Side-Hill Gouger (& subspecies.) - [Fearsome Critter]
• About this critter:
An unstable footed creature, born and built specifically to live on the hillside, commonly its legs are much longer on one side of its body than the other, if it tries to reverse direction, it inevitably topples over. as a result, it is said to wind the hillside repeatedly in an endless circular path, it's footsteps eventually causing Terracettes in the Mountain range (or hoodoo's in the deserts.) - Though It's exploits & appearance greatly vary from region to region: In parts of BC it is reputed to be a creature that makes clearly defined tracks in the sides of hills or mysterious paths in the mountains.
There are both left and right sided variants that move either clockwise or counter clockwise: gougers are fated to endlessly circle whatever hillside or mountain that they're born, If the two variants ever meet, they will butt heads until one of them falls off the side of the hill, eventually starving to death as they are unable to balance on level surfaces. - (Though it has also been said that they'll cooperate, leaning up against each other, in order to migrate.) - its said that gougers rest by burrowing sideways into the hill side using its shorter but powerful legs, typically they have 6-8 pups to a litter (or they lay eggs.) Once a gouger has fully weaned, they'll never meet again.
Gougers are said to be very easy to capture (you can just push them over or scare them) however, their meat is not at all tasty, sometimes even poisonous unfit for human consumption, (see: willIamalone) as such its been said that rather as a source of meat, farmers will use them breed cows which are adept at plowing farmland on hillsides. (See also wampahoofus) The skin of these creatures, is said to be highly sought after by leather workers, and the pelts by fashion designers.
[Side-hill Gougers as mentioned in a 1980s Abbotsford BC Forestry guide.]
Appearance: Commonly your typical appalling gouger appears as a hoofed mammal with a thick fur pelt on one side. Completely bald, with smooth leather on the other. (The result of rubbing up against the cliff-side as it walked all day long.) typically they're herbivores. - However, There are several regional variants in appearance, and they are just as often: Porcine, Equine, Bovine, Canine, Feline, Reptilian & Rodent variants: (The list goes on to several equally bizarre creatures, fantasy beasts such as Dragons, Satyr & even chimerical crossbreeds of the aforementioned, there are also avian sorts such that might fly around a hill-side in a similar silly manner or aquatic counterparts that swim in circles those last two are often considered different critters however. Other variants observed have both long legs on the rear, or both on the front. These are typically termed as "Uphill" and "Downhill" The "Downhills" typically die of drowning (they keep going downhill until they end up in the ocean or a pond.) while The "Uphills" 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. - Offspring of gougers that have diagonally opposed legs are sometimes called "Rockers" as they rock back and forth perpetually.
Naming: The 'Side-hill Gouger' itself goes vicariously by a myriad of names including: "Sidehill Dodger, SideHill ranger, Sidehill Hoofer, Sidehill Ousel, Sidehill Loper, Sidehill Galoot, Side-hill Badger, Side hill Bear, Side-hill Cougar, Side-hill Wowser, Gyascutus, Sidewinder, Wampus, Boofum, Gudaphro, Hunkus, Rickaboo Racker, Rackabore, Prock*, Gwinter, Cutter Cuss & Yamhill Lunkus." - To make things even more confusing, This critter also has world wide variants, such as the "Wild Haggis" from Scotland or the "Dahu" from France. - (i'm certain that there are others too! - if its limbs are lopsided and it moves in circles: then its likely a variant or in the family of the side-hill gouger.)
• A few noteworthy variants include: The long tailed 'Wampahoofus' of vermont which is (often said to be a selectively-cross bread bovine variant) The hog-like Zeph – a taxidermied winged "Rackabore" currently kept in Ontario's Haliburton Museum. Affectionately given the title “the winged zephyr of the Ontario highlands” - As well the 'Gyascutus' which many seem to insist is the originator (debatable, more on that one perhaps another time.)
[The Appalachian gouger as it appears in Henry H Tryons Fearsome Critters 1939]
*Likely origin: In the 17th century, Sir Thomas Browne 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') Thereafter, the oral myth spread, eventually to American & Canadian folklore: in coloneal times the American sidehill-type creatures were referred to as "procks" a likely derivative of these "brocks" thereafter one can assume that tall tales spread, the broken telephone of time did its thing, eventually resulting in the side-hill gouger & hundreads of variants!
[a Brock img source]
Sticker Art and Bio By @samkalensky (yo, thats me!) part of my 'Fearsome Critters' & cryptids series of stickers, check my shop & follow for many more!