Story behind the mythical Great Nevada Jackalope

Like the fabled Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot or even Tahoe Tessie, the jackalope has long been in the folklore of the West. Do they or don't they exist? Indeed they have been the subject of something to give license to for all that is fun and silly, a great excuse for tall tales of their potential to reek havoc on the unsuspecting and, for the gullible, the subjected butt of a good joke when sent out on a midnight hunting trip to capture the illusive creature.

My poor nephew, 14 at the time, had the misfortune of falling into the gullible category as my oldest son, a master of creative fiction and straight-faced fibbing, dashed any doubts in Jeff's naive mind, of the existence of the "Great Nevada Jack."

Of course it helped that I was in possession of a beautiful taxidermied mount that lent physical proof to their existence. That is what started all of Jeff's questions in the first place. I admit I should have had a slight twinge of guilty conscience as I watched Jeff get lead down the garden path to eventual embarrassment. It would have been kind of me to give him a little wink-a-side to bolster his logic and common sense but devilishness overtook me and besides, I really wanted to see just how far my son was capable of going without tripping over the tall tale he was spinning.

Mike was good, achieving his objective, Jeff was caught like a bug in a spider's web within an hour. Mike even had him preparing for the hunt that was to take place in the Pinenuts behind our house on the next full-moon night. He had Jeff in search of all the equipment needed - baseball bat, gunny sack, helmet and heavy gloves to protect himself from the jackalope's razor-like fangs and heavy clothing to protect from being gored by its antlers.

All was well until a few days later when Jeff talked to his younger brother on the phone. He was all excited when he told his brother what he was going to be doing in a couple of days. Then the truth came out. Jeff's brother Drew said there was no such critter and laughed at him. Of course, I am of the opinion that Drew doesn't believe in Santa Claus, Paul Bunyon, the tooth fairy or even the great pumpkin, which is a shame to be so skeptical. Skeptical people miss so much fun in life.

And yet for being a mythical creature, the jackalope has reared its funny little horned head for centuries when documented proof of the existence surfaced in the 1500s when Albrecht Dürer, studying plants and animals, writes of the "raurackl" which is German for "stag-hare." The raurackl, with its deadly horns, are said to have been legendary among Bavarian hunters. It is apparent that the fearsome creature made its way to America and was soon ensconced in cowboy tales and Indian folklore which has provided must of the bulk of jackalope tales. Legend from the Oglala Sioux tells of jackalopes being so fast on starts and stops that they are given the name Dust Devils. The Oglala also contributed the concept that jackalopes have a weakness for alcoholic beverages and that their milk carries high medicinal value. The "facts" always seem to be consistent with very few variations.

My jackalope went to stay at the Carson Valley Clays Gun Club about a year ago. There on display for all the young and gullible to be sucked into the stories by those with the ability to tell a tall tale with a very straight face.

TRE happenings

The VFW Topaz No. 3630 pancake breakfast will be 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 22 at the Topaz Community Park Building at the end of Carter Way off Albite and Highway 208. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for ages 12 and younger. The VFW is going to make this a monthly event on the fourth Saturday of every month. Information, Bert McKee, 266-4483.

The VFW Topaz 3630 Ladies Auxiliary annual spaghetti feed will be 4- 8 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Topaz Community Park Building at the end of Carter Way in Topaz Ranch Estates. Adults are $6 and children $3. There will be a no-host bar, spaghetti with all the trimmings and dessert. Lots of raffle prizes and door prizes. Information, Dinah Vaughn, 266-4833, or Patti Smith, 265-9990.

Until next week...may the reputation of the Great Nevada Jack just keep on keepin' on.

-- Jonni Hill can be reached through The Record-Courier at or by calling 782-5121, ext. 213, or


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