Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Hidebehind


No matter how much you hate your job, it has one bright side you may have forgotten.  You're very, very unlikely to be eaten by a bear.  Nineteeth-century lumberjacks had no such comfort, and they faced many other dangers to boot.  If a bear didn't get you, perhaps a falling tree would-- or a flash flood, or a forest fire, or some other disaster.  A number of grim fates were possible.

The worst of all, according to lumberjack folklore, was death by Hidebehind.  The Hidebehind was a "fearsome critter" rather different from its brethren.  While most of these folkloric beasts were comical, the Hidebehind was feared.  This was no monster to joke about-- it was a horrific murderer, used to explain mysterious disappearances.

The Hidebehind was so named because it was incredibly slender-- able to conceal itself behind even the thinnest of trees.  It would stalk its human prey through the woods, darting from trunk to trunk whenever its quarry turned his back.  When it finally came close enough to strike, the Hidebehind would gouge out the intestines of its target, consuming them raw.  Assault was so sudden that a victim might die of fright.

The one defense against the Hidebehind was alcohol.  The monster could not stomach the smell of beer, saving many inebriated lumberjacks.  A convenient excuse, certainly-- but one by which many foresters swore.  Indeed, this encouragement of drunkenness was the Hidebehind's sole redeeming trait.

Read more about the Hidebehind:
http://www.lumberwoods.com/p23.htm
http://content.wisconsinhistory.org/cdm/ref/collection/tp/id/55361
Image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Hidebehind.jpg (public domain)

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