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Beware of the Jackelope

Sun, Oct 1st, 2000
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A Cautionary TaleBy Neil Haugerud Monday, October 2, 2000

In 1851 a roving band of Arapaho Indians encountered a small herd of dwarf antelope, the same size as their camp dogs, foraging near the Badlands of South Dakota. Lame Eagle, a swift, though club-footed boy of twelve, using a willow bark snare, captured, tamed and made pets of three of the delightful animals. Sometime thereafter, drifting bands of white renegades discovered the remainder of the herd and hunted them to extinction.

Lame Eagle was deeply disappointed when he found that all of his pet antelope were antlerless females; leaving no hope of continuing the rare breed. Some months later, Lame Eagle and his family trekked from the Badlands to their homeland in Wyoming, where Jackrabbits, nearly as large as the dwarf antelope, dwelt in ground holes and the tall prairie grass.

While making camp near a fast flowing stream called Tumbling Water, Lame Eagle found a nest of abandoned baby Jacks, which, in the course of several months he nurtured and tamed. When the jackrabbits were full-grown, Lame Eagle, with much affection placed them in an enclosure with the dwarf antelope as protection from camp dogs.

To his utter surprise, in the spring of the year, the three antelope had babies that for all appearance seemed to be jackrabbits. By late summer some of the new-fashioned jackrabbits began to grow antlers. By late fall, all of the male, jackrabbit-like antelope offspring, had grown a full rack of horns.

The Arapaho, quite amazed, named them Prong-Horned Jackelope. The Jackelope, being hy-bred, were able to leap and bound higher and further than either antelopes or jackrabbits; so it wasn't long until they all jumped the enclosure and escaped. During the ensuing years it was reported they migrated eastward.

Although very few Jackelope have ever been seen in this area, recent rare sightings have been documented. Just last week, Bruce Hanson, an outdoorsman extrordinaire from the Lenora area, barely escaped with his life after being attacked by a small herd of Jackelope, while hunting ginseng in the Big Woods.

Bruce reported that the Jackelopes lowered their heads and charged, attacking his lower legs while slashing their horns back and forth. His boots were cut to ribbons and he received several stinging shinbone lacerations.

"The only thing that saved me," Bruce said, "was my jumping ability, learned from my adolescent years of jumping stumps, my only recreation as a young boy. I was able to leap high into a tree beyond the Jackelopes' ability to get at me. One of the larger of the Jackelopes was so surprised and shocked by my swift action that he dropped over dead. I've mounted the critter and he is on display at my museum as evidence of the truthfulness of this tale."

Let this article serve as fair warning to all outsiders and city slickers planning to venture into the Big Woods. For your own safety, perhaps you should reconsider and find another territory to satisfy your curiosity.

It has also been reported to me from a very uninformed unreliable anonymous source that State Representative Greg Davids is in opposition to any efforts of local 'tree huggers and bunny lovers' who might want to protect the Jackelopes in the Big Woods no matter how rare they are.

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