A Fearsome Critter To Behold: The Hugag
The Hugag was a gigantic Fearsome Critter that made its home in the Northern forests of the lake states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan) as well as lower Canada. The critter is described as being the largest animal in the north woods, standing taller than a full grown male moose. It resembles a moose in body appearance, but has distinguishing features that make it stand out.
The animal lacks all joints in its legs, which makes it unable to sit, bend, or lay down. The lack of joints also causes it to walk by swaying its body from side to side and rocking its feet along the ground leaving deep tracks that look like holes. It is said to weigh around 2,000lbs and is noted as being not dangerous and actually pretty docile. Its head is bald and lumpy, its neck is leathery, and its ears are long and floppy. The critters feet are wide with four toes and it has a long bushy tail and a furry coat with hair that almost resembles pine needles. It’s favorite meal is said to be the bark of trees which it eats by wrapping its long mouth and lips along a tree and peeling the bark back into its mouth. This destruction of good trees make it a nuisance to logging camps throughout the Northwoods.
Lumberjacks say that the Hugag is always on the move and rarely ever rests. Woodsmen who follow the tracks to hunt the Hugag are often gone for days or weeks and sometimes never return due the extreme distance the trail covers. The only way to successfully hunt a Hugag is to wait for the rare moments it does fall asleep. When a Hugag sleeps, it must do so by leaning against a tree while standing (because the lack of joints prevent it from laying down), so to catch one, you must knock it over while it leans because once it is down, it cannot get back up again. Lumberjacks are said to cut two-thirds into its favorite sleeping tree and wait for it to lean against it. Once down, the critter is removed from the area to prevent further damage to good trees.
You always know when a Hugag has been through your area when you can spot some trees stripped of bark and some leaning at a great angle as if about to fall down.
“In early lumberjack folklore, fearsome critters were mythical beasts that were said to inhabit the frontier wilderness of North America. The critters were a part of lumberjack downtime and were often used to welcome and haze newcomers to the camp. Lumberjacks who would go from camp to camp would bring their entertaining stories with them and they would slowly spread as tall tales across America.”
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Public Domain Image