There's something big out in the deep woods of Appalachia. Real big. Its called "the white thing" or a more appropriate term, Sheepsquatch.
Locals say that a bear-sized, white woolen beast, that can measure up to at least nine feet tall while standing upright, is aggressively pursuing anything that comes into its domain.
It's Bigfoot like but less human looking and much more aggressive. In short, it wants to be left alone. And it's not afraid to tell you.
With goat-like horns on its head; a long snout that somewhat resembles a canines; long, saber-like teeth; and a long, hairless possum-like tail, it must be quite the formidable sight to behold.
And even more intimidating is its long razor-sharp, raccoon-like paws on each of its forelimbs.
It reeks of sulfur and lets out a gut-wrenching, ear piercing scream when it has you in its sights. It should have a sign on it that says, "If you can read this, then you either have a great pair of binoculars or you are way too close." In fact, if you aren't running already, then its already too late.
Its gruesome appearance and highly aggressive nature, one that makes someone with severe anger management issues look timid, has resulted in no documented fatalities or injuries so far. At least human ones, that is.
The lush and dense forests of the Appalachians, that run for miles upon miles, lend the perfect backdrop for cryptid creatures, such as Bigfoot and Sheepsquatch, to exist. Or, at least they allow for the possibility of their existence.
With various sightings throughout Appalachia, many appear to be concentrated in the North central, South central and Central portion of the region. Virginia counties, notably Boone, along with Kanawha, Putnam and Mason appeared to have had the lion share of sightings.
According to the TV series, Monsters and Mysteries in America, the Sheepsquatch legend may have been brought over to the Applachias by immigrating British sheep herders who brought along stories of demons who wore sheep hides.
An article written by Ed Rollins, states that the first documented case of Sheepsquatch was recorded in a book, written by Ruth Ann Musick, called "The Telltale Lilac Bush", published in 1965.
According to the website phantomsandmonsters.com, the years 1994, 1995 and 1999 had documented encounters with the Sheepsquatch in Boone County, Virginia.
In 1994, a former Navy seaman was out in the Boone County area when he witnessed the beast emerge from the forest. The "white thing" drank for a few minutes, crossed the creek and then disappeared into the surrounding bush.
That same year, two children saw the beast while out playing in their yard. They described it as a large white bear that stood on its hind legs. The beast, for whatever reason, became startled and headed off into the forest, "breaking medium-sized limbs off the trees as it went".
In 1995, a couple driving their car through Boone County came across an unusual creature, alongside the road in a ditch. They stopped to get a closer look and described it as "a large white animal with woolly fur about the size of a bear," and four eyes. It became agitated and attacked their car leaving large scratches on one side.
In 1999, campers in Boone County were enjoying a night time campfire when they began to hear "snorting and scuffling" around their campsite. The beast emerged from the darkness and charged at the campers. It chased them all the way back to their home, stopping only at the edge of the forest. The next morning they inspected the attack scene and found their campsite had been "torn up like someone had tilled it up for gardening."
Ed Rollins', named above, also gives an interesting first-hand encounter with the Sheepsquatch, in which you can read here.
Sheepsquatch has been featured on the zany cryptid TV series, Mountain Monsters, which features an entertaining cast of bearded hillbilly cryptid-hunters. Ignoring the obvious negatives to this show, the positive is that they dig deep into the cryptid grab bag and pull out creatures names that not many people have ever heard of.
Sheepsquatch is one of those.
In 2013, Monsters and Mysteries in America, did a segment on Appalachia and its Sheepsquatch. The episode featured the Sheepsquatch encounter of Ricky Joyce and Dakota Cheeks, along with other local eye-witness accounts of the Sheepsquatch.
In July of 2004, on the western edge of Appalachia in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, Ricky Joyce and Dakota Cheeks, long time friends, had decided to go on a hunting trip, like they had many times before. They would stay at their grandparents cabin, that sat on 100 acres at the foot of a hill that led out to the remote and dense Kentucky wilderness.
Although for months they would often hear strange noises and loud screams from the top of the hill, nothing bad had come of it. Until the first morning of this hunting trip.
They awoke to find one of their dogs dead. Its head had been twisted around, almost completely. Confused on what type of creature had the ability to do such a thing, they hopped onto their four-wheelers and headed out to look for some incriminating clues. They searched for hours upon hours but came up short.
Exhausted, they decided to go back to their family's hunting camper, that was set into the hillside. That night they heard unnatural noises and around 5:00 a.m, they were sure something was walking around outside the camper. The dogs began to bark and soon ran off into the distance. Suddenly, something crashed into the camper.
"It's almost like you could hear something pressing up against the side and you can kind of hear the tent starting to bend. It's just that weird eerie metal sound. And then it was just free fall. It was like it let go and we hit. I was terrified," said Cheeks on the show.
Unsure what was strong enough out in the wilderness to do such a thing, the boys rushed back to their cabin to load up on guns and ammo, with the intent of returning to find the creature, perhaps ending the unknown threat.
They set out quickly, first crossing through a cemetery and then over and out to large field, when they spotted something standing out in the open. What they thought was just a tree at first ended up being the elusive culprit they had been looking for.
"It was tall but hunched over, big and white. Its arms were long but they were kind of out like this [hands out in front, curled down at the wrists] and it had these long talons. It was too big to be a person. When it was on two legs, it stood at least nine feet tall. I mean, it was massive," explained Cheeks.
When Sheepsquatch noticed them, it let out an "ungodly gut-curdling growl" and charged straight at them.
"And we were shooting. I don't know if we hit anything. I just remember coming back to the house as fast as we could," said Joyce.
"We saw Sheepsquatch," said Cheeks. "That's what we saw".
Other Sheepsquatch witnesses briefly told of their encounters on the show and described the beast much the same as everyone else had. To watch this episode, which is broken down into three parts, click the links for Part one. Part two. Part three.
For those who have personally witnessed the beast, they are absolutely positive it was the Sheepsquatch. For those that haven't, they are finding it a difficult pill to swallow. Perhaps, crackpots just telling stories or rumors. And when it comes to stories and rumors, there is usually some truth buried in there somewhere.
While the Appalachians do provide the basic necessary ingredients for a large cryptid to exist: plenty of cover from the elements and pesky humans, an abundant food source and an accessible water source, is that enough for such a large animal or beast to exist, virtually undetected by man for so many centuries.
Yet, it is hard to believe that anyone would mistake a bear or other common animal for some mythical beast, especially if they are sound in mind and had come face-to-face with it in good light. So is it more plausible for a cryptid such as the Sheepsquatch to exist or is it more plausible that it is a common creature of the region being misinterpreted by locals due to viewing distance, low-light, or hungry fanciful minds.
Or, to go one step further, is it more plausible that this creature is something out of the past.
According to some researchers, the creature being described might actually be a descendant or relative of the Giant Ground Sloth that went extinct thousands of years ago.
The Giant Ground Sloth is a term that is used to reference all large extinct sloths. One group, megatherrid, appeared in South America around 30 millions years ago and these are described as massive in size, large claws along with thick bones and joints, giving them incredible power.
The earliest megatheriid in North America's was Eremotherium eomigrans. It weighed more than five tons and was up to 17 feet high. It "had five fingers, four of them with claws up to nearly a foot long". The North American large ground sloths are thought to have disappeared about 11,000 years ago, not too long after appearance of humans in the region. It's unsure why they went extinct but it is thought that perhaps the humans hunted them into extinction.
Researchers such as David C. Oren and Charles Fort each believed that the South American sightings of mapinguary were a direct result of Giant Ground Sloths surviving their apparent extinction. The mapinguary are Bigfoot like bipedal animals, that are less human looking and more aggressive than Bigfoot, that left sloth like prints in the ground. The mapinguary legend is directly interwoven into their folklore.
And the mapinguary description is very similar to that of the Sheepsquatch.
So, if it is true that the Giant Ground Sloth has somehow survived in South America up to modern times and is the source of the mapinguary sightings, then it is very possible that the Sheepsquatch of North America are also extinct Giant Ground Sloths that have survived to modern times, leading to the Sheepsquatch sightings.
And when one matches the descriptions of these ancient Giant Ground Sloths to those of the mapinguary and Sheepsquatch, one finds an incredible match which makes coincidence appear a bit ridiculous. It just might be the most plausible explanation.
Whatever the case, it is clear that the people in the Americas, from South to North, from the past to modern day, from folklore to current encounters, have borne witness to something very massive, strong, aggressive and fearsome. Perhaps, a creature from the past.
You can call it Sheepsquatch, mapinguary, or a Giant Ground Sloth, it doesn't matter. You just cannot call it imaginary. Something is out there, deep in the woods of the Appalachia. Just waiting for its chance to prove it to you.