New England and upstate New York is thickly forested, and there’s an abundance of wildlife even today with the constant encroachment of so-called civilization. Still, even as humanity spreads further afield, there are strange things that are seen in the forests of the North Country; one of them is known as the wood devil.
Wood devils are described as slender, hairy humanoids standing anywhere from five to seven feet tall, with hideous faces that have natural camouflage and are adept at hiding against the trunks of trees and standing completely motionless to avoid detection. Sometimes known as “Stick Men” due to their long, spindly limbs and slender bodies, wood devils don’t seem to have ever harmed anyone but certainly do seem to relish frightening the hell out of anyone that gets close; i they are sighted, they’re known to emit a hideous, bone-chilling screech to drive off predators.
The majority of wood devil sightings date back to at least the 1930s and have occurred in New Hampshire, though there have been similar sightings as far west as the shores of Lake George in 1990. This last particular fact thrills me with fear, considering I live less than half an hour from there; luckily worst thing I’ve ever heard in the forest so far is a deer in heat. Not that hearing a doe grunt like an angry gorilla in your bushes at 2 in the morning isn’t terrifying in and of itself, but at least you know it’s just some doe looking to get a little action and not some strange hairy freak watching you through your bathroom window.
Most skeptics will dismiss claims of the wood devil as simply a black bear on its hind legs, as there’s a sizable population in the northeast. However, believers will point out that all the sightings include some very un-ursine characteristics, most notably its slenderness, the length of its arms and the fact that its neck is short and that there’s an absence of any discernible muzzle or snout on the face. The purported ability of the wood devil to blend in to the trunk of a tree and stand motionless also seems to be a trait that distinguishes it from a black bear, as do the reports of a high-pitched screech in lieu of the highly recognizable deep growl of a bear.
So what are wood devils? Some think they’re a close relative of the sasquatch, but that’s an entire other can of worms right there. Others feel they’re more mystical, perhaps being woodland spirits that are resentful of the approach of mankind into its habitats. Whatever the case, the idea of a tall, willowy beast covered with fur that can blend into a forest nearly perfectly is enough to have me keep an eye out during my travels in the Adirondacks. I really don’t relish the idea of crossing paths with what I think is a tree only to have it start screaming at me.