Expedition Team: Dave Miller

Date: June 2022

Sitting around the campfire reminded me of this popular, hilarious western United States urban legend – the legend of the Jackalope. This urban legend always makes me laugh. It reminds me of when camping, I would send my kids out at night with a flashlight and small paper bag for them to go snipe hunting to catch the non-existent snipe.

For those unfamiliar with the jackalope legend, the fake hybrid is said to have first ‘come to life’ in 1932 when Douglas Herrick and his brother conceived of the creature while tinkering in their hobby of taxidermy. Their curious creation became something of a sensation, and over the years, countless versions of the antlered animal were crafted by various artisans. Basically, the jackalope is half jack rabbit and half antelope. How this small animal and large animal could mate is beyond me. In time, all manner of tall tales became attached to the jackalope, which has been depicted as something of a vicious trickster that lured unsuspecting cowboys to their doom by mimicking a human voice and then, upon drawing its victims close, swiftly attacking them with the tiny antlers atop its head. Cowboys were told not to be fooled by its diminutive size and adorable appearance and to “Fear the Jackalope.”

According to folklore, the jackalope was not above being fooled itself as it is said that the creature could be captured if one left a glass of whiskey beside a fire. What cracks me up is that the jackalope supposedly can imitate a human voice. Cowboys singing to their herds at night have been startled to hear their lonesome melodies repeated from a hillside by a jackalope. Jackalopes only sing on dark nights before a thunderstorm. So, this legend is ridiculously silly but a great story to tell when sitting around the campfire. I included a few photos of the kids and me a long time ago riding a giant jackalope at Wall, South Dakota.

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