Mystery beast visits local trail camera

As has been proven many times over the years, folks love reading “mystery beast” stories.

There was the time, not too long ago, when people down in southern Maine got themselves all riled up because an odd looking critter turned up dead. What was it? Well, some said they were quite sure it was the legendary mystery-beast-of-mystery-beasts, the chupacabra.

After DNA samples were tested, that wasn’t the case.

It was a dog.

Then there was the case of the monstrous black feline that was photographed out in Holden, as it stalked across a family’s driveway.

Black panther? Puma? Mountain lion?

Uh … no.

It was, according to biologists, a domesticated tom cat. The Andre The Giant of house cats, perhaps, but a house cat nonetheless.

Now that I’ve got your curiosity piqued, I’ve got another mystery beast to unveil.

The Otis “mystery beast.” Raccoon? Bobcat? Fox? Coyote? You tell us.

First, though, a disclaimer: Nobody’s saying this one is actually a legendary, mystical mystery beast. It’s not a sasquatch, nor a yeti. It’s not a mountain lion, nor a chupacabra (I don’t think). It might be the always elusive Spam-animal … but probably isn’t.

But the photo is just blurry enough, just dark enough, just ambiguous enough, that I thought I’d share it with you.

The back story: I spend a lot of time hunting deer in a certain plot of land down in Otis, not far from Green Lake and Beech Hill Pond.

The mystery cat of Holden. Back in 2012, state biologists reached a consensus that the photo shows a large domestic tom cat. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Newcomb)

This year, my hunting buddy and I put out trail cameras. Did we expect to parlay any actual deer photos into a successful hunt? Of course not. If you read these posts regularly, you understand that the likelihood of that happening is …. well …. about the same of us capturing a photo of a sasquatch, or a chupacabra.

But we did figure that we’d find out if we were totally wasting our time while not filling our tags, or whether there were, in fact, real live deer walking through the woods near our stands.

The good news: Yes. There are deer in them thar woods.

The better news: There’s something else that we can’t really identify.

At first glance, I thought the critter’s identity was clear. Then I sent the photo to some of my hunting buddies, and each of them responded differently.

One said coyote.

One said bobcat.

One said raccoon.

My boss said fox.

I said chupacabra … but that’s just because I like the sound of the word, and it sounds better than calling it an unidentified waddling critter.

And while we’re talking about unidentified critters, let me make one thing clear: I did not identify my hunting pals — all accomplished woodsmen, if not actual critters — because I didn’t want you to call them names because they couldn’t correctly identify the beast in the picture.

So I’m asking you: What is this animal? Coyote? Bobcat? Raccoon? Fox?

Or something else?

I look forward to hearing your opinions.

And while we’re talking about trail cameras, if you’ve got any great (or confusing) trail cam photos of your own, pass ’em along and we’ll share ’em with readers.

Follow John Holyoke on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke


John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.