The Beast of Bray Road
Dating back to 1936, citizens of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, in Walworth county as well as Racine and Jefferson counties have been witnessing a beast.
Reported to be 6ft tall, with grey and brown fur, the Beast is said to have a wolf-like face, shiny yellow eyes, pointed ears, and run and walk on all fours or hind legs as well as kneel like a man. I am reticent to call it a werewolf as shapeshifters are rather outrageous even for the cryptozoology community, but that is the imagery that comes to mind.
The first reported sighting was in 1936. 30-something Mark Shackleman was the night watchman for the St Coletta School For Exceptional Children outside Jefferson. The school had extensive grounds that included wide, open fields that held several preserved Native American burial mounds. Crossing the fields one night when doing his rounds, Shackleman saw a shadow digging into one of the mounds, much like a canine would. The Beast then stood to six feet tall and looked at him, it’s large body covered in dark fur and smelled of rotting meet. Shackleman took a step back, startled, and the beast abruptly turned and ran off into the woods. Shackleman reported seeing it again the next night, but never again.
Due to some what conflicting descriptions of the beast, some cryptozoology enthusiasts believe the beast to be a misidentification of some other cryptid, such as “Eddy” or “The Bluff Monster,” a Bigfoot like creature in Wisconsin. Others suggest a Waheela, or “bear dog;” as well as a Shunka Warakin. Some have even suggested due to the similarities and proximity that The Beast Of Bray Road and The Michigan Dogman are the same animal.
The Beast has been reported to act aggressively, but not outright violent and hasn’t reported to have physically harmed anyone. It had also been reported to charge vehicles, even chase people, but breaking off the chase before catching anyone, suggesting the theory that some have that it is territorial or guarding something, which could also explain the reason that many sightings are concentrated on a 2 mile stretch of farm road.
In 1991, 18 year old, Doris Gibson, reported driving down Bray Road during a storm when she felt her tire hit something. Thinking she had hit a small animal, she got out of her car to investigate only to find nothing. She looked to the side of the road, saw the form of the Beast and rushed back to her car. As she sped away, she said the Beast jumped on the trunk of her car but slid off in the heavy rain.
In the fall of 1989, Lori Endrizzi was driving down Bray Road on her way home from her job as a bar manager, when she saw a hunched figure in the road eating road kill. She flipped on her high beams to see it clearer and realized that whatever it was, knelt like a man and held the carcass in its hands like it had human-like elbows. The creature then stood and started towards her vehicle that had stalled out as Lori panicked and struggled to get it to start. When the engine successfully rolled over, she floored it to her mother’s house. “I didn’t sleep that night very well,” she said in her interview with Monsters and Mysteries in America.
The town of Elkhorn has supposedly had so many sightings of the Beast from the 80’s and 90’s that the Elkhorn Animal Control is rumored to have a file on the creature. The vast uptick in sightings is what had the now defunct Walworth Week assign junior reporter, Linda Godfrey, to investigate and report on the sightings. Linda published her article “Tracking down ‘The Beast of Bray Road’” on December 29th, 1991 and would then go on to write “The Beast Of Bray Road: Tailing Wisconsin’s Werewolf” and become the foremost expert on the subject.
One story Godfrey tells regarding the Beast is about a group of boys heading home from sledding, that was told to her by a friend of her son’s that experienced it first-hand. On their way home, the boys saw a large furry creature drinking water from a creek, thinking that it was a dog, they decided to go pet it. When they approached the creature, it stood, snarled, and took chase after the boys, breaking off after they cleared the tree line. Which, while terrifying, is in line with many reports.
Steve Krueger has told a consistent story on both Monster Quest and Monsters and Mysteries in America. Myself being a natural skeptic, once recognizing him on M&M from Monster Quest, made sure to track down his MQ episode, initially thinking that I could rule him out as a credible eye witness if his story changed. It hadn’t in the 4 years between episode airings, which lent more to his credibility in my eyes, albeit the story being more sensational on M&M due to the nature of that show. In November 2006, Krueger, a DNR worker had removed a the carcass of an 85lb doe from a road in Holy Hill, Wisconsin. As Krueger sat in the cab of his truck filling out the required paper work for the removal, he felt his truck shake, thinking it was simply the wind, he ignored it. A second harder shake caught his attention and he looked out the back window of his truck to see a shadowy figure standing at the tailgate of his truck. Krueger shined his flashlight through the back window to get a better look and saw a 6ft tall animal with a wolf-like face, reaching into the bed for the deer carcass he had just removed from the road. Startled, Krueger threw the truck in drive and sped away allowing the Beast to drag the doe off the back of his truck.
Wolf Biologist Peggy Callahan believes all of these sightings can be explained as simple misidentification. “People could definitely misidentify a wolf jumping up on its hind legs,” she tells Monster Quest, in a 2010 interview. Callahan believes that folklore and superstition combined with misidentification has created the tale of the Beast and influenced sightings. “As for the traditional werewolf, I’m going to tell you it doesn’t exist.”
Linda Godfrey on the other hand, does not believe this is a simple case of misidentification and advocates for witnesses saying “I really believe that all of these witnesses have seen what they say they saw. […] Anybody who drives around much in Wisconsin has seen so many deer, and so many bear, and these other creatures that they would have a hard time mistaking something like that for a completely unknown animal.”
Sightings over the years have dwindled in frequency but recent sightings have been reported to MyRacineCounty.com with Danny Morgan’s January 2018 account of seeing the Beast while driving home from Lake Geneva, accompanied with the cell phone photo that heads this post; and Ron Rice’s 2020 account of seeing the Beast in the town of Lyons while delivering fertilizer.
If you are interested in learning more about upright, Wolf-like hominids, I highly recommend sifting through Linda Godfreys blog at Lindagodfrey.com. She has compiled sightings on there since 2009, but has been inactive since May of 2020.
History Channel’s Monster Quest
Travel Channel’s Monsters and Mysteries in America