Malicious Monsters: The Jackalope

Jackalope Real

This jackalope may look adorable, but according to legend, it’s a vicious beast.

In the summer of 2011, I needed an escape. I ended up going to see my sister, who lived in Austin, in my first-ever trip to the state of Texas.

Long story short? I fell in love with Texas. In an absolute, complete, I-see-no-wrong kind of love. The smell of burnt asphalt and cactus blossom laced with a kiss of mesquite. In Hill Country, woods and mountains not much different from Connecticut, but with the occasional surprise of a cactus thrusting from a blanket of past autumn leaves. The joy of watching over a half a million bats emerge from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. The 108 degree heat, hot glazed pecans at the HEB, and people who will absolutely talk to a total stranger without looking at him like he has five heads.

Austin Jackalope

Me at The Jackalope, a dive bar with incredible burgers on 6th Street in Austin, Texas. There’s a challenge associated with the giant jackalope that stares at you the second you walk in—you have to have a drink in your hand to climb on. It’s not easy. Trust me! To visit The Jackalope’s website, visit here: To read about my adventures at the bar when I visited in 2016, visit here:

But during that brief visit, there was something much darker happening: wildfires. We could see the smoke channeling in the distance, and on the news, there were devastating tales of lost property and gruesome shots of charred animals.

When I was invited to write a story for Western Legends Press’ Unnatural Tales of the Jackalope, I couldn’t help but slam the wildfires and this mysterious legendary creature together.

The jackalope is a half jackrabbit, half antelope that supposedly stalks the lowlands of the American west. According to legend, it only gives birth in a lightning storm; its milk is an aphrodisiac; it can only be killed if you get it drunk on whiskey; and it has an uncanny knack for mimicking the human voice.

In every legend, though, there is a grain of truth, and in the case of the jackalope, that truth is so solid that not only do we know where the “legend” of the jackalope came from, we know that they actually exist, so to speak.

Drawings and prints of a strange horned rabbit had been showing up for hundreds of years, and eventually, it was discovered that there are such things as jackrabbits covered in horns. This is due to an illness called the Shope papilloma virus. It’s easy to imagine that from a distance, these creatures would look like a strange new breed rather than a sick animal.

Here’s links for further reading, and don’t forget to pick up The Shadows Behind to find out what these malicious monsters are up to during the Texas wildfires in “The Thing Inside.” You can get your copy here.

“Are Jackalopes Real?”, by Peg Boettcher, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, March 21, 2015

“The world’s scariest rabbit lurks within the Smithsonian’s collection,” by Micaela Jemison, Smithsonian Insider,

“The jackalope is a rare and fierce creature,” Jackalope—Home Décor as Unique as YOU Are,

City of Douglas, WY: Home of the Jackalope (and you can even download and print your very own Jackalope Hunting License!)

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of the New England Horror Writers. Follow her adventures at

Posted on May 19, 2019, in Books and Boos Press, Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, horror short stories, Horror Stories, The Shadows Behind and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Just too funny! Although I must say I would rather live in Texas than in Connecticut. Bet there are a lot of haunted houses in Connecticut, though. My maternal grandma’s house in South Orange, NJ was certainly haunted. If anyone said it wasn’t, they were lying.

    • Yeah, I honestly feel the only thing CT has going for it is its dreary atmosphere, and it really only works in the fall and winter. I DO LOVE Texas, and would be totally happy to relocate there. We visited the Alamo. I’m pretty sure THAT place is haunted!

  2. Haha, love your picture on the giant jackalope!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: