The breakout Destination America hit "Mountain Monsters" airs Fridays at 10 PM, and features the men of the Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (A.I.M.S) as they seek out elusive backcountry beasts including Hogzilla, the Snallygaster, and the Grassman. With just days to go before the show's exciting season two finale is scheduled to air, Examiner spoke exclusively with straight-talking show star Trapper John Tice on July 18 to get his take on a number of subjects, including the most important element of the hunt and the scariest experience he's ever had in the back country.
So tell me: what can viewers expect during the "Mountain Monsters" season finale?
Trapper: It's a great one. It's a two-hour one. It's gonna air [July 25] at 9 Eastern, 8 Central.... We go back to Ohio after the Ohio Grassman. We have a team member go down, we find a moonshine still, it's exciting.
You're not the one who goes down, are you?
Trapper: I'm not gonna tell you who goes down. You're gonna have to watch.
Oh man, okay. Well, all right. That's fair. So tell me about some of your personal encounters with those legendary monsters.
Trapper: Well, I've been chasing the dang Wampus Beast in Pleasants County for years. But we've had all kind of encounters. We've had bigfoot encounters, we've had Pocahontas fire dragon encounters, Cherokee death cat encounters. We can usually get to the bottom of the investigation really quick. We do that because we have great witnesses. We rely entirely on our witnesses.
Who's the most interesting witness you've had on the show?
Trapper: I think Shoeless Terry. Shoeless Terry's from down in West Virginia and he was [showing us], let me see, chupacabra? Anyway he never wears shoes. Never! Only time he'll put shoes on is if he goes in someone's house.
Well, at least he wears 'em then, right? What's the scariest experience you've had while you were on the hunt?
Trapper: The snallygaster. Preston County, West Virginia, up in the mountains. Yeah. He was a flying creature, and he gave the team really a rough time. He actually ran us off that mountain. There was more than one, too. At least three.
Which monster would you most like to capture?
Trapper: It'd have to be a yahoo or Ohio grassman. A bigfoot-type creature.
What would you do with them if you happened to catch them?
Trapper: I think we'd just photograph him. Those bigfoot-like creatures aren't dangerous. They're not. We'd photograph him, try to get some hair samples or something like that, and we would turn him loose. We're old country boys.... If we'd capture a bigfoot that would be so unique and so great and we would try to not harm him in any way. The biggest trouble getting any of them in a trap like that --and that's why we build all live traps-- is that any creature like that in the wild... you have to worry about hurting themselves trying to get out. If we think he's going to hurt himself we turn him loose real quick. We just want to prove he exists. That's our main ambition.
What do you say to people who watch the show and say 'okay, that's all made up and you guys are just kind of crazy running after these monsters'? What's your message to them?
Trapper: Well, they gotta walk in my footsteps and then they would understand. [Laughs] I know the question you're asking me, and they're watching. That's what we want them to do. It's not all made up and there's no scripted parts. Not one of us could remember a script to start with probably, but it's all-natural, it's filmed just as it happens, and that's all I can tell them.
Oh, I hear you. I totally believe you. I'm originally from Maryland and I have some family in West Virginia, so I know that some strange things can happen out there.
Trapper: Coon hunters are a great source for witnesses. I was a coon hunter for years and my dad was a coon hunter and we always hear things that we don't understand in the woods. And once in a while we'll see things. Now let me tell you how it comes with sightings, too. Some of my very first sightings, I would say to myself 'did I actually just see what I just seen?' Do you understand what I'm saying?
Yes, totally. I get it.
Trapper: Yeah. And us, we're kinda built like these people back in these deep hollers, people who actually see stuff, so they don't mind talking to us. They wouldn't talk to a suit at all. So we communicate really good with hill people, with our mountain people, and the country people in any state we go to. I believe that's why we're so successful.
That makes perfect sense to me. One last question for you. What's one thing about you, Trapper, that might surprise fans of the show?
Trapper: [Laughs] Well, I'm old. I'm 67 years old. I'm still going pretty strong, you know. I got one bad leg, and uh, I don't know. What you see on the show is just exactly what I am so there's nothing there that I could tell them about me that they don't already know.