Cryptid Profile: The Wisconsin Yeti (AKA: The Deltox Marsh Monster)
When one thinks of a suitable home for the Yeti -sometimes also referred to as The Abominable Snowman, the Migoi, or the Kang Admi- they typically think of the Himalayas. With the snow-covered peaks, alpine tundra forest, and below freezing temperatures of the 1,600mi long stretch of mountains, one can easily believe a Yeti could live there undiscovered. But what about other possible homes for the legendary creature? If a requirement for the survival of the Yeti is snow, forests, and freezing temperatures, then wouldn’t Wisconsin technically be a suitable home as well? The answer, as wild as it sounds, is yes.
While most would laugh at the idea, the possibility of a Yeti calling the great state of Wisconsin home actually started being seriously talked about in the town of Fremont on October 19, 1968. It was on that day that three men -Bob Parry, Dick Bleier, and Bill Mallo- went into the Deltox Marsh to hunt deer, but came out after witnessing something truly unexpected. What these three men thought was just an odd sighting of an unknown creature, was actually the first part in a series of events that would last nearly two months and would forever go unsolved.
When Bob, Dick, and Bill entered the marsh that day to begin their hunt, the three men decided that their best plan for success involved them splitting up. So Bob went one way, while Dick and Bill went the other. After trekking unsuccessfully through the thick vegetation of the marsh, Bob decided that climbing a tree may allow him to better see any deer within the area. After stabilizing himself within a secure vantage point, Bob started scanning around for any signs of movement.
After what seemed like forever, the lone hunter high up in the tree spotted a creature making its way through the scrub brush and dense trees. First thought was that he had finally spotted a deer, but after a few moments, he realized that this thing was anything but. Bob stated that what first appeared to be a creature, slowly started reminding him of a man. But not a normal man, one that seemed to be wearing an odd looking costume and appeared to be “off” in some way. Bob continued to watch the creature through the tops of the trees before it eventually walked out of view.
While Bob was laying eyes on the creature for the first time high in the tree, Dick and Bill were trudging along through the marsh to find a suitable hunting spot of their own. What they didn’t know though, is that the path they were currently moving down would put them in the same area as the unknown creature, and soon. So as the two men walked slowly through the thick marshland, the creature approached from up ahead.
As the beast got unknowingly closer to the men, the pair started to become aware of its presence. Thinking that a bear was possibly approaching, the men ducked low behind some shrubs in order to let it pass. But when it did, they quickly realized it wasn’t a bear. Both men later stated that what they first thought was a simple, everyday creature of the woods, was actually something they couldn’t fully explain. The thing seemed to move like a man, but had an overall appearance like an ape. It looked almost like a perfect blend of both man and animal.
The two hunters watched the thing as it wandered through the thick trees and shrubbery until it was out of view. Once they were sure it was gone, they made their way back towards Bob Parry and recounted to him what they had seen. They were understandably surprised when they heard that Bob had also seen the same thing only minutes prior. After the quick and unexpected sightings, the three men walked out of Deltox Marsh and headed back home. Once there, they decided to keep the encounter amongst themselves and not discuss it with anyone else.
Six weeks later on November 30, the three men met up again for another hunt in Deltox Marsh. This time though, they brought eight more hunters with them in order to more efficiently drive the deer where they wanted them to go. After arriving at the marsh, the group of eleven men -Bob Parry, Dick Bleier, Bill Mallo, Dick Telloch, Richard and Pete Vanderberg, Kurt Krueger, Artie Telloch, Lester Zuehlke, Don Svacina, and Romy Svacina- formed a line side by side, and pressed onward into the trees. Also along for the drive, and to make sure the hunt followed state law, was a local police officer and game warden, Larry McKevit.
As the eleven men walked forward, they took notice of the surprising lack of animal activity in the woods that day. Figuring they would have seen at least a few deer relatively soon after the start of their drive, they were confused to encounter nothing but silent and still woods. Determined though, the men pressed on, deeper and deeper into the marsh until finally, one man caught sight of movement. But what he saw was not the expected white-tailed deer, rather, it was the creature again.
The creature was initially spotted by the men on the far left side of the line while they were passing through an open grassy field located within the marsh. As they walked through the tall grass, one of the men noticed what appeared to be a large animal covered with black hair standing upright around 100ft away. What was most surprising to the first witness was that the tall grass the thing was standing in only reached up to its upper thighs, whereas the grass came up to a majority of the hunters’ stomachs. Confused as to what he was seeing, the hunter signaled the line to a halt and watched as the creature moved silently back and forth. Almost as if it was looking for the best path to leave on.
While the creature searched for an escape, the line was motioned to slowly move in and circle it. But whenever the men started moving closer, the creature slowly moved in the opposite direction. Whenever the men stopped, the creature stopped. It was watching them and it appeared to know what was happening. As the group slowly tightened their line and began to circle the thing, the creature bolted into the thick shrubbery. This was done all within view of the other members of the drive before completely disappearing out of view. The group of eleven men attempted to follow it, but they were unable to move as quickly or as efficiently through the thick foliage as the creature did. What they were able to do though, was all get all good look at it.
As the creature passed by them, the hunters were able to get a decent view of its overall appearance. Each man later stated that the creature was extremely large, about 8ft tall, and looked like a very strong man that was covered in blackish-brown hair. The head seemed somewhat small for the body and it looked as if it possessed no neck. Although its body was completely covered in hair, sections of the face and the palms were completely hairless, and because of this, the men could see a blackish-gray skin tone. The shoulders were very broad and the arms were much longer and hung down significantly farther than that of a man. The creature carried itself like a human but swung its arms like an ape as it walked. It also appeared to jump a bit as it ran out of view.
Now it was after this encounter that word spread around Fremont that something strange was lurking in Deltox Marsh. In fact, the story caused such a commotion around town and the surrounding area, that outside newspapers and pulp magazines began picking up and running the story as well. The story was so fascinating that it even brought both Ivan T. Sanderson (Biologist, Cryptozoologist, writer, researcher) and Dr. Bernard Huevelmans (Zoologist, Cryptozoologist, writer, researcher) to Wisconsin to interview the twelve men for the April 1969 issue of Argosy Magazine.
After arriving in the great state of Wisconsin, Sanderson and Huevelmans quickly got to work interviewing the men. During the sit-down meeting, Huevelmans ran through the standard questions that were used to eliminate any known animals native to the state. He then ran through questions that were used to determine if the creature was possibly from another state and had migrated into Wisconsin. If this was the case, the scientifically known creature may have come across as unknown to those not familiar with it, but would most certainly be easily recognized by a trained zoologist. But the men all agreed that what they witnessed was truly unique and unlike anything any of them had ever seen before. It was an unknown creature.
When the interview with the men had concluded, Huevelmans and Sanderson went about the second part of their investigation. They not only personally investigated the Deltox Marsh, but also gathered additional sightings of the creature from other residents in Fremont. Sightings that were originally unknown when the story first broke and became national news. Sightings that were kept quiet until the trained researchers started asking the right questions.
Huevelmans reported that two other sightings of what was believed to be the same creature had occurred within the vicinity of the original sighting that same year. The first report came from a man known as Mr. Freeman, and he claimed to have witnessed the creature before October 19th while hunting in Lebanon Swamp (located in New London, WI), roughly 15mi from Deltox Marsh. He described the same man-like thing that was covered in dark hair and moved like an ape. He also stated that while he originally planned to shoot at it, he held off due to how manlike it appeared.
The second report came from a Mr. and Mrs. Penkala, and the couple stated that their sighting took place on December 1st, the day after the twelve hunters encountered the creature. The Penkala’s claimed that while driving alongside a wooded area not far from Deltox Marsh, the creature ran out from the woods, crossed the road in front of their vehicle, and disappeared into the trees on the other side. Mr. Penkala had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the thing head on. Both husband and wife stated that the creature they saw was large, covered in hair, and reminded them of a large gorilla.
After completing their personal investigation, Huevelmans and Sanderson got to work sorting it all out. Finally, after taking into consideration everything said by all twelve hunters, Mr. Freeman, and the Penkala’s, as well as reviewing all evidence collected from their own investigation in the Deltox Marsh, they came to a conclusion. Both men agreed that the creature witnessed in Fremont, WI had to be a genuine unknown hominid. Or what they referred to as an “ABSM”, which was their shorthand for Abominable Snowman.
They stated that it was highly unlikely that a human being would be so foolish as to dress in an ape costume and head out into the woods knowing that it was deer season and that the area was full of hunters ready to take home a new trophy. An act such as this would be considered suicide and was considered a non-option. The scientists also made it known that while many believed the creature in Deltox Marsh was perhaps an escaped circus chimp, no circuses had reported an ape missing from their collections. Along with this, no zoos or science labs were missing a giant ape either, so that theory was no longer an option.
Not long after completing their investigation, four young men contacted both Huevelmans and Sanderson to report that a trail of some large unknown tracks had been discovered in the snow not far from Deltox Marsh. Excited that whatever made them could still be in the area, the two scientists raced out to the location. But soon after arriving, Huevelmans (who had a PhD in zoology and was known as “The Father of Cryptozoology”) and Sanderson (who had a MA in Ethnology and Botany and even coined the term ’cryptozoology’ in the 1940’s) were able to tell instantly that the tracks were faked and were placed simply as a way to prank the two investigators. The giveaway was the size and the stride length, as well as the location the tracks started at. Even though the tracks were large, the distance between steps was no longer than Huevelmans own stride, plus the tracks started alongside the blacktop road and went forward into the woods rather than originating from within them, almost as if someone got out of a parked vehicle prior to starting the trail.
Eventually, the craze surrounding the Wisconsin Yeti died down and faded from public consciousness. Everything went back to normal and no more sightings of the creature were reported from the area surrounding Deltox Marsh. Even though many truly believed a legitimately unknown huge and hairy hominid was responsible for the sightings, other remained firm in their belief that the entire saga was nothing more than an elaborate hoax that just got out of hand. People were so sure of it that some even developed a list of possible suspects that were thought to be responsible. One theory was that one of the hoax suspects created an entire suit out of raccoon skins and stood on top of barrel to make themselves appear larger before fleeing back into the woods after guaranteeing they were sighted. Ultimately though, the theories were never proven and the case was never discovered to be a hoax.
Years later, Larry McKevit (who was present for the November 30 sighting) was interviewed by Appleton, WI newspaper The Post-Crescent on the events that took place in 1968. When asked what he thought of the whole thing, he stated that he wasn’t so quick to believe what was being seen was an actual Yeti. To him, the tracks that were found around the area looked almost like they came from a large man wearing swim fins. Also, while investigating an area that the creature was claimed to be spotted in, McKevit discovered a large amount of recently discarded beer cans. So either something fishy was going on in the Deltox Marsh, or the Wisconsin Yeti is actually a fan of some genuine Wisconsin brew.
So, what do you make of the Wisconsin Yeti? Could an actual unknown creature have caused one of the largest recorded group sightings of a hairy hominid on record? Or was this simply the result of a small town making a mistake and getting caught up in monster fever as a result? You decide.
But here’s a helpful little piece of advice to remember if you ever decide to come to Wisconsin to find the Yeti yourself; Wisconsin Yeti’s only drink ’New Glarus Spotted Cow’, so if you find a pile of those bottles deep in the woods, you’re on the right track.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
Image Credit: Public Domain