“Beast” Hunters

These groups hunt after “beasts” called “cryptids”.

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“Beast” Hunters

Thomas Edwards, Staff Writer

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There are many beast hunters in fiction. In one hand, Pokémon trainers who capture strange creatures in the region and send them out to do battle. In another, chipper Brits who search for Fantastic Beasts and often pontificate on how to find them. Beyond that, countless stories told in the past and present of supernatural entities who were taken down by courageous figures. But sometimes the hunt for beasts escapes the realm of fiction and enters reality, where ambitious, or perhaps hopeless groups seek to uncover beings that weren’t meant to be.

There’s an entire field for this kind of activity, called cryptozoology. Cryptozoology refers to the documentation and, hopefully, procurement or termination of folklore creatures, often called cryptids. The list of known cryptids is limited, but still expansive and diverse, ranging from aquatic, terrestrial, airborne, and even extra-terrestrial creatures. The Kraken, Bunyip, and lake monster Bessie inhabit the waters, as Bigfoot, Chupacabras, and our very own Yeti roam the land. Sometimes they lurk underneath you, and other times they fly right above you. They can be found everywhere, and new ones are supposedly reported every day.

With the “existence” of these cryptids, it’s natural people would want to seek them out, and possibly capture or neutralize these entities. Thus, fringe groups form that specialize in hunting local cryptids and putting an end to their mythical veneer. These groups could be small and operated by a single team, or massive, utilizing international connections and numerous patrol teams. It’s lucrative living, and the job depends more on faith than anything else. Despite this, these groups are still active today and target nearly every folklore creature imaginable.

The most popular of these groups is, naturally, the Bigfoot hunters. Who knew the most popular folklore creature would have a large following? Matter of fact, they have an entire TV show dedicated to their work. These people race the forests in droves, sporting woodsman gear and caliber strong enough to down a great brown bear. The more tryhard crowds shoot for the B.M.O.C., Bigfoot, while less determined crowds hunt for a whole supposed species of Sasquatch. Unfortunately, it seems the only score these groups manage are innocent people who get mistaken for the beast.

But, sometimes people are the intended target—well, half-man hybrids, anyway. Werewolves are a haunting combination of wolf and man who stalk the nighttime and feast on unknowing prey, be it animal or Homo sapiens. Certain folk with a deathwish gather round to hunt werewolves, risking their lives—and sometimes their dignity—to vanquish these blights on the land. They hate these beasts to their core and want nothing more than to erase the threat from their homes. Maybe, but most times they really just want to be the werewolves.

Giant squid, who’s existence are certainly more believable considering recent evidence, are another big target for hunters. The biggest of their kind, the elusive Kraken, still interests boaters today for the myths that surround it. One Olivier de Kersauson claims he came face-to-face with a beast of this magnitude, which rocked his hundred foot trimaran with all the strength of its thirty-foot body. It nearly broke the whole stern before detaching and gracefully falling down the ocean blue. This episode terrified the sailor and his crew, and only promoted a boom in the search for giant squid. These groups also have their own TV special, but it doesn’t stretch for 11 seasons compared to the former, just one episode.

Finally, the only group to “successfully” hunt their prey is the historic wendigo hunters. The most eldritch of beasts thus far, it’s better described as a monster whose diet can only be sated with the consumption of human meat. What’s worse, the wendigo can only come about through possession, so weak-willed victims were subject to hosting this evil spirit. These wendigo tortured the spiritual Native Americans the most, and was often considered their worst enemy, real or not. But, the native tribes that inhabited America long ago were fearless in the face of danger, and the fated Jack Fiddler represented this sentiment best when he fought off the wendigo a staggering fourteen times—and won. He gave no discretion to friend or foe, and made sure to pick them off before they could do damage to his community. His father, Peemeecheekag, would be proud, as he also wrestled the wendigo during dire times of famine.

Perhaps there’s enough evidence to truly believe these beasts exist. Why else would so many reports come out claiming they sighted these illustrious beings? Most would say it’s for attention, and in a wider scientific context, it’s assuredly for attention. Yet, new species of animal are still being discovered in the modern times that some would think to be unearthly, too strange to be true. The platypus is as odd as creatures come, but that doesn’t stop its noted existence as a real, tangible animal. Alas, the platypus is a passive thing, and that’s what likely keeps these beasts unknown. There are few cryptids that can be seen without a fight, and it’s only likely that the people who would successfully report the existence of these beasts are killed before they can.

Nature is a strange place, and it keeps secrets like any other. Only time—and the work of these devoted hunters—can prove whether nature has anything else to spill. In the meantime, we’ll just make fun of them.