Finding the Appalachian Cryptids: Mountain Monsters' Trapper Speaks with Critical Blast

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Trapper, co-founder and leader of the Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings. Credit: Destination America

The television landscape has become a inundated these days with shows featuring teams of people looking for Bigfoot and other cryptozoological critters. Some of them are dry and anecdotal. Some of them feature the same thing in different locations, usually highlighted by people wandering around in the dark knocking on trees and letting loose with a yell.

And then there's MOUNTAIN MONSTERS, where the team of investigators get all fired up, carry their guns, and vow to "get that sonnuvabitch" when they get near him -- and they always seem to get too close for comfort, whether they're chasing down a Sheepsquatch, a Midnight Whistler, a Yahoo or any of the other many legendary creatures rumored to roam the Appalachian territory.

They're the A.I.M.S. team -- the Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings -- and their new season kicks off tonight when they set out to find the Stonish Giant, a creature whom, according to Native American legends, was impervious to arrows. But does that make him impervious to bullets? This episode of MOUNTAIN MONSTERS has an ending unlike any episode in the show's history, and definitively shows the viewers that these men are not alone in the woods.

We had the privilege of speaking with the A.I.M.S. team leader, Trapper, before the season begins.

Trapper: How are you today?

CriticalBlast: Well, Trapper, that's actually my question for you. I know that once word gets around regarding the ending of this season's premiere, fans are going to be worried about your well-being. How are you doing?

Trapper: I'm doing pretty good. I'm still above the fog. We don't know what was going on, we didn't expose the fans to that.

CriticalBlast: What drives you to look for these mountain monsters? I mean, some people will say, "Well, he has a television show, that's what drives him." But before that...

Trapper: No, that's not it. The television show's not it. It's the excitement and the adrenaline rush. It's the camaraderie of when Huckleberry and Jeff and all of us get together.

CriticalBlast: So what brought all of you together in the first place? Was there a local event where you all thought, "Hey, we can go catch this thing?"

Trapper: It all started a lot of years ago. My son and I did an article on Ikie's Tomb for a statewide magazine, and people would just get ahold of me to investigate this, investigate that, and we wouldn't have a mysterious creature. It would be a raccoon or a black angus cow or something to that effect. But every once in a while, we'd get a Bigfoot or a cryptid or something, and it would get a little hairy. So that's when we got on track to do the research. We were just out to try to catch them. And Willy said, "I can build traps to catch these sons of guns," and I said, "Well, go for it." So that's kind of how it evolved. We have a website, Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings, and that's how the production company found us.

CriticalBlast: Are most of the sightings that you follow up Bigfoot-related? It seems that there are a lot of sasquatch creatures that get local names, but I know once the team went after a big cat, and was curious if there were other strange events you investigated -- like UFO sightings or other creatures.

Trapper: We did a follow up on a UFO sighting around Grafton that we found out was fictitious. It really didn't occur that way. That's what led us into the Grafton Monster, which is a Bigfoot type creature.


Here's a handy list of some of the creatures the A.I.M.S. team has investigated.
The Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS) investigate some recent video evidence of the most famous cryptozoic creature in West Virginia: The Mothman. An enormous flying creature, the Mothman has been known to dwell around bridge structures and has been spotted in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Originally seen in the late 1960's, a recent number of sightings have rekindled the fear caused by this mysterious creature. The AIMS crew will attempt to capture the infamous winged creature by building their most ambitious trap, using a bridge, an electrified cage, and fire torches to attract this mysterious beast.

Grafton Monster
After obtaining a video of a strange and gigantic creature, AIMS travels east to Grafton, W.V., to investigate the Grafton Monster. This tiny town, once an epicenter of early American railroad transit, has been terrorized since the 1960s by a horrifying creature known to the locals as “The Headless Horror.” Standing almost ten-feet tall and tipping the scales at more than half a ton, this beast carries its head just above its chest and has a reputation for intimidation that spans the hollers of Taylor County. The mountain investigators have their hands full as they witness this predator’s vicious nature firsthand and construct their largest trap to date.

Chupacabras are four-foot tall canines with sharp fangs that the team believes originated in Costa Rica, migrated north to Appalachia, and are now killing indiscriminately and terrifying locals. Ever since team leader Trapper first heard about Chupacabras in the 1990s, while fighting off vampire bats in Central America, he has been obsessed with capturing one of these beasts. The mystery of Chupacabras deepens when AIMS learns the bodies of their prey are vanishing after the blood has been sucked out. AIMS builds a massive box maze trap designed to contain as many of these Chupacabras as possible and arrives at the next step in their quest when they learn that, no matter what cryptozoic creature they go after, Bigfoot is not far behind.

AIMS heads to central West Virginia to investigate the legendary Webster Werewolf. Born out of a 1770s massacre of local Shawnee Indians in present-day Webster County, this nocturnal predator resembles a huge northern wolf but is three times the size and has the ability to walk upright on two feet. AIMS locates an old Shawnee hunting trail and constructs a 2,000-pound rock fall trap. And while Trapper deals with a toothache the Appalachian way, his expert crew works to unravel centuries of myth surrounding this creature’s existence before the full moon passes.

Fire Dragon
Following a strange series of reports detailing attacks by a huge reptilian predator, AIMS travels to the eastern border of West Virginia to investigate the Pocahontas Fire Dragon. Known as the “Birthplace of Rivers,” and named for the famous Native American chief’s daughter, Pocahontas County provides almost unlimited access for this 1,200-pound, cold-blooded aquatic creature to seek out heat sources and terrorize the locals in the process. Time is running out as AIMS employs bullets and boats and fights Fire Dragon with fire in their quest to capture this beast in an elaborate water trap before the temperature drops and the dragon retreats into hibernation.

AIMS heads to southern West Virginia to investigate one of the most bizarre creatures in all of Appalachia. Coal miners and lumberjacks harvesting the hollers of Boone County first reported sightings of the Sheepsquatch over a hundred years ago, noting its extremely aggressive demeanor and pungent, musky smell. Standing eight-feet tall on its hind legs and weighing more than 600-pounds, this beast is a powerful predator with ram-like horns, wooly hair, and the ability to travel on two or four feet. AIMS meets with eyewitnesses and constructs a custom razor-wire trap in an attempt to capture this beast and prove its existence.

Devil Dog
There is a new apex predator in Logan County, West Virginia, wreaking havoc on the coyote population, the former top of the food chain. While local trappers are perplexed, AIMS has its own theory and suspects the legendary Devil Dog is to blame, sucking the blood and life from the coyotes. From eyewitness videos and pictures, the danger becomes even more apparent when they realize there is not one, but a pack of Devil Dogs on the loose and looking for blood. Something must stop this predatory pack before humans become their next target.

The Ohio Grassman
Discovering an eyewitness video of the Ohio Grassman, the Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS) travel to Southeastern Ohio to hunt down this 1,000 pound, 8-foot tall cousin of the legendary Sasquatch. Dubbed the Grassman because its fur resembles the color and texture of grass, this creature’s size and aggressive nature makes it a threat to any human it encounters. The AIMS crew investigates footprints and nests that appear to be Grassman evidence, then build a camouflaged pit trap to capture this enormous beast. The mountain investigators’ goal is to make sure the Grassman does not terrorize Ohio locals and prove the legendary creature’s existence.

Based on a growing body of evidence, AIMS travels to Nicholas County to investigate West Virginia’s own Bigfoot, known as the Yahoo. This eight-foot tall, 1,000-pound creature is a cousin to the Sasquatch but is distinguished by its ultra-aggressive nature and unique vocalizations. AIMS must employ all of their backwoods knowledge as they track the beast and build a customized “log fall trap” strong enough to restrain this enormous creature.

Midnight Whistler
The Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS) begin their epic quest to prove the existence of Bigfoot in the Appalachia as they first head out to Central Kentucky after what they believe is the first Bigfoot to emerge from the Mammoth Cave System some 3,000 years ago. This enormous Bigfoot is known for its ear-piercing whistle, green eyes, purely nocturnal behavior and is thought to be the first Bigfoot clan to establish itself in the region. From the start the team is hot on its trail after discovering the most elaborate and massive Bigfoot nest to date and must construct a customized trap large enough to contain this Sasquatch.

Cherokee Devil
The Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS) head south to Ashe County, NC after the most famous creature in all of Cherokee Indian folklore, "The Cherokee Devil." Also known as Tsul 'Kalu, this Bigfoot is thought to possess unique and dangerous abilities, including mind-control. When Buck has a terrifying encounter with the creature, the team doubles down in their search--only to have another team member fall under the creature's spell, with terrifying results.

CriticalBlast: Admittedly, I haven't seen the entire series of MOUNTAIN MONSTERS. I'm trying to rectify that, and I'll get to that in a moment, but I do know of some creatures rumored to haunt Appalachia that I'd love to see you go after -- if you haven't already -- like the Mothman and Spring-heeled Jack / the Jersey Devil.

Trapper: We drove up into the Black Forest of New Jersey after the Jersey Devil. We had a lot of inquiries to do that. And we did the Mothman in the first season -- it may have been episode six -- which was a very exciting show. If you can catch that, you should try to see that.

CriticalBlast: We're trying to catch them all. In fact, my wife told me today, "When you talk to Trapper, find out why we can't get the past seasons on DVD."

Trapper: Hahaha!

(Editor's Note: The episodes are available on iTunes and Google Play. DVDs may be coming, hopefully, soon.)



CriticalBlast: I'll tell you, my adrenaline got up at the end of last season's final episode when you returned at the end of the show to that Bigfoot graveyard. That is something I've never seen in any Bigfoot investigation before. When you got chased out of there, I was thinking, "This is not where this episode should stop!" How quickly are you going to follow up on that visit?

Trapper: I went back on my own there. I do some investigating on my own, and we had a cameraman with us that night. Of course, we do a lot of investigating when we don't have a cameraman. we clip our show together with what we do on camera. We do a lot of investigating and a lot of research that's not on camera because we only have forty-four minutes to present an entertaining, exciting show of what we're after. So we're going back to places we've been to a year or two before and following up on investigations that we already did on our own.

People ask us, "Why are you all so successful?" We're really successful because of the great team we have. But the key to it is our witnesses. Most mountain folks don't talk to city people or television people -- they'll just clam up. But we have that capability to talk to any woodsman, hunter, outdoorsman, hiker -- anyone of any aspect of life that lives in Appalachia, because we are common core. If you look at this team, you'll find people who are just really down-to-earth common people. And I think that's what our success comes from.

CriticalBlast: Throughout last season, we learned that someone was following you out on your investigations. It's never really clear whether it's a rival investigative team or whether it's some sort of X Files / Men in Black government group, and the events that come in the new season opener as you investigate the Stonish Giant will really have fans asking questions about this group's methods and motives. How much of that are we going to be seeing in the next season?

Trapper: It's really going to come this Saturday night in the Stonish Giant episode. It's not going to come to a conclusion, but it's going to come to a place that we almost know who they are. We put an eyeball on them, and we find out what they're actually after.

This season's going to be really great. You'll find out what I found out when I went back to the graveyard, and draw a lot of conclusions on the people who are following us.


Credit: Destination America
(L-R) Buck, Wild Bill, Willy, Trapper, Jeff, Huckleberry.
CREDIT: Destination America