A lot of very strange things have been reported during hunting season in Wallowa County.
Through the years sportsmen in this county have hunted and shot or at least spotted many unusual big game specimen, some designed to fool the most law-abiding buck or bull hunter.
For example, in October 1946 a local hunter, the late Lawrence Potter, shot a four-point deer near his place on Little Sheep Creek on Lick Creek Road. Much to his surprise, he found instead of a buck the animal was a doe, proudly carrying a normal looking rack of antlers.
An Oregon Game Commission story in the Nov. 16, 1961, Chieftain about wildlife oddities around the state, included the story of Sam Barri of Portland who had shot an elk with a very strange antler configuration in the Chesnimnus area of Wallowa County. It consisted of a forked horn growing unicorn-like straight up just off the center of the skull, 22 inches long and completely covered in velvet.
Barri's second surprise came when he dressed the animal out, only to find a mature cow.
The printing of the oddities piece in that particular issue of the Chieftain was probably prompted by an even stranger news story on the front page of the paper that week.
It seems that a game officer had investigated an elk with a rack consisting of two points on one side and four points on the other, shot by Lester Morris of Venita. It was found to have the mature reproductive organs of both a male and a female elk. Local game officer Bob Stein said at the time he'd never before seen a hermaphroditic elk.
More recently, in December of 1990, outfitter and guide Manford Isley shot the most unusual elk of his long career. It was a mature cow elk with the markings of an Appaloosa horse, covered with white spots on the front two-thirds of its body and black spots on its rump.
"I don't have the vaguest idea of what caused it, and I haven't talked to anyone who has," the veteran guide was quoted as saying. He had the unique hide tanned and made into a rug.
Not all of Wallowa County oddities have been natural. Tracking down a rumor about a cow elk running around with a toilet seat around its neck made the front page of the Chieftain on Feb. 22, 1979.
The rumor was true. Such an animal had been first spotted by a game officers seven year before and seen a number of time since.
The cow had died just the month before and a jaw analysis revealed it was one of the oldest elks around.
"Speculation is that she wandered into a vacant elk hunter's camp and put her head where it shouldn't have been," said Vic Coggins of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A few years ago there was another rumor about an albino deer running loose in Minam Canyon. That one was never verified, but you never know what strange critters might still turn up in Wallowa County.