What Is It? New Photo Mystery: Braxton Beast

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 9th, 2005

What Is It? “Braxton Beast” Photo Mystery

A startling new camera trap photograph of what appears to be an unknown bipedal creature has been shared with Cryptomundo by a reader. Taken literally days ago, the West Virginia photograph of the “Braxton Beast” was “captured” in a county with a well-known history of bizarreness.

The Cryptomundo correspondent, a 27-year-old gentleman, Frederick B. Gerwig, sends along this information in his initial email to me earlier this week: “Here is a picture that my father’s wildlife camera (motion activated) took around 12/07/05. We are not sure what it is, but it doesn’t look human. It very well could be a hunter or something, however, my father’s property is posted and this is a wildlife feeding site approximately 400 yards from their Braxton County, WV home. The proportions seem very strange as compared to those of a human. It is possible that it is low light distortion, but it seems very curious. Sorry the picture is so small. The camera he uses is somewhat low tech to prevent theft as it stays stationed at this location all the time until he picks it up to download and review the pictures on his PC. Let me know what you think…we are baffled by this image.”

In a follow-up email, in answer to several questions I had, Mr. Gerwig writes: “I think I mentioned earlier that this camera is unmanned as to not disturb the animals that come in to feed. There are many rock overhangs and crevices in this area that this thing might be using for shelter. In fact, approximately 100 ft in the direction in which the entity is walking there is a large rock overhang we used to get under to get out of the rain when I played in these woods as a child. It looks straight over my parents house. Behind the entity is an incline to the ridge line of the mountain and a large rock wall with a drop of several hundred feet. P. S. – In case I failed to mention in the initial email, my father’s property is posted for no trespassing, very few individuals are permitted to be in those woods.”

Braxton County, West Virginia, is the site of the “Braxton County Monster” reports of September 12, 1952, otherwise known as the “Flatwoods Monster” or “Green Monster” encounter.

Less well-known is an encounter in this general area that took place in 1960. At 11:00 P.M., Friday, December 30, 1960, bakery deliveryman Charles Stover rounded a curve on a lonely, backwoods road near Hickory Flats, West Virginia – between Braxton and Webster Counties – and saw a “monster, standing erect, with hair all over its body.” Stover said that he almost hit the thing and stopped his bakery truck a short distance away to look back. The hairy, six-foot-tall, man-shaped figure stood beside the road watching him. He stepped on the gas and finally stopped at a restaurant-filling station where he told his story to a group of men. They immediately armed themselves and went to the spot. They found strange marks on the ground and a large rocks had been overturned by something. But the creature was never found.

What do you think is shown in this new photograph of what I am dubbing the “Braxton Beast”?

Braxton Beast

Shown is the original photograph and a closeup of the image of the “Braxton Beast” captured on film.

Braxton Beast

Copyright 2005 Frederick B. Gerwig. Permission to publish granted to Cryptomundo.com

Photo enhancements by W.M. Mott available on Cryptomundo here.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

91 Responses to “What Is It? New Photo Mystery: Braxton Beast”

  1. invisible1 responds:

    Ummm…. it’s a LEAF. It’s the exact same color as a hundred other leaves in the picture, and the edge of it is in FRONT of the tree.

    But man, they really want to believe that’s a bigfoot, don’t they? LOL

  2. shovethenos responds:

    Skeptical of the fire. There’s no trench, moat, or rock/log barriers set up, so if it was a fire it would be spreading over a larger area, since it doesn’t appear that there is anything to stop it.

    In any case that’s an easy theory to prove, just have the reporting party go out to the scene again and look for scorch marks and/or a burning smell. With the landmarks in the photo the area shouldn’t be hard to identify, even if leaves have blown over it.

  3. jonom responds:

    I’m going with the falling leaf theory. I recently snapped a picture with a couple of falling leaves in it – links below.

    I looked at a bunch of the fire images posted by wmmott and it just doesn’t look anything like fire.

    The following links are my pics of falling leaves. The low res version is sampled down and jpegged fairly heavily, I’ve also included a link to the full res, saved at high quality. Feel free to play with them!

  4. monsterhunter responds:

    The pile of wood to the right suggest we are looking either at a fire or at the leftover remains of a tree stump, which is what I’m leaning toward. I think the larger issue here is that a still photo has the problem of not seeing a creature in motion. Which is why this could be a photo of any number on inanimate objects, or a mundane animate object caught at a moment that forces us to percieve it as a biped. Video, Video ,Video is the answer.

  5. monsterhunter responds:

    Okay now another look at it and it could easily be a leaf, the magic of still photography

  6. spectreduck responds:

    There’s one argument I have against fire (and I registered specifically to ask this- If it is fire, where is the smoke? I would expect to see at least a little, no matter how “clean” the fire could be burning. I think it’s either a leaf or a misidentified dog, as others have suggested. If the person who sent this in sincerely thinks its a creature then he should spring for a better outdoor camera to try to capture it again. You can buy clear cases that can be secured to make theft more difficult (and who would be around to steal the camera if the land is posted against trespassers thus making it “impossible” that this is a hunter).

    I would also suggest the photos sender should go to the woods and just take regular pics from the same point of view, to give perspective.

  7. JohnShirley responds:

    Braxton Beast…I liked the comment that a “bipedal bright orange ape in the area probably would’ve been noticed” before now. Yes I think, when you consider the orange leaves on the ground in the photo, it’s likely a twisted leaf falling in front of the camera and no it’s not behind the tree really. But this determination–even if it’s confirmed it’s a leaf somehow, or confirmed someone got cute in the photolab–will not deter bigfoot believers from making it part of their canon, and saying “here’s photographic proof.” The photog could come forward and say “I faked it” (as was the case with some UFO photos from Brazil–a revelation which the UFO community completely ignored, they still cite the photos) and the bigfooters will pretend no such admission was made and show the photo as more “proof”. Presumably it will go alongside all those fossils we (don’t) have and all the DNA evidence we (don’t) have for bigfoot. Well. I am currently trying to believe in the Jersey Devil as I’m writing a movie about it with a producer friend. Anyone got anything new on the JD? JS (www.johnshirley.net)

  8. mazarate responds:

    Wow, ya’ll are overanalyzing this. Think about it, if this guy is a hunter, an has his camera set to the motion sensor, he’s gonna want both the sensor and the camera set pretty centered. In other words, once something steps in the path of the sensor, a picture will be taken. This would prevent something off to the side triggering the sensor and the camera snapping a photo of nothing. With this said, the object is in the center of the picture, and unless it is running pretty fast, it would have set the sensor off earlier and therefore would have ended up in the left or right of the picture. And since it looks like it’s walking(not running) to the left, we can assume it came from the right, and therefore would have been spotted a little earlier. I doubt it chose to sneak up behind the tree-or stump and pop out revealing itself. So I say it’s either one of two things, a leaf which most likely is the case, or someone stuck that image in there. And the whole it can’t be a leaf because it’s lined up perfectly with the tree is bogus. Things with worse odds than that happen all the time.

  9. Craig Woolheater responds:

    Game cameras all have a shutter lag. We use game cameras in our Bigfoot research here in Texas. Several of them have lag times of anywhere from 2 to 5 seconds. That is considerable time for a quickly moving animal to even move OUT of the frame, much less to be centered. Something to consider.

  10. handsomepete responds:

    If it was fire, wouldn’t you see smoke? Leaf fires are pretty smokey.

    I agree with the leaf theory.

  11. spacelunatic responds:

    Nekked guy tip-toeing thru the snow.

    Perhaps a hunter looking for a spot “to go” after having camped in the woods?

    Seems obvious to me. I thought you were all kidding at first..

  12. leo thinks responds:

    I think that orange glow wich appears on the ground and trees as well is the setting sun.

    removing that i find it’s sort of a light colored biped with a sheen that would reflect the sun in a strange way…the setting sun is messing up a lot of detail, but i agree with those who mention that it walks toward the left and has arms, hope that steers you in the right direction.

  13. brainvise responds:

    Everybody knows this is just swamp gas reflecting off of Venus! I mean really what else could it be?

  14. wvteddybear responds:

    being a native of braxton county. it could be a fire a leaf or god knows what. i just know there have been stories over the years of people seeing things but some of that could be how much they drank when they left the bar too lol. but they hold a flatwoods monster day each year in september. maybe they will start a bigfoot day now lol

  15. Batgirl responds:

    I can’t really say what it is but I have never heard of an ORANGE beast before. It just doesn’t fit…but then again, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely impossible. After all, I do know someone who got chased by a purple man.
    So…ya never know.


  16. Godrock responds:

    OMG! It’s the dude from that animated Christmas film. He sings that song…

    “I’m Mr. Green Christmas; I’m Mr. Sun…I’m Mr. Heat blister…I’m Mr, hundred-and-one…

    Friends call me heat Miser….”


    I just saw that the other day. The figure in the photo bears a striking resemblence.

  17. deerslookingatyou responds:

    You’re looking a deer from behind. It’s facing away from the camera. It’s orange because everything in the picture has an orange tint as seen in the close up.

  18. spambo responds:

    It’s easy to prove that this is not a leaf. Unless I’m mistaken, motion sensors “see” and react to the difference between the temperature of whatever is moving and the surrounding or ambient temperature. The leaf would be the same temperature as the rest of the woods and so the sensor wouldn’t react and snap the pic. Also, someone thought that there should be a pic from before whatever it was went behind the tree and I think I know why there was none. If a hunter wearing blaze orange (which is my guess, if there is no photoshop fakery going on.} walked towards the camera at a sharp angle, the camera wouldn’t react until the hunter’s heat signature was strong enough. Before the hunter went behind the tree he or she wasn’t close enough for the sensor to see but once he or she emerged from behind the tree, being now 10 or 20 feet closer, achieved enough temperature difference for the sensor to notice and click the pic. Finally, in response to the person who thought it strange that the only thing blurred in the picture was the orange shape in question, a camera with the aperture set wide and/or the shutter speed set slow to make use of the low light of the woods would, obviously, blur anything moving.

  19. JohnShirley responds:

    A guy at the john shirley message board (www.johnshirley.net) says it looks to him like a hunter with an animal slung over his shoulder, a hoody on, blurrily done…

    I like the leaf theory.

    I find Nessie easier to believe in than sasquatchesque things…

  20. spambo responds:

    I just noticed the comment before my first comment and although I can see the tail end of the deer as they describe it I think that there is a flaw in that theory too. The deer is walking diagonally away from the camera, which means that it was closer to the camera as it entered the frame from the left side, it therefore should have set off the camera before half disappearing behind the tree. Although the sensor could have been focused narrowly enough to not react until an object was centered in the frame, I still think that a blaze orange deer is, at best, a distant second possibility.
    On the subject of no feet seen and/or shortened legs,I have two thoughts. The faster something moves the more blurred it becomes, to the point of invisability and the legs would be moving the fastest as someone walked.The lower legs and feet especially would be blurred the most, to the point of looking pointy or shortened. Plus, the person could be walking in a gully or low spot and part of their lower legs aren’t visable, it’s hard to tell with a low rez pic like this. Finally, a note to Zwack…don’t go joining any debate teams. Your proof, and I quote…”For those who doubt it is a leaf look at the ground between the camera and the stump and you will see that there are leaves on the ground.”… was hilarious, I,m guessing you’ve never been in the woods before, just so you know…when leaves fall from trees they generally hang out ON THE GROUND. You should have figured that out when you ended with…”I suspect that the camera is mounted on a tree, so the leaf could have fallen from almost directly above it.”…showing that you’re aware of the concept of gravity. Sorry if this sounds a bit mean of me but you did write what you did and I couldn’t resist the jab at your “logic”.

  21. Michial responds:

    Is this an infra red photo? The colors appear to me as they have in other infra red photos I have seen. The arms appear “hotter” as if the subject is garbed in some manner and the arms are bare. I hope this doesn’t sound like a stupid question. I didn’t see much information about the equipment used.

  22. Blade responds:

    My first impression of the picture was that it was a bird hanging on the way a woodpecker does-with its back to the camera. There is a bird native to that area called a “Brown Thrasher”. According to Readers Digest Book of North American Birds,…10 to 12 inches long. Slender and long tailed; rusty brown above with 2 white wing bars. Forages mainly on ground; Habitat: Brushy woodlands. The color in the books illustration looks about right. Just an idea…

  23. wmmott responds:

    Sorry for the late reply.

    No, there would not necessarily be much smoke at all, since for some reason you are ASSUMING it is a “leaf fire.”

    Most campfires are NOT “leaf fires,” which is the reason that there is a stack of what looks like DRIED FIREWOOD in the picture.

    Stickin’ with the fire story–WHY have an obvious “woodpile” on the scene AT ALL, if not for use in a campfire?

  24. wmmott responds:

    The fact that a stack of firewood is present, in such a supposedly remote spot, indicates that campfires are a consideration for someone with access to that spot.

    This in and of itself is meaningful.


  25. dianaward responds:

    If I had to choose, the deer rear would win my vote. Looks like a deer’s tail stickup up far more than it looks like a head, despite my preference for more mysterious sightings.

  26. wmmott responds:

    It is IMPOSSIBLE for it to be a deer’s rear end with tail showing.

    Not possible. Can’t happen. Might as well be a giant tree sloth or a siberian tiger, as a “deer” in the shot.

    This is the problem with armchair adventurers, and is why I’m having to repeat this, yet again.


    All deer east of the Mississippi River are WHITETAIL DEER. They ALL have an ENORMOUS, FUZZY, WHITE UNDERSIDE TO THEIR TALES, ALL THE TIME, YEAR ROUND. This is known to deer hunters and naturalists alike as a “FLAG.”

    If you’ve ever seen a deer in the wild (east of the Mississippi), been deer hunting, killed a deer, skinned a deer, gutted a deer, or seen these things done, you would know what I’m telling you is the factual state of affairs.

    Maybe this “unknown species of blurry deer” chopped the firewood and stacked in neatly nearby, too.

  27. bwild responds:

    C’mon, people….isn’t it odd how there are no photos of any ‘creatures’, ‘montsters’, ever clear enough so you don’t have to sit there and second guess? I can take a picture with my cheap 100.00 digi cam of a jet 20,000 feetin the air, look at it on the puter and clearly see it is a jet…. The photo is either a hoax of the camera owner, or a misconceieved notion of something else. In either event it certainly isn’t a creature…..looks like the Human torch maybe from the Fantastic 4 though….just a thought.

  28. wmmott responds:

    Again, on “the hunter” theory….

    Aside from the fact that, even if badly blurred, no distinguishing human characterisitics, skin, hair, physiology, etc. can be seen, there is a greater problem as pointed out earlier on this board.

    Given the size of the leaves on the ground, the height of the firewood pile in relation to those, and so on, “he” or more likely “it” is between 2 and 3 feet in height.

    This pretty much excludes any possibility of a “hunter” or human being of any type.

  29. wmmott responds:

    For those who insist on this being a walking creature, there is only ONE entity that fits the general configuration:



  30. tpeter responds:

    Dear Loren,

    Somehow, it did not look like a “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch” to me–except for the curiously very high tapering top of its head, which COULD be a gorilla- or “Bigfoot”-style sagittal crest.

    For the most part, I thought, it looked like a man wearing some kind of bright-red diving suit.

    It’s interesting that Braxton County has a history of mysterious creature encounters. I found it particularly interesting that Braxton County was the area of the 1952 Flatwoods Monster!

    It’s also interesting, as well, that the Braxton County photo was taken by an automatic camera just a few days after the unknown Borneo carnivore was photographed by an automatic camera. A synchronous Fortean-Jungian coincidence? Or a copycat hoax exploiting the publicity around a recent real automatic camera photograph of an unknown creature?

    T. Peter

  31. publius responds:

    I believe some others have suggested this, but the first thing I thought was “that’s the rear end of a deer.” I DO live east of the Miss. River, and I have seen plenty of whitetail deer (walking or running away from me as well!). The poor quality of the photo has given a reddish cast to the entire creature (and picture), so I wouldn’t expect a bright white tail — what I would expect is a relatively lighter patch, which I do see.

    What do you think?

  32. doc007 responds:

    Its clearly a woodpecker….it was behind the tree and when It moved into frame, the camera snapped it. The tree is not as large as it looks. You can clearly see the head and tail along with the wings down its sides.
    what else you need solved??

  33. Blade responds:

    I agree with doc007.

  34. Nekultura responds:

    My uncle saw a large, very tall (> 8 ft) reddish furry creature in rural Illinois, just outside St. Louis, in the early 70s (ca. 1972?).

    It moved on four legs, with two swinging inward between the other two. It reminded him of a cross between a gorilla and a kangaroo. The spheroidal head seemed disproportionately small for the creature; and he thought it had two arms in addition to the legs.

    He was driving south near, I think, Redbud, Illinois. The car behind him stopped and turned around, apparently going after the creature. He himself, afraid for my aunt and cousin asleep in the car (and maybe for himself), kept on driving, thinking it would appear in the newspapers later. It never did.

    Has anyone else heard of such a creature?

  35. cynicalist responds:

    If you care to take a look at this supposed “new creature”, you’ll see that even without the image being enhanced further, you can see that this is a fake image superimposed into the film still. You can see that the “legs” of the creature just sort of disappear above the line of leaf-litter on the forest floor. You can also see the cut-off line of this fake image of a blurred line where the ankles of the creature should be. Nice try whoever faked it, but not near good enough…..

  36. momo responds:

    This is visible to the rabbit which has jumped toward the front.
    I think that it is not the photograph which caught just before hind legs came out ahead at the moment of skipping.

    It is not so good at English.
    I’m sorry when unclear.

  37. Fred G responds:

    Okay…I decided to post here. Thanks Loren for the great coverage given to our mystery biped. For the doubters I will reassure you we do not know what is in this picture. It is just something odd we wanted others to look at. The camera used was a Wildview 2.0 Megapixel Digital Toggle-Switch Scouting Camera purchased from an sportsman’s catalog. There is no evidence at the site of a fire. It was taken at approximately daybreak and the entity is walking eastward. The camera used only snaps one photo every 5,10, or 20 minutes (it was set to 20 minutes). The image taken before this one was in darkness…this is why we assume it was taken at daybreak around 6 to 7 am. The woodpile did consist of logs approx 24″ in length, but the stack was about 5 1/2 to 6 feet tall. It was early December and as I recall it was less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit that morning. With it being a digital image…there will always be those who claim it was fudged. I can assure you it wasn’t. I supplied the image to Loren in its original condition. We plan to return there soon and take an image of a person standing at the same location to post here for review.

    Here is a link to an image of the camera used.

  38. DARHOP responds:

    I don’t see any hands?

  39. borninvincible responds:

    enhanced a bit.. interestingly shaped. it appears to be walking with weird looking straight arms by its side.


  40. ETxArtist responds:

    I admit I didn’t read all these posts. To me, it looks like a raptor perched on a tree branch. Could be a horned owl, they’re pretty common in twilight times, I’ve seen many of them without the aid of night vision. They are one of our largest birds of prey, and are known for perching low, especially after an unsuccessful hunt. Just an observation from a guy who’s id’ed over 300 species of bird in the wild. I may have bird flu!

  41. blue1965 responds:

    That is no type of leaf that I’ve ever saw or raked. Could be a man in one of those orange hunting suits with his head down, but I don’t even feel that’s what it is. Whatever it is you can see both legs as it walks.

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