TRACKING A JACKALOPE
January 2017
-Jordan Seitz-

Dirk and I have a standing tradition to bowhunt jackrabbit, cottontails, and jackalope when he visits at Christmas.

Last year we’d successfully removed several rabbits from the local population, but their antlered cousins eluded us. Later in the winter, I’d seen a jackalope running with a herd of deer nearby, so I knew there was a possibility we’d finally get our chance at one.

Usually I carry a recurve for rabbits, but this time I was armed with my Drenalin for its long range capabilities.

Shortly after arrowing a cottontail, we cut a set of tracks that suspiciously looked like they might be a jackalope. These tracks are very similar to a regular white-tailed jackrabbit. In fact, one cannot tell the difference between the common jackrabbit and a doe jackalope. However, a skilled tracker notices subtle differences in the track of a buck, such as the depth of the impression left by a jackalope’s extra weight, or pieces of bark and weed seeds left on the surface of the snow, which have been carelessly knocked out of place by the buck’s antlers.

We threw caution to the wind because darkness was approaching and we wouldn’t have time for another hunt. Therefore we speedily took up the trail. It led us away from the willows we’d been hunting, into a wide draw, where it cut perpendicularly up and to the right into a thick patch of sagebrush.

Dirk took the right side, I took the left, and we slowly walked through it, hoping to spot the wily buck before he took off running. Such was not the case. An explosion of snow at Dirk’s feet resulted in him bellowing that the buck was headed my way. Normally I don’t take running shots, but with jackalopes, one can’t be picky due to very rare shot opportunities. In fact, it had been about 7 years since my last chance.

I drew my bow, anchored, and frantically looked about. I suddenly saw a pair of spike bounding through the sage in the direction Dirk gestured.

My pin wobbled around crazily, but I steadied my nerves, and readied for a shot when the buck broke through his cover. A blur of while emerged crossing to my left at an estimated 53 yards, so I raised my 30 yard pin about 15 inches above the buck and led him about 31 inches due to his speed.

In slow motion, I watched my arrow arch through the air, and then lose elevation until it intersected the buck! My three blade muzzy broadhead zipped right though him and he did several summersaults before coming to a dead stop. Both of us stood in shot, first looking at the buck, then looking back at each other. Finally I gave a whoop and trotted over to retrieve my long sought trophy.


Darkness quickly enveloped us, but we didn't notice as we gleefully headed home, my second jackalope swinging over my shoulder.