You won’t find any information on the jackalope in a scientific field guide, but the animal’s natural history and habits can be gleaned by other means, like searching the Internet, reading postcards
in gas station gift shops, and chatting with cowboys in bars. Here’s
what I picked up during my quest:
- The jackalope is able to mimic human sounds. Cowboys in the desert have reported hearing mysterious voices that repeat their campfire songs. There have also been reports of jackalopes singing to cattle at night and imitating the sounds of automobiles, trains, and other animals.
- Another hunting tactic was to wait until a full moon was rising. The jackalope would mistake the rising moon for the setting sun and become confused. It would then start walking backwards or running in circles, making it an easy target.
- The jackalope often moves faster than the average human eye can track and prefers to mate during thunderstorms, particularly when lightning flashes.
- Milk extracted from a jackalope is said to have medicinal purposes, curing everything from baldness to bunions.
- Early pioneers on the High Plains hunted the jackalope for food. They caught the animals using traps baited with whiskey. The creature would get drunk and then try to catch bullets in its mouth.
- The Douglas, Wyoming, Chamber of Commerce cites the following factors as reasons for the demise of the jackalope: harsh winters in the late 1880s, mild summers in the early 1890s with few thunderstorms (thus inhibiting mating), Prohibition, and daylight saving time.
- In Wyoming, you can catch your own jackalope if you get a nonresident hunting license from the Converse County Chamber of Commerce. The license is good only on June 31, the county’s official Jackalope Hunting Day, from sunrise to sunset.
- A jackalope-hunting permit can also be obtained in South Dakota, but the animal can be hunted only at elevations above 5,000 feet from June 1 through October 31 between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. on the 3 nights prior to a full moon. All hunters must use slingshots and tranquilizing pellets.