"Jackalope" inventor dies

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Jan 20 14:14:31 UTC 2003

   DARE has "jackalope," but from only 1955.  The facts from this NEW YORK 
TIMES article are absent in the DARE entry.  OED does not have an entry.
   Google shows that a few places offer a "jackalope burger," but it's no 
"turducken" or "churkendoose."
   From the NEW YORK TIMES:
Douglas Herrick, 82, Father of the Jackalope, Is Dead


Douglas Herrick, who gets both the credit and the blame for perhaps the 
tackiest totem of the American West, the jackalope — half bunny, half 
antelope and 100 percent tourist trap — died on Jan. 6 in Casper, Wyo. He was 

The cause was bone and lung cancer, his brother, Ralph, said. 

Douglas Herrick lived in Casper, but it was in his hometown, Douglas, Wyo., 
that luck changed his life.

In 1932 (other accounts say 1934, 1939 and 1940, but Ralph Herrick swears it 
was 1932), the Herrick brothers had returned from hunting. "We just throwed 
the dead jack rabbit in the shop when we come in and it slid on the floor 
right up against a pair of deer horns we had in there," Ralph said. "It 
looked like that rabbit had horns on it."

His brother's eyes brightened with inspiration.

"Let's mount that thing!" he said.

That was tens of thousands of jackalopes ago. A jackalope, of course, is a 
legendary animal with a jack rabbit's body and the antlers of a pronghorn 
antelope, which resembles a small deer. The last syllable of the name comes 
from antelope. (Jackadeer? Nah.)

Whether jackalopes ever hopped the earth's surface is rather like the same 
question about the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot; it depends on the observer. 
Believers say that Buddha mentioned a horned rabbit, although they usually 
neglect to mention that the Enlightened One implied they do not exist.

They also point to a picture of a horned rabbit painted in the 1500's, but 
scientists suspect its cerebral protuberances were tumors from a rabbit 
virus. Cowboys have said that while they were singing around the fire, their 
chorus was joined by a distant jackalope, often in harmony, usually in the 
tenor line. (Yep.)

Whether truth, fiction or metaphor, the mounted version of the jackalope, 
many made with deer horn tips, relentlessly proliferated. Many thousands were 
made by Ralph Herrick and his son Jim. Douglas Herrick was less interested in 
the family taxidermy shop.

"I don't think my brother ever made more than a thousand, if he done that," 
Ralph Herrick said. By contrast, Jim Herrick delivers 400 jackalopes to Wall 
Drug in South Dakota three times a year, a small portion of his total 

Douglas became the jackalope capital. In 1965, the state of Wyoming 
trademarked the name, and in 1985 Gov. Ed Herschler pronounced it the 
animal's official home. Jackalope images adorn everything from park benches 
to fire trucks.

Jackalope hunting licenses are sold; an applicant must supposedly pass a test 
to prove he has an I.Q. higher than 50 but not more than 72. Hunting is 
permitted only on June 31, from midnight to 2 a.m.

Jackalope milk is available at several stores, though its authenticity is 
questionable; everyone knows how dangerous it is to milk a jackalope.

An oft-repeated legend is that the Herricks' grandfather saw a jackalope in 
Buffalo, Wyo., in 1920 and told his family about it. Not true, Ralph said. 

The first mounted jackalope was sold for $10 (they now go for $35) to Roy 
Ball, who displayed it in his Bonte Hotel in Douglas. It was stolen.

Others have tried to take the jackalope's peculiar evolution further. A 
Colorado bar displays a jackapanda, a cross between a jackalope and a panda, 
while Wall Drug has a flying jackalope, with some partridge feathers glued to 
its tail.

Douglas Eugene Herrick was born on July 8, 1920, and grew up on a ranch. In 
World War II, he was a tail gunner on a B-17. He later worked in construction 
and at an Amoco refinery, in addition to stuffing animals.

Although Governor Herschler specifically mentioned Mr. Herrick in 1985 as the 
Jackalope's creator, his brother said the town tried to charge him a 
commission for each jackalope. It relented.

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