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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

True Tales Of Antlered Rabbits, Taxidermy & Whiskey

H&B Jackalope Encounters Of The First Kind

Jackalope in bar Wyoming
If Bugszilla existed, this is exactly what he’d look like.

At the risk of giving away my age, it was in a saloon in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the summer of 1987 when I had my first jackalope sighting. The tiny, tine-crowned beast was smack center above the top shelf of booze looming above, staring me (and the rest of the bar crowd) square in the eyes.

“Did you kill that wascally trophy-horned wabbit?” I queried the barkeep in my best Elmer Fudd voice. “I did not,” the man replied. In his next breath after he peppered the spitoon with some Kodiak juice he calmly said, “That there’s Bugszilla, brought into this fine establishment courtesy of Big Bear Benjamin, owner of No Stuff Too Tough Taxidermy outta Sand Point, Idaho. You should see his work on panda bears—embarrassingly awesome.”

I just grinned, tipped my cap to Bugszilla and said, “Bugs’, it’s mighty fine to meet you. Here’s hoping you and your kind have been fruitful and have multiplied.” And as luck would have it, since that initial introduction I’ve seen hundreds of his relatives all over the good ol’ US of A.

Hunt For Critters On The Pages Of Hook & Barrel Magazine

Of late, I see one of these jackalope critters on the table of contents page of every print issue of Hook & Barrel Magazine. Hook & Barrel’s art designer makes readers hunt long and hard to find the minuscule H&B mascot. What’s that you say, you haven’t been able to find the hidden H&B critter anywhere on the table of contents? Ha, fear not. Just head over to the merch section of hookandbarrel.com to score a Critter Tee. — Nino Bosaz

Find the H&B Critter

hook and barrel jackalope
Here’s a look at what happens when you ask Hook & Barrel Magazine’s art director to find a better spot to hide the H&B Critter on the table of contents page. This work of art was dutifully done for the May-June 2024 issue.

Hook & Barrel Critter Tee
All the cool kids are wearing Hook & Barrel Critter Tees. Whatcha waiting for, you wascally wabbits?

Hook & Barrel “Critter” Tee

Jackalope Origin Story

By Craig Mitchell

 (Above) The Papilloma virus (a benign epithelial tumor growing exophytically—outwardly projecting—in nipple-like and often finger-like fronds) is no laughing matter. On the other hand, jackalope selling on places like eBay can yield dividends of say $295 a pop.

During the Great Depression two young brothers, Doug and Ralph Herrick set off through the flat lands of Wyoming to bring home some small game for dinner. They returned with a jackrabbit and while skinning and preparing it for their next meal, the head and skin ended up on the floor of their garage. It lay coincidentally and fortuitously below a tiny, freshly discarded rack from a small deer that the boys had shot the day before.

Jackalope Mount Inspiration

As the legend goes, both boys looked down at the discarded parts and immediately agreed that they should mount the small set of antlers atop the rabbit’s head. They went on to sell their taxidermied creation in 1934 to a local hotel owner named Roy Ball for $10. It was at his hotel, the Hotel Labonte, where the jackalope was showcased to the travelers, only growing in notoriety as time went on. The boys realized they were onto something and promptly began taxidermying more Jackalopes to sell to anyone interested in owning one for themselves.

Trapping Jackalopes With Whiskey

Jackalopes took on a life of their own as rumors about the mystical beast grew and its popularity spread around the country. Some people joked that if you were to try and catch one that whisky was the bait of choice. Others mused that they were most often seen around drinking establishments. Generally speaking, the name jackalope became synonymous with practical jokes and gullibility.

Today jackalopes are found worldwide, their sphere of influence expanding far from Wyoming. Now Jackalopes can be found across the globe, a mainstay at flea markets everywhere and more recently online vendors. There’s even been a push for Wyoming to adopt the Jackalope as the state’s mythical beast.

jackalope art
Joris Hoefnagel or Georg Hoefnagel was a Flemish painter, printmaker, miniaturist, draftsman and merchant. He is noted for his illustrations of natural history subjects, topographical views, illuminations and mythological works. Above is Hoefnagel’s Plate XLVII of Animalia Qvadrvpedia et Reptilia (Terra), circa 1575, showing a “horned hare.” (Inset) Jackalope Cowboy outside Wall Drug in South Dakota.

Jackalopes, Viruses & Cancer Research

Jackalopes are more than just Americana decor; they were also instrumental in expanding medical science, specifically the understanding of how viruses can cause cancer in humans.

Examples of rabbits with antlers have been found in other areas of the world that far preceded the Herrick Jackalope of the 1930s. These depictions would have likely originated from people seeing rabbits with a rare kind of tumor caused by the Papilloma virus. The virus in some instances can cause dark growths on the head of the afflicted animals. It was a curiosity in these “antlers” that led scientists to explore the relationship between viruses and tumors. This led to breakthroughs in treating Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, in humans. In fact one example of jackalope taxidermy is featured at the prestigious Smithsonian Institute.

You can own your own piece of Americana by purchasing this “Hook and Barrel Critter” tee which proudly features this classic American icon.

Hook & Barrel “Critter” Tee
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