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Artist's rendering of the creature.

The Beast of the Land Between the Lakes (in Kentucky) is said to resemble a gigantic half man, half wolf that walks on two legs and has five-fingered human hands ending in vicious claws. The creature is said to stand over seven feet tall, with massive crushing jaws, and glowing eyes.

The Legends[]

There are several legends attached to the beast. One story begins with a Native American creature with the ability to shape shift.

Another legend speaks of a man who left Europe in the 1800s to settle "Between the Rivers". This man supposedly possessed a disease that turned him mad after nightfall. The disease was believed to be genetic and was passed from parent to child over the years. They remained in seclusion, never going to school or having the desire to socialize with others until one day when they went silent. Many believed that the family had died. An investigation in the early 1900s revealed that their homestead was vacant and abandoned.

Early accounts from French explorers and traders in the region speak of their being warned of the shadowy presence of a loup garou by Shawnee fur traders. A later legend claims that the monster is the spirit of a shape shifting Shawnee shaman, who was killed in wolf form by the inhabitants of his village for abusing his powers. His spirit is said to still walk the woods in search of revenge.

Accounts of the creature from the early days of American expansion into Kentucky tell of hunters disappearing in the woods, and of strange, unnatural howls that echoed through the forests at night. At this time, bison still roamed wild in Kentucky, and hunters would sometimes encounter mutilated carcasses of these massive animals, lying half-eaten in the deep grass, their throats ripped open by massive claws. Even now, with the efforts to restore the bison to Kentucky, the rangers and herd managers occasionally find calves missing. After one of the young goes missing, the herd is reputedly spooked for days, sticking together in the close formation that the animals use to protect themselves from predators.

Modern Sightings[]


Photo of the Land Between the Lakes

There have been several reports of close encounters with the creature in modern times. One of the most frightening of these happened to a group of Murray State University students who were camping in the Land Between the Lakes in 1973. A group of young men were enjoying the woods on a warm spring weekend, sitting around a fire built by their VW Microbus and just generally having a fine time. As the evening began drawing in, one of the students went off into the woods to answer the call of nature. When he returned to the campsite, he told his friends that he'd felt like something was watching him and that he had "heard something sniffing" in the woods. His friends said that he'd just heard a wild hog or some other animal. The student said he'd never heard anything like it before, and he grew increasingly nervous as the darkness gathered.

As the night grew dark, the group started to hear the shuffling sound of something large moving in the fallen leaves. It seemed to be circling their campsite, moving incredibly swiftly. The boys began to become anxious. They shined their flashlights into the woods in the direction of the footsteps, but saw nothing. And then the howling began.

It was a wild, insane howling. Like a wolf, only much louder than any wolf could ever be, and with an unnatural, bloodcurdling quality that made the howling sound almost like mocking laughter. It seemed to come from everywhere around them - first one side of the circle of light around the fire, and then from the other. Soon, the terrified campers began to catch glimpses of a pair of glowing red eyes as they ran past in the dark.

The terrified boys retreated into their Volkswagen bus, and wisely decided not to stick around to get a better view. Tearing down the road, they soon saw that they were being pursued, and that a massive, shadowy figure was racing behind them, barely visible in the bus's taillights. As the bus slowed to take a corner, they felt a massive jolt, and then it seemed as if something was holding the Volkswagen back. Giving it everything, they broke free and tore out of the forest and didn't stop until they were back on the Murray State Campus.

Back on campus, they found four deep gashes, like claw marks, torn into the metal of the engine compartment cover at the back of the bus.

Another widely-circulated story tells of the discovery of a bloody scene inside the motor home of a family camping in the area in the 1980s. Police are said to have found the horribly mutilated bodies of a visiting family lying in their blood-soaked motor home, and the half-eaten body of the family's young daughter lodged in a nearby tree. The bodies are all said to have had distinctive, massive claw marks. This incident was supposedly covered up by the authorities so as not to damage the tourist industry in the then economically fragile region.


An alleged photo of the beast

Evidence for and encounters with the Beast Between the Lakes continue to this day. Experienced hunters shy away from the area, but those sportsmen who are new enough to the area to scoff at the legends often come home with tales of feeling as if they're being stalked in the woods. Deep holes, like nests, are often found dug in the woods, with tufts of long, coarsely-textured grayish brown fur found within them. Rangers in the park are routinely asked what the strange howling was that a camper heard during the night.

"I live in west Kentucky, 30 minutes from the LBL, I have tried hunting this thing (observation only) more than once. It was Moss Creek where the family was butchered by this thing, that's when they put up a gate there and banned overnight camping and it closes down at sunset. The excuse they gave at the time (to preserve tourism) is that there was a random stabbing one night. 2 cops talked to a girl at a well known gas station type store, and were regularly in there and they told her about what they saw, no bodies or body parts but shredded bloody clothes (some of a kid) on the ground and in some trees, blood everywhere. The girl told me this personally and I will leave it at that, this happened in the late '80s. I have talked to old timers in Grand Rivers, Cadiz, they all basically say the same thing, that it's real. Some wouldn't talk to me at all. I'll stop the ramble, but I'd be glad to discuss it with anyone."

Pertaining to the quoted text (directly above), that "girl" was my mother - (the late) Jeanette Thompson. The story titled "The Beast of LBL," as written and told by Jeanette Thompson, is the original telling of many accounts/encounters with this creature in (and around) the Land Between The Lakes State Park. The artist rendering above, as drawn by Bart Nunnelly, was created based on my mother's description (to Bart) of the creature she encountered many years ago. Her story is also featured in Bart Nunnelly's documentary film, titled "Hunt the Dogman" ( (IMDb, 2007) . In the film, she is interviewed on her personal encounters and discusses/confirms the quoted text above. As her only son, it is my personal obligation to keep her legacy alive and to ensure that she is properly credited (where credit is due).

- Updated by Joshua Thompson on July 31, 2023 -