Vilas County Tigers - Camp Chipmunk - [Fearsome Critter]
• About this critter: Originally small, harmless animals, it was said that the chipmunks near Pauls cook shanty near the upper Wisconsin river in Vilas County grew as large as tigers after eating barrel's of discarded Prune-pits - They became quite vicious, killing off local bears, wolves & cougars at an alarming rate. - Later, Ol' Paul and his men organized hunts, shooting the giant chipmunks for sport on Sundays.
• History: These "Chipmunks as large as Tigers" where earliest mentioned in the Seattle star and other papers as part of early paul bunyan gag coloumns as early as 1920. - Two years later, W. B. Laugheads published the "Marvelous exploits of Paul Bunyan." in 1922 mentioning them as a footnote. - More or less cementing them into the popular bunyan lore. - Later they where properly cataloged in "Paul Bunyans Natural History." [C.E.Brown 1935] - Much, much later they where labeled as "Vilas County Tigers" in Wyman D. Walkers "Mythical Creatures of the USA and Canada"[1969 & '71] - (though why he decided to give the chipmunks an exact location it is sadly not mentioned?)
Vilas County, is of course a real place in the upper right north side of Wisconsin & part of the "Northwoods" - Naturally, theres a lot of early newspaper records of Paul Bunyans 'activity' in the specific area, real cook shanty restaurants, and history museums too. ...I'm unsure if the area has a history of hunting giant chipmunks (like snipes) or not, but if not, then I suppose It was more popular to say that Pauls men successfully hunted the big ones to extinction. [Should be noted that today the chipmunk & other wildlife population in WI is for the most part is seemingly doing just fine.]
• Ol' Pauls "Embiggening" - While I sadly don't have much more to say about these "Tigers." - It's Notably a regular magical trait of Bunyan to cause ordinary wildlife to grow to tremendous sizes. - (whether he wants them to or not) sometimes its a gradual thing over time, Othertimes he does it on purpose. - Why exactly this is, is seemingly unknown and for the most part is unexplored in the early lore. - [To my knowledge why this happens is never directly addressed.] - I'd suppose its just part of being in the presence of a "Man who was larger than life." - I digress, the reasoning as to why doesnt matter. -- There are several cases of ordinary animals that Paul own or comes in contact with turning titanous, such as Babe the Big Blue Ox, his hunting dog Sport, not to mention the Wild Bees, Squirrels, Mosquitoes, Bedbugs and Ants, each which causing their own set of problems (or benefits) for the local populace. Often times the story ends with "...I've never seen one quite so big since." implying that after Paul left the strange giant animals stopped appearing as well. (In this case because Paul didn't directly come in contact with the chipmunks, I like to imagine that his saliva from hhis discarded prune-pits had something to do with it.) I suppose prunes where more popular back in the day..
• See also: Paul Bunyan, Babe, Moskittos, Beeskitto, Pauls ants, The Hodag.
Art by @samkalensky (hi thats me!) part of my "fearsome critters" collection of stickers, check my shop for many more!