By Norris Chambers

             There are many types of jack rabbits. They are all similar and look a lot alike. Where we lived we only had one type and we didn’t know there were other types. The jack rabbit probably received its name from its long ears which reminded the name giver of a jack, or male donkey. They were very plentiful. They provided target practice for kids posing as hunters. Clifton and I had no use for them because their hides were not saleable like ‘possum and skunk skins.

            During the great depression when rabbits were known as Hoover Hogs many families depended on rabbits for their meat source. Very few liked jack rabbits because the meat was tough and hard to chew. Cotton tail meat was tender and provided a better food source.

Jack rabbits could run fast and many good dogs were frustrated because they could not catch one. Even the best hunting dogs would chase them regardless of instructions to leave them alone. I guess they presented a real challenge to the dogs.

            These creatures did have good appetites and were considered hazardous to farm crops. Sometimes a group of farmers would organize for a rabbit hunt and would take a couple of automobiles into a grain field. Two men with shotguns would sit on the front fenders and shoot the game when pursued by the driver. The back seat of the vehicle held the spectators when the hunt began. Clifton and I sometimes went along as watchers. We never participated as gun bearers in a hunt. This big hunt was always performed at night when there were many rabbits in the fields.

            When the driver saw a rabbit he started toward it, keeping the headlights on it. The two gunners on the fenders started shooting with their shotguns and usually brought the quarry down quickly. The sportsman on the passenger’s side jumped out and retrieved the body. The dead rabbits were fed to the hogs. Hogs will eat anything and really like rabbits. Some farmers skinned the carcass before throwing it in the pen and others just threw them in and let the hogs take care of the skinning. Some farmers shot jack rabbits and cotton tails especially for a food supplement for their hogs.

            Baby jack rabbits were easy to catch and many kids kept them as pets. They were easy to tame and seemed to appreciate the attention. When the pet rabbits were older and larger they would attempt to fight cats or dogs. Of course they were no match for a cat or dog and the scrap usually ended with the rabbit running away. Even before they were fully grown they were fast runners.

            One old timer told us that jack rabbits actually were not rabbits. He said they were hares

and shouldn’t be called rabbits. Of course we didn’t know the difference between a rabbit and a hare so we continued to call them jack rabbits. Another old timer or two had a different name for them. He called them mule ears. He said he had always heard them called that and he would continue to do the same. Some farmers, who had trouble with them eating their crops, had an unprintable name for them!

            Although we were never able to get anyone to believe it, this jack rabbit encounter is true Clifton and I and two of his younger brothers were walking across the field on some important mission when a large jack rabbit jumped up in front of us and started running away at a high rate of speed. Without thinking we all pointed our arms at the speeding target and yelled “Bang! Bang!  Bang!” I guess it must have sounded like an army had opened fire. The scared rabbit ran faster and we banged away louder and louder.

            Suddenly the quarry jumped and fell then lay still on the ground. When we examined the body there were no wounds but it was definitely dead, just as if it had been shot with a gun.

We were all quite puzzled!

            Everyone we told about the strange experience looked at us like we were loco. They thought we were telling a tall tale. We tried to convince folks that it really happened, but everyone was skeptical. I don’t think anyone ever believed our bizarre story. Now that the tale has been told to the whole world, maybe someone out there will believe it.

            Was killing the jack rabbit with finger pointing and yelling “Bang!” a lot of fun? Of course it was. You might try getting a jack rabbit and yelling at it till it drops dead. But don’t try to make anyone believe it!