INTERVIEW: Searching for Mothman, Grassman, Devil Dog on ‘Mountain Monsters’

John 'Trapper' Tice of 'Mountain Monsters' on Destination America — Photo courtesy of Destination America

John ‘Trapper’ Tice stars in Mountain Monsters on Destination America. Photo courtesy of Destination America.

His name is John Tice, but people call him Trapper. He’s a backwoods West Virginian who prefers hill people or mountain people over that other term people sometimes use. With his closest friends, Tice travels around the Appalachian region looking for evidence of mysterious, mythical creatures that have lived in the public’s consciousness for generations. His group, called the Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS), is the subject of Mountain Monsters, the new reality series on Destination America.

“I think the show was very exciting,” Tice said recently during a phone interview. “You know, some family and friends were over, and we all really, really enjoyed it.”

Tice’s interest in these mysterious beasts, which include the Mothman, Grassman and Wampus Beast, has been with him for a number of years. He remembered when more than a decade ago his nephew documented evidence of some men in Ohio who had taken a casting of an enormous footprint. Tice’s son also wrote an article for Goldenseal magazine, a West Virginia publication, that explored the legend of Ike’s Tomb.

“Everybody’s been visiting Ike’s tomb and this part of the country for years, so we did a lot of research on Ike’s tomb,” he said. “And that got published in Goldenseal magazine, and so then people would just call me, you know, people that knew me would call me. And if you know hill people, word spreads pretty fast.”

Tice said that many people are still apprehensive about their sightings and don’t come forward to the AIMS group. “They see something and they don’t really know what it is,” he said. “Well, they just don’t want to say anything about it, so I believe my goal personally is to give them a little peace of mind that this does exist or don’t exist. We’re not out there to kill anything. And we arm ourselves because we are out there, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. The last thing we want to do is to harm one of these creatures.”

The members of the Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS) — Photo courtesy of Destination America

The members of the Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings (AIMS) star in Mountain Monsters. Photo courtesy of Destination America.

Many times Tice’s team confirms that the beast is nothing more than a black angus cow on a ridge somewhere. It’s not always an exciting creature at the end of the investigation. But isn’t believing more fun? Aren’t there lessons to be learned?

“That’s what’s wrong with America now. When I was a child, everyone sat on the front porch and talked all night. Usually that would lead to ghost stories or beast stories, and those stories got passed on from generation to generation. And even in the hill people anymore, it seems like they’re always watching television or going to do this or going to do that. And that’s kind of a thing of the past. … There was always all kinds of scary stories being told when I was a pup.”

On the inaugural season of Mountain Monsters, the team explores such legends as the Mothman, Wolfman and Devil Dog. The Mothman, in particular, is one mystery that Tice said is absolutely true. “Oh, yeah, I definitely believe in the Mothman,” he said. “No ands or buts about it.”

At a recent get-together of local folk singers, a man went up to Tice and told him about three pipe-fitters who said they saw the creature land on top of a tower. The sighting was located near Point Pleasant, W.V., where the legend of the Mothman has its strongest connections.

Another mystery is that enormous casting from a sasquatch-like beast in Ohio. Tice said the footprint was 16-17 inches long and 6-7 inches wide. “That’s the way I remember it,” he added.

According to the AIMS leader, the presence of these beasts in the Appalachian region is tied to the changing habitats in the local area. Today’s West Virginia is quite different than the West Virginia of his childhood.

“I was raised on a little creek in West Virginia called Sugar Creek,” he said. “When I was a young man in my childhood the length of that creek in Pleasants County was probably less than 7 or 8 miles long. And there was probably … 300 head of cattle on Sugar Creek back then. Today’s there’s like 15 head.”

The reduction in cattle, Tice said, is because “we’re giving these creatures a lot more territory.”

He offered a deer hunting example: “In the 1960s, when there was no deer, you couldn’t find a place to park along the road on Sugar Creek in deer season, there were so many deer hunters. Today, you might see a couple vehicles. … So there’s no one out there anymore. We’re creating an existence for them better than they’ve ever seen before. And I have a few theories. You know, I think they migrate south, these creatures do. They work their way south if we have a bad winter. A few things over the last 40-50 years that we didn’t have when I was young: we didn’t have coyotes; we didn’t have bobcats; we didn’t have turkeys; we didn’t have otters; we didn’t have beaver; we didn’t have mountain lion; we didn’t have painted turtle; we didn’t have bear here. So predators are moving in. Things that have disappeared here in those 50 years, the bobwhite quail, the predators have wiped them out. … The grouse are already gone. The groundhogs or woodchucks are virtually gone. So out there is changing and maybe in another 50 years it’ll change different.”

In Tice’s estimation, a creature can run up to 100,000 acres without being seen. This makes AIMS’ mission quite difficult, but this West Virginia woodsman relies on a few assumptions. First, look for a food source. Second, they need to eventually copulate. Third, consider cameras and cell phones. Even though Tice doesn’t carry a cell phone, his investigations usually begin with amateur videos from the woods.

“To hunt these creatures, you have to be an experienced woodsman,” he said. “You have to be an experienced outdoorsman — many, many hours and days in the woods.”

He added: “Even in Vietnam, when I was a young man, if leaves were turned wrong or something wasn’t just right, I would see it before something happened.”

Tice surrounds himself with friends, all of whom have become characters on Destination America’s Mountain Monsters. There’s Willie, Huckleberry, Jeff and Buck, the new member in the group. “That’s been one of the joys of the team is Buck,” Tice said. “He’s a hoot, he is. What a good guy. Now he’s kind of a skeptic. … Every time we go on, Buck always questions me. You know, young people, I get a real kick out of them anyway. I’ve been out there for 50 years. Buck’s been out there for a year, and he knows more than I do.”

When Tice travels around the region, he feels comfortable talking to local residents. “You know hill people or mountain people — I don’t like to call us hillbillies — it’s pretty easy for me to talk to them,” he said. “You know, you could have a suit walk up on their porch, and you might get a shotgun stuck in your face. But heck I could just walk up and talk to anyone on anyone’s porch and have a cup of coffee. We’ll just sit down there, and in five minutes, I have them at ease.”

Still, Tice knows there’s an unfortunate stereotype of people who live in West Virginia.

“Well, I don’t think they teach geography anymore because the damn most of them thinks we’re still western Virginia,” he said with a laugh. “West Virginians are just some of the greatest people in the world. Hell, when you drive out the road, everyone waves at you. You run into a ditch, they’ll be 10 cars stopped to pull you out. … We help one another, and that’s our roots. It’s a great place to live. It’s just a great state.”

By John Soltes / Publisher /

  • Mountain Monsters airs on Destination America on Saturdays at 10 p.m. Click here for more information.

50 Responses to INTERVIEW: Searching for Mothman, Grassman, Devil Dog on ‘Mountain Monsters’

  1. John Roosa says:

    I was quite disappointed in “Mountain Monsters”. It was a trainwreck, they came off as a bunch of goofy hillbillies running through the woods, tripping on their own feet, and falling on their own guns. When they said “Don’t do this at home”, they weren’t kidding. I’m surprised they didn’t wind up shooting each other in the dark. As far as the “wolfman pawprints”, they looked like they were cut out of wood and completely fake. It was entertaining, but not in a serious manner. I will still watch it, but I view it as a comedy.

    • Sam Anderson says:

      I couldnt agree with you more. Any fool could see that this show is as fake as they come. It does it have one thing going for it though. Watching these bumbling idiots stumbling through the woods is funny as hell!

      • Tracie Fisher says:

        I am from West Virginia, and I watch for pure entertainment. It doesn’t bode well for Willy’s Trapping business. What I love most is that I live 1,000 miles from home so seeing areas make me homesick and Nostalgic. I will say if you listen to Jeff, Willy, Buck and Trapper, they don’t come off as your typical mountain folk. There is certainly intelligence, that I truly believe they hide for the show. To me that’s what I don’t like. But, as far as the entertainment value, I laugh out loud at the stupid antics…purely fiction but entertainment nonetheless.

        • Daniel Allen says:


          • Wilma Yott says:

            I couldn’t agree with you more Daniel. I believe this is the funniest show on TV. I tape every show and I watch the shows every chance I get. Thank you AIMS and Destination America.

    • Jim Burns says:

      There are so many mistakes,it’s like a sit-com. These people couldn’t catch a cold. The photo “evidence” looks airbrushed, their guns are never cocked when challenged by a “monster”, when they caught the pig and it was breaking out of the back of the trailer the cameraman only filmed the actors and not the pig. Trapper’s vocabulary consists of 105 words and 98 of them are sob. “wild Bill” plays to the camera more than the rest combined and a Marine would not run off and leave the squad down a man.

    • J Tice says:

      Fake paw prints? The paw prints are real, just since you are watching on a flat screen they look cookie-cutter. Try watching it on a different TV (NOT a flatscreen), because they aren’t made out of wood.

  2. Elaine says:

    I loved it. It is not easy navigating in the woods let alone at night. I love the people. I love the show.

  3. Mark says:

    Huckleberry for President!!!

  4. Jim says:

    I am sorry but this is all fake, I would love to see real hunters, using real hunting and trapping skills. The traps they set are Hollywood traps, from movies like predator. The evidence they find is all planted. It also does even follow logic, the “wampus” was suppose to in a matter of minutes carry off three 50lb baby pigs. The Wampus is suppose to be a large predator cat, even if it was as big as a tiger, how does it carry off 3 pigs? One in the mouth and two in its hands? Also the killed pig with its guts out didn’t look like a pig torn apart by a big cat.
    These guys don’t even have decent hunting equipment if your going to run around at night in the woods here is an idea, mount a flashlight on them rifles and shotguns. Also how about a pack of hunting dogs. I know dogs that can track and tree panthers, why not use them? This show is depending on everyone just pretending it is all real, but none of it is. I believe there are still undiscovered animals and creatures, but this show is just fantasy.

  5. Richard Landgraff says:

    “Mothman”. Plus side: their special effects crew did a good job simulating what appeared to be an Eagle flying alongside the car then turning to be crashed into the windshield. Yes, Eagles will fly that low. I have seen several “road kills” of Golden Eagles here in the Southwest.

    The Red Eye is not unusual. Consider this: On your photo shop program you do have a function to remove the “red eye” from photographs taken with a flash camera. Bright lights often reflect as red from various animals.

    Big goof up: The experience of the women took place in 1960. The producers used a proper vintage car and actresses of the right age. BUT, the soldier was NOT in the correct uniform or carrying the correct rifle for that period. I know as I used to be a tank crewman in those days. Instead of modern camo he should have been in forest green Class “D” fatigues with a Ridgeway cap or M-1 “Steel Pot” helmet. Since M-16 rifles were not adopted yet, his weapon should have been an M-1 Garand or an M-1 Carbine with appropiate ammo belts with canteen, Carlyle bandage pouch and maybe a bayonet.

  6. Richard Landgraff says:

    “Grassman”. That single photo is NOT convincing to me. It looks like some guy in a “Gilli” camo suit. If it was not the show’s producer trying to find a way of not getting fired, then it could have been a Poacher. Info as to whether these sightings were made during “OFF SEASON” hunting would certainly suspect a Poacher trying to make himself invisible to Game Wardens.

  7. Richard Landgraff says:

    Any episode. I really like that Marine. He’s in terrific shape, well groomed, a good pole climber and a good sense of humor. But if these creatures are so dangerous, why is he carrying a standard hunting rifle or shotgun instead of an M-14 with selective fire.

    Oh, can’t do that in California though. Not allowed more than 10 rounds in a magazine though the Wampus beast, Wolfman or Bigfoot would require all 30 from an M-1A to bring it down.

  8. Barry says:

    It’s about time we got some men with a set of #$@@^,at least they see thing’s and try to capture them. Keep on keeping on Men.

  9. Brett says:

    I grew up in eastern Ky. Many a night we would see and hear unusual and downright frightening animals,that did not fit the description of normal. I enjoy the show it takes me back to a simpler life I left.

  10. I am a very experienced hunter/Trapper. So I can say: “this show is a Joke”! Only people with very low IQ’s believe this show and what they present as evidence is real. It is entertaining and funny, but so was the “3 Stooges”.

    • Sharon Campbell says:

      I LOVE the show. I grew up in the country and spent a lot of time in the woods and the show is accurately done. I love how it has so many interviews with witnesses, photos, and video images and actually captures sounds on their investigations. Very well done. It’s childish to laugh and poke fun at others, in order to seem more important. That ploy has the opposite effect on me, when I see someone doing it.

    • Rick, Pa says:

      Hey….Get your a$$ outside in any wóods at night time for a few hours. Whether or not the show is real, new life is found every day. Most of them took millions of years to find. Get a brain, balls and common logic mix it in a blender, freeze it, then sit on it until it all soaks in!! Go and rant about something else. If you ACTUALLY hate the show than how do you know sooo much about it??? Dumb@$$. Like Trapper says, sob.

      • Rick, Pa says:

        Love this dag gon show! I’m a profiler and I can tell you that some actions cannot be faked. Some of they’re visceral reactios are true. It cannot be faked. I’m saying some, not all. Even if there was someone out in the woods that you don’t know they’re there, and they make some noise or play a recording over a good speaker,you would $&!# your pants. They just jump and cuss. Keep up the good work ol’ boys!!

        • Tam says:

          I totally agree with Rick, some of those reactions just can’t be faked. I truly enjoy this show and love those 6 men! It’s entertaining, gives a bit of history and keeps me wondering each week if they’ll ever get anything in their traps! Compared to other things on television now I’ll take Mountain Monsters any day of the week!
          Aloha from Hawaii to Buck, Huckleberry, Wild Bill, Willy, Jeff and Trapper!! Also best wishes to Trapper for a speedy recovery – we hope to see you soon!!

  11. Larry Miller says:

    Ought to rename the program the 6 Stooges without Shimp.

  12. Neal Culver says:

    I like the show. I find it a refreshing contrast to Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot. At least these guys have sense enough to carry guns for self defense, and traps to try to actually capture one of the creatures that they are pursuing. Animal Planet’s Bigfoot hunters should be as pragmatic. Another thing that Mr. Tice is absolutely correct about is the increasing amount of wilderness in parts of the eastern half of America as opposed to the progressive loss of habitat in the west to development, logging, etc. It is also a heck of a lot easier to see wildlife in a deciduous forest after the leaves fall than in a conifer forest like we have here in the Pacific Northwest (I livein Washington state).

  13. MC says:

    Being from Pleasants County…I know several of these men. Keep it up, boys!

  14. Phil C says:

    The doubters on here should walk Bonds Creek in Ritchie Co. WV late at night then they might believe in woods creatures.Itll change your mind.

    • Pd Frye says:

      Yes it changed mine. We were camped out on Oil Ridge in Ritchie County first week of squirrel season and 4:00 in the morning just above us was a scream and a hoop that scared the living day lights out of me. Was not a owl or bobcat or fox or coyote or anything ever heard in the wood ever. My husband has hunted and lived in the mountains for over 60 yrs and it totally rattled him. What’s really funny is I was watching the Yahoo episode with my grand kids and about crapped my pants when I heard the scream on there. It sounded just like what we heard in Ritchie County.

  15. Bubba Johnson says:

    A person I heard of(Obammer) quoted: “Stupid is as stupid does!”

  16. CD says:

    I know a couple of these guys and I’m sure they see it as more fun than truth. Not always though. Mothman has a lot of witnesses over time of many very strange events by credible people. Hadn’t talked to them much about it except joking about them being “TV stars” now, hehe.
    One poster talked about horrible sounds he never heard. I live in these areas and I find it amazing how people and their families who have lived with this stuff for generations don’t know what it is, or what half the animals are, yet a half city boy from somewhere else can find out right off. Seems they don’t care about books, recordings, videos, etc. to find out and rely on casual gossip if not just ignore it. I have recordings that would make you turn white as a ghost and local “outdoorsmen” dont know what it is yet they are common animals like bobcats, foxes, coyotes, racoons.
    On the other hand I know Ritchie County WV fairly well, which is right beside pleasants county btw, and few could relate to places in WV and some other places til they stood there. Ritchie county is where “real WV” begins and you can stand right on the main US highway and lookout and see no evidence of man “forever.” You could easily get lost a die and people do. It gets even wilder from there. When you stand there and see it for yourself you realize that not only is there places where man has never stepped foot but there can be creatures man is unaware of in those areas. As for “mythical monsters” I have my doubts.

    • David, Sammons says:

      I am moving to W.V soon too bad I am to old. I would laugh all the way to the bank,like

      they do.

  17. Thee Ox says:



  18. ddotson says:

    wouldn’t you think they would put a camera at their trap?

  19. Danielle C Winslow says:

    I love this show, even though it may not be 100% correct, it is still entertainment, what TV is supposed to be.

  20. Fred Davis says:

    I am a college educated and I know you just cannot go through this life without thinking that their are some natural mysteries still left in this world. Because we are instantly connected to the internet we as a society automatically think we know everything. But as an educated person I can tell you we don’t know everything their is to know about the mysteries of nature. I grew in Southwestern VA. and I am also an experienced hunter/outdoors man and I have heard and seen things in the woods that I still cannot explain. Mountain Monsters try to explain some of these mountain myths and legends with a mixture of myth, legend, and a dose of Hollywood thrown in. They make it fun to wonder what is in the woods of the Appalachian Mountains and maybe just maybe make people interested in learning about their surrounding communities in the Appalachians. So those of you that think you know everything get over yourselves and turn the channel if you don’t want to watch Mountain Monsters. Us fellow hill people just go along with it because we know their things that go bump in the night in the dark and spooky mountains. They are not the oldest mountain ranges in the world for nothing think on it and try to learn something that doesn’t come from the internet for a change.

  21. Dennis Lewis says:

    I would like to comment to the A.I.M.S. team. Watching the episode where they catch the “Chucacabra” in their trap, only to lose it to a possible “Bigfoot”. I slowed down the video footage when the Chucacabra jumps on the back of their quadra-trac, the face of some beast is visible for a second. If it was fake, it was a good one. My second observation was on the episode where the lady calls and leaves a note to “Not go beyond the pond”. What was particularly interesting was the phone video of Farmer “John” of his tree knocks, receiving a knock in return on his second try, but watch very closely when he does it the third time and they hear the roar of a bigfoot. Slow the footage down, and you see after the second series of knocks and they get the return knock, the camera pans to the left and you see two trees or large branches and nothing visible between them. Watch in slow motion the panning left of the camera after the roar, and you will see, in high contrast the image of what appears to be an apelike head. It is not fully visible but you see what appears to be lips, nose, side of head and an eye between the two trees/branches where nothing appeared earlier. It happened so fast I do not know if it was seen at the time it was viewed in the field or during post production. I recommend everyone examine this split second of film and tell me it might not be exactly what they say it is. I am a retired engineer and generally do not believe, but this gives me second thoughts. I would like to hear others comments on what I saw. I would love to hear from A.I.M.S. regarding if they saw this examining the video.

  22. Jean green says:

    I love this show.I just wish they didn’t yell so much.

  23. whitney sharp says:

    hey if yall are there im am so scared right now we have actualy seen a big foot in our back yard but we thing it might be a grafton monster the way it was shaped i need trapper now

  24. GottaLuv It says:

    They need to assist the other Bigfoot show with Matt Moneymaker. He can’t seem to find anything all of these seasons!

  25. Joan Boxell says:

    I just recently found Mountain Monsters and I love it….I don’t know if I believe it all but I do enjoy watching. I know that there are shows out there that are so far out there and you just know that they are more for ratings and not for the real thing. I have really enjoyed this show and hope it continues for years. I am not college educated but I can write like one. But I agree with you about people needing to get out and see what is in the world, and not by computer. And AIMS team keep on hunting…

  26. Harley Earle says:

    What you actually saw was Buck in the bushes pounding down a Domino’s pizza supposedly off camera. hoo-rah

    Wild Bill lives!

  27. william adkins says:

    -I really don’t care if they’re chasing shadows I just enjoy the reminds me of all the time I spent in the woods as a kid.we used to chase monsters we were sure were real too.if you read the credits you’ll know it’s not real.doesn’t mean we can’t suspend disbelief for an hour.if the rest of us took ourselves as seriously as these guys do the world would be much more enjoyable.

  28. joe says:

    people its endearment if you don’t like it don’t watch it come on there fun to watch

  29. Deb says:

    The trapper says it’s real I believe him

  30. I grew up in Ohio and used to visit West Virginia quite regularly as we had family there. Great-Aunt Thelma Harr and them in Fairmont so I know something about Mountain People. Hell, I still AM Mountain People at heart and I knew plenty like these guys. Here’s a couple of points I offer for consideration:
    Willy’s Traps: Someone said they were “Hollywood” like “Predator” and similar movies. Not quite. They’re all quite real and have been used with great success in different parts of the world. You can find diagrams, etc by looking on-line. Here, for example: and for water traps:
    Cage Traps and so on.

    Remember they want to capture (not kill) what they’re after. They don’t use dogs because dogs will attack what they chase after and if you keep them on a leash so they can’t their baying and barking will mean that your quarry will be in the next county before they could ever get near it.

    Besides all that half the fun is in just getting out in the woods at night and chasing around after the critter. That’s what I enjoy about the show. I really hope they never catch Bigfoot or any of the others. It’s the Mystery of what MIGHT be out there that keeps me coming back.

  31. Burt Reynolds says:

    Geez…..after reading this, its no wonder. It really isn’t any wonder this country has gone to the dogs. Nothing about this show is real. It is a semi scripted monster hunting show that uses non actors in the cheap so the producers can sell to network for big money and they don’t have to pay for real actors. They are doing great and I hope they make a mint but these guys are not representative of most West Virginians in the way they conduct themselves.

  32. Stanley Warwick says:

    I have watched Mountain monsters since it started and I love it. I don’t for a minute believe any of it but I watch TV to be entertained and it is definitely entertaining. That being said I have heard of most of the things they go after. I have lived in the hills of East Tennessee all my life and there are some strange things around here but the sun will come up in the west before AIMS catches anything. Totally fake but a real hoot to watch.

  33. Linda elizondo says:

    I love this show. I live in Texas and the state does have its own mysteries to solve. I hope trapper is doing better from his surgery . As far as the boys your a hoot and I laugh for an hour and wonder if those monsters really do excist. I notice little flaws here and there but that’s ok, just shoot every once in a while to make it more thrilling. God bless each and everyone of you. See you Saturday nights

  34. mike says:

    wild bill for prez?????????i don’t think so…remember wild bill ain’t safe with a….can’t use buck..the national deficit would triple trying to feed him…..trapper to old… that leaves us jeff or willie for president!!!!!!!!!!!! lol.

  35. Kris says:

    Why is it so hard for people to believe these creatures may exist? Wether you believe in these creatures or not you have to admit that our world has numerous mysteries. Consider this, since the arrival of Google Earth researchers are discovering things that are only visible from the air yet they are over 3000+ years old. The mystery is who were these meant for? So back to my first question why is it so hard to believe that these creatures may exist? I believe these creatures do exist. I believe this is another mystery that is yet to be fully unveiled. It’s a bit of an unsettling thought to believe to be honest but I enjoy watching the show because these men believe they will uncover the truth and they might just do it!

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