“This guy is living in a cabin and he has two dogs, and he lives in the middle of nowhere. There’s no cars, no grocery stores, it’s old times, so he goes hunting in the dead of winter. He’s walking for hours and sees nothing, no animals, and he thinks it’s so strange. The woods are eerily quiet. He comes back and he goes to bed hungry and so do his dogs. Next day he goes out and looks for food again, and it’s eerily quiet, not even wind in the trees, just nothing, it doesn’t feel real. No food, no rabbits, no deer, no plants. Just snow and white and quiet. His dogs and him go to bed hungry. Next day he goes out, he’s exhausted, he hasn’t had food in him, his dogs are exhausted, he’s been walking for miles and miles. He’s lost and worn out. He sees a flash of black, and he’s like “what was that?” He sees the flash of black again and he shoots it. All he gets is this little tuft of meat that fell off, it seemed like it was cut off from the creature he shot. It seems like his tail, so he takes the tail and carries it back to his cabin. It’s not a lot of meat but it’s all he has, so he fixes it up, cleans off the skin and cooks it up, and he gives the leftovers to his dogs. He goes to bed full, wakes up in the morning, and goes hunting again. Suddenly it seems like the woods are alive again, he’s finding food, he’s finding rabbits, there’s some spring green poking through the snow, so he comes back with a good collection of food. He goes home, but as it gets dark it starts to get cold and eerie again. He starts to hear this voice from outside and some creaking on the roof. It goes “Tailyyyyyy poooooe. Taaaaaaaily poe.” He’s like “is this the wind? What noise am I hearing?” He hears it again. “Taaaaaaily poe, taaaaaaaaily poe.” He looks outside and sees nothing, it’s not windy out, so he closes the door and locks it cause he’s getting freaked out. He gets under the covers and he hears the voice all night but he tries to sleep. He wakes up in the morning, goes hunting again and gets a good amount of food. He’s got plenty of rabbits, he shot a buck. He goes home, cooks up his dinner. When it gets dark out again, he hears the voice again. “Taaaaaaaaily poe.” He checks outside, there are no branches scratching against his window, there’s nothing on the roof even though there’s incessant creaking. He closes and locks the door, but then he looks back at it and the door is cracked open. He hears it again “taaaaaaaily poe, taaaaaily poe.” He goes to bed even though he hears it all through the night. Next morning he takes his dogs out on a walk, goes fishing, he comes home and he cooks up the fish and feeds it to his dogs. Then he notices his dogs start barking at the door. Woof woof. So he lets them out, thinks maybe they have to pee, and the dogs start running. He calls them back, and they’re very well trained dogs, but only one comes back. He wonders what happened to the other, but he knows his dogs don’t run away so he figures the other dog will be back in the morning. So he closes the door, brings the one dog inside. It’s too dark and cold to look for the other one even though he’s very worried. He starts to hear it again. “Taaaaaaailey poe. Taaaaaailey poe. I know you have my tailey poe.” Now this part is new. He hears the creaking on the roof, wakes up in the morning, spends the whole day looking for his dog “Boy come here, come here!” He comes back to his cabin after looking for his dog, and sees his dog’s tail on the ground outside his cabin. He goes back inside, and the other dog starts barking at the door again. He lets his dog out, and the dog runs away. He’s now alone, he’s lost his two best hunting dogs. He closes the door, locks it, he’s freaked out and staring at the wall. The door slowly opens and he sees a black figure run towards him. He feels this pressure on his chest. He hears “Taily poe, taily poe, I’ll finally have my taily poe.” And then he dies. The end. So when you’re camping and you hear the wind saying “taaaaaily poe,” that means that Taily Poe is still looking for his tail and he might get you.”
M is a 19-year-old college student from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She often goes camp and hiking in the woods, and her town has a lot of different cryptids and legendary monsters that people look for and talk about when in the woods. She says this particular story is a campfire story, and that Taily Poe is a cryptid that might come after you in the woods when you’re sleeping. She says that the story is meant to be ever longer, and that you’re supposed to add more to the story to make it as long as possible, she says the point is to add suspense.
Taley Poe is a legendary cryptid who is supposed to be wandering the woods. He’s one of the many legendary creatures that cryptozoologists search for in deeply forested areas like Colorado. Cryptids like him arise from people’s fear of the wild and the unknown, both the certain knowledge that there are frightening uncontrollable beasts in the woods, and from the idea that the wild is the land of the devil. This particular story is also similar to a tale though because oftentimes the teller of the story doesn’t actually believe it happened, they’re just trying to frighten people while camping. The story is told in a very particular structure, and the informant said herself that you can add things to make it longer to add more suspense. This is an example of the Oral Formulaic Theory at work, earlier known as the Perry-Lord Hypothesis. This is the idea that folk story tellers are able to remember really long stories and are able to draw them out to engage the audience by adding certain formulaic speech into the story. We see examples of this formulaic speech in this rendition of the story, with the descriptions of which animals the man was or wasn’t able to find while hunting, with the added description to detail his plight (ex: “He’s exhausted, he hasn’t had food in him, his dogs are exhausted, he’s been walking for miles and miles. He’s lost and worn out.”) The phrase “taily poe” can be drawn out to as long as the speaker wants and can be repeated as many times as they want. We also see the importance of performance in the way the speaker sometimes speaks as the character, seen in the dog bark sounds she makes and the “here boy, here boy.” All of these aspects draw the listener in and add to the ambiance of fear. People love to hear ghost stories and cryptid stories by the campfire, perhaps for a similar reason to why people love horror movies. They’re able to dabble in a bit of the emotion of fear while they’re actually in a safe, controlled environment surrounded by people they know and trust.