There I was, minding my own business, taking an innocent walk down the lane that leads to my parents’ farmhouse. Suddenly this gigantic critter erupted from the grass practically under my feet. While I stood there gasping, waiting for my heart rate to subside, it dashed off to what it apparently considered a safe distance. There it stopped and stood up on its hind legs to reconnoiter, its eyes wide, nose twitching, and ears swiveling.
Believe me, that was one impressive bunny—the biggest jack rabbit I’ve ever seen. Its winter coat was so lush and thick, it would have made Cruella De Vil forget all about Dalmatians. And standing erect, its amazing ears at attention, it looked as big as a kangaroo. (Okay, okay, so I’ve never actually seen a kangaroo. That’s still what it looked like.)
Come to think of it, I haven’t seen many jack rabbits in recent years, either. Maybe they’re all that big, and I just didn’t remember because it’s been so long. The rabbit population seems to follow cycles of abundance, over-abundance, disease and die-off, scarcity, and resurgence. Since I haven’t lived on the prairie for a long time, I’ve probably missed a few cycles.
This week, however, I discovered what may be another reason why jack rabbits seem a little scarce. They’re being abducted and genetically modified into a different species. If you don’t believe me, check out this January 19 article in the Rapid City Journal. It features “the world’s foremost jackalope maker,” who provides thousands of these exotic critters to Cabela’s.
The rabbit I saw in my parents’ lane would no doubt make an impressive jackalope. I hope, instead, it enjoys a long and prosperous life as a jack rabbit. And I promise to watch out for it the next time I visit.
I wouldn’t want it to suffer the same fate as the last South Dakota jackrabbit I got close to. That time, we ran over it. On Good Friday.
I swear, it was an accident. We were driving after dark on a gravel road when the rabbit, no doubt stressed out and distracted by its seasonal duties, dashed out in front of the car. It’s a terrible feeling to realize you have just squashed the Easter Bunny.
Maybe it would have been better off as a jackalope.