What typically stalks the woods of southeast Texas typically stalks the woods of southwest Louisiana as well. Because of that, we wanted to get the lay of the cryptid landscape with the Texas Cryptid Hunter. You can follow his blog (Texascryptidhunter.blogspot.com) and his Facebook feed of the same name.
O7S: Maybe tell us about who you are and your background. What got you into hunting cryptids?
TCH: My name is Michael Mayes. I am a member of the North American Wood Ape Conservancy and the owner and writer of the Texas Cryptid Hunter blog site. I have always been interested in a good mystery and there are not many things more intriguing than sightings of cryptid creatures across the globe. I grew up in sort of a golden age of bigfoot (documentaries, television shows, books, etc.) and my interest in animals that might, or might not, exist took off from there.
O7S: In our research on sightings, including those reported to us, we know southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana seemingly share a hot spot for cryptids along the banks of the Sabine River. We've found multiple reports of a lizard-type creature associated with the river directly, and a plethora of sasquatch sightings in the surrounding forests. Have you personally ever gotten to follow up anything reported around that area, or have you found/received any other interesting accounts from there?
TCH: Yes, I am aware of a lot of the strangeness associated with that part of the state. I split my time growing up between deep east Texas (Piney Woods) and southeast Texas (Big Thicket) and have a lot of family on the other side of the river in western Louisiana. I am not familiar with the reptilian reports but am very familiar with bigfoot, or wood ape, reports from the area. I have investigated numerous sightings in the region and am convinced there is a small population of these animals living there. I, myself, had a visual of what I believe to have been a wood ape in the Sam Houston National Forest in southeast Texas back in 2005. In addition, I have found numerous tracks, a knuckle print, and heard some pretty crazy stuff at night in the area.
O7S: Have you done any research, investigation, or follow-up in Louisiana?
TCH: I have not done much “boots on the ground” work in Louisiana. I now live in central Texas and it is tough to get away and drive that far due to that darn day job of mine. I have done a LOT of work in east Texas thought and, in my opinion, it is all the same region. After all, these animals do not know where Louisiana stops and Texas begins.
O7S: We've come across a theory that chupacabras are potentially the descendants of thylacines (Tasmanian tigers) that were transported to Texas to be kept in a private collection between the late 1800s and early 1900s. Have you ever run across this theory, and what do you make of it? What do you believe the chupacabra is, if it exists?
TCH: It seems like I did hear something about that a while back but do not really know what to think about it. In Texas, folks are starting to call these hairless critters “blue dogs” due to their grayish-blue skin. I have seen one of these blue dogs/chupacabras myself and am absolutely positive that it was nothing more than a coyote or fox with sarcoptic mange. Pretty pitiful looking guy.
The chupacabras legend is interesting. It started in Latin America and the creature described was a fanged, reptilian-looking beast. Now that it is immigrated to the U.S. the chupacabras is most often described as some sort of mutant canine. I think we are talking about two different creatures here.
O7S: In southwest Louisiana, sightings of the mythic black panther are long embedded into our history and culture. We've seen where you've followed up on these sightings in Texas. How likely do you think it is that these cats exist, and how plausible would you find it that they made homes in SETX and SWLA?
TCH: I think it is very likely these cats exist. I have done extensive research on the topic and am finishing up a book on it right now. There is plenty of suitable habitat and resources in not only Texas and Louisiana for a large cat to exist but, also, across the American South.
O7S: What do you believe sasquatch is--a rare cryptid, something other-dimensional, or 'other'?
TCH: Well, that is the million dollar question isn’t it? I do not put much stock in the paranormal theories regarding wood apes. I consider myself an open-minded person but have never experienced anything that could remotely be described as paranormal while out looking for and investigating these animals. I KNOW that I have been very close to these animals on at least a half a dozen occasions and never got “zapped,” “was spoken to telepathically,” or any such thing. I can only judge based on my experiences. My opinion is that the most likely candidate in the wood ape mystery is Gigantopithecus. This was a giant ape (8-10 feet tall) that we know lived in what is now Asia at the time that mass migration occurred from that continent to North America via the Bering land bridge. Contemporaries of Gigantopithecus migrated so I feel it is possible, likely even, that this ape did as well. Some scientists, Grover Krantz is probably the most noteable, believe Gigantopithecus was likely bipedal. If so, this ape was a dead ringer for what most witnesses who claim to have seen a sasquatch describe.
TCH: Have you ever received or followed up on reports of 'goat man'?
O7S: Yes and no. The “goat man” term has sometimes been used by witnesses I have spoken to but their description has always turned out to be of an ape-like creature (no horns, etc.). I am aware of some reports where witnesses describe something more “goat-like” but have never investigated one myself.
TCH: Finally, because we follow your Facebook feed, we know you've been writing a book. Can you tell us about it, and when it may be coming out?
O7S: First, thanks for following the feed. You can also follow the blog at Texascryptidhunter.blogspot.com (shameless plug, sorry). I am finishing up the book right now. It is going to be called Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of Texas and the American South. I admit to being very excited about it. It was a much larger undertaking than I thought it would be when I started. As the title implies, it is an investigation into the black panther mystery. I examine historical sightings, contemporary sightings, the genetics behind melanism, possible suspects in the mystery, habitat, where you are most likely to be able to catch a glimpse of one, share a survey that several big cat experts filled out, examine photos, and more. I hope it will be out within the next few months but do not have a release date as I have not yet secured a publisher. I have one publisher who has expressed interest but has not given me a firm commitment yet so, we will see.