Hunting for the Elusive Wyoming Jackalope: A Hunter’s Tale
I tried to convince my friend, Randy, from Colorado to come to Wyoming for a truly unique hunt. That he needed to bag an animal that can only be found in the Cowboy State, a jackalope.
At first, he didn't believe me that the creature exists, but he also believed in bigfoot, lock ness, and other cryptozoological creatures. I was able to convince him. If the jackalope doesn't exist, then why can you get one at Cabela's? It is a conspiracy from Wyoming Game and Fish, I told him.
What we really know about the Jackalope is this. Douglas Herrick of Wyoming was the first to report and sell the stuffed animal in 1977 according to Jackalopearts.org. The website also details a few historical accounts of the creature in a 16th-century painting, a mention of a horned rabbit by Buddha, and a sighting by a Wyoming trapper in 1829. The town of Douglas even talks about the Jackalope being a major source of revenue before the coal, oil, and uranium became the big players in the Cowboy State. They even sell hunting permits for the short season on June 31st from sunrise and sunset. The permits have to be issued in Converse County.
Our trip started in Douglas, Wyoming, to get a permit. We arrived in town in full camo regalia. Everyone was quite happy and laughed more than usual when asking locals for hunting tips. One man said he has bagged several Jackalopes over the years and had some critical information for us.
"When hunting a creature like the Jackalope," he said, "you need a mystical weapon if you want to be successful."
He then offered to sell us one of his old Jackalope guns. The man has since upgraded to a better rifle with a scope, so he could spare this one. It looked like a toy gun made of plastic with the orange band on the tip of the barrel.
"This is a toy," Randy said.
"Yes," the man said, "that's the point. These Jackalopes are smart. You need to fool them that you are harmless. This gun will do just that. And one more important thing. To release the magic you have to say the mystic words when firing the gun. When you pull the trigger, say PEW PEW. This will take care of Jackalopes, but if you have just a normal jackrabbit, it will not harm them."
This was truly a unique item and was the best $500 we spent on the whole trip. I'd wonder why they didn't make them for elk or moose. Next, we needed to know where to hunt. Thankful we ran into a local rancher who allowed us to use his land. He spotted Jackalope on his land. Finding their eggs are the tell-tale sign that you are close. His son showed the Jackalope eggs he found. They looked like Easter Eggs with little antlers growing out of the top. I now realize why there were few Jackalopes on the earth because the birthing process must not be pleasant.
We set up on the side of a rock face. We had several good angles for a good shot. We camped out the night of June 30th because the season starts sunrise on the 31st. When we awoke the next morning it was July 1st. Both Randy and I agreed that our GPS must have been mistaken being so far away from cell service.
Early in the morning, we saw many rabbits. Then far back on a rocky outcrop, there was a Jackalope. We were sure of it. Randy took aim and said the magic words as he pulled the trigger "PEW-PEW." Rats! Nothing, it must have been a rabbit.
We had a few more good shots, but each time, "PEW-PEW," the critters just ran away. There was a crowd gathering around us. It must have been exciting to watch a couple of grown men hunting like this. They laughed with what must have been nervous laughter.
"PEW-PEW, Darn I missed," Randy shouted.
We were unable to bag a Jackalope on the trip, but we couldn't return empty handed. On the way back to Denver, we stopped at a gift shop in Douglas and purchased a stuffed Jackalope. It wasn't exactly what we wanted, but it would fool most of our friends. What's the problem with a little white lie?