Monster Hunting & Other Summer Pastimes Ryan Fairley (November 18, 2005) 

Cryptozoology is the study of creatures either thought to be extinct (and yet still be alive) as well as the study of creature thought to have never existed (despite reports that they do). Famous examples include the Lock Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and even vampires. Anyone who has purchased the “learning bundle” from their TV provider knows that such channels such as Discovery, TLC, and NAT-GEO are filled to the brim with “Do They Exist” shows that feature a variety of wild haired ex-professors and obsessed
amateur naturalists who spend a lot of time and money looking for something most people find childish. Such television shows usually peak right around Halloween, and they disappear until well after Christmas,
unless there’s nothing better to schedule in their place. Every now and then a critter thought to be extinct washes up somewhere, and film crews show up by the score to film it before new Halloween.

Not many people have had a Cryptozoological experience, and if you go around telling people that you met a Yeti they will be polite and chalk it up to “an overactive imagination”. If you’ve seen a Chupacabra and decided to talk about it at a dinner party you might as well have said, “ I’ve been rectally probed by aliens and please pass the corn.” Not much sympathy. But of course one of the reasons many things get missed is because rational-everyday-normal people see things, decide they don’t exist, and decide that they’re not going to tell anyone.

I mean a rational-everyday-normal person won't really tell anyone unless the thing they are ignoring comes right up and removes and arm or a leg. Since I have both my arms and my legs (so far) I really must say that I do know that it never pays to be too confident about what is lurking in the forest or the lake. I have seen a Muskie (i.e. Muskellunge Fish) try to eat a swimming kitten and I’ve seen a bull flip a backhoe. I have also seen strange tracks, heard odd sounds, and other forms of leavings that made me lock the cabin door and take no chances.

One of the most definitive examples I have of a personal Cryptozoological encounter was when, as a child, I learned to snorkel in a body of water called Parry Sound. There’s a relatively small (by Canadian standards) campground called Killbear Provincial Park, where if you know how, you can spend the hot summer swimming and biking and exploring the urbanized wilderness. I learned to snorkel because I was so fantastically bored and I wanted to stay in the water for longer periods of time. To me it felt like
flying and beat the hell out of government-funded slideshow about fire safety. I was digging around for Crayfish on the bottom one day when I found a tooth that was about the size of a kitchen knife. The tooth sat in about seven feet of water on a bed of fist-sized stones. It took a few attempts to get it off the bottom since it was too deep for me to stay down for more then a few seconds.

I know it was a tooth and not a claw because it had chew scoring on the side and a root where it would have been attached to a section of gum/jaw. I was unsure if it was a fossil, and to be honest it felt relatively new. It looked like it would have belonged to a large land carnivore, because it looked similar to the front teeth belonging to a dog or a bear. I looked at it a bit more and, thinking rightly that no one would believe me and that I would be in trouble if I brought it home; I was swimming alone in deep water without permission and I would be “in for it” if I said “look what I found in the water.” So, in short, I chucked it back and thought no more of it. I went swimming again without thinking that maybe the former owner may still
be hanging out in the lake. It didn’t occur to me until years later when I was telling stories at a party that I should have at least thought twice about going back into the water… but I was a kid and that is what kids do.

When I mentioned it no one believed me, and I decided that it wasn’t important. More time passed and I saw a show about something called The Colossal Squid or Mesonychoteuthis hamilton), which is a car sized squid covered in swiveling hooks. If a squid can hide in the arctic then who knows
what’s hiding where. I’m not saying that I’m going to go to Killbear park with a kill team looking for the Giant Aquatic Lakebear… I’m saying that I would consider myself a fool if I thought that the world was fully explored and that every creature on this planet was found, documented, and tame.

Humans are scared of the dark for a very good reason. How massive creatures like the Colossal Squid manage to remain hidden for so long is hardly a mystery. Granted, it’s a lot easer to hide in the briny
deep then it is on the prarie, but there’s a lot of wilderness left to explore. To conclude, there may be a time in your life where something strange happens… you see something unidentifyable fly over your house, a wad of greenish goo falls from the sky and lands in your garage, or something unidentified eats a pet (no, I’m not kidding). Don’t sweep it under the rug and don’t assume it will merely go away. While it is true that there are more tigers alive in suburban USA then in the rest of the world combined
(people sell them as pets) it may be something we’ve been staring at for thousands of years and you merely are the first to truly see it for what it is.

By: Ryan Fairley

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