The Ozark Howler: Untangling the Mystery of the Midwest’s Elusive Beast

Ozark Howler

Do you believe in monsters? For generations, people in the Ozark Mountains have shared stories of a fascinating, terrifying creature known as the Ozark Howler — a beast that’s said to be part wolf, part bear, and part something else entirely.

Local stories of the Ozark Howler describe it as an incredibly powerful creature with the ability to take down almost anything with terrifying ease. It goes by many names and is said to have night-black fur along with eyes that glow red in the dark. Depending on who you ask, the creature might have a thick body alongside massive horns, antlers on its head, or even wings like a bat.

Sightings and stories of creatures have circulated since at least the 1800s but no concrete evidence of the Ozark Howler’s existence has ever been found.

Is the Ozark Howler a real-life monster, or simply a figment of local folklore? Let’s dive into the mystery and see what we can uncover about this elusive creature.

What Is the Ozark Howler?

The origins of the Ozark Howler are murky. Some locals believe that the creature is an ancient spirit or demon that has haunted the Ozark Mountains, a region that spans across Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, for centuries. Other theories describe it as a remnant of a long-extinct species or a product of genetic experimentation gone wrong.

Interestingly, many tribes have their own legends and stories about mysterious creatures, which have played a prominent role in Native American folklore throughout the region.

To some, the Howler is a powerful and malevolent force that brings misfortune to those who cross its path — and it would be hard to believe otherwise when considering its appearance.

Physically, the Ozark Howler is said to be a large, muscular beast with black fur and glowing red eyes. It’s believed to have sharp claws and fangs, while some reports describe prominent horns or antlers on its head. In some variations of the legend, the creature has the ability to fly or emit a deafening scream that can physically harm anyone who hears it.

The Ozark Howler is often compared to other cryptids like the Chupacabra or the Jersey Devil, both of which are also said to be powerful, elusive beats.

As with many legendary creatures, the Ozark Howler goes by other names. In some parts, it’s known as the Ozark Black Howler, or simply the Black Howler. Elsewhere, it’s referred to as the Hoo Hoo or Devil Cat. That latter name is appropriate, as some theories suggest the Howler might be a misidentified mountain lion, bobcat, cougar, or other large cat.

Early Sightings and Beliefs

Early sightings of the Ozark Howler may go back to the 19th century. The earliest and most popular story involves famed frontiersman Daniel Boone, who was said to have killed the beast he encountered. Settlers in the region reported seeing a large, black, wolf-like creature roaming in the Ozarks.

The Ozark Howler legend is steeped in Native American folklore as well, with tribes in the region sharing their own tales of a creature inhabiting the region, often called (or confused with) the underwater panther. Their stories typically depict it as a powerful supernatural being with the ability to shape-shift into various animals or take on human form.

Some accounts even suggest that the Ozark cryptid serves as a protector of the forest or a messenger from the spirit world.

Other creatures similar to the Howler have appeared in Native American legends for centuries. One bone-chilling example is the “Missouri Monster,” which shared many characteristics with the Ozark Howler, including the large size, black fur, and unsettling howl.

Local Legends

If you ask a local about the Ozark Black Howler, you’re sure to hear more than one version. In fact, you’re likely to hear heated discussions on whether it’s a real animal that has managed to avoid being captured and studied, or just a tall tale and the result of imaginations running wild.

Some people swear up and down that the creature protects the forest while others are convinced it’s a sinister force that preys on the unsuspecting. Reports of its behavior range from the cryptid being a lone wolf that shies away from humans to it being a social animal that runs with a pack.

Recognized cryptozoologists like Chad Arment and Loren Coleman claim that the Howler is not real. They went so far as to prove that a sighting that happened in 1998 and sparked renewed interest was, after all, a hoax.

Not every sighting has been conclusively proven to be a work of fiction and tales of the Howler are still enough to draw fascination. Indeed, one popular story about this strange creature is related to no less than two former American presidents.

It involved a group with the unusual name the Concatenated Order of the Hoo-Hoo, which aimed to foster relations between lumberjacks and trade organizations. It is said they boasted none other than Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding as members.

While some note that lumbermen were often known as hoo-hoos, others say that the order knew about the Black Howler and wanted to protect its habitat. Whether true or not, many speculate that Teddy Roosevelt was a “fan” of the creature now known as the Howler.

Curiously, as president, Roosevelt went on to establish the Ozark National Forest in 1908 — an act that only deepened the interest in Roosevelt’s apparent passion for the Howler.

The Ozark Howler Today

The Ozark Howler story may be an old legend, but its impact on the Ozarks and popular culture endures. In fact, you can spot references to this cryptid in books, movies, TV shows, songs, and even games.

One of the most well-known depictions of the Howler occurred on Animal Planet’s show “Lost Tapes,” which featured reenactments of alleged run-ins with the beast.

The Howler’s brush with the limelight didn’t stop there, as it also made an appearance on an episode of “Expedition X” on Discovery Channel. The episode, “Ozark Howler: Devil Cat’s Revenge,” has the team heading to Arkansas to check out reports of the creature.

They interviewed locals who claimed to have seen the Howler and ventured into the forest at night, armed with thermal cameras and other gear. Although they didn’t come face to face with the Ozark Howler, their excursion produced some intriguing footage that left viewers questioning if the creature really exists.

While sightings are rare, the notoriety of the legendary creature — not to mention the absence of physical evidence supporting its existence — has drawn cryptozoologists and monster hunters to the Midwest.

Unsurprisingly, even local businesses are getting in on the legend, using it to attract tourists and customers with Ozark Howler-themed merchandise.

While the Ozark Howler’s existence remains clouded in mystery, its presence in popular culture guarantees that the cryptid will live on.

What Is the Truth?

The Ozark Howler is a creature shrouded in ambiguity, with a consistent presence in local legends and folklore. Native American folklore also has stories depicting it — or something like it — as a supernatural being, a shape-shifter, and a possible protector of the forest.

Though possible early sightings of the Ozark Howler date back to the early 1800s, it has since become a fixture in local legend, with many different representations of the creature and its abilities.

Despite the varying accounts of the Ozark Howler, the legend continues to captivate the imaginations of people today beyond spooky campfire tales.

From pop culture references to businesses and attractions in the area embracing the creature as a mascot, the Ozark Howler has left its mark on the cultural landscape of the Midwest.

What do you think about the legend of the Ozark Howler? Have you encountered what you thought was a big cat prowling around? Or have you seen glowing eyes glaring at you in the forests of the Ozarks?

This article was produced and syndicated by The Happiness Function.

Artwork Generated by Jasper AI.

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Allie Draganescu

Allie is a writer and programmer who specializes in entertainment and lifestyle. She especially loves writing about books and providing anyone who will listen with recommendations for their next trip to the bookstore! When she’s not writing or coding, Allie is geeking out over her favorite PC games, like Dead by Daylight, or cozying up with her latest novel and a chai tea. She lives with her husband and two cats in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Though she resides in the realm of Wolverines, Allie is a Michigan State University alum with a B.A. in Professional Writing.


  1. William B Randall on April 14, 2023 at 1:37 pm

    This creature is sure scary,

    Especially when camping, I bet !!