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Sidehill Gougers
image Sidehill gougers are herbivores highly adapted to living on steep hillsides. The legs on one side of their body are longer than the legs on the other, allowing them to stand comfortably on sloped terrain. These creatures come in two varieties: left-handed and right-handed (also known as counter-clockwise and clockwise gougers). The legs of a left-handed gouger are shorter on the left. As a result, it can only travel around a hill counter-clockwise. Right-handed gougers are just the opposite, with legs shorter on the right. They always move clockwise. This business of always moving in the same direction is the source of the gouger's name, because they gouge a path in the side of a hill as they endlessly circle it. If gougers do try to reverse direction, they inevitably topple over.

Right-handed and left-handed gougers, it should be noted, are simply different forms of the same species and can breed together. However, their offspring often end up with mismatched legs (a long leg on their front left and a second long leg on their back right, for instance) making it almost impossible for them to move. Such hybrids usually don't survive long.

Beyond the unusual length of the gouger's legs, little is known about the appearance of this creature. Some say it's badger-like. Some say it's goat-like. One observer, a Harry S. Knight of Camp Wood, Arizona, has been quoted as saying: "A Sidehill Gouger is jest a burrowin' buffalo, sized down and growed crooked."

There have been reports of a Gouger sub-species found in the Appalachians that has fur only on the downward-sloping side of its body. The fur on its other side has been worn away by constant rubbing against the side of the hill. The skin of these creatures, being so highly polished and smooth, is sought after by handbag makers.

References to sidehill-type creatures can be found in records dating back hundreds of years. Sir Thomas Browne, writing in the 17th century, recorded a popular belief that British badgers (popularly referred to back then as "brocks") had legs of different lengths: "That a Brock or Badger hath the legs on one side shorter then of the other [which] though an opinion perhaps not very ancient, is yet very general; received not only by Theorists and unexperienced believers, but assented unto by most who have the opportunity to behold and hunt them daily." (Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 1646, Book III, Chapter 5, 'Of the Badger').

In colonial America sidehill-type creatures were referred to as "procks". Evidently a derivative of "brocks". Since then a wide variety of names have been given to these creatures, including: sidehill badger, sidehill winder, sidehill dodger, sidehill wowser, godaphro, and gyascutus. However, sidehill gouger is, by far, the most common name. Other sidehill creatures include the Rackabore, and the French Dahut. There have also been reports from Scotland of a Sidehill Haggis.
A sidehill Gouger
walks round a hill, don't turn round!
too late it fell off
Posted by J  on  Tue Oct 03, 2006  at  12:09 PM
The clockwise vs counter-clockwise nature of the sidehill gouger is frequently misunderstood. Different regions generally have a population of nearly 95% one or the other, and the poor 5% who face the opposite way have a very difficult time finding a mate who they can procreate with, as the majority of gougers they may encounter are facing the wrong way! It takes a very determined sidehill gouger to create "crossbred" offspring! The poor creatures in the minority are known to chase after anything they see in the trail that is facing the "right way."
Posted by John  on  Wed Jan 24, 2007  at  05:12 PM
That would leed to a situation similar to the Wampahoofus. The two genders faced different ways and they became extinct because they couldnt mate. In this case I think the 5 percent that you talked about would eventually become extinct. The two types are in fact different, but closely related sub-species.
Posted by Thisisnotadrillalienshaveinvadadedtheplanetearth  on  Mon Apr 02, 2007  at  08:04 AM
'Round the hill he goes
Day in, day out, all he knows
More greens 'round the bend
Posted by hazey  in  MA  on  Mon Jun 23, 2008  at  07:37 PM
OHMYGOSH, people have reached a different level of craziness. are you joking?
Posted by paula  in  CA  on  Sat Jul 05, 2008  at  09:25 PM
I must say that this is very refreshing. You see as a child my family owned a cottage on Charlotte Lake in Northern Ontario, Canada. My Grandfather was a Police officer with a twisted sense of humor and no idea how to act around children. When it was nap time he would come in our little room and lay down with us to tell stories. His favourite story was of the Sidehill Gouger he tried to convince us that one of these creatures lived in the forest all around the lake and terrorized the inhabitants. He told us that it was a squat pig shaped thing with a cabbage like face, sort of green and rough with bulging red eyes, and of course his favourite meal was misbehaving children. How rediculous it all seems now. However at the time my brother, sister and I were afraid to go to the outhouse alone.
His other favourite story was of the Flying Spokeshave. I'm looking that up next. =)
Posted by Madonna Charlotte  in  Ontario Canada  on  Sat Sep 13, 2008  at  12:53 PM
i saw the side hill gouger. it was terrifing. the legs and arms wre different lenghts, the teath were different leanghts one looked like a knife, when it ran it ran in circuls slowly geting bigger because of the different lenghts of the the legs and arms. The ears are huge like floppy bunny ears the fur is dark gray.
Posted by VO  in  USA  on  Sun Nov 02, 2008  at  05:19 PM
I read in "The Journal Of Irreproducible Results" some years ago about a study done on these creatures. Turns out the different "directions" (I'd say "handed" but they don't have hands, do they?) of Gougers do tend to live in colonies but where the colonies overlap, there is some interbreeding. Apparently it involves some Kama-Sutra-like positioning above and between boulders. Ah, the power of love! The study revealed that neither "direction" is dominant genetically, and therefore a variety of mixed offspring result from this interbreeding. The researchers referred to "Clockwise" and "Counterclockwise" Gougers (indicating which way they could circle a conical peak). Offspring with diagonally opposed legs were termed "Rockers". As noted above, they don't usually survive long, the exception being that they are very good at clambering over rockfalls, and can do quite well there. Other variants observed had both long legs on the rear, or both on the front. These were termed "Uphill" and "Downhill" respectively, as that is the way they faced to stay level. The "Downhill" ones typically die of drowning (they keep going downhill until they end up in a creek or pond). The "Uphill" ones keep climbing until they either fall to their death from a sheer-faced peak or starve to death at the summit of a less-craggy mountaintop. They don't die too quickly, so you can hear their moaning carried by the winds at night in the mountains.
Posted by Marko  in  Portland, Oregon  on  Thu Feb 12, 2009  at  11:01 PM
Sightings of left- and right-handed Sidehill Gougers migrating arm in arm across a plain have been reported, possibly explaining their large range of habitat.

Nothing is more tragic than the look of a mother Sidehill Gouger whose child is of the opposite orientation. They can only meet twice per circuit around the mountain.
Posted by Walter Bender  in  Newton, MA  on  Thu May 28, 2009  at  09:56 PM
have never seen anything of the kind, just have read a lot on the topic in different books (download mainly from http://www.picktorrent.com Thanks so much for the depth and understanding at which you covered the topic. it's a useful piece of information not only for me but for many others.I wish I could get to know more about all the unbelievable creatures the nature has in store!
Posted by helen  on  Tue Jul 28, 2009  at  10:49 AM
Otto Fife, the famous sheriff of Iron County, Utah, reported sightings in southern Utah up to the mid-twentieth century
Posted by David Andersen  in  Berlin, Germany  on  Wed Sep 30, 2009  at  03:10 PM
I must say that this is a truely fascinating article. I have been studying the hufawumpas for many, many years. I'm 40 so that's a lot of yearses. My dad was part hoofawoompas, so I felt it necessary to learn about my heritage. Interestingly enoghu, ancestry.com doesn't have my dad listed. My dad's name is Joe.
Posted by Wowzer I'm part Sidehill Gouger !  in  Second star to the right  on  Wed Apr 07, 2010  at  03:26 PM
There are many genetic variations of the Gouger, both adaptive and nonadaptive. One such is a rare subspecies known as The Slither. The anomaly here is all 4 legs are too short. They are in fact so short that they don't reach the ground. They spend their thankfully short lives in the exact spot that they were born, except for a few attempts at flying.
Posted by Ugottebenuts  in  Whatzthe diff. Europe  on  Fri Jun 29, 2012  at  12:42 PM
When we were very young in Nova Scotia in the 1950s our Great Aunt told us of the sidehill gougers. She said they were easily hunted by scaring them so they turned around to run away and tumbled sideways downhill to be caught at the bottom. I have always thought she made up the story herself and I didn't realize what a vital part of folklore they were until the subject came up and my wife said "I wonder what you would get if you searched sidehill gouger on the internet. I did, and sure enough, after all these years it appears she didn't just make it up.
I'm glad to see many people have enjoyed this comical creature over the centuries and look forward to hearing an evolutionist explain its existence someday. They have come up with so many imaginative stories such as life from dead matter that I'm sure they can invent one for this creature!
Posted by Sandy Johnson  in  Ontario  on  Sun Feb 24, 2013  at  07:54 PM
a little known subspecies is known as a Slither. They are exclusively male and in addition the legs on both sides are so small that even in adulthood that cannot reach the ground. They wriggle around on the ground (hence the name) in futile attempts to fly.
Posted by boberic  in  noneofyourbusinessastan  on  Wed Mar 27, 2013  at  11:32 AM
After reflecting on all the scientific research of the evolution of left or right legs shorter or longer I have come to the conclusion that all the research is wrong. Their conclusions have ignored Occums Razor. The answer is so obvious. The left sided Gougers are Progressive-Liberals, and the right sided Gougers are Conservatives. thats the reason that opposite sided Gougers don't get along.
Posted by Sir Doofus  in  Somewhat Disturbed  on  Thu Mar 28, 2013  at  08:08 AM
This reminded me of a story I heard long ago about a little bird that used to live on a mountain in East Tennessee called a "Side Hill Climber."

These were small, non-flying, quail-size birds that lived in nests on the ground.

Over the centuries they so adapted to the steep hillside that they had developed one leg shorter than the other so that they could stand upright on the mountainside.

Their eggs were pyramid-shaped, giving them low center of gravity and preventing their rolling out of the nests.

The version I heard says that the mother hens got turned around in a severe thunderstorm and laid all their eggs facing the wrong direction. When the chicks hatched they had their short legs on the downhill side and rolled out of the nests to their deaths.

So, Side Hill Climbers are extinct and that is why they are not seen around East Tennessee any more.
Posted by Steve Bartlett  in  Cape Cod  on  Tue Nov 12, 2013  at  05:04 PM
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