writing huntress ACCIDENTALLY embarks on west texas jackalope hunt: lives to tell the tale, loses husband but bags world-record 'lope.
July 4, 2014 not only rung in America's 238th birthday but also opening day of jackalope season here in west Texas.
Given I've never hunted these parts, I had decided to forgo visiting the dark, rank and frankly terrifying haunts jackalope hunters frequent pre-opening day to swill cheap spirits while glaring at one another menacingly, waiting for someone to throw the first punch [The battles that ensue are largely useless for neither land nor helpless maiden are traded hands. Instead, it seems the battles mimic the brutal displays of aggression shown by male and female jackalope alike. I once took part in such a rumble. Years later, when a doctor began speculating as to how I became so vertically challenged and jokingly asked if I had ever been thrown head-first into a cement wall, all I could do was gravely nod while giggling, much to the confusion of the doctor.] and instead opted to take a ride on the harley with my husband, Mike, through the rambling and stunning desert.
We pulled over for a scenic shot mid-day when suddenly, the hills were alive with the sounds of shrieking jackalope cubs. The sky turned purple as the screams continued. We looked aloft from the handlebars and knew the trip was no longer simply a jaunt through the desert.
As any jackalope hunter will tell you, the horned bunnies best act as savages, not parents. Therefore, when their young face immediate danger or cry in earnest, the elders are more apt to run away than defend their offspring. Scholars believe their natural inclination is to blindly choose self over progeny simply because they enjoy food and liquor banquets entirely too much to bear the thought of sharing the bounty with another mouth, even if that mouth is under the legal jackalope drinking age of two.
That being said, we raced past the acre field of braying antlered bunnies to where the ground appeared to be digging itself from underneath. With only our AR-15s strapped to our backs, we abandoned the motorcycle in a ring of fire and explosions much the way one does in a high-action, low-budget made-for-TV movie.
He went left, I went right. As we parted ways in slow motion, another CGI trick we've seemed to have gotten down in our years of televised hunts, he yelled something that sounded like yiddish being spoken by a penguin eating peanut butter.
Once again, I nodded gravely. When he looked surprised by my reaction, I switched instead to a look of jubilant euphoria, which again, based upon his facial expression, wasn't the proper reponse. I then broke down theatrically and screamed, "DON'T GO, I'LL NEVER LET GO, JACK!"
This seemed to appease his damsel in distress/Jack Bauer sentimentalities so as he disappeared from view, I heard him boom, "I'M TOO DRUNK TO TASTE THIS CHICKEN!", which didn't seem apt in this situation so as I began crafting him a note, berating him for his choice and to choose better next time, I ran up on a heard of neglectful jackalope moms and deadbeat dads.
Many a novice jackalope hunter would have frozen at the sight of a herd of angry jackalopes with their finely-manicured incisors, razor claws and majestic pelts but I am no novice. I kicked the hunt into slow-motion and watched the eyes of the collected jackalopes follow my magic huntress hands pull out a hand-woven net from seemingly nowhere. In one swift motion, I bagged the nearest buck, jumped over the ring of fire ensnaring the rest of the beasts, climbed over the tower that wasn't there 10 minutes ago and athletically summersaulted in the direction of our abandoned, and most likely road-thrashed, motorcycle.
Mike was nowhere to be seen. I called for what seemed like days but, between us, was, in reality, a few feeble whispers that took mere seconds. With nothing around except a herd of increasingly pissed-off jackalopes, I took off on the bike in any direction except back.
It's been 24 hours and I only just stopped for food and gas. I begged a hitchhiker to take the above photograph. When he asked for a ride in return, I patted the potato sack in the passenger seat which gave a feeble wiggle in return. The man screamed and fled which I found amusing since everyone knows jackalope chairs are about the most comfortable on earth.
I don't know when I'll be back. As I've already witnessed, jackalopes are ornery things that will chase takers of one of their herd for hundreds, if not thousands of miles. Besides, I dropped my wallet during the chase so now they know where I live, which is more of an issue for the dogs and Mike, if he ever makes it home alive.
Photo Credit: Mike Barron. From his phone I found a mile and a half from the jackalope tornado.