The Hodag

  • Article

    The Hodag is an mythical animal invented by Gene Shepherd of Rhinelander and Star Lake. There is almost as much mythology involved with the story of the hodag hoax as with the story of the mythical animal. Green, horned, and snarling, the hodag would certainly have been a formidable creature had you met it in the woods. Invented by Shepherd, the "captured" specimen was housed in a cave either in Star Lake or in Rhinelander. Many people were fooled, even when they came to the cave to "see" or hear the hodag. One version has the Smithsonian Institution actually sending a scientist to Wisconsin to look into the phenomenon of the hodag.

    The hodag survives today as the mascot for the Rhinelander High School athletics teams.

    Charles P. Forbes
    November 9, 2011
  • Bibliography

    Major References

    ****. Capture the Legend! Hodags on Parade. [Card, two sides, 4"x9"] Rhinelander, 2012. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    ****. Nicolet to Present 'Hodag Increments'. [Vilas County News-Review, Nov. 5,, 2003, P. 2B.] Eagle River, 2003. View Full Entry
    ****. Horrible Hodag. [Northern Action Magazine, XIX:3, June 2004, p. 51.] Tomahawk, 2004. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    ****. Legendary Hodag to Make Triumphant Return to County Fair. [Star Journal Web Page, July 28, 2012] Rhinelander, 2012. View Full Entry
    ****. Scooby Doo: The Hodag of Horror. [Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Season 2] Burbank, California, 2012. View Full Entry
    Arnold, Caroline. Terrible Hodag and the Animal Catchers. Honesdale, PA, 2006. View Full Entry
    Arnold, Caroline. Terrible Hodag. New York, 1989. View Full Entry
    Brown, Charles Edward. Paul Bunyan Natural History. Madison, 1935. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    DeWitt, Mabel Sayner. Brief History of Sayner and Star Lake. [Essay Presented by Mrs. DeWitt before the Vilas County Historical Society.] Sayner, 1955. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Hoday Pete. Rhinelander Invites You. [Creative Wisconsin, Vol. 1, #3, July, 1954, p. 50] Madison, 1954. View Full Entry
    Huhti, Thomas. Wisconsin. [Fourth Edition] Berkeley, CA, 2008. View Full Entry
    Kearney, Lake Shore [Luke Sylvester]. Hodag, The, And Other Tales of the Logging Camps. Madison, 1928. View Full Entry
    Kearney, et al.. Tale of the Hodag. [Wis. Tales and Trails, Vol. 2, #2, Summer 1961, pp. 6-7.] Madison, 1961. View Full Entry
    Kortenhof, Kurt. Long Live the Hodag! The Life and Legacy of Eugene Simeon Shepard: 1854-1923. Rhinelander, 1996. View Full Entry
    Martin, Mike. Birthplace of Bunyan?. [Our Wisconsin, Vol. 8, #2, Feb/Mar 2020, pp/ 15-16] Manitowish Waters, 2020. View Full Entry
    Shepard, Gene. Round River Drive. [In: Kearney, Hodag, The, And Other Tales of the Logging Camps] Madison, 1928. View Full Entry
    Skubal, Michael. Hodag Increments. [Play] 2003. View Full Entry
    Vilas County Historical Museum. Eugene S. Shepard (A Local Legend). [Notes and Nostalgia, The Vilas Historical Museum Newsletter, VIII, 3rd Issue, Fall, 2006.] Sayner, 2006. View Full Entry
    Wyman, Walker. Hodag. [Mythical Creaters of the North Country] River Falls, Wiscons, 1969. View Full Entry

    Minor References

    Gard and Sorden. Wisconsin Lore. [Orig. Published in New York by Duell, Sloan and Pearce [1962]. This is a paperback edition.] Sauk City, Wisconsin, 1980. View Full Entry
  • Links
  • Images
  • Miscellany

    +++The Hodag Increments

    //The Hodag Increments// is a play by Michael Skubal of Rhinelander which purports to tell the story of the invention of the hodag. It premiered at the Green Bay Community Theater in June of 2003, and was produced at Nicolet College in Rhinelander in November of 2003.

    +++Capture of the Hodag

    The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin sponsored a 2013 field trip in the Rhinelander area titles "Hunt for the Hodag." The trip description stated, "Adventure awaits! Immerse yourself into the old-growth primeval forest for Holboe Conifer Forest SNA [State Natural Area] to see the location where the fabled Hodag was captured. Venture to an eagle nest to view the young & learn about raptor ecology...."