Posts Tagged With: Jackalope

Jumping Jack

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.

Categories: Wild Things | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Lions and Tigers and Bears–Or Not

It all started with the Beetdiggers.

Taking a break from driving during a two-day road trip, we were walking along Main Street in Brush, Colorado. We noticed a sign on a store window: Go Beetdiggers!

Okay, as high school mascot, maybe a beetdigger doesn't have the same aura of ferocity as its more common cousins, all those lions, tigers, bears, and bulldogs out there. But at least it has a clear connection with the area's major industry of raising sugar beets.

The Beetdiggers (who probably "Can't be beat!") sound a little tougher than their neighbors further down the road—the Rocky Ford Meloneers. When your town is famous for its sweet, juicy watermelons and cantaloupes, maybe toughness isn't quite so important.

Still, both of them are far ahead of Fort Collins, where the wrestlers and football players must be some of the toughest guys in high school sports. You'd have to be, to overcome a mascot like the "Lambkin."

Of course, back home in South Dakota, we have our share of school nicknames that, when it comes to that good old fighting spirit, are a couple linemen short of a full team. Some of them don't even seem to make sense, unless you know a little about the history of the town.

Like the Sturgis Scoopers, for example. The town, near the frontier military post of Fort Meade, had an early reputation for "scooping" money out of the pockets of the soldiers. These days it offers the same service to bikers during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The "Scotties," for the prairie town of Phillip, doesn't seem logical at all unless you know that the town was named after Scotty Phillips, an early rancher who helped bring the buffalo back from near-extinction.

For a real macho image, though, you can't beat the good old Mitchell Kernels. No, that's not "Colonel" as in military, it's "Kernel" as in corn. Back in the early 1900's, a lot of small towns built onion-domed "corn palaces" that were decorated with grains to celebrate agriculture. Mitchell has what may be the only one still being used and still freshly decorated every year.

My favorite sports mascot is still one I saw a few years ago in Montana. A sign in front of the school in the little town of Belfry proudly announces, "Home of the Bats."

I was surprised and disappointed, though, to discover that one well-known animal native to Wyoming and South Dakota doesn't have a team named after it in either state. The only school I found using it as a mascot was Rudolfo Anaya Elementary in Albuquerque. And that simply doesn't make sense. Everyone knows New Mexico doesn't have native jackalopes.

Categories: Just For Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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