Friday, March 4, 2016

The Terrifying Creature of Lake Conway

The woods around Lake Conway where  
Skunk Ape has been seen.
The woods surrounding Lake Conway in Faulkner County, Arkansas are home to a large number of living things, mostly birds, raccoons, snakes and little creepy crawlies. The lake provides some of the best fishing for bass and crappie in the state, but there are reports of a different type of animal that resides there. The kind that comes out after dark. The kind the fishermen and visitors only speak about in hushed tones while anxiously looking over their shoulders in the blackness of night. The kind the fishermen & visitors pray they don't encounter in the dark woods.

The sightings started in early 1970. People began calling in to game wardens and police to report strange observations of something that looked like a man, but obviously wasn't. The witnesses reported the creature as being between 7 and 8 feet tall and ape-like. It was most often seen emerging from the woods to wade in the shallow areas of the lake, evidently looking for food. One thing was common with each of the sightings - the brute was always accompanied by an incredible stench. It was soon given a name - "Skunk Ape."

Near the site where Lee reported his frightening
encounter with Skunk Ape 
One reported encounter proved to be especially disturbing. On a hot and muggy night in August, 1985 a fisherman named Lee was alone in his flat-bottom boat not far from the shore. The fish had stopped biting so he decided to reel in his line and head back to the boat ramp. He heard a sudden commotion behind him in the water and when he turned, he could see something big thrashing around. It seemed to Lee that maybe a large beaver had been under water, had gotten caught in somebody's trotline and was trying to extricate itself from the entanglement. Looking at it more intently though, he realized it wasn't a beaver as it was much to large and had longer hair covering its body than a beaver. As he sat in his boat trying to determine exactly what it was he was seeing, the monster stood up. It was like something from a nightmare! The water was five feet deep and the hairy thing's head was at least three to four feet above the water.

The creature caught site of Lee and seemed to be just as surprised to see him as Lee was to see the creature. The two locked eyes for about five seconds, but it seemed like forever to Lee. Suddenly the beast started moving closer to Lee and his boat, grimacing and making deep-throated, angry growling sounds. Totally frozen with shock and fear, Lee couldn't move or make a sound. All he could do was watch with horror as the beast came closer and closer, never taking its eyes off Lee. When the creature got within about 15 feet of him though, an horrendous stench hit his nostrils and shocked him into action. He turned to grab the .22 pistol he always carried in his tackle box, but as he turned back around with his gun outstretched, he found the monster had quickly covered the distance between them and with a single vicious swing of his powerful arm, knocked Lee out of the boat.

Lake Conway
Not seriously hurt, but disoriented, Lee came up gasping for air and grabbing for something to steady himself. He managed to find the side of the boat and cautiously pulling himself up enough to peek over it, saw that the monster was no longer paying any attention to him. What had caught and was keeping his attention was the stringer of fish that was hanging over the other side of the boat. Fish by fish, it was pulling them from the line and eating them whole in one or at most, two bites. Lee ducked back behind the side of the boat in fear, worried that if he made a break for it, the creature would immediately attack him.

The last of the fish was quickly consumed and the beast began rummaging around in the boat, slamming stuff around, looking for more food. When everything turned quiet for several minutes, Lee could stand it no longer and slowly pulled himself up to peek over the side. As he did so though, the creature was still there and saw the top of Lee's head poking up. Obviously angered, the brute lifted the 300-pound boat clear out of the water as if it was nothing and Lee found himself once again staring into the eyes of the monster!

Fearing for his life, this time Lee reacted at once and began half-swimming and half-running through the chest-deep water as fast as he could for the shore about 75 yards away. As he got near the water's edge, he turned once to look behind him and became weak with fear as he saw the monster was coming after him! Just 10 yards from the shore, but knowing he couldn't outrun it, Lee thought of his family and began screaming at the top of his lungs for help. Somehow he safely made it the last few yards. Running a short way into the trees, he didn't hear footsteps behind him so he turned once again to look. The creature was nowhere in sight. The only evidence it had even been there was the overturned boat floating in the water in the moonlight.

The area of Lake Conway where several sightings
have been reported.
Since that first sighting, there have been numerous reports of the Skunk Ape. Anglers often talk about having a feeling of dread, a sense of being stalked as if something just out of sight was watching them, waiting for them to walk into its trap. Strange noises are often reported coming from the woods in the night. Some have reported hearing the creature scream in the middle of the night as if it was celebrating a fresh kill. They say the sound will turn one's blood into ice water.

So what exactly is the Skunk Ape? The scientific name is hominid cryptid - hominid means "great ape" and cryptid means "a creature that has been suggested, but cannot be scientifically proven to exist." To many around Lake Conway though, that the creature exists is a fact. In certain parts of the lake, most locals will not even go outside after dark. The monster may not yet be proven, but for sure, something is definitely out there.

Reports of sightings still come in several times each year. So if you are brave, or perhaps just foolhardy, break out your fishing gear and head to Lake Conway after dark... and hope the only thing that tugs on your line is a big bass.


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