Hodags are fierce animals only found in the north woods of Wisconsin. They are said to rise from the ashes of lumber oxen, which are/were cremated to cleanse their souls from the lifetime of profanity hurled at them by lumberjacks.
This explains why the Hodag is so mean, and also suggests that whatever Hodags are still out there are geriatric in human years.
Many eyewitness photos of the Hodag -- and even some stuffed specimens -- are available for study. There not much mystery about what it looks like.
It's a seven-foot-long, lizard-like beast, stout and muscular, with thick, short legs ending in huge claws. The Hodag is covered with short, bristly hair. Spikes along its backbone lead to a powerful tail. Its head is large for its body with large, menacing horns, razor-sharp teeth, and green eyes set into a deceptively cheerful face.
In a famous vintage photo displayed at the Logging Museum, a Hodag leers over its next victim while completely surrounded by Rhinelanders brandishing pitchforks, axes, and rifles.
Defying conventional wisdom, Rhinelander grew in popularity only after it was known as the home of a monster. The town first called itself "Hodag City" and now is known as "The Home of the Hodag." Rhinelander High School is that rare entity that has named its sports teams after a local monster. This may explain the profusion of Hodag boosterism in the form of statues and signs vs. a prolonged civic appreciation for the wily dog-eater.
Rhinelapus, a monster in the town next door.
Exceptionally strong and fierce. Gunfire will not stop it. The Hodag smells horrible, spouts fire from its wide nostrils, and can reportedly crush anything in its vise-like jaws. It eats dogs.
What's Out There for Vacation Travelers?
Many Hodag tributes are scattered around Rhinelander, and two specimens of this fearsome beast are exhibited in the town's Logging Museum.