Something stalks unsuspecting campers in the Ozark Mountains. Its screech can frighten people to death or curse them. Read more about the Ozark Howler after the jump.
Early American explorer, Daniel Boone, made reference to a strange beast in 1810. It’s even thought that Boone shot and killed one in 1816, but its body was never located. Every year, a witness comes forward about an encounter with the creature. It wasn’t until the 1950s that record keeping started in earnest. There are been hundreds of Howler encounters reported since 1810. 2015 appears to be the most active year in the last decade. The monster only appears at night.
List of recent sightings and encounters
- October 2014: Pump Station Road, Benton County, Arkansas
- December 2015: Devil’s Den State Park, Missouri
- May 2011: Newton County, Arkansas
- July 2020: Ginger Blue, Missouri
- December 2022: Falcon, Missouri
- September 2015: Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
- July 2018: Rollo, Missouri
Descriptions have changed over the years. At first, the Howler has been described like a grizzly bear. Descriptions from 21st century describe a monster more like a giant bobcat with horns. In the 1950s, a series of encounters with a goat-like creature with a bear-wolf face made news. No one has captured the beast on film, at least, a credible photo or video to say for sure.
Here are its characteristics:
- Stands between 3-feet and 6-feet at the shoulder
- Heavy-set belly
- Stocky legs
- Glowing red eyes
- Razor-sharp claws
- Large, lion-sized teeth
- Dog-like snout
- Cat-like movement and agility
- Thick, black or dark gray fur
- Long tail with fluffy tip
- Ram-like horns (not consistently reported)
- Shrieking howl
The most obvious characteristic is the cryptid’s howl, which sounds more like a shriek. It’s described as a cross between a wolf howl and an elk bugle (listen in Evidence section).
Evidence is sparse. An image taken on trail cam shows what could be a cougar. Some footprints have been reported on Travel Channel TV shows, but they turned out to be bobcat prints. Then, there’s the shriek captured as the most common evidence.
In this video, a family’s trail cam caught what they claim is the Ozark Howler, but scientists say it looks more like a cougar (mountain lion).
No photos or other videos have clear captures. The following slideshow has artists’ renditions:
Some cryptozoologists think the Ozark Howler may be related to phantom black dogs, hellhounds or other shapeshifting dog monsters from Great Britain. Some researchers also believe those that hear the monster will become cursed and die from an accident within a fews days to a month.
Not every description or encounter appears to be supernatural. It may be less than 10% of all sightings and encounters. Based on those reports, here are some of the monster’s abilities include:
- Super stength
- Rapid healing
- Howl that kills (similar to a Wendigo)
- Death curse
- Death stare
Related names: Hoo Hoo, Nightshade Bear, and Ozark Black Howler
A Natural Zoology Perspective
Biologists tend to believe the Ozark Howler has a natural explanation. It could be any of the following animals found in the Ozarks:
- Cougar (though rare, cougars have been seen in the Ozarks)
- Bobcat (a more likely explanation. Bobcats can produce a black variation)
- Black bear (a common predator in the Ozarks)
- Red wolf (a small wolf that’s easily confused with a coyote)
Now, none of these animals has a shriek quite like the Howler. A hoax surfaced in the 1990s during the chupacabra craze. A University of Arkansas student planted Howler reports in various cryptozoology forums.
What Should You Do If You Encounter An Ozark Howler
This beast seems more shy than anything. No one has been injured or killed by the beast. I don’t think you have much to worry about. If you do encounter one, then this may be a chance for more research. Grab your phone and record its movement and howl. Don’t pursue it into the woods. You’re more likely to hurt yourself than the monster.
Editors (Nov. 19, 2022 – last update). Ozark Howler, Wikipedia.org, retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozark_Howler
Editors (Jan. 8, 2023 – access date). Ozark Howler, Cryptid Wiki, retrieved from: https://cryptidz.fandom.com/wiki/Ozark_Howler
Editors (Jan. 8, 2023 – access date). Do you believe in the Ozark Howler?, Unlock The Ozarks, retrieved from: https://www.unlocktheozarks.org/stories/folklore-legends-and-myths/ozark-howler/
Dale Cox (July 17, 2017). The Ozark Howler, ExploreSouthernHistory.com, retrieved from: https://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ozarkhowler.html
Discovery+ (May 1, 2022). The Ozark Howler, Expedition X (TV Show), Season 5 Episode 2, retrieved from: https://www.discovery.com/shows/expedition-x/3/the-ozark-howler
Wes Johnson (Dec. 15, 2015). Do you believe in the Ozark Howler?, Springfield News-Leader (Springfield, MO), retrieved from: https://www.news-leader.com/story/sports/outdoors/2015/12/15/johnson-do-you-believe-ozark-howler/77357078/
Travel Channel (May 29, 2019). The Ozark Howler, In Search Of Monsters (TV Series), Season 1 Episode 7, retrieved from: https://www.discoveryplus.com/show/in-search-of-monsters
Darcie Nadel (July 31, 2022). The Ozark Howler: Actual Cryptid or Elaborate Hoax?, Exemplore.com, retrieved from: https://exemplore.com/cryptids/The-Ozark-Howler-Mythical-Beast-or-Elaborate-Hoax
The Speakeasy (August 16, 2019). The Ozark Howler, The Speakeasy YouTube Channel, retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al_lCbTOqDw
Jeff (Nov. 17, 2022). Cryptid Casefile: The Ozark Howler, Strangeology.com, retrieved from: https://www.strangeology.com/post/cryptid-casefile-the-ozark-howler
Jason Offut (March 2019). Chasing American Monsters, Llewellyn Publishing.
J.W. Ocker (October 2022). The United States of Cryptids: A Tour of American Myths and Monsters, Quirk Books.
Journey To The Other Side (Jan. 2, 2021). The Ozark Howler, Journey To The Other Side YouTube Channel, retrieved from: https://youtu.be/IWtW1Sa3IvA?t=85
New Era Mysteries & Conspiracies (Jan. 21, 2012). Legends of the Ozarks, Travel Channel Documentary, retrieved from: https://youtu.be/7MjdgJA3dQg?t=1605
Jordan Heath (June 28, 2022). The Ozark Howler, Paranormality Magazine, retrieved from: https://paranormalitymag.com/the-ozark-howler/
Jennifer Jacobs (Aug. 27, 2018). Entry #015: Ozark Howler, LittleGiantMonsters.com, retrieved from: https://www.littlegiantmonsters.com/mias-field-notes/2018/8/27/entry-015-ozark-howler
Michael A. Baird sculpture (first image in slideshow) – artist rendition, no date.
Staff writer (2019). Ozark Howler, Endangered Wolf Center, retrieved from: https://www.endangeredwolfcenter.org/ozarkhowler/
Jacob Rice began investigating and writing about monsters in 2007. He has published 3 books on ghost hunting, ghost stories and paranormal protection. His podcast, Ghostly Activities, dives into these topics even more. You can also watch his ghost hunts on the Ghostly Activities YouTube channel. He lives in Olympia, Washington.