Sidehill gougers are North American folkloric creatures adapted to living on hillsides by having legs on one side of their body shorter than the legs on the opposite side. This peculiarity allows them to walk on steep hillsides, although only in one direction; when lured or chased into the plain, they are trapped in an endless circular path. The creature is variously known as the Sidehill Ousel, Gyascutus, Sidewinder, Wowser, Wampus, Gudaphro, Hunkus, Rickaboo Racker, Prock, Gwinter, or Cutter Cuss.
Sidehill gougers are herbivorous mammals who dwell in hillside burrows, and are occasionally depicted as laying eggs. There are usually 6 to 8 pups to a litter. Since the gouger is footed for hillsides, it cannot stand up on level ground. If by accident a gouger falls from a hill, it can easily be captured or starve to death. When a clockwise gouger meets a counter-clockwise gouger, they have to fight to the death since they can only go in one direction.
Gougers are said to have migrated to the west from New England, a feat accomplished by a pair of gougers who clung to each other in a fashion comparable to "a pair of drunks going home from town" with their longer legs on the outer sides. A Vermont variation is known as the Wampahoofus. It was reported that farmers crossbreed them with their cows so they could graze easily on mountain sides. There is also a similar mythical creature in France known as the dahu.
Frank C. Whitmore and Nicholas Hotton, in their joint tongue-in-cheek response to an article "Fantastic Animals" (Smithsonian Magazine, 1972), expounded the taxonomy of sidehill gougers (Membriinequales declivitous), noting in particular "the sidehill dodger, which inhabits the Driftless Area of Wisconsin; the dextrosinistral limb ratio approaches unity although the metapodials on the downhill side are noticeably stouter."
- Brown, C.E. Paul Bunyan Natural History. (Madison: self-published, 1935.)
- Randolph, Vance. We Always Lie to Strangers: Tall Tales from the Ozarks. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1951.)
- Tryon, Henry Harrington. Fearsome Critters. (Cornwall, New York: Idlewild Press, 1939)
- Ralph E. Eshelman, "Tribute to Frank Clifford Whitmore, Jr." in: A. Berta and T. A. Demere (eds.) Contributions in Marine Mammal Paleontology Honoring Frank C. Whitmore Jr. Proc. San Diego Soc. Nat. Hist. 29:3-10, 1994
- Hotton. N. and Whitmore. F. C, Jr. 1972. Letters to the editor: Fantastic Animals. Smithsonian Magazine 3 (7): 13.
- Dill, Lawrence M. (1983). "Behavioral Genetics of the Sidehill Gouger". In George H. Scherr, editor; Richard Liebmann-Smith, associate editor. The Best of the Journal of Irreproducible Results. New York: Workman. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-89480-595-9.
- Sidehill Gouger from Fearsome Critters by Henry H. Tryon
- The Wampahoofus: A Sad Evolutionary Tale
- Sidehill Gouger video game on Xbox Live
The Sidehill Gouger has been a crepuscular and nocturnal fixture on highly-visible pathways of the rolling hills of the southern Palouse hills grazing land (just north of Walla Walla, WA) for over 60 years. It has been studied and authenticated by separate post-Doctoral groups from Whitman College, Stanford University and Bob Jones University. Being herbivores, the Gougers do not have sharp teeth When confronted, Sidehill Gougers will "gum" their adversaries to submission. (Hence the name chosen by nearby Whitman College, - - the Missionaries.) The Sidehill Gouger has an extraordinarily wide body, enabling it to walk upon two adjacent paths at the same time. They have long, goat-like hair. Their necks and heads are also long, that they might reach the grasses growing along the path trod upon by their left legs. Their shorter right legs walk along the narrow,adjacent upper pathway. The Sidehill Gouger is designed to go only clock-wise around its 'home' hill. If a newborn is born facing counter-clock-wise, its parents 'dispose' of this newborn quickly and humanely.