The woods are thick and dark so you stick to the road. It is a wide and well kept road so it seems like it should be busier, but you see no other travelers in either direction, it is eerily quiet.
As you make your way down the broad road you approach a bridge that spans a slow moving river. You think you see movement in the bushes along the bank but decide it’s some small animal running for cover, more afraid of you than you are of it. But as you get closer to the bridge a fur covered figure steps out onto the road and you realize it is neither small nor afraid.
Best of luck, friend, because you’ve wandered onto the Goatman’s turf.
There are a few goatmen said to inhabit the woods around the United States, but the goatman of Prince George County, Maryland is the oldest with the most decidedly modern origin story. Locals have been reporting seeing a six foot half man, half goat hybrid around Fletchertown Road since the 1950s. The stories say that this creature is a result of a scientific experiment gone wrong at the nearby Beltsville Research Agricultural Center, namely a doctor mixing the DNA of a goat with the DNA of his research assistant and creating a monster. This urban legend is so strong that the USDA has publicly and repeatedly denied performing any such kinds of experiments, but still, the myth persists.
It’s said that the goatman lurks in the woods, attacking pets, hikers, and stray teenagers that have the misfortune of wandering into its territory. Locals claim that the goatman is responsible for the deaths of fourteen hikers and a number of yet unexplained disappearances, as well as the mutilation of dogs and cats. It has also been reported that the goatman is keen on breaking into homes and ransacking them for food. Sightings and attacks are most concentrated around the areas that the goatman seems to call home, namely around Governor’s Bridge, nicknamed Crybaby Bridge, where some claim to have seen it entering and exiting a cave under the bridge. People have also found bones, knives, saws, and discarded food in places they suspect the goatman may live.
Since the goatman is a scientific accident, the good news is that there is only one, so you don’t have to worry about bumping into a whole herd of goatmen. The bad news is that one seems to be enough to do plenty of damage.
Unlike many cryptids and creatures of folklore, the goatman seems utterly unphased by encounters with humans, and not likely to try and hide or escape. It’s braver and more confrontational than your average monster, so by the time you see it, you’re probably in for a fight. Though the goatman doesn’t seem to have any particular supernatural abilities, it is strong, seems to be proficient with bladed weapons, and smells just awful. It also seems to retain at least some level of human intelligence, so be ready for a foe that’s smarter than it looks.
The goatman does seem to favor attacking solitary travelers, or at least those smaller and weaker than itself, so the best offense might be having friends. It’s a well established tradition for local teens to organize goatman hunts, and though they seem to mostly turn into big parties in the woods, gathering in groups seems to be enough to keep the goatman at bay.
Dex Dylan is the founder and acting president of the International Society of Astrocryptozoology. For decades, Dex has scoured the skies and seas (and sometimes the land, but honestly it’s so crowded) for hints of unusual life forms, and has done extensive research into the possible existence of chupacabras on Mars.