You’re driving down a quiet rural Wisconsin road late at night. Fields of vegetation stretching out wide on either side. No street lamps. The only illumination coming from the distant yellow lights of scattered farmhouses. Suddenly your headlights catch something on the side of the road. Something stooped and hairy with a long snout. A dog, you assume. Maybe a wolf? It’s awfully big and shaggy. But there aren’t any wolves around here. Could it possibly be a bear?
Then the creature stands up on its hind legs. It looks like a man now. A hairy man with a canine’s head. But you see that it has paws, not hands and feet. It glares at you. Challenging. Seeming to look into your mind. Its eyes glow green in the headlights. Then it strolls off, still on two legs, into the tall grass.
In your shock, you’re not sure just what you saw. Was it a hallucination brought on by fatigue? Was it a dog, as you first thought? Could it have been a genuine werewolf? Or have you just had an encounter with the infamous Beast of Bray Road?
The Beast first came to the world’s attention thanks to the writings of Linda S. Godfrey, once a freelance journalist for the Walworth County Week newspaper and nowadays a major collector and popularizer of American cryptid folklore.
Godfrey learned of the Beast during a slow news week in December 1991 when her editor asked her to write a piece about a series of alleged “man-wolf” sightings along a three-mile stretch of rural road near Elkhorn, Wisconsin in Walworth County. Though it originally seemed like nothing but a fun puff piece, Godfrey’s investigations turned up multiple sightings of the Beast and several genuinely frightened and perplexed witnesses. It soon became clear that something was lurking in the Wisconsin countryside. Something stranger than just a few misidentified dogs.
Witnesses described the Beast as looking more like a wolf than a man, with paws, powerful canine leg muscles and feet that balanced on the toes like an animal rather than the flat of the foot like a human. Overall the creature was said to look like a bipedal wolf rather than a half-man lycanthrope.
The story of the Beast quickly caught on in the public imagination. More people came forward with stories. Other newspapers consulted Godfrey for their own pieces about the creature. Several TV shows came to Walworth County to shoot footage. At one point a producer even approached Godfrey to write the screenplay for a film about the monster. Sadly, this movie was never made, though there IS another Beast of Bray Road film. I haven’t seen it, though, so I can’t say anything about its quality.
The Beast of Bray Road is not an isolated anomaly. Dog-men have been sighted in Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and other areas throughout the Midwest. There was even a sighting in Point Pleasant, West Virginia- home of the infamous Mothman.
What IS the Beast, exactly? Some think it could be an actual werewolf or a Native American skinwalker. Others have speculated that it might be a Shunka Warak’in or other unknown large predator- perhaps even a prehistoric survivor. Others have suggested it could be a regular wolf that has learned to walk on its hind legs. This latter explanation would explain why no one has found the Beast’s carcass, since a dead bipedal wolf is indistinguishable from a quadrupedal one.
Linda S. Godfrey's website
The Beast of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin's Werewolf by Linda S. Godfrey
American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends and Sightings in America by Linda S. Godfrey
Mysterious Universe article about Midwestern Dogmen