The Axe-Handle Hound

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Area(s) Reported: North America
Date(s) Reported: ca. 1922 to Present

It's said that the old frontiersmen who explored the wilds of the North American continent in the days before roads, cities, and -- ugh -- civilization spread all over the place, used to encounter amazing and bizarre creatures that people just don't seem to encounter anymore. These unusual animals and plants (among other things) have come to be collectively known as the "Fearsome Critters" of North America... of which, the Axe-Handle Hound is a fine example.

The earliest mention of this critter in print was in a series of newspaper articles by Art Childs in 1922 called Yarns of the Big Woods. Childs, a former game warden, claimed to have heard the various tales he wrote about from woodsmen and old-timers he had encountered during his time in the woods.

As Childs tells us, the 'axe-handle hound' was named such for two distinct reasons. First, it's natural food was, in fact, axe handles; axes left unguarded in the woods at night were in danger of being snatched by the hound, whose odd mouth was equipped with saw-like teeth that could make short work of chewing up a handle.

The second reason for the critter's name was it's fairly singular appearance: it had a long thin body with short legs, and a axe-like head... in short, the animal looked liked one of the axes it was always hunting for, except about half again as large as a standard axe! I'm guessing this was a good camouflage if someone looked over towards their axe at night; they might not think twice if they saw the hound instead.

The only other mention of the axe-handle hound is in Paul Bunyan Natural History, by Charles Brown, 1935 [and NO, not THAT Charles Brown]. Brown really only adds three new details. First, he called the critter an 'axehandle hound' -- no dash. Second, he states that the hound will also eat the handles off of a 'peavy,' which was a tool used to manipulate floating logs; it had a long wood handle and a metal top with a spike and a hook. Lastly, Brown adds that "Whole cords of axe handles were eaten by these troublesome wild hounds." Sounds like someone at a lumber yard learned about axe-handle hounds the hard way!

Oh, and one more thing to note: it's now commonly believed that the Axe-Handle Hound is only found in Wisconsin and Minnesota... and that is, in fact, wrong. None of the original reports stated the animal was limited to these states. Art Childs, however, had been a game warden in the state of Wisconsin; and, more recently, a campground was named "Axhandle Hound" in Minnesota, after the creature. It's from these two facts that the hound's supposed limited range has been inferred; but in reality, these critters could be in any woods in North America... so don't be lazy about where you leave your tools!

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  • "Yarns of the Big Woods #11: The Axehandle Hound," by Art Childs, article in The York Daily Record, newspaper of York, Pennsylvania, USA, Wednesday, September 27, 1922. Pg. 4, co. 8. Online in the website [pay site]: Click Here!
  • Paul Bunyan Natural History, by Charles Edward Brown, 1935 Wisconsin, USA. Online: Click Here!
  • "Peavy," article in the Wiktionary website, viewed 10-11-2019. Online: Click Here!
  • "Axehandle Hound," page in the Cryptid Wiki website, posted ca. 5-1-2014, viewed 10-11-2019. Online: Click Here!

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