It was during our 42nd annual visit to Camp Mach-Kin-O-Siew that Troop 13 was proud to announce the birth of the first LIVE Hodag !

A Hodag WAS a mythical creature living in the northwoods of Wisconsin. The legends say that a Hodag grows to 7 feet in length and only eats white bulldogs on Sunday. We hope that's true!? A Hodag egg was discovered in the Owls patrol site and a few hours later we had a male Hodag at our campsite. We have named him Howard Dagg.

Yes, there is a LOT more to this story. See the complete Troop 13 Hodag story on this page.

Stop back again. The legend LIVES at Troop 13 !!!

13's HODAG...

It was a dark and stormy night (all GREAT stories start this way) and the next morning was wet. At Troop 13, all campouts start this way. It's Mr. Zs’ fault because of his cursed rain coat...Sorry, that's another story.

Anyway, breakfast was a little late that morning. Most of the Troop 13 Scouters, also known as the Owl patrol, had volunteered to help run different areas of the program due a shortage of camp counselors this year at Camp Mach which is located near a town called Elcho, Wi. All seven of the leaders were in a hurry.

Somebody forgot to dump the extra orange juice out of the pitcher and finish cleaning the Owl's patrol site. A few hours later our camp commissioner came to our site for his inspection and gigged us for the o.j. on the table which now had a few dead flies floating on the surface. After the evening flag ceremony we tried to convince him that this was an environmentally safe fly catcher. This made perfect sense to us. After all, we could have put up a Shell No-Pest strip. No, he didn't buy it and the gig was still on our record.

Everything would have been just fine at our site but on Wednesday evening we received a whole watermelon with dinner. The watermelon was to be shared by the entire Troop but as luck would have it, half our Troop was at an outpost camp that evening. We decided to save it until Thursday evening in a cooler. But,
Somebody forgot to take it off the table.

Yes, we got gigged again. Open food left at the adults' site. The main problem was that our commissioner was a nice guy and the Scouts and Scouters liked him. We couldn't get mad so we had to get even.

Friday morning, was a bright sunny day.
Mr. Zs' raingear must have had the day off. The Owls' patrol site looked perfect. But, on the table in the dining area there was what appeared to be a whole watermelon laying on the center of the table with a note placed right in front of it. The note read "WARNING: HODAG EGG- MAY HATCH AT ANY TIME!!!"

After inspection that Friday our commissioner appeared to be in a great mood and told us to wait until evening for our final grade of the week.

When he arrived at our campsite that evening he inquired about the location of the Hodag egg. We told him it was in the supply tent, in a special Troop 13 incubator.

The flag had been retired for the final time at the Troop 13 campsite, at Camp Mach, for the year. It was time for the commissioner's final reports. The 2 Scout patrols passed with no problems and the Scouters waited for their grade.

WE PASSED !!! With 1 condition - we couldn't leave. Our commissioner had declared our site an environmentally protected area until the birth of the Hodag !!! As the commissioner walked back into line with a smirk on his face, "it" happened, The Hodag was born!!!
Dry Lightning, one of our Scouters, burst into the area running full speed with a box in his arms screaming at the top of his lungs "it's here, it's here, we have a Hodag !" Stretch, another Scouter, started handing out "special" birth announcements, and Mr Z got photos of the new Hodag, looking a little stuffed and glassy eyed. What do you expect ? He was just brought into the world.

Next year, we expect Howard will be working on merit badges at camp. He may even try the mile swim. Only Troop 13 knows and we're not telling.


The 43rd annual Troop 13 visit to Camp Mach started out hot & muggy with a hint of rain in the air. OF COURSE there was a hint of rain, Mr. Z was at camp !!! Before the week was over we would be wet (it rained), tired, & watching our backs for Raccoons - hundreds of them.

Howard Dagg, the first REAL Hodag was back home, at his place of birth, Lyons Den at Camp Mach. Howard was just like any other 12 year old Scout. He ran, played, & tried the patience of the adult Scouters. The fact that he is 7 feet long, has a slightly horned back & likes to eat white bulldogs was only a minor problem. His fondness of chasing Raccoons was the MAJOR problem.

On Saturday, Howard set up his tent & got ready for the swim test. Just like every other Scout, he jumped into the water & completed his first swim test at camp. The camp commissioner filled in the tag without even a backwards glance at Howard. A Hodag with a buddy tag, filled in by camp personnel !!!

On Sunday Howard visited the Hodag Museum in Rhinelander & laughed at all the strange myths about Hodags. He even bought a stuffed Hodag toy & a Hodag key chain (for when he starts driving).

Late Monday morning Troop 13 went to island lunch. The island lunch at Mach is a tradition going back many years. The island is about a quarter mile out in the lake & the Scouts row out there for lunch. Howard was looked at strangely by
Flamingo, the director of the waterfront, but since he had on his PFD and had his buddy tag, Flamingo let him out on the lake. We had a great time at island lunch. Howard even rowed a couple of the Scouts back after lunch.

This was going to be a GREAT year at camp, no problems, then came early Tuesday morning.

About 3 o'clock in the morning the adults were awakened by the sound of pounding paws on the ground, RACCOONS & 1 clumsy set of paws, HOWARD, running along the path. All of a sudden - CRASH!!!!! - down came the gateway to Lyons Den. Howard had run into it full speed. It looked like the wood had rotted, he hit it so hard.

The adults spent half of Tuesday rebuilding the gateway.

On Wednesday
Sparky, one of the Troop 13 Scouters, was starting the propane stove to make a last cup of coffee. All of a sudden we heard the sound of pounding paws, RACCOONS & 1 clumsy set of paws, HOWARD coming through the adults site. CRASH - followed by WHOOSH - were the sounds we heard as the propane stove ignited the patrol box. It's a good thing 2 of our Scouters are Firefighters or this would be a VERY short story.

The Scouters spent Wednesday fixing the patrol box.

Thursday evening was the last straw for the Raccoons. Howards tent lines & stakes were poorly set & at about 11pm one of the Raccoons found him(her)self hanging upside down, from the middle of its' body, by a tentline. The Raccoon was bouncing, like on a bungee cord, as it tried to free itself. The last we saw of it was when
Sparky cut it loose from the stake & it took off into the woods to find its' friends. And boy did it did find its' friends!!!

On Friday, several of our Scouters came up from Bridgeview to visit and see Camp Mach first hand.
Mrs. Z one of the visiting Scouters, arrived in her rust colored van & it didn't rain!!! Someday we'll tell you the story of the Zs' cursed raincoat.

Friday night, after the closing campfire & cracker barrel, all of the Scouts & Scouters had retired for the night. We wanted to get as much sleep as possible because it's a long ride back to Bridgeview.

Then the Raccoons attacked !!!

Two of the Raccoons grabbed each others paws, curled into a circle like a bowling ball & rolled into
Mrs. Zs' head as she was dozing off in her sleeping bag. Several more Raccoons dumped the patrol box & began to chew everything in sight. More Raccoons tried to destroy the Scouters screen house. We also saw 1 mean looking Raccoon with a rope tied around its' waist chewing the tent lines of one cowering Hodag named Howard.

During the attack we couldn't tell one Raccoon from another. They were all wearing masks. It didn't matter, we were outnumbered & we knew it. We were just lucky a few skunks didn't join in on the attack.

Finally, it was over. Down the trail, the Scouters heard the sound of one clumsy set of paws - HOWARD, being chased by the sound of pounding paws - RACCOONS.

As we left camp on Saturday morning, after several hours of cleaning up from our Raccoon "friends", we had one very scared Hodag in the back of
Mr. Z's van & a few Raccoons smiling & waving as we pulled out for home. We hope Raccoons have short memories!!! We'll be back.


It was a bright sunny day as Troop 13 arrived at camp... Yes, a bright sunny day. It also was the driest summer in 108 years in northern Wisconsin. It had not rained in over three weeks as Troop 13 arrived at Camp Mach-Kin-O-Siew, our 44th consecutive year at Mach, and only one day before the anniversary of our Hodag's birth. Howard Dagg, the official Troop 13 Hodag, was about to turn 30 Hodag Years Old!!! The first thing the Scouters did when we arrived at Mach was to make Howard an official member of the Owl patrol.

Howard attended the opening campfire and several Scouts said they spotted him at the rifle range scoring big points early in the week, but Howard's whole focus this summer camp seemed to be on the drought. He spent most of the early part of our campout staring up at the sky, with glassy eyes, looking for rain.

Troop 13 Scouts & Scouters spent those first days at camp kicking up dust everywhere we went in Mach & being very careful with our campfires. Last year Howard had almost started a patrol box on fire so for this trip to the Lyons Den campsite
Stretch had built an aluminum patrol box that weighed about 80 pounds but was both fireproof & Raccoon proof.

On Sunday
PC, the new Patrol Leader of the Scouters Owl Patrol asked the other Scouters if Mr. Z's raincoat would work its magic and give some much needed rain to the northwoods. We had our doubts. Could Mr. Zs’ raingear overcome the longterm effects of El Nino??? We saw some clouds on Sunday and Monday, but no rain.

Tuesday started out cloudy and by noon there was a fine mist landing on the ground at Lyons Den.
Mr. Z began waving his raincoat over the top of his head daring it to rain harder. Howard stayed out in the mist looking up with a smile on his face.

On Wednesday it rained. Howard moved into the Scouters screen house and watched as the puddles formed in the grass and around the trees. Tents began to leak. The OA candidates got soaked in the evening.

On Thursday it poured. The Scouters screen house tipped over from the 6+ inches of rain that had landed on the tarp attached to the roof. Howard lay on his back soaked to the skin. One of the Scout patrols lost their dining fly to the rain & wind. Several Scouts started seeing things through the rain. We had one report of a bear in camp. It turned out to be 6 foot tall, brown with a white bushy tail. Some Scouts call it a deer. Another Scout kept insisting that a "black chicken" was following him around camp. You would call it a quail. Finally, one Scouter from another Troop insisted that the animals were gathering in twos.

On Friday,
Somebody "borrowed" Mr. Zs’ raingear and hid it in an Eagle Scouts tent. It stopped raining long enough so we could dry out the tents, clothes, towels, wood, shoes, get the idea. Howard was wet, smelled bad, but was VERY happy. Mr. Z had saved the northwoods from the drought of the century!!!

Mr. Z found his raingear Saturday morning.

It rained all the way home.

Howard continues to live with
Mr. Z and attends all of the Troop weekend outings the ONLY way Troop 13 the rain!!!


Who has more fun at camp, the Scouts or Scouters? You know, just don't tell our wives !

Mr. Z ! How about burning that raingear. The tents are starting to rust !!

No Hodags were harmed in the creation of this story !!!

13's Hodag, Revenge of the Raccoons, and Return of the Hodag are copyrighted ©1996-2024 by BSA13. Please give credit to BSA13 if you reprint this story.

The picture shown below is the ONLY picture ever taken of a LIVE Hodag!!!