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Hodag
image The Hodag (also known as the Bovine Spiritualis) is native to Wisconsin. In fact, it is the official symbol of Rhinelander, Wisconsin where the first one was captured by Eugene Shepard in 1896. Its name comes from combining the words "horse" and "dog."

The Hodag has the head of a bull, the back of a dinosaur, and the leering features of a giant man. Its legs are short, its claws are long, and its tail is spear-tipped. It is a supernatural beast which, in its first life, took the form of an ox that belonged to Paul Bunyan. Upon its death, the ox was burned for seven years to cleanse it of the profanity of its master. But seven years was not long enough. The soul of the ox emerged from the ashes in the shape of a Hodag, exuding a foul odor. The diet of the Hodag is very simple. It only eats white bulldogs, "and those only on Sundays."

For many years Shepard displayed his Hodag at country fairs. The exhibition usually occurred in dim light, and according to malicious rumors what was actually exhibited was a large dog over which a horse's hide had been stretched, but such rumors have never been substantiated.

Jack Cory, editor of the Rhinelander Daily News, once hypothesized that the Hodag was "the long-sought missing link between the ichthyosaurus and the mylodoan" of the Ice Age.

In the late 1800s in Rhinelander WI, a man named Gene Sheppard had people believing he had discovered a creature called a Hodag in the forest. He made up many stories about the beast and built one that he kept in a cave and charged people to see. Only when someone from the Smithsonian came to investigate, did he fess up. To this day, this is the town mascot. Their police cars say home of the Hodag on them.
Posted by Anonymous  on  Fri Jan 05, 2001  at  06:30 PM

The Public Radio Station in Rhinelander,WXPR sits in a house that is next
to the old Shepard place and the Hodag is found in many places in
Rhinelander... the legend was cleaned up a bit that is all you have..
the original Hodag hoax-critter was destroyed in a fire, but not before the
Smithsonian and National Geographic sent reporters. The very first version
was a skeletal remains that we "found" in what is now the Novelette
National Forest. There is a lot more to the story than you have on the web
site.
Posted by Ryugen Fisher  on  Fri Mar 15, 2002  at  03:30 PM
Has antone reading this ever heard a version of this tale relating that Hodags have six legs. If so could you please post an author or source?

Thanks, Bill
Posted by Bill Hamlin  in  Wausau WI  on  Mon Jun 07, 2004  at  09:17 PM
Mi dog Sona caught one yesterday but unfortunately ate it whole.
Posted by clemente  in  Spain  on  Wed Dec 22, 2004  at  05:48 PM
Hey check this web site out for a link to a biography of Eugene Shepard - northern Wisconsin prankster and Hodag creator!

http://www.hodagpress.com
Posted by Kurt Kortenhof  in  Rhinelander Wisconsin  on  Wed Jan 25, 2006  at  12:56 AM
I know that type Bill.Go to wikipedia.I also know of a type with three eyes. The following is a haiku.

The hodag,a strange creature
Displayed by Eugene Sheppard
Long Live The Hodag!!!
Posted by J the haiku master  on  Wed Oct 04, 2006  at  03:19 AM
There is a 6 legged variety.There is also a kind with 3 eyes,J.There is also a sidehill type and one that has a shovel shaped nose and catches porcupines.Can anyone else back me up?
Posted by ThisisnotadrilldropbearshaveinvadedtheUnitedstaesd  in  Drop bear HQ  on  Sun Oct 29, 2006  at  02:12 PM
The hodag displayed
by Eugene Sheppard was just
Dog under horse hide
Posted by ThisisntadrilldropbearshaveinvadedtheUSA!!!!!!!!!!  on  Sat Nov 25, 2006  at  03:11 AM
Pounces from a bush
Something grabs bulldog pulls back
Hodag dissapears
Posted by J  on  Tue Jan 09, 2007  at  03:07 AM
grinHaving been born and raised in Rhinelander, I know that there are as many Hodag stories as there are tellers. And a lot of them are tall tales for sure. Gene Shepard owned several houses in the Rhinelander area, one of which, at 25 South Pelham Street, later belonged to my grandparents. This house was located about 4 blocks from the old CNW depot and is the site where Shepard had a wooden Hodag on the porch which could be made to move by pulling chains in the basement. Tourists and travelers would walk over to the house during train layovers to see the creature. Though it was gone before my time, I remember seeing the patched holes in the basement wall and on the porch where the Hodag was displayed. There apparently was more than one Hodag also because my aunt told me that my uncle found an old wooden Hodag in a garden shed behind the house when they moved in which they proceeded to burn with other "rubbish" they wanted to get rid of. At the time it was just old junk to get rid of. It was still common to burn trash in the backyard in the 40's and I do remember the garden shed behind the house as it remained there until the house was razed. There was an old walk in vault in the living room that was lettered with Shepard's name in gold paint that they later painted over to match the rest of the room. They used that vault for a coat closet for many years after. The old house is gone for many years now but the memories of the stories passed on by the old timers lives on. It's kind of sad seeing the "new" sinister looking Hodag depictions displayed on Rhinelander city signs and advertising literature. The old images from the 50's and 60's were much nicer looking. Sometimes older is better. There was a "home movie" made sometime in the 20's depicting a reenactment of the hodag capture featuring several prominent local people at the time. I saw part of it in grade school when a girl brought it in about 1960. The film broke several times and the nun stopped showing it. It would be great if someone could find and restore it and put it on video. Though a few have tried to "steal" the Hodag, it is still uniquely Rhinelander's mascot and hopefully it shall remain so.
Posted by JB  in  Wisconsin  on  Tue Oct 23, 2007  at  04:04 AM
Wowsers. Thats one creepy looking beast! Of course pictures like this seem like complete BS. This one is no exception. This is BS or no BS?? Tel Domain Names
Posted by yikes  on  Fri Jan 16, 2009  at  12:32 AM
...was that east of the train depot? My wifes grandmother lived a couple blocks from "The Rathskellar" nad Twistdrill.
Posted by Bill  in  Wausau  on  Thu Dec 10, 2009  at  12:08 AM
I saw one of those things on Mount Rorirama along with a Megalosaurus attacking a Iguanodon. Seriously!
Posted by Dinosaur65  on  Sat Mar 26, 2011  at  06:25 AM
I remember Shrek. The image came from Hodag right? Because Shrek really looked like Hodag. It says it has the head of a frog and in your review, it has the head of a bull. Which is which? Well this creature is kind of famous though. He's in sports too.
Posted by R. Dill  in  UK  on  Mon Aug 01, 2011  at  06:08 PM
this is rediculous
Posted by leupgaru  in  hellholecreek, brisbane, AU.  on  Fri Jun 29, 2012  at  06:49 PM
My beagle saved my life when a hodag had me cornered near Lac du Flambeau in about 1967 when I was a little boy. I only wish I had a camera with. I wanted it mounted but my parents said a taxidermist was too expensive. I've never seen one since....
Posted by K krska  in  Downers Grove IL  on  Sat Aug 04, 2012  at  08:00 PM
My novel Masters' Mysterium: Wisconsin Dells, features a Hodag. It seems like Bigfoot receives all the press. We need to show the Hodag some love.
Posted by R. R. Reynolds  in  Grafton, WI  on  Sun Mar 24, 2013  at  03:21 PM
Gene Sheppard is my great great uncle on my father's side. Let me tell you the prankster gene is still alive in my family! I love the stories printed above & some have been passed through the family.
Posted by Mary Denson  in  Sheboygan, Wi.  on  Mon Apr 29, 2013  at  11:00 PM
Greetings to all,
My wife's late Grandfather, owned the lumbercamp where he and several drunk "Jacks" put together the First Hodag after one of the "Jacks"
came running into camp out in the woods swearing that a horrible monster tried to eat him. It was made of a mangy bearskin,a dead dog, part of a moth-eaten Mountain Lion, cow horns and crocodile skin off of an old piece of luggage and various animal teeth. A number of people have claimed to have built it,or caught it, or seen it. My wife actually saw it once as her Grandmother was making her Grandfather take it to the dump. Her Father verified this also.
Sincerely,
Larry Mager
Posted by Larry Mager  in  Fairborn, Ohio  on  Wed Jun 26, 2013  at  08:09 PM
First time I ever heard of the Hodag was in "The Wonderful Adventures of Paul Bunyan," by Louis Untermeyer, a book I had when I was a boy. The Hodag was one of the unworldly monsters spawned during the Winter of the Blue Snow; it was so cold that winter, that even the snow turned blue! There were critters like the Pickerel Hen [which laid square eggs], and the Mountain Hill Sidewinder [which had longer legs on one side of its body, so it could run along the mountains with ease]; the critter had eyes that looked like cigarette burns in a napkin. But the thing I remember to this day, was the Hodag. But this Hodag was nothing like the one pictured on this site. It looked like a rooster and shot razor sharp quills. That's what puzzles me. I've tried finding traces of this Hodag and I get nothing but pictures of the usual, lizard-like creature, mascot of the Rhinelanders. Nothing wrong with that representation. I don't doubt it's authentic, it just doesn't do anything for me. The metal rooster Hodag [ Everett Gee Jackson thought that version was authentic when he drew the picture of it], that creature lives in my imagination and I've already slipped it into a few stories I've started writing.
Posted by Haakon Ragnskjold  in  Seattle, Wa  on  Sun Oct 27, 2013  at  10:18 PM
I dated a Hodag once! Never again!
Posted by Me & Me  in  Richmond hill, on  on  Mon Sep 29, 2014  at  10:44 PM
Iv'e seen a Hodag when i was walking home from school. he chased me over to the police station then he disaperaed
Posted by Hunter Wendt  in  Rhinelander WI  on  Tue Oct 07, 2014  at  09:20 AM
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