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Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute: The Snawfus

A mysterious, deer-like creature that reportedly roams the Ozarks is seen as ominous to some of the region’s residents. Folklorist Vance Randolph was the first to record the animal, known as the Snawfus, which is larger than a deer and has trees growing from its head instead of antlers.

One story holds that an orchardist captured the Snawfus, grafting the branches of an Arkansas Black Apple tree to its skull. Another tale says a hunter wandering the woods ran out of bullets and elected to load his rifle with plum pits instead. Spotting an albino deer, the hunter fired, hitting the animal in the head. Though it fell to the ground, the deer got up and ran. He later heard tales of a white buck roaming the area with plum trees replacing antlers.

The Snawfus exhales spirals of blue smoke when it breathes, causing a blue haze in fall and winter, and it can fly and leap into trees. And some people in the Ozarks see albino deers as bad omens, and a sighting of the Snawfus as a harbinger of death.

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