Since day one, people have told stories of adventures, hard times, frightening experiences, joyous events, and everyday life. Some are true, others, slightly exaggerated, and some complete tall tales. The most interesting ones were remembered and repeated, over and over, until, even if they had been true at one time, alterations may have turned them into unbelievable accounts that then became legends, folklore, or myths.
Such one is the jackalope. This is a statue of one at Wall Drug in South Dakota.
When hubby and I took a trip through the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming we came across numerous advertisements for jackalopes. The Jackalope Capital of the World. Jackalope Country. Jackalope Hunting Season—which requires a license. The hunter cannot have an IQ higher than 72 and can only hunt on June 31st between the hours of midnight and 2:00 AM.
LEGEND has it, John Colter, one of the first white men to enter Wyoming Territory, claimed to have spotted a jackalope. The animal was said to be vicious, and could mimic any sound it heard. Later, as cowboys gathered around campfires at night singing songs, they swore to have heard jackalopes repeating the words to the songs. They also claimed the easiest way to catch a jackalope was to set out a flask of whiskey. The jackalope would drink its fill, and then slow, because of its intoxication, the critters could be caught.
The legend of jackalopes continued into the 20th century. Around 1930 two brothers, having studied taxidermy, went hunting one day. Upon returning home, one brother tossed a jack rabbit on the floor. The carcass came to rest next to a set of deer horns. A short time later, the brothers sold the first stuffed jackalope for $10 to the owner of a Douglas, Wyoming hotel. The jackalope proudly hung there until 1977 when it was stolen.
The jackalope isn’t unique to America. There are similar critters (rabbits with horns) in Germany—a wolperdinger, and in Sweden—a skvader. (Just a side note, jackalopes have been spotted in many states besides Wyoming.)
Actual illustrations of rabbits with horns go back to the 16th century. Papillomatosis, also known as jackalopism, is a disease which causes parasitic growths, sometimes resembling horns, on the heads of rabbits.
Legend, folklore, or truth, that’s the jackalope tale.
Although there are no jackalopes in my May 1st release, A Fortune for the Outlaw's Daughter, it does have a Macaw in it--an odd bird for Alaska. I'll be giving away a few advance copies over on my Facebook author page this month, so 'hop' on over for your chance to win one.