T. Peter Park shares the following:
An unknown 7-foot-long predatory “varmint” from the Brushy Mountains
killed a hunting dog and pursued local residents in Turkey Hollow,
Wilkes County, North Carolina in November 1944, according to North
Carolina journalist, folklorist, and regional historian John Harden in
The Devil’s Tramping Ground and Other North Carolina Mystery Stories
(Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1949, 1980). In
his chapter on “The Strange Killer of Turkey Hollow” (pp. 147-154),
Harden narrated a story told by a Cabarrus County friend from his
newspaper days at Salisbury, W.S, “Slim” Davis of Kannapolis.
One cold November day in 1944, Slim Davis and his friend Code Frazier
set out deer hunting near Moravian Falls and Pores Knob, with Code’s
50-pound black hound Jule. As they followed a narrow wagon road up
Turkey Hollow, Code showed Slim some scars on Jule’s leg and ears, made
some time earlier by an unknown assailant. She had a long ragged scar on
her leg from shoulder to knee, and her ears had been slit in a dozen
places, either by a fang or a claw. “I don’t know what done that,” Code
told Slim, “but whatever it was, it’s the only thing that ever
whipped Jule.” A dog hadn’t given Jule these wounds, he added. “Whatever
done that whipped every dog in the country–and Jule twice.” Code said
that he had been working in an apple orchard near that very spot in
Turkey Hollow when Jule first jumped it. He had found poor Jule limping
home an hour later, bloody, severely hurt, from her encounter with the
As Slim and Code were talking that morning, Jule suddenly ran off–and
then a thin whine sounded down on the slope below them, followed by a
long drawn out baying, as they approached a cliff called the Devil’s
Smokehouse. Then they heard Jule yelping in a frenzy of excitement. They
heard Jule running and yelping in pursuit of what they thought must be a
fox toward Snaggy Mountain and the Devil’s Smokehouse. Code’s grim voice
then snapped them back to reality. “That’s no fox, either,” he said.
“That’s the varmint she’s after again.” A few minutes later, Slim and
Code stood just below the Devil’s Smokehouse rocks, a 50-foot cliff
running a quarter of a mile east and west, across the rim of Turkey
Hollow. Then Jule’s hunting sound reached its highest peak–and abruptly
Slim and Code looked for Jule, but never found her. Code’s dog was never
seen again that November day in 1944. Arthur Edsel, Raymond and Willard
Lane, Galen Hood, and Reid Anderson helped in the search for days. They
covered the whole area by foot, inch by inch, but never found a trace of
Did they ever find out what the “varmint” was?, Harden asked.
<<No, but there was a story of how it chased the Lane boys out of Turkey
Hollow the next night after Jule disappeared. Then Reid Anderson said
that it jumped into the road in front of him as he was coming through
the adjoining Shandy Hollow two nights later. Reid said it looked like
it was seven feet long. He took a few shots at it with his .38 but
seemed to have missed. After that the varmint retired, as far as anyone
knows.>> [John Harden, The Devil's Tramping Ground, p. 154]
Unfortunately, none of the witnesses–neither the Lane boys nor Reid
Anderson–described the “varmint” in any detail. Did it look like a big
cat, or was it bear-like, dog-like, or wolf-like? What color was it?
Harden himself thought it might have been a “panther” (puma or mountain
lion). Several successive forest fires in the Blue Ridge in 1942 and
1943, it had been suggested, had driven a lot of the wildlife, including
bear and deer, over into the Brushies and along the Yadkin River valley.
In that migratory flight from the fires, “a panther may have left his
usual habitat and come to the Brushies to make his home” [p. 154].
A tantalizing thought, though perhaps forever unverifiable–could it
have been one of those frequently-reported cryptid “black mystery cats”?