"Jackalope" inventor dies

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIOU.EDU
Mon Jan 20 18:39:02 UTC 2003

And then there's the swimming rabbit that attacked Jimmy Carter. . . .

At 09:14 AM 1/20/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>    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, hallf
>antelope and 100 percent tourist trap — died on Jan. 6 in Casper, Wyyo. He 
>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 
>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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