The Ozark Howler is a mythological creature that is purported to live in remote areas in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
The Ozark Howler is typically described as being bear sized, with a thick body, stocky legs, black shaggy hair, and as sometimes having horns. The eyes of the Ozark Howler are said to glow red, even when there is no external light for them to reflect. Its cry is often described as being a combination of a wolf’s howl and an elk’s bugle.
Anthropologists have speculated that the creature might be a misidentified or unrecognized big cat. Historians have speculated that the creature might be a cultural variant of the dark dogs of death found in British folklore.
Ozark Howler in art
Going beyond its roots in the traditional regional culture of the Ozark Mountains, the Ozark Howler has become a character in popular culture. As a result, artworks in many forms have been produced with the Ozark Howler as their inspiration.
In 2016, artist Helen Hawley produced a 12 inch monocolor fine art print of the Ozark Howler. In 2014, Aliene De Souza Howell created a linocut of the Ozark Howler and sold it to benefit charitable causes. Joshua Wolf has crafted the Ozark Howler as a foldable paper toy. The Ozark Howler was the subject of a 2018 Inktober challenge on social media that resulted in the proliferation of images of the beast.
Two popular music bands have worked under the name Ozark Howler: The Ozark Howlers from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Ozark Howler from London, England. In addition, a band of musicians from Columbia, Missouri has adopted the name Boone Howlers, in reference to legends of the Ozark Howler from Boone County, where a natural spring called Devil’s Den has traditionally been associated with the Ozark Howler. “Like the Ozark Howler, the Boone Howlers are sometimes hard to catch, but seeing them live is an unforgettable experience,” the band writes.
Ozark Howler in literature
The Ozark Howler has been used as a fictional character in a number of novels, including the Mason Dixon series by Eric R. Asher, Billy Bob’s Howler by Ross Malone, and Hunt the Ozark Howler by Jan Fields. A comic book called Tale of an Ozark Howler, written by Kelly Reno, featuring the creature as its main character, was published in 2008. In 1973, the magazine Cryptic Universe published a science fiction short story about the Ozark Howler titled The Hair of the Black Howler.
The Ozark Howler has also been inspiration for poets, most notably as the title character of a collection of poems by Kansas City storyteller K.W. Peery and of another collection of poems, Ozark Howler Verse, by Rufus Grey. The Ozark Howler is also the subject of a poem in a collection by Vantar titled From the Abyss. it was also featured in the folk song come on lee (here here here here)
Cryptozoologists describe the Ozark Howler as a “cryptid”, meaning that it is an animal that people have claimed to see, but whose existence has not been confirmed through scientific research. As a whole, cryptozoologists take a skeptical view of the Ozark Howler, but disagree about whether the Ozark Howler is an actual, physical creature, or merely a local legend.
Chad Arment asserts in his book Cryptozoology that the Ozark Howler myth is a hoax. According to Arment, he and many other cryptozoologists received email messages that made wild claims about Ozark Howler evidence. These messages were tracked down to a university student who had made a bet that he could fool the cryptozoological research community.
However, claimed sightings of the Ozark Howler appear to predate communications by the university student. “There have been reports of medium-sized black cats in the Ozarks since at least the 1950s,” writes George Eberhart in his book Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology. Other sources date stories back to the 1800s.
Complicating matters further is the fact that sightings of the Ozark Howler have been reported by people other than the alleged student hoaxer multiple times since the 1990s. Jason Offutt, in the book Chasing American Monsters, writes, “Many people have dismissed the Ozark Howler as a hoax, but Howler sightings stretch back to the early 1800s.”