Told  /  Book Excerpt

The Legend of the Horned Rabbit of the West

Jackalopes have migrated from Wyoming across the nation, but what’s really known about the mythical creature?

One day young Doug and Ralph Herrick went out roaming the green hills, hunting for small game to supplement the family supper. Having bagged a jackrabbit, the brothers returned home and tossed the hare’s body onto the floor of their shop in preparation for skinning it. Because they had recently butchered a small deer in the shop, a modest pair of antlers already rested on the floor. By a sheer coincidence that would change the boys’ lives forever, the dead rabbit happened to slide up against the deer’s horns so as to make it appear the jackrabbit sported the rack. There must then have been a long pause, during which the boys stared at the accidental amalgam, wondering what to make of it. Then big brother Doug, in a moment of inspiration, exclaimed, “Let’s mount that thing!” 

According to Ralph, that was in 1932 — though other sources claim 1934, 1936, 1938, 1939, even 1940. If Ralph’s memory was correct, he and his brother Doug would have been only about 10 and 12 years old, respectively, when they invented the horned rabbit mount. It must have seemed a modest accomplishment, especially for boys who had perhaps not yet received certificates for completing their mail-order taxidermy lessons. When the brothers sold that now-legendary first antlered bunny for the princely sum of $10 to Roy Ball, who displayed it on the wall of the bar in his Hotel LaBonte (pronounced “La-bon-tee”) in nearby Douglas, the newly created hybrid animal must have seemed to them miraculous. Using only their imagination, sense of humor, and rudimentary skills as amateur taxidermists, the Herrick boys had created something new: a hybrid animal that would go on to become the most famous, beloved and profitable taxidermy hoax in the world. That humble Herrick homestead, out there on the limitless, rolling Wyoming prairie, was the birthplace of the jackalope.