Listening to an old favorite episode of The Cryptid Keeper, reminded me of these terrifying beasts that needed to be indexed. If you’re looking for a podcast about cryptids, The Cryptid Keeper is my personal recommendation. The episode on Hidebehinds can be found here.
What’s that behind you, lurking in the forest?
Featured in American folklore, hidebehinds are nocturnal carnivorous cryptids who lurk in the forests of the north east, preying on humans who dare come through the woods. Hidebehinds are said to explain the disappearances of early loggers when they failed to return to camp.
As its name suggests, the Hidebehind is noted for its ability to conceal itself. When someone attempts to look directly at it, the creature hides again behind an object or the observer and therefore can’t be directly seen: a feat it accomplishes by sucking in its stomach to a point where it is so slender that it can easily cover itself behind the trunk of any tree. The Hidebehind uses this ability to stalk it’s prey without being noticed; waiting to strike at a moment when the prey (aka US) is most vulnerable.
They are said to hide behind trees near the victim, but are even known to hide behind the victim themselves; can you imagine turning your head to look and not seeing anything only to have it be lurking right behind your back?! That is terrifying. They are also known to follow groups of people walking through the woods, targeting the last person in the group. This is when they’ll grab them and drag the victim back to their lair, where the Hidebehind feasts on their intestines.
Experienced lumberjacks know that the Hidebehind looks a lot like a bear, walking upright, standing about 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall. Its slender body is covered in long black fur, thick enough that its front and back are interchangeable and its face (if it has one) is unknown. The forelegs are short, powerful, and armed with bear-like claws. The tail is like that of a French sheepdog and is held curled upwards.
Though they have never really been “seen,” there are many stories of Hidebehinds that go as far back as when the Pennsylvania dutch first arrived in the Americas. The amount of people who go missing in National Parks is terrifying, and a great deal of them were said to be last in line in their traveling party. The entire state of Pennsylvania has a large concentration of missing people in the parks there, and that coincides with where reports of Hidebehinds are from. York County, Pennsylvania even has a haunting saying, “Don’t look behind you on Toad Road,” a road known to have many reports or screams, things peeking out from behind trees, a feeling like something was following them, etc. A man was reported to have been attacked by a hairy humanoid like monster on Toad Road.
Charles Edward Brown wrote a nonfiction encyclopedic piece in 1935 titled Paul Bunyan Natural History, describing the wild animals, reptiles, and fish in the big woods around Paul Bunyan’s old time logging camps. Included in the list is a section on the hidebehind, which is described as a very dangerous animal which undoubtedly accounted for many missing lumberjacks.
Notoriously, the only way to ensure your safety in this case is total inebriation. Hidebehind’s loathe thesmell of alcohol. However, a Hidebehind might disembowel a logger before noticing intestinal alcohol, so ideally a good state of inebriation is required.
Hidebehinds have permeated this culture for many many years, and will likely feast for many many more. So if you happen to be in the Pennsylvania logging woods, then make sure you’re completely shitfaced.