The Werewolf also known as Lycanthrope (from the Greek λυκάνθρωπος: λύκος, lukos, "wolf", and άνθρωπος, anthrōpos, man), is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon, as popularly noted by the medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, and perhaps in earlier times among the ancient Greeks through the writings of Petronius.
Werewolves are often attributed superhuman strength and senses, far beyond those of both wolves and men. The werewolf is generally held as a European character, although its lore spread through the world in later times. Shape-shifters, similar to werewolves, are common in tales from all over the world, most notably amongst the Native Americans, though most of them involve animal forms other than wolves.
Werewolves are a frequent subject of modern fiction, although fictional werewolves have been attributed traits distinct from those of original folklore. For example, the ideas that werewolves are only vulnerable to silver bullets or that they can cause others to become werewolves by biting or wounding them derive from works of modern fiction. Werewolves continue to endure in modern culture and fiction, with books, films and television shows cementing the werewolf's stance as a dominant figure in horror.
- 1936, Jefferson County, Wisconsin : Mark Schackelman was driving along Highway 18 just outside of Jefferson, Wisconsin when he noticed someone digging in a field off the side of the road. The site was a location where a Native American burial ground was believed to be (I swear I am not making this up). When Schackelman slowed down to get a better look, the "man" turned around and faced him. It turns out that it was a hairy creature that stood on two legs, which Schackelman described as looking like a mix between an ape and a dog. The creature had the general shape of a large man, with opposable thumbs and everything. Schackelman drove off in a hurry but remained curious about the creature. The next night he drove past the same area hoping to see the creature again. He did. This time the man-beast growled at him in a way that sounded eerily human, making a sound that he described as "ga-DA-ra". Schackelman freaked out and the creature ran off.
- 1964, Jefferson County, Wisconsin : Dennis Fewless was driving along Highway 89 around midnight when he saw a figure running across the road. When his headlights caught sight of the creature, it was eerily similar to werewolf seen in 1936, just a couple of miles away. Large and muscular, stood around seven feet tall, covered in dark brown hair, with a dog-like face. Fewless saw the creature run across the road, jump over a barbed-wire fence, and disappear into a corn field. Fewless waited until the sun was up the next day to return to the scene of the werewolf sighting. He had hoped to find tracks to prove the size of the beast, but the ground was too hard. He was able to find the place in the cornfield where the werewolf had entered. The stalks of corn were broken and askew in such a way that supported the theory that a man-beast of massive size had been there.
- 1972, Jefferson County, Wisconsin : A woman (name unreported) called 911 when she heard someone trying to break into her rural home in the middle of the night. Upon further investigation, it appeared that it was not a person, but a large animal that had tried to get in. A few weeks later the creature returned and again tried to forcefully enter the house. This time the woman saw the creature. She described it as around eight feet tall, covered in dark brown hair, and it stood on two legs. It had long arms with hands that had long, sharp claws on them. When the creature couldn't get inside the house, it went out to the woman's barn and attacked a horse. The horse was alive, but had a deep cut across its back. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources investigated, finding a foot print that was said to be over a foot long.
- 1989, Elkhorn, Wisconsin : Lorianne Endrizzi had seen a large figure on the side of the road. As she got close she realized that it was not a person but a tall beast, covered in gray/brown hair, with a dog-like face featuring fangs, pointed ears, and glowing yellow eyes.
- 1989, Elkhorn, Wisconsin : A dairy farmer named Scott Bray owned a cattle pasture near his family's namesake street, Bray Road. He reported seeing a dog, larger and taller than a German Shepherd, in his pasture one night. The creature was muscular and heavy, covered in gray/brown hair with pointed ears. Bray was able to find footprints, larger than any known dog or wolf, in the pasture the next day.
- 1989, Elkhorn, Wisconsin : Russell Gest saw a large, dog-like creature in Elkhorn close to the time of the previous two reported encounters. He described the creature in a very similar way to the other reports, stating that it stood on its hind legs and began to slowly approach him before he ran away.
- 1992, Elkhorn, Wisconsin : Tammy Bray, the wife of Scott Bray, was driving back to her home on Bray Road when she saw the creature. She also described a tall, broad shouldered, and muscular beast covered in dark brown hair. The dog-like face and glowing yellow eyes match the previous descriptions of the Wisconsin werewolf, though at this point, the other sightings had still not been widely reported.
- 1999, Elkhorn, Wisconsin : It was the night of Halloween 1999, and an 18-year old woman named Doristine Gipson was driving along, you guessed it, Bray Road, when her car suddenly jerked as if she had hit something. She got out of the car and walked back along the road, straining to see. Then she caught sight of what she had hit. A huge, dark, hairy figure began rushing toward her. Gipson ran back into her car and began to drive away. The beast reportedly jumped up onto the trunk of the car, but due to the wetness of the rain-covered car, it could not hold on and fell to the ground. Gipson said she drove back to the location that same night with a young trick-or-treater, and they both saw a large figure laying on the side of the road. They didn't stay long. Gipson reported the sighting the next day, which is what brought the other witnesses to share their tales. At this point, no one was sure what the creature was, so they dubbed it "The Beast of Bray Road."
- In medieval Europe, especially France and Germany, innocent people were often taken to the court because they were thought to be Werewolves. After being forced to plead guilty, these innocent people were typically tortured by stretching and were executed by burning or beheading.
- Contrary to popular belief, Werewolves in folklore were not believed to shape shift when the moon is full, turned into a werewolf by being bitten by one, and silver bullets were not needed to kill them. These classical elements to the werewolf myth were invented from fiction. Traditionally, Werewolves were believed to shift at will and would appear as a wolf at anytime. The best method to become a werewolf was innate (pact with the devil, wearing magical wolf pelt/girdle, rubbing magical ointment, a curse, etc), and werewolves could be killed with any conventional weapon.
- There are many ways to become a werewolf yourself.
- Drink water out of a wolf's track.
- Drink downstream on a river as a wolf drinks ahead of you.
- Sleep under the full moon's light.
- Be bitten by a werewolf.
- Be born from werewolves.
- Be cursed by some kind of magical being.
- Be put under a spell.
- Be born the 7th son in an Indian family.