a jackrabbit may not be a temptation to the taste buds, he is a
sight to behold when running full tilt across open ground. He can
lay his ears back and streak like a bullet. He can run up to 45
mph and change directions on a dime, without slowing down.
Jackrabbits are long, lanky and made to travel. Mother Nature built
them for speed, not for taste.
Jackrabbits can also be pests when the actions of man throw nature
out of balance.
In the early 20th century, farmers and ranchers pushed many of the
wolves, wildcats and coyotes off the Great Plains and western Texas.
Wolves, wildcats and coyotes killed livestock, but they also kept
the jackrabbit population in check.
As the number of predators shrank, jackrabbits multiplied. By the
millions these long-eared critters ran amuck over a large area of
the United States, including parts of the Texas
Hill Country, destroying field crops, pasture grass and gardens.
In March 1917 the Texas legislature passed a law offering bounties
for wolves, wildcats and jackrabbits, but folksy, and soon to be
impeached, Gov. Jim Ferguson vetoed the bill.
"I hereby give official notice," Ferguson wrote in his veto, "that
the within House Bill 48 is vetoed and disapproved. In doing so
I am not anxious to perpetuate either the scream of the wildcat
or the howl of the wolf. In fact I am willing to go further and
approve a large amount for the extermination of wolves and wildcats.
We have all heard them too much. We hope they will hush and disturb
us no more.
"But while this is true, I cannot give my official approval to anybody
being paid to hunt jackrabbits. It is too much fun, and besides,
if prices of meat continue to go up, we may need the jackrabbits
to live on. I think an appropriation of $200,000, as provided, would
only mean $10,000 for wolves and wildcats and $190,000 for jackrabbits.
This is more rabbit meat than I think the state ought to buy at
government formally encouraged citizens to eat jackrabbits as another
way of getting rid of the pesky creatures. An article in the January
12, 1918 edition of the Fredericksburg Standard, prepared
by the state department of agriculture, listed 5 recipes for jackrabbit
including canned jackrabbit, potted jackrabbit, jackrabbit sausage,
jackrabbit chili and pickled jackrabbit.
The campaign to promote jackrabbit meat as a main course had only
marginal success, due in part to the fact that eating jackrabbit
is like gnawing on a Goodyear radial.
To be honest I have heard that jackrabbit stew isn't bad, but only
if you throw away the jackrabbit and eat the stew.
J. Frank Dobie spent many nights around a campfire eating wild game.
His recipe for jackrabbit stew goes like this: "Put plenty of water
in a pot. Put in a brick. Put in a dressed jackrabbit. Boil 4 hours.
Remove jackrabbit. Eat brick."
Jackrabbits, it seems, are safe from extinction at least for now.
The taste alone is enough to keep them off the endangered species