“Hey Wog, Tell us another Uncle Becher Story. How about Jackalope” – Ricky in a teen camp
The Jackalope of the Northwest by Brian King
Uncle Becher would start off, “Of all the cryptids to have evolved in America, one of the most fascinating and mysterious is the jackalope of the Northwest.” Let me jump in and explain cryptids, which are animals presumed by followers of the cryptozoology subculture to exist on the basis of anecdotal evidence. You know zoologists identify species following established scientific methodology, but cryptozoologists focus on folklore such as Bigfoot, chupacabra, the Loch Ness Monster. With Becher calling it a cryptid one would assume that he is admitting it is a product of folklore but Becher believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that the jackalope “was not a product of folklore but as real as you and I.” Ol’ Becher would contend he saw a mounted head own by the trapper that caught it, a man that Ol’ Becher insisted he had a personal relationship with the trapper Roy Ball, a man that Ol’ Becher insisted had a jackalope as a pet and provider of elixir.
Becher would continue, “Like the mule being from the horse and donkey a jackalope is of a jackrabbit, or hare and the antelope or pronghorn. Some regions the locales will call it a harehorn but it really is the same animal like the difference between the cougar and the mountain lion; it is the same animal. Now, in some areas mule deer bucks and whitetail bucks went off with the hares to make their own hybrid the haredeer, now this is a different critter. A wiser man than me, an old captain said, “Only speak of what you know well and have firsthand knowledge.” What I know is hearsay about haredeer so I will focus this narrative on the harehorn, i.e., the jackalope.
Now you all must agree that the mule got the best properties of both the horse and donkey I must say that the jackalope got the best qualities of both its lineage. Something else that mules are known for is their hybrid vigor; that synergy that occurs that makes the progeny better than the sum of their individual parts, they are longer lived, smarter, healthier, and can be a fair bit more ornery and cantankerous sometimes to almost mystical echelons. This can be certainly said about the jackalope. Now those that truly know mules and horses will likely say mules have magic that follows them that horses don’t. now one thing I should point out that is one difference between mules and jackalopes is mules can’t go on to have their own young, whereas the jackalopes are actually prolific which is key to part of our story.
The first Jackalope in America is said to have been caught in Douglas Wyoming 1829 by our protagonist the occasionally sober trapper Roy Ball. Now I believe many more had been caught before but the only reason our protagonist and Douglas Wyoming got that distinction and recognition is he had the gumption to get his catch stuffed and that the taxidermied amalgamation took residences in a saloon he bought after he gave up trapping. Forgive me I am getting way ahead of myself. We need to start in the beginning.
Well Rob had heard the stories told by the local tribal elders about the trickster Jackalope, they called it Manabozho, though the legend sounded convincing he always thought they were pulling his leg. Well Ol’ Roy had not set out to catch him a jackalope that late fall morning but catch him a coyote or bobcat. But as he was making his sets he had been drinking a bit and by the last group, the 18th group of three traps Ol’ Roy had already had 17 swallows. Roy took his pack off, got on his knees and set the bottle down. Drunk or not this old trapper had set so many of these double long spring foot hold traps over his life time he could do it from the grave. With an hand ax without any wasted motion he dug the depression checked as going through a motion of a habit and as expected when the pan was parallel with the bottom of the trap the pan just under and parallel to the surface of the trail. In the now empty well he covered the bottom of the hole with a three dry thimbleberry leaves, the last dead center. With a long spring in each hand and the dog of the trap closest to him, a twist of the trap flipped the dog out of the way, with the hardened arms of a man half his age he pushed the trap to his thigh, compressed both long springs, the jaw closest to him fell into place a twitch of his wrist and the dog flip over the jaw, he brought the long springs parallel and pointing to his belly, both palms slid over the jaws, his left fingers departed behind the still vertical jaw brought the pan up to cage the dog right on the edge of the sear and the pan just parallel the now caged jaw with perfection. This was all done in a single fluid motion and faster then the eye can recanize all the steps he just performed. He placed the trap in the depression, it lay flat and solid, he put a little moss under the pan to keep dirt from getting under it and blocking its travel and flipped up the single center leaf to cover the pan and dog. He filled fistful of dirt, inspects the contents and any pebbles or twigs were flicked out to not interfere with the action of the trap, the dirt was ground between his hand letting it fall over the trap. Using his palms he compressed the dirt around the trap adding layers of dirt and compring it until it and felt no different than that trail it was now a part of. Some forest duff was sprinkled about, some stones and twigs his strategically placed to get the furbearer to set its paw on not any part of Newhouse trap other then the covered hidden pan. He envisioned if coyote was to put its paw on the pan where would his nose need to be he marked that spot with his mind and drove a small hole in the dirt but when he reached to put his magical and secret lure in the hole in his current state of intoxicated condition it was understandable that he would at some point nock over the bottle and a much of the last ounce of the amber liquid soaked into the soil next to where he was going to put his lure. He laughed and outload said, “Maybe I will get me one of them whisky loving jackalopes.” He picked up the bottle imbibed on what was left and he toasted to the jackalop and placed the bottle on the hole he was going to bait. He made two more sets within a yard of this set.
He un corked his emergency bottle As he walked down the trail to head back to his shanty he sang an old melody from his youth, Roy smiled at hearing his own echo. As he was hiking and signing he slowing realized he was singing baritone and the echo was singing tenner harmony, he stopped to listen and the tenner continued right into the chorus without the Roy having to sing it. He stopped his walk and looked to see who was singing, on a near horizon there it was. It was a hare the size of a coyote leaning back and singing to the sky above and if that was not enough the hare had the horns of an antelope. This critter realized the drunken trapper had stopped singing and was staring at him. The critter smiled showing his yellowed lagomorph incisors and leaped as fast as the beating wings of a humming bird and was gone; if there was not still dust in the air and the biggest set of hare tracks he had ever seen which he measured to be the breath of his fore arm and a span of four of Roy’s paces the other signs he found were the size of a white tailed deer, without all this evidence Roy would have thought that it never occurred. A ballad singing rabbit the size of a coyote with horns of an antelope, that run faster than any animal that he’d ever seen before. In any event he figured he probably had enough whisky for the day patted the cork in deeper and put it in his pack.
When he got up the next morning it was cold and quiet, the snow had been falling long enough to have collected on the ponderosas and was covering up the brown duff with white. The cabin was just big enough to do its job of giving him shelter to sleep, eat, store some personal belonging, and little else. It was twice as long as it was wide and only wide enough to swing a cat by the tail and not hit the walls. His dining table also served as his work bench was no more than a large round of wood twice the diameter as the log round he used as his stool and half again as tall a perfect height to rest his elbows putting a cup to his lips, a concert in ergonomics of stool, bench, and body. At one end of the cabin was the hearth. The firebox nearly tall enough to stand in deep enough to sit cross legged in, and wide enough to go from finger tip to finger-tip. It was a good sized fire place for such a little cabin. When he built it he planned on building a cabin much bigger then it ended up being and of fine workmanship with stone face and arched lentil and walnut mantle. The hearth was his source of warming, heat for cooking, light to extend the day, and place to socialize with his few trapper friends. Though admired by all none would mention the why of build such a fine fireplace in such a shanty, even strangers knew why he lost heart in the project.
There were no embers from last night’s fire but enough charcoal to fill the gap between tween two pieces of cord wood. He stripped up some birch bark layered it among the coals and a few pieces of thin kindling weaved around to form a bit of a corral ready to accept a future tinder bundle. He took from the mantle an old blackened tin that served as his tinder box, his worn steel, and rock just the right size to fit in his palm. The brown oily looking rock had one knapped edge. The tin held strips of charred punky wood and bits of charred canvas which all that served its purpose well. Though made to wrap around his finger he put one end of the steel pressed down in the tender held it nearly vertical with his left hand and single strike with the sharped edge of the stone produced several good sized sparks to land on the tinder a gentle waving of the hand grew the spark into an ember our trapper gently put a wad of shredded up cottonwood bark next to the ember and coaxed the fire onto the bundle. At the hearth he picked up the wad from the tin and patently blew the ember into a flame. With care he place the flaming bundle onto the birch bark no other effort was needed at the fire. He added some fresh punky fir to the tin, the fuel soon was in flame, the lid was close and smoke leak from the box as fresh char was being made for tonight’s fire. Like setting the trap there was no wasted motions or effort in starting the morning or evening fire. Fire was without doubt the difference between life and death for the trappers, out of habit before he left to check his trap lines the next fire was ready to be made. With the fire alive and well with bucket in hand he took the short hike to the spring. Its out flowing creek could be heard from the open cabin door. Soon the water will turn to ice and the creek will be silent. Dry cottony snow was falling; it had been accumulating on tees for a few hours. This was not the first snow of the season but this snow will be the first to stick and will be still on the ground in May. In the shadows at the creek there were patches of ice starting to form which is a good sign the pelts will be in prime. By the creek he had several marten traps, tiny little foot hold traps, smaller versions of the coyote trap he set yesterday. These he sets with one hand while drinking from his bottle with the other. When he built his cabin he used much of the slash and extra lumber in his trapping, making little houses for bobcat and lynx, and inclined runs up trees that the squirrels have catches of acorns and pinecones for food. On these runs he secured the little one spring traps at about breast height with a single feather dangling above the trap as a lure. This morning started off good; of his 5 martin sets three were fruitful one had to be reset and one ignored. As a big bonus he got a bobcat with a nice white belly with well-defined black spots which will being some nice trade. He will headed back to the cabin with his woodend bucket filled with icy water, which was expected; three martins, hoped for; and nice bobcat, As he was following his own tracks back in the snow he sang his old Irish balled with a baritone voice and hearing a tenner Harmony off in the distance. He listened and recalling the jackalope on the horizon the night before; maybe it was not a dream, maybe it is a new trapper.
Before going in the cabin he stopped by this skinning shack to pelt the still warm critters. When he walked into the cabin the hides were stretched, meat hung in smoke house, bait bucket had more added to it, water bucket was full, and he had cord wood in his arms to replenish the would he was to burn this morning. Though he liked his spirits to excess he was not lazy. The cabin was warm and dry, and cozy with the orange light of the fire and the smell of willow tea. With ash from the fire and warm water from a tin lined copper kettle he washed his hands of the first phase of the mornings chores. His warm mug of felt good in his old hands willow bark tea was ready for his morning rum to be added. The old trapper had tooth he probably needed to knock out but for the time being rum in the morning, rye mid-day, and corn whisky in the evening did a fine job of numbing the pain of the tooth and the loneliness of this life.
Pemmican made with venison and Oregon grapes and cornmeal cakes was on the breakfast menu. He kept no food in the cabin and all his winter food was cached in what looked like a tiny log cabin in a grand fir, the biggest one in this mountain valley, this tree that was 10 paces away from any other trees. Leaning against another fir a few paces away was the key to getting to the food cache. He walked the ladder over put the feet in the depressions from doing this countless times before and propped the ladder against threshold of the log structure. The ladder was only in place during the act of storing food or retrieving food, the ladder was the only way up and in. From Roy’s height to nearly twice his height he tacked up old stove pipe around the tree so nothingthing can climb up it, not rat, raccoon, wolverine, or bear.
There was also a smoke house which at this time of year was doing its job with deer, elk, goose, and grouse hanging. Both the smoke house door and the cache offered an easy shot from his cabin door and many a bear met its demise thinking the staples in the tree cache and meat hanging in the smoke house were easy meals. The two blankets on his bed and his heavy coat were supplied by just rouge bears. In from the food cache he took out just enough to feed him breakfast and to take along checking his trap line.
When checking his line the snow made it easy to see who nearly visited his traps, and there was those hare tracks. It did not seem the big hare payed any attending to his lure or bait, but it seemed to take an interest in everyhere he would normally place his bottle.
The old trapper slowly followed the tracks walked into the light breeze. He could see in his mind the animal that made the tracks, it was a slow hop we was going along eating bunch grass and Oregon grapes above the snow. He came around the turn to see the jackalope slowly investigating the area of the traps ignoring the sets baited for coyotee but he was hopping right to the spilt whisky. Roy stood frozen watching this critter smell and rub his face on the whisky soaked soil. Roy closed his eyes and held his breath and waited. His head clear of thoughts he started breathing and all he could hear was his own breath, in his minds eye he could see this coyote sized hare with horns reach out to investigate the empty wisky bottle over the bait hole, Roy imagined its front right paw coming up for the next step… “Clack” the sound of the steel trap rang out. Our jackalope looked down lifted his paw up with the trap and it reached the end of the chain, the trap would not go past the pad of the critter’s paw.
The beast look at Roy with one eye and clearly said. “You scrub, I will hurt you.” Well Roy did not want to damage the pelt but using his rifle seemed to be needed to dispatch it. Roy tried to get a better look at mashed up version Lagomorpha and Artiodactyla. He got a pretty good look from the right side because as you can imagin no matter how he tried to maneuver around the beast it kept that right eye on him. From ears up he looked like a pronghorn from ears down jackrabbit but somewhat bigger than a coyote, the cunningness of a fur trader, and the fight of a badger, he is such a trickster the he could teach the raven, jay, and coyote many antics. Though it looked at rest sitting on his haunches those powerful rear legs were as ready to fire as bow at full draw and has the power of an bull moose, the speed of a rattle snake, could repeat the motion as fast as the wings on a humming bird which can be heard but not seen, and could reach more than half its body length. At the ends of each of the back legs were talons that belonged to a golden eagle. At the other end were the yellowed chiseled teeth of a beaver. When Roy would get directly infront of the beast he would open that mouth wide hiss trigger those back legs fly at Roy until the chain on the tap stopped the flight short. But his preferd method of attack was from side that of the pronghorn tilt of his head to the side, he would look at Roy with one eye he reared back with front feet of the ground and slam the weigt of the horns down and aim for Roy’s groin. It was as effective and robust for short quarter combat as his Roy’s cutlass from his days in Jefferson’s navy fighting the Barbary privateers. Watching the critter weald that weapon brorght back images of the carnage of ingagements of his youth in 1801. In what seemed like slow motion, he pushed the frizzen forward to uncover the pan, purposely spilled the small prim from the pan, he made clear the vent hole with the needle that dangles from his small horn, he poured tiny amount of the fine powder to replace the prime, pulled the frizzen back, pulled the cock back from half cock to ready. He shoulder the rifle lined with a sharp image of the blade of the front sight with the within the horns of the rear sight and center of mass of his Ottoman foe, squessed the trigger, the cock fell, the sharpend stone peeled sparks from the frizzen in the center of the pan, a sphere of fire erupted from the pan and the tinest fraction of flame made its way in to the powder charge, through the cloud of gray smoke he saw the Barobus pirate crumble to the ground. As he watched the jackalope kick through the death throws he recharged his rifle, as he drove the patched lead ball home the beast stretch out then relaxed. Roy watched the shine evaporate from the open eye and the chest falls stop as he re-primed the old smooth bore. Roy approached from the rear thinking he was out of reach of the animal, he pocked the rump of the animal expecting to see it twitch but still ready in the unlikely event that the animal still had some life. but not what happened. The animal turned looked at him did a cute twitch of the nose like hares do Roy fired a second shot severing the spine behind the head but not before the talons hit him in the legs taking him off his feet, as he fell forward both antlers sliced through the arm of his have heavy winter coat, his head struck the frozen ground and he was out cold. The sun had droped below the trees when he came to. He freed the animal from the trap and rolled him on to the sled. There were 16 punctures in his leggings for 4 pairs of strikes from those rear feet and two slices on his left arm. All his wounds had stopped weeping blood. He drug his fallen foe back to the pelting shed. The pelt stretched out and the meat hung in the smoke house his dinner tonight was the heart and liver of this worthy adversary. The legend said if you eat the heart you would possess the strength and courage of the Mananbozho. However this foe would often leave its victims bloody and full of gouge marks and talon holes as he looked as his body he had to agree with the stories.
The next day he could not make the trip even to water for he was suffering from the shivers all that day and through the next night he suffered. The next morning he knew he needed help. He went to the smoke house and filled a blanket with punky wood. He made hot fire with a nice bed of coals but smothered it with the damp punky wood; blue smoke bellowed from it he covered it with a hide and took the time of 3 breaths and did this 2 more time, he gazed at the fire counted his breath until he lost count smothered the flames again smothered the fire again and did this throughout the morning until he hear 2 shots. He quickly sent the signal again, and again it was followed by 2 shots. He curled up right then in the dirt next to the fire knowing his old friend in the next valley was on his way, he relaxed and fell asleep.
He woke to have a cur dog licking his face and the old indian putting a cup of white liquid to his lips. “Drink” It was sweet like the rum on the bottom of the keg and thick like honey. “You killed Manabozho. The big hare with antlers.”
“He did,” pointing to the four double bruises with which looks now looks like 8 pairs of viper bites. “and…” He pointed to the proud and angry slashes on his harm.
“You ate the heart; otherwise you would be dead.”
He nodded as he took another sip. “What is this, grog?”
“No not grog, milk. Milk from Mananbozho.”
“But I killed a buck.”
“You did. This is from a doe.”
“You milked a doe Manabozho.”
The old Indian nodded. “Shut up and drink.”
Roy did as he was told. “How long have I been asleep?”
“Saw your signals yesterday, Dog and I came as soon as I fired the shots. I saw the marks on your legs and arm and know you fought Mananbozho. I found him hanging in smoke house and the gut pile but the heart cut from the lungs and the liver cut from the stomach. The heart will make you very strong now but only the milk will stop the fire in your wounds. The milk of Manabozho is like the mothers fist milk, full of magic. “Manabozho krist mazufsim’sin”
“You milked Manabozho?”
“With much care… and whisky. I will help you get back on your feet but you will need to keep doing it until the harvest moon.”
“Almost a year.”
“How do I do that?”
“With much care and whisky. She will try to kill you at first but in time and good corn whiskey, not rye, she will treat you like one of her own; for many generations if you keep drinking her milk.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You put on armor, you bait trap with corn whisky. You give her more whisky and you milk her, she will try to kill you the first time but if you put out whisky you she will continue to come to you, she will find you and the whisky once a day and let you milk her. She will do this for many generations, you will see many generations of white man come and go. The Spaniard conquistador Juan Ponce de León was looking for a spring a fountain we made up that story to keep him from finding our Manabozho. You cannot kill another Manabozho you can only do that once and cannot share story Manabozho to another white in a way he will believe. You need to convince your tribe to fear Manobozho but do not tell the magic of krist mazufsim’sin.”
“I understand.” He said with sincerity.
“I heard you did a good thing in killing that Manabozho normaly I would only give this milk to sick or injured children, laboring mothers in trouble, and elderly that have some task they need to finish before steeping over to the other side.”
“I don’t understand.”
Good to his word his old friend stayed long enough for Roy to be able to take care of himself and work his trap line again. His friend fed him each morning, gave him the milk of the jackalope and then worked Roy’s trap line. From a new moon to a full moon his friend stayed to help and when he left he took half of the pelts he had harvested and headed back to his own trap line.
The doe jackalope lashed out with teeth or talons each and every time Roy dared to get close. He had three stovepipes around each limb and wooden barrel around his trunk. With enough mobility to get on his hands and knees and he believed to milk the doe into the whisky bottle. Well I have never milked a doe jackalope and nether had Roy but it was looking grim that she would ever allow this. Well, that critter lapped to the end of the chain and was showing her teeth at Ol’ Roy though he was a safe enough to set the saucer on the ground with the intent to fill it with whisky and slide it within reach. Well it seemed like a good plan with the saucer on the ground Roy on his knees just as he picked up the bottle of whisky that overgrown rabbit spun around change the whole geometry of the situation and bam-bam-bam-bam square solid into the barrel with enough force to knock Roy onto his back with his legs under him with his toes pointing to his head. He was certainly in a pickle and was about as vulnerable as a turtle on his back. At his age he didn’t know he could fold like this anymore, with the stove pipes and barrel added to this, not to mention the Grim reppers combs randomly flying about scrapping the tin and wood with each pass and was making quite the clamor. Roy’s confidence even after eating the heart of the jackapole was being tested. Roy lay with his predicament long enough to remember what his Captain had once said, “If you don’t know what to do, do nothing until you have clarity of thought.” So on his back, his legs under him, with his toes pointing to his armpits, just looked up and admires the beauty of the clouds passing above the trees above him as those talons scraped the tin on his legs. The doe in time stopped defending herself against her aggressor. This gave our doe enough time to settle down and asses her own situation and she realized she needed the human with the gift of the opposing thumb and fore finder to get her out of the trap. Roy without any preconceived agenda started singing one of the Irish ballads and soon the doe started singing harmony, this was great fun. He stopped and she continued as he was listening looking up through the trees at the clouds realized she had her own parodies and verves to these songs. Now they were both laughing. Giggling she sang one of her own:
Home, home in the fields
Where the hares and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard
A discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day”
“That explains a lot,” Roy with a laugh.
Roy heard, “Sir, what are you doing?” Roy had forgotten that the jackaplope can communicate in his own tongue.
“At the moment looking up at the clouds in the trees.”
The hare looked up and wiggled its nose. “Why this thing?” picking up the paw with the offending metal contraption.
His old captain also said, “Tell the truth, it will reward you.”
“I wanted to relive you of some of your milk.”
“What do you have to trade?” Was not the response had expected but was prepared for Roy reached to the bottle grasped it and held it up and said, “This whisky.”
“Corn not Rye?”
“So your aren’t going to kick at me?”
“No, I won’t kick at you.”
“You’re not trying to trick me?”
“No I am not going to trick you. So can I have some whisky now?” she back up until she was back over the where the chain came out of the ground. She lifted her foot with the trap, and twitch here bunny nose.
“Well yes as soon as I get rolled over.” With much clanging and huffing Roy got back on his hands and knees and a bit longer to get the feeling back in his lower limbs. He took the trap off her and she relaxed. He uncorked the bottle and poured it into the saucer and placed it on the ground. She hopped over and commenced to drinking. About the same time she was done he put the cork in the bottle filled with the sticky white liquid.
“I have a question, why do you want my milk?”
“I got hurt by one of your kind.”
“Did you kill that rouge buck.”
“Yes, the rouge, he was a bully growing up and murderous now, if you did we all thank you. We were hoping that you would somehow, what do you call it; dispatch him?”
So that is how they started their friendship and each day at sunrise she would show up for her early morning sip of whisky and Roy would get enough milk for three meals. The milk did his body good by spring and the rendezvous he was so fit all remarked that he looked ten years younger, he also no longer needed to drink to deaden the pain of his teeth. The milk ended his need to drink liquor. His industry improved greatly as well as his wellbeing. The rendezvous continued until the 1840. He saw the Oregon territory become part of the US and become Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Oregon. Trappers got replaced with miners in the mountains and in the meadows cowboys. Cattle ranged from Canada to Mexico from the Sierras to the Mississippi. As furs waned in popularity beef gained and people came by train loads.
In 1929 he decided to have the old jackalope hide stuffed. He also decided to get out of the trapping business and bought the LaBonte Hotel in Douglas, Wyoming. Where the rouge jackalope hung in the lobby for many years. Everyone that came into that hotel asked about the hybrid which would open the door for him to tell his “tall” tales of the jackalope. Now you should know that them brothers that did the taxidermy got the idea of putting sheds on all kinds of lagomorphs that shop mashed together thousands of phony jackalope and deeralopes and demand was great so great countless taxidermist participated in these counterfeit critters which added to and distracted from the legend of the Manabozho.
Each morning Ol’ Roy would take a bottle of corn whisky off the shelf and head up into the forest, he would sing his Irish ballads in his baritone voice and hear the echo of tenner harmony of voices from all the ridges. Everyone knew he walked into the forest with a bottle of whisky but only one knew he return with a bottle of milk. He never told of the doe he milked each morning. He did share the milk with his friend the Tribal Elder. Those nights that they shared the milk the old man spoke of a time before the white man came. He told of the Spaniard conquistador Juan Ponce de León and the tall tales they told him to protect their Manabozho.
Though these stories seemed the old man saw them with his own eyes and even had a hand in them. Roy never asked but listened and drank the mystical liquid that this man shared with him 100-years before.
Roy saw a lot of things change over the next 120 years. There was fewer fur trappers and they were replaced with cow pokes. Roy Bell never told of the talking jakalope or the jakalope he milked each morning. He did share the milk his friend the Tribal Elder. Those nights that they shared the milk the old man spoke of a time before the white man came. Though these stories seemed the old man saw them with his own eyes Roy never asked but listened and sipped the mystical liquid. His friend said he would see many generations come and go.
Many of his friends and neighbors knew to ask Roy for help if an expectant mother as having troubles a spoon full seemed to do the trick. If a new born child was struggling a finger dipped in the white sticky liquid then sucked off the baby would drift off to sleep and would wake with new vigor. A child that was ill or injured little of the sweat white liquid followed by sleep seemed to serve all that asked.
When old friends were neared death the milk would relive their pain and suffering and improved their wellbeing but did not stop them from crossing over to the other side. In time he believed if their work was complete they would cross over if not the milk would give them the vigor to get done what needed to get done. Many a legacy was created with the help of the milk. His friend said he would see many generations, well he did and many he helped into this life and into the next. When asked what was in it, he would say, “Well It’s magical jackalope milk, but don’t tell anyone, it’s our little secret.” The children were the only ones that believed it, everyone else it was just milk, rum, and a few herbs for the forest; the mothers knew whatever it was the kids got healthy or mended quickly.
When Roy was well into his first century and a half of life but he did not look a day over 50 he started helping at branding and eventual sold the hotel and the stuffed jackalope stayed in the lobby well at least until some scallywag stole the dang thing. But I digress. Ol’ Roy took up cow punching full time and did the work of men in their thirties and Roy Ball, well, he fought in the Jefferson’s Navy in 1801 I don’t know when he was born or how old he was in the 1930s but I think you got my point. So was this because of the jackalope milk? The Indian Elder said it would happen and Roy believed so. In the evenings the cowboys sit around the fire and on occasion the topic of the jackalope would come up and on rare occasion some soul would say they had heard one most astounding qualities of the Jackalope is its ability to understand human language. Some would argue the jackalope could repeat simple phrases back to humans, much like a parrot does. Roy knew different though never spoke of it but listened to the stories the cow boys spoke of. Some evening after much drinking by the others they would sing before turning to their bedrolls and Roy would sign his old Irish ballads the Jackalopes would echo their songs back to them in their tenner register making for an eerie experience and if you listen real close and careful like you can make out the the tenner voice sing, their was one song that was not of Irish origin that was familiar to all but when he sang it and if you listen closely to the far of tenner voices you could hear, giggling and “Home, home on the range, where the hare and the antelope play…” When the cowboys would ask Roy about the tenner voices he would suggest that it must be other cowboys from other ranches.
Well that was uncle Becher’s story and it has been just shy of 200 years since Ol’ Roy Bell caught that first jackalope and 50 years since I was told the stories. Many ask what has happened to Roy Ball. Well I asked Becher that same question when he was one-hundred-one, he said, “Ol’ Roy Ball got tired of the urban sprawl, noise, and all the laws that say in all kinds of ways you can’t. Some say that when Douglas Montana started selling jackalope hunting tags Ol’ Roy Ball gathered up his old Newhouse traps and old time tools and headed as far away from there as he could being followed by generations of jackalopes, some say he fell from a horse and no one knew to give him the milk, others say he got done what he needed to, and other simply say it was just a tall tail an old man concocted for a little attention.
You might ask if I wrote this, well no more or less than Mark Twain wrote The Jumping Frog of Calaveras county. I sort of took the stories that I was told to me as a kid and put it to paper. Is this jackalope real? My Uncle Becher told me the story so it must be so.