The General Journal

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The General Journal

The General Journal

Through the Hodag’s Sharp Teeth

Emmah Carpenter

The Hodag, it’s not a very recognizable name. What is it? Despite not being well known worldwide, it is one of the scariest cryptids in its homeland. But what is the Hodag? How did it become a cryptid? Why is it feared by those who know of it?

The Hodag is a beast home to Rhinelander, Wisconsin. A feared monster due to its bizarre and violent nature, its appearance is described as out of this world, with traits that simply no “normal” animal could possibly have. It is said to be a carnivorous creature that was born through the ashes of a cremated oxen. It is described as a beast with the head of a bull and a spiked back. It has large teeth like that of a saber-tooth tiger, as well as a spike-covered tail. It is known to be covered in both thick, green scales and fur. Its eyes are a glowing bright red, and it has large, sharp claws and teeth. It has large bull horns at the top of its head. The beast has only been spotted a few times but is well known in its area despite most sightings not being documented. The monster has even had a statue created in its image. It has also been featured in festivals and parades as a guest or mascot of its home. Despite the creature being considered a fictional character, many from the area believe in its existence. There is no actual evidence of this monster being real, as its story is thought to have started from a hoax. But what is the story of the Hodag and why is it so well known in its home? Is it actually real?

One day in 1893 on an undocumented day, in the city of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, newspapers came out with reports of sightings of a creature known as the Hodag. A man named Eugene Shepard had been the one to have started these reports. He gathered people together and claimed they must kill the monster. The people had decided that dynamite must be used in order to kill the beast. The men had captured the creature and used the dynamite to kill it. They collected the dead monster’s charred body. A picture was taken of the unknown beast’s burned remains. Later in 1896, Shepard claimed to have captured another Hodag, but this time it was alive. Shepard reported having to put chloroform on the end of a large pole. He made his way into a cave where he was said to have overcome the beast. The beast was displayed at the Oneida County Fair. Many came to see the beast being presented to the world at this fair. But the display had some lies to it. Shepard had wires connected to the Hodag. This made it move on occasion, scaring away those who feared it. People began to look into the nature of the beast and where it had come from. Scientists from the Smithsonian in Washington, DC had announced that they would be traveling to the Hodag’s home to get a better look into its story. Once they had gotten there, they analyzed the creature revealing the whole thing was a hoax. Shepard was forced to admit to his lies.

After the Hodag’s existence was found to be a hoax, many were shocked and sought out the beast to prove it was indeed real. But no confirmed sightings have been reported since the day it was revealed to be a lie. Many still seek out the creature in order to prove it is real. But no one has had any luck. The Hodag will most likely remain a fictional creature that is now simply a part of the heritage of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. But its story will continue to live on as it is shared around the exciting events it is featured in. It appears it’s safe to say the Hodag will never be spotted again.

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About the Contributor
Emmah Carpenter
Emmah Carpenter, Staff Writer
Emmah Carpenter is a 14-year -old freshman at Heritage High School this year. This is Emmah’s first time in Journalism. She is kind of nervous but happy to be in Journalism. In Emmah’s free time, she likes to draw, play video games, and hang out with her friends after school. She also has two pet cats named Venus and Bastet, whom she named herself. Her cat Venus is a small "Tuxedo Cat" that is less than two years old; her other cat Bastet is a Siamese kitten, who is only a few months old. Emmah’s favorite book is "The Outsiders," which she brings to school every day. Her favorite animals are the red panda, raccoons, and cats. Emmah is a nervous person who tends to stay quiet, but she can be talkative once you get to know her. Emmah’s interests consist of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Bungo Stray Dogs," animals, cryptids, the paranormal, true crime, and art. She practices her art every day. Her anxiety holds her back, but she tries her hardest to get around it. Emmah is planning a trip to Salam, Massachusetts this spring. She is excited for her trip and for the rest of her time in Journalism.