Behold the Jackelope
Driving through Douglas Wyoming you will find your self face to face with a legendary mythical beast…the jackalope. For those of you not aware the jackalope is a cross between an antelope and a jack rabbit. You see Douglas, Wyoming claims to be the birthplace of the legendary cryptozoological beast. Taxidermist Douglas Herrick was the first to stich together this beast in 1939. As a tribute to this momentous event in folklore history, the citizen’s of Douglas erected an 8 foot tall jackalope statue in front of the police department on center street. In the past several years Wyoming legislature declared the jackalope the state’s official mytical Creature (how freaking awesome is that by the way, their state has an official mythical creature). Douglas has plans though, like building a bigger and better statue to pay homage to the jackelope…how big? Try an 80-foot tall fiberglass jackalope to be located close to nearby interstate I-25. Despite the initial buzz about this larger statue lack of internet photos or websites discussing it led me to believe it has not happened…yet.
I wanted to find out more about the legendary jackalope So I went to Douglas, Wyoming’s official homepage…where I found an exciting summary and history of the jackalope. “In the 1930s, the Herrick brothers — Douglas and Ralph, who studied taxidermy by mail order as teenagers — went hunting. Returning home, they tossed a rabbit into the taxidermy shop. The carcass slid right up to a pair of deer antlers, and Douglas Herrick’s eyes lit up. “Let’s mount it the way it is!” he said, and a legend was born — or at least given form. The jackalope, thanks to the Herrick brothers, the jackalope has taken its’ place in modern mythology right alongside Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. Whether you believe in the jackalope or not, Douglas, Wyoming possesses a tourism ace in the hole for years to come.
Before discovery of uranium, coal, oil and natural gas doubled the town’s population to about 7,500 in the mid-1970s, Douglas specialized in selling jackalope souvenirs. The Herrick’s fed the increasing demand for the stuffed and mounted trophies. Tens of thousands have been sold.Thet first jackalope was sold for $10 to Roy Ball, who installed it proudly in the town’s Labonte Hotel. The mounted horned rabbit head was stolen in 1977.
The town of Douglas erected an 8-foot-tall statue of the jackalope on one of Center streets islands, which met its demise when a four wheel drive pick up tried to run it over. Proud city fathers later added a 13-foot-tall jackalope cutout on a hillside and placed jackalope images on park benches and fire trucks, among other things. Acknowledging the animal’s alleged tendency to attack ferociously anything that threatened it, the city also posted warning signs: “Watch out for the jackalope.” The Douglas Chamber of Commerce has issued thousands of jackalope hunting licenses, despite rules specifying that the hunter cannot have an IQ higher than 72 and can hunt only between midnight and 2 a.m. each June 31. Tourist-shop clerks in Douglas told and retold tales of cowboys who remembered harmonious jackalope joining their nightly campfire songs. Visitors rarely have leave Douglas without buying jackalope postcards and trinkets. The state of Wyoming trademarked the jackalope name in 1965. Twenty years later, Gov. Ed Herschler, crediting Douglas Herrick with the animal’s creation, designated Wyoming the jackalopes’ official home. Mr. Herrick made only about 1,000 or so horned rabbit trophies before going on to other things. His brother kept churning out jackalopes. The legend continues, so beware the cute yet wickedly vicious horned creature if you ever should pass through Douglas Wyoming….and why not buy a postcard or two as well?