The Ozark Howler, also known as the Ozark Black Howler, is a legendary 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. 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. Cryptozoologists have speculated that the creature might be a branching-off of the dark dogs of death found in British folklore.
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, many witnesses to seeing it in person in the region, prior to this hoax, show that Chad Arment’s assertion was only correct in the one case, but not in the many cases of those who either haven’t a computer, have seen the Howler prior to the hoax or have seen it without hearing of the legend.
Most recently a sighting of the Ozark Howler was reported after dark on Pump Station Road near Lake Springdale (at the line of Washington County, AR) in Benton County, Arkansas in 2016.
Easily one of the most beautiful sights in Arkansas, the view from Big Bluff looking down on Buffalo National River will amaze you. Established in 1972, Buffalo National River flows freely for 135 miles and is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 states. Once you arrive, prepare to journey from running rapids to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as you cruise through the Ozark Mountains down to the White River. Photo courtesy of Aaron Bates.
E. Fay Jones, a Frank Lloyd Wright protégé, designed a very simple, but fantastic modern chapel in the Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. This June marks the wooden chapel’s 35th anniversary! Check out this amazing structure with over 425 windows that allow you to feel like you’re outside while inside.
The redbuds, Cercis canadensis, are just starting to bloom here in the Ozarks. The flower of the tree is edible and tastes a little like snow peas. Pick the flowers just where the bloom meets the stem. The lower part should be left attached to the tree otherwise it won’t bloom there the next year, or so I’ve heard. In addition to the edible flower the bark has traditionally been used in medical preparations for whooping cough. A cold infusion of inner bark and roots is used to treat fevers and congestion. Hot infusion to treat vomiting and fever. There’s also some Ozark lore about the tree, here are some good examples from Vance Randolph’s Ozark Magic and Folklore:
“In rural Arkansas the backwoods girls tie little pieces of cloth to the branches of certain trees usually pawpaw or hawthorn, sometimes redbud or ironwood. I have seen five of these little bundles in a single pawpaw tree. I have untied several and examined them carefully; there was nothing in them that I could see, just little pieces of cloth, doubtless torn from old dresses or petticoats. The natives say they are love charms, but just how they work I do not know. No woodsman that I have ever known would think of touching one of these objects, and I have often been warned that it is very bad luck to ‘monkey with such as that.’”
“There is a rather general idea that departed spirits, when they return to earth, prefer to appear in the dark of the moon. It is also believed that the dead, if they can’t rest in their graves, are somehow inclined to loiter about redbuds, pawpaw trees, and haw bushes though why they should be attracted to these particular plants nobody seems to know.”
“The Oklahoma legislature, in 1937, passed a bill making the redbud Oklahoma’s official state tree. This roused a great storm of criticism, because many people believe that the redbud is the unluckiest tree in the world, since Judas hanged himself on a tree of this kind. Some hillfolk who have no interest in religious matters still feel that the redbud or Judas tree is bewitched, at least in the spring, and it is well to keep away from blooming redbuds after dark. Mrs. Roberta Lawson, of Tulsa, vice-president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, led a large number of Oklahoma clubwomen who held public meetings, telegraphed protests to Governor Marland, and so on. Some important citizens of northeastern Oklahoma were still grumbling about the matter, I am told, as recently as 1942.”
The witch in her “Forty-Mile-Jumper” reminds me of images of Baba Yaga riding around her her giant mortar and pestle.
Story told by Mary Celestia Parler in Fayetteville, AR, on November 20, 1950. Collected by Merlin Mitchell, transcribed by Mary C. Parler. Further transcribed by me.
I’m going to tell a folk tale which was told to me, when I was a very small child back in South Carolina, by Mum Flora, who lived on the other side of our orchard. This is the story as she told it to me:
Once there was two men who was going through the country. And night caught ‘em, and they stopped at a hotel. And that hotel was kep’ by an ole witch. But they didn’t know it was kep’ by a ole witch, so they stopped there.
And the ole witch tole 'em that she’d give a room and they could stay there; but they had to sleep with her two daughters. So the two men said, that suited them fine.
So that night when the ole witch put the two mens to bed with her two daughters, she went in to see that her two daughters had on their nightcaps. And that make the two mens 'spicious. So after the two daughters went to sleep, they took the nightcaps off the girls heads and put them on they own heads.
And after the ole witch was sho’ everybody was asleep, she went in and she felt round who had on the nightcap. And then she cut the throats of the two people who didn’t have on the nightcap.
The two mens run out the hotel just as fast as they could, and they took out down the big road.
Well, when the ole witch come in the nex’ mornin’ and found out she had cut the throat of her two daughters, she got on her Forty-Mile-Jumper. And she jump, and she jump, and she jump after the two mens.
And the two mens, they saw her coming. And one of 'em climbed a tall high tree. And the other man he runs off cross the hill, a-callin’ the dogs: “Bahmanecka Rody Kai-anger.”
And the other man done climbed this tall high tree. And he saw the ole’ witch comin’.
And she got off her Forty-Mile-Jumper. And she took her axe. And she started choppin down the tree. She say, “Willy-willy-willy, come down.” And the chip fly down.
And the man up the tree he say, “Willy-willy-willy, come up.” An’ the chip fly back up.
An’ the man cross the hill he kep’ a-callin’ the dogs: “Bahmanecka Rody, Kai-anger.”
An’ the ole witch a-sayin’, “Willy-willy-willy, come down,” An’ the man up the tree kep’ a-sayin’, “Willy-willy-willy, come up.” An’ the man cross the hill kep’ a-callin’ the dogs: “Bahmanecka Rody, Kai-anger.”
An’ pretty soon, here come the dogs: “Ah ooh! ah ooh!”
An’ pretty soon the dogs come, an’ they jump on the ole witch, an’ they kill her, an’ they et her all up.
An’ then the man come down out the tree, and the man come back down the hill, and the two mens got on the Forty-Mile-Jumper, and they jump back to the hotel, what that ole witch been kep’.
They go in the hotel, and they go down in the cellar, and they finds lots o’ people’s bones. An’ they find all kind o’ treasure.
And then they know how come people been seen goin’ in that hotel, an’ ain’t nobody never been seen comin’ out.