra had reported. I gather it appeared even hairier in drier weather, but drenched as it and we all were, its body appeared more somewhere between a bear and a large mountain cat. Its face was decidedly more wolfish. But its scream! A mixture of fox, elk, and wolf, with a hint of hyena unless my ears deceive me, which is entirely possible. The beast reared back on its hind legs like a bear reaching for a beehive on a high branch, and its horns could be seen very clearly against the next flash of lightning. It returned to all fours, but that’s when it looked directly at me. I have felt many a shiver in my lifetime, but this one was unique. Without thinking, I pressed a button on my person and set off one of the traps Alexandra and I had created. A burst of light glowed fiercely just to the side of the creature, and I grabbed my friends and fled down the mountain as I set off the other traps and charges to distract the creature. It wasn’t until we were safe in the truck and good 15 miles down the road that any of us could breathe normally enough to discuss what had just happened.

I headed for home a day or two later, but I will never forget the sound of the Ozark Howler’s scream. I’ve dreamt of it many times since then, and I can’t honestly think of anything more terrifying than that sound. Indeed, I have encountered many fierce Cryptids since then, but whenever they begin to scare me, I just think back to the Ozark Howler and suddenly nothing seems very terrifying anymore.


Dr. Clark Cook

~Excerpt from Cook's Compendium Vol. XII*

~Image Courtesy of Christian Collins via Flickr under Creative Commons:*

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