There are many descriptions of unexplainable encounters with an assortment of different beasts throughout the world. These creatures often resemble some deformed version of animals known to man. The first account of the “Beast of Gevaudan,” dates back to 1764, where a woman claimed to have spotted a creature that looked like a wolf, but was the size of a cow or donkey.
The woman was looking after her cows when the creature came upon her, scaring away her dogs. She stated that her cows were able to drive the beast away with the presence of their fierce horns. Soon after this sighting, there were a string of unexplainable murders that shocked and disturbed the area. No one was safe from these attacks, as men, women and children were found with hearts ripped out of their bodies, as well as other brutal acts. The creature moved from killing one at a time to taking the lives of entire groups of men. A panic set in and hunters took to the land with hopes of ending the creature’s terror.
Some people claimed to have shot or stabbed the beast, but reported that it was oblivious to these attempts. It wasn’t until October of that year, that two hunters believed that they had wounded the beast with several shots to its body. They claimed that the creature had hobbled away. A temporary ease replaced the intense fear that the locals felt about the beast. Unfortunately, the sigh of relief came too early as the killings started up again within a couple of days.
The descriptions of the beast varied from having feet with talons to being shaped like a greyhound. His head was large, but the color of his fur could be reddish or gray or black. The descriptions went on and on. Some concluded that it was a mongrel of some sort, embodying the traits of many different animals.
It wasn’t until a public attack on a couple of children that military help was requested. The children had been bitten and torn apart, while older kids fended off the beast with pitchforks and knives. The Royal Court at Versailles allowed a small group of men to descend upon the area. Since there was a theory that the beast preferred the blood of females, several men dressed as women in order to “trick” the creature. The men caught sight of the beast, shot at it, but did not manage to kill it. When there seemed to be no more killings, everyone had thought that the beast had succumbed to his wounds. But, as soon as the help left, bodies began to pop up once more.
Even though a reward was offered, the beast still did not lose his life, but countless wolves had been slayed during this challenge. Professional wolf trackers bit at the chance to claim the reward, but even they could not pinpoint where the wolf was keeping himself. The creature seemed unstoppable.
In 1765, the summer season became especially frightening because children were being murdered left and right. The coming months created empty villages as residents left the area because they were “seeing” the beast stare into their windows. During the night, anyone in the streets was attacked. Anyone who encountered the creature, froze with fear, unable to defend themselves.
Now this is where something quite familiar arises in this tale. We have all heard of silver bullets being able to destroy a werewolf, right? In 1767, a man by the name of Jean Chastel, decided to load his gun with silver bullets and when he came into contact with the creature, he fired those bullets at the beast. He claimed that his second shot hit the beast in the heart which led to its death. It is said that when the creature was gutted, various items could be found within his stomach including the collarbone of a small child. The beast was credited with the deaths of about 60 townsfolk.
No one was able to carefully analyze the body of the beast. It had been sent to Versailles, but by the time it had reached its destination, the body had already begun to decompose.