In September 2010, there was an interesting development in my quest for the truth of the chupacabra in the United States – although, this time, not in Texas, where I live. Matters kicked off with a phone call to me from one of Oklahoma's local TV channels. It transpired that sightings had been made of what sounded very much like a Texas chupacabra, but over the border into Oklahoma. For those who don't know, the U.S. chupacabra is actually a hairless coyote, albeit one with a few, genuinely odd mutations. This account, alone, was of great interest to me, as it suggested the beasts – or the condition that was provoking certain, significant, physical changes in wild coyotes – were on the move. There was more, too.
Apparently, a photograph had been taken of the creature, one which showed it up fairly close and personal. Not only that, at the time the photo was fortuitously snapped, the animal was in the process of bounding across a stretch of field in a very strange fashion: it alternated between running on all-fours and almost bouncing along on its hind limbs. I had heard of accounts of the chupacabra (both in Puerto Rico and Texas) having the ability to move on both four limbs and two. This, however, was the first time I had come across a story where there was actual photographic evidence demonstrating this curious gait. With the story outlined to me, a question was then put to me by the local news crew: “Would you like to come up and investigate the story with us?” Of course!
A couple of days later I was on the road. It was a blisteringly hot day in Texas when I set off. By the time I reached the town of Norman, Oklahoma – which was close to where all of the sightings had been made – it was roasting. The point of rendezvous was Rudy’s Store and BBQ, on Chautauqua Avenue. I was met by a reporter and a cameraman. As we ate our early dinner, and as the mouthwatering odor of barbecued meat filled the air, I was given the details of the story. For several months, sightings had been made of a strange creature – all at nearby Tecumseh, a small town of less than 7,000 people. What made this story particularly interesting is that the encounters were not strewn all across the town. Instead, each and every one was focused on the woods and the fields that surrounded the Tecumseh High School.
I was told it was the very fact that the beast spent so much time in the area which allowed one of the school’s students – Ryan Craighhead – to get a picture of it on his cell-phone. The local news channel had a copy of the image with them and passed it to me for scrutiny. It did, indeed, show something very weird. Sure enough, the creature – as I had been told just a few days previously – appeared to be running on its hind legs. Not only that: the front limbs of the animal were ridiculously short. It was a very, very strange picture of a very, very strange animal.
By about 5:30 p.m. we were on-site, deep in the heart of the fields and woods that dominate the school. We did some background filming that outlined my investigations of the chupacabra controversy, and which also gave me time to express my opinions on what the animals might be. After the first round of filming, a call was made to Ryan Craighead, who was on the scene within the hour, along with a couple of friends. With the camera on him, the news team recorded the details of his encounter and explained how he and some of his school-buddies had seen the animal on a number of occasions, all prior to him having caught the creature on camera. He also explained that in terms of the gait of the creature, it reminded him most of all of that of a kangaroo. Having seen the photo, it was almost impossible to argue with that.
As night fell on Tecumseh, the team and I roamed the woods and fields, in search of the creature. We actually did find fairly fresh coyote tracks, and heard the distinct calling card of the coyote, too, but probably from a distance of a couple of hundred yards, I would say. We finished filming around 11.00 p.m. and, with the job completed, went our separate ways.