The Honey Island Swamp Monster of Louisiana

Horror Mystery and Lore
Dark and spooky swampland
Photography by Anthony Roberts

Louisiana is rife with local folklore, particularly stemming from the untouched acres of the Honey Island Swamp just a short drive from New Orleans. These legends are of the pirates of the Bayou who were said to have hidden buried treasures, Native American ghosts, and the mysterious green lights that lure unsuspecting night travelers into the depths of the swamp, never to be seen again. These are just a few examples of all of the stories that are hidden in the unfathomable depths of the Louisiana swamps, which is home to the Honey Island Swamp Monster.

In August of 1963, Harlan Ford—a retired air traffic controller—was the first to catch sight of the bigfoot of the Bayou, having recently taken up wildlife photography. He described this seven-foot-tall, bipedal creature as being covered in grey hair, with yellow or red inhuman eyes set deep into its primatial face. The air hangs thick around this swamp monster, with an odor of rotting, decaying flesh—a smell so distinctive and disgusting that it would warn anyone of its presence.

The Honey Island Swamp Monster
Honey Island Swamp Monster

In 1974, the Honey Island Swamp Monster gained fame nationally, after Ford and his associate Billy Mills claimed to have found footprints that weren’t like any other creature in the area—these footprints according to myth, and a chance casting of a footprint found by these two men were at between ten to twelve inches long with three webbed toes, along with an opposable digit that was set much farther back than the others. Along with the luck of finding this footprint and casting it, they found the body of a wild board whose throat had been gashed open just a short way away. For the next six years, until his death in 1980, Ford continued to hunt for the creature—after his passing, a reel of Super 8 film was found among the belongings he had left behind, this film supposedly showed proof of the creature’s existence.

In the early twentieth century, before the first reported sighting of the Honey Island Swamp Monster by Ford, there was a legend of a traveling circus—traveling by train, a catastrophic wreck resulted in the escape of a group of chimpanzees. These chimpanzees were said to have gone deep into the swamps and interbred with the local alligator population. The Native Americans who called the area home, referred to the creature as the Letiche—they knew it as carnivorous, living both on land and in water—they believed this creature had originated as an abandoned child, raised by alligators in the darkest, most untouched regions of the swamp.

The Honey Island Swamp Monster caught on Super 8 Video footage

Researchers who have studied the lore of the Honey Island Swamp Monster, believe that it is related to Bigfoot—one reason that it is often referred to as the Bigfoot of the Bayou. While their description is similar, the tracks do not resemble those collected of Bigfoot from the Pacific North West. Despite the reputable nature of Ford and Mills, there have been a number of shows that have focused on hunting down the Honey Island Swamp Monster in order to prove the existence of this cryptid—all of them have come down on the side of the whole thing being a hoax, which isn’t entirely surprising.


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Date of Discovery

While the actual date of discovery is unknown, due to the historically oral tradition that it originated from. It is said that these creatures have existed in story-form since before the Bering Land Bridge, which dates back at least 20,000 years.


The Tornit is likened to the Bigfoot or Sasquatch of the contiguous United States, as well as parts of Canada. It is the Alaskan counterpart, known well in the Inuit culture, that goes by the names of Tornit, Alaska Bushman, or simply Bushman.

Physical Description

More suited for an arctic climate, it resembles the Bigfoot quite a bit in its visage, like giants who are ape-like in demeanor with longer arms and a body covered in a thick dark brown hair, or fur. It stands an intimidating seven feet tall and possessed a strength that was infamous amongst the Inuit people.


The Tornit stems from the Inuit culture, an indigenous culture of the arctic circle, but since there is no written history of this culture before the late 1800s, only the cultural anthropological studies done on the Inuit tribes during that time can be relied upon for information on their origin. We see that most of the accounts of these stories coming from Newfoundland and Labrador, which reference the modern-day Baffin Bay in Greenland.

Mythology and Lore

They were feared as brutish thieves and killers, although there is some folklore where they were painted as being shy, making themselves scarce, and doing their utmost to avoid encounters with the Inuit people. In the most popular versions of the oral tales, storytellers would talk of these hairy giants that would stalk their villages until nighttime, to steal their food and kayaks—the most important things that these communities possessed. They also spoke of how these creatures would murder villagers who may have gotten in their way.

There are stories that depict the Tornit species as being these murderous villains that they were known widely to be, but there were also stories that spoke the opposite of their character. Alternate versions of the tale suggest that the Tornit would get away with their thievery, but would be tracked back to their own villages where all of the Tornit present, male, female, and any children would be slaughtered by the individual native who had the most stolen from him.

Never to be confused with being an overly intelligent species of humanoid, the overall idea of them can be considered oafish in nature, but not necessarily murderous so much as protective, defensive, or vengeful creatures—possessing only the baser instincts of survival. In certain regions where the Inuit tribes thrived, there were still less popular stories where Tornit and native women intermarried and lived peacefully with those who came and went within their territory.

Modern Pop-Culture References

While not necessarily modern in nature, these books convey the stories of the Inuit people that these creatures originated from.


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