Many die-hard hunters and all-around outdoor folk might want to ramp up for jackalope season. To help you, I interviewed the most accomplished jackalope huntress I know, Lisa “Writing Huntress” Jane Barron of North Dakota. A number of the photos contained herein have been adjusted to grayscale, as jackalopes are bloody little buggers and four-color photography can be unnerving. Forewarned.
Author’s note: Do not attempt jackalope hunting at home; it can be extremely dangerous, including risk of life and limb. Jackalopes are not real. There. We have made the lawyers happy.
K.J. Houtman: First of all, thank you for meeting with me today, Lisa, and for sharing your expertise with our readers.
Lisa “Writing Huntress” Jane Barron: My pleasure. Thank you for spreading the word.
So how’s the jackalope population?
Thriving. You can tell by all the destruction through the United States. You know, usually when you hear of houses shredded into toothpicks and the news tells you it was a tornado, it probably was a herd of jackalopes. Often times when there are large pileups on the Interstate, there are many jackalope tracks in the vicinity. But you’ll have to trust me on this, as the “government” doesn’t ever want the word to get out. So they attribute stuff like that to tornadoes and icy roads, you know.
We have heard of a lot of shut down highways throughout the South. Is that a sign that the jackalopes are on the move?
Yes, big time. They migrate from Canada to Mexico, and can settle in the warm months through North America. With all the Eastern seaboard problems in the news, I’m pretty sure some jackalope herds are wintering in Florida, too. Have you seen all the Interstate shutdowns in Georgia and North Carolina? Snow?! Yeah, right…
So they like Mexico and warmer climates in the winter?
They do. Just follow the trail of destruction. Wherever it looks like a bomb went off, you’ve found them. They are notorious for settling wherever large amounts of tequila are present. In fact, that’s probably why California and Nevada have had such trouble with droughts. They’ve had to rehydrate after spending so much time in Mexico and they’re depleting the water sources.
Tell me how you like to hunt jackalopes—stalking, treestand, or ground blind? And do you ever trap them?
Ground blind is best, as one has to carve out a full month of your life, and you can’t leave your blind even for a day. My blind is fluorescent green with zebra stripes and dots of hot pink.
Do you bait?
Yes. Baiting is legal in jackalope season. I find Cinnamon Toast Crunch with whole milk to be essential. And it has to be whole milk. Also, freshly baked Zebra Cake muffins with frosting.
So you lure them in. Is your license gender-specific?
It is. We can only harvest male jackalopes. And because both males and females are antlered, one has to bag them, render them unconscious in order to properly determine gender, and then release the females. Then you can kill the males. But they’re bloody and messy. You don’t want to see those photos, I can tell you that.
It can be. And when the herd discovers a missing member, they will hunt the hunter down. If you’ve ever heard of a house destroyed by termites all in one day, it was probably just a jackalope herd that found the hunter’s house and sought retribution. It is often a good idea to stay out in the wilderness for a few days before heading back home. Let the scent die down.
When does the season start?
You know, I never know until I get a text message or an email from the Knights of the Jackalopes. Last year it was September 18 to August 12. You’ll have to talk to someone higher up in the jackalope hunting hierarchy for next year’s season dates.
Do you guide jackalope hunts?
Yes, I do offer guided jackalope hunts to the public. I tried a PR tour one year and unfortunately the herd attacked the reporters, so word has been a little slow getting out. But if you’ve got a month to spare and $14,500 to $2,000,000—we can talk.
That’s a big price difference.
It all depends on the hunters experience and how much I like you. And trophies are not guaranteed, nor can I promise a return with all limbs, sight and sense of smell. It can be quite dangerous.
Are jackabucks different than jackalopes?
There has been some cross-breeding occurring over the last few decades and while we may see buck antlers from time to time, sometimes referred to as jackabucks; they really are still under the jackalope umbrella.
How long have you been hunting jackalopes?
My grand-dad was a serious jackalope hunter, and when he died a few years ago, his license was passed down to me. I believe he went through an initiation in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The Knights of the Jackalope thoroughly vet candidates, setting forth feats of endurance. To join their ranks, one has to be tough and fearless. He was taken to the back room of a fake storefront, I think, behind a dingy bar. They conferred on candidates, and a spotty contract followed. I don’t believe any newcomers have been brought in for 20 years. Unless you inherit your license, like I did mine.
Do you have some pictures to share?
Sure. I’ll give you some, most are in black and white, though, because they really are too horribly bloody to share in color. And I did catch one on a trail cam in North Carolina recently. I’ll send that one, too.
What do you do the other 11 months that you aren’t staked out in your ostentatious zebra-striped ground blind?
Anything that takes me outdoors and back in time that I can write about. And I spend a lot of days at Cabela’s—they are my best customer after all.
If you like Lisa Jane Barron’s flare (and affection for jackalope lore) you can follow her blog here.
K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.