MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Things that come up in the daily operation of a ranch.
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MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by Soapweed » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:09 pm

MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956
By Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

During the winter of 1955-1956, my dad enjoyed rabbit hunting when ranch work wasn’t too pressing. Some evenings after supper, Dad would drive out through the pastures with a spotlight and get what he could with his old .22 rifle. I was just a squirt, having turned four years old in November. One night Mom and I, and undoubtedly my baby sister Sandra, accompanied Dad as he went spotlighting for jackrabbits. I was heavily armed with a wooden tubular “pop-gun” that was powered with air pressure, and by how fast a kid could pump the two pieces of the gun barrel together. A cork on a string was the ammunition.

Dad soon had a rabbit spotted with the headlights of the car. He got out to shoot, and so did I. Sadly for me, I was told to get back in the car and not make a sound. Mom saw to it that I followed instructions. Dad did get the rabbit.

During the course of the winter, Dad managed to shoot about 100 jackrabbits. In those days they brought a good price, as they were used for mink food. Apparel made from mink fur was very much an expensive fashion for ladies at the time, so “mink farms” raised these animals to be used for this purpose. Dad managed to sell his rabbits for 75 cents apiece, and took in 75 dollars for his efforts. As this was kind of a “bonus” to his regular ranch income, Dad decided to spend the money somewhat frivolously. He had always wanted a nice Canadian goose down coat. They were “top-of-the-line,” but were expensive and not easily available, due to high tariffs on items imported from Canada. Dad did locate a nice Canadian goose down coat for the 75 dollars, so he bought it and wore it proudly—for all of two weeks.

On one of his first opportunities to wear this handsome addition to his wardrobe, he stopped at Dick Chappell’s grocery store on the west side of Main Street (actually Mills Street) in Merriman. It was a cold blustery day, and the usual crowd of coffee drinkers and loafers were hunkered around the old pot-bellied wood stove trying to stay warm. Dad kind of elbowed his way in amongst them, proudly displaying his new coat. Somehow he ended up standing too close to the stove, and the nylon covering melted on the spot. He deposited goose down all the way out of the store. Some of the guys probably felt bad, and some of them were probably grinning. I can’t recall him ever wearing that coat again. It sure wasn’t as sharp as it had been. This picture shows the goose down coat in question.

In about the same time period, Ned Fair and Curly McClellan were a couple of happy-go-lucky single guys working on area ranches. One cold snowy Saturday night, they headed for Martin, South Dakota for dual purposes. They had a pickup load of jackrabbits to sell to a buyer in Martin, and since there was a dance going on in that fair city, they wanted to take it in also. They partied heartily and had a good time at the dance. Upon making it known that they had jackrabbits for sale, they were informed that a buyer in Winner was paying more per head than was the one in Martin.

Even though Winner was nearly a hundred miles further east, the two inebriated young gents decided to go where the price was better. Their old pickup was already missing the back window, so it had been a cold ride to Martin. Ned Fair was telling my dad, Bob Moreland, about the incident many years after it happened. When Curly got into the passenger side of the pickup, he grabbed a hammer from beneath the seat, and declared, “It’s getting stuffy in here!” before bashing and breaking the glass on his side window. It was really a chilly ride to Winner, but hopefully the ends justified the means.



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Re: MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by Big Muddy rancher » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:45 pm

Another great one!

The area history book shows pictures of rabbit drives in 1935 and 36. They were skinned before being sold to the mink ranches as well.

As a kid I remember winters where you would see many jackrabbits but haven't seen any numbers for years
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Re: MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by Soapweed » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:55 pm

The last year I remember there being a lot of jackrabbits was in the winter of 1978-1979. Dad had an irrigated alfalfa field in those days, and he bought a lot of ear corn. The rabbits had a hard-packed trail for the mile between these two sources of feed. One late afternoon, I got in behind a hay bale near the ear corn pile. With a Remington nylon stock .22 that had a scope, I got 23 rabbits in 23 minutes. Unfortunately by that time, there was no market for jackrabbits.

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Re: MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by Big Muddy rancher » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:26 pm

They say that they have cycles of high and low populations but they have been very few Jacks for a long time now. I only see the odd one on the ranch this winter.

We have more mule deer then rabbits now.
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Re: MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by Faster horses » Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:38 pm

Great story, Soap. We laughed out loud at the story of what happened to the coat, though I bet it wasn't funny at the time.

There used to be lots of Jack Rabbits. Mr FH hunted them the same way as Soapweed, only he was older
and they stood in the back of the pickup and shot .22s from there. They hunted south of Buffalo WY on their granddad's homestead. They would get 60 to 80 at a night and the price then was $1/head so it was pretty lucrative for a couple of kid cousins and Mr. FH dad. When Mr FH was real little, his dad, uncle, friend of the family hunted in an old model A. His uncle laid down between the hood and the big headlight to do the shooting. They would have contests to see who could shoot the most in a night. What good times!! Most kids these days have no idea the fun that was had.

The last bunch of jack rabbits we saw was on a drive from Buffalo SD to Bowman ND. There is a set of old corrals beside the road on that lonely stretch of highway. Someone must have held sheep in there and fed them corn on the ground. The corral was FULL of jack rabbits! We noticed them on our way by. Mr. FH stopped and backed up so I could take a picture. They heard us stop and back up and there were jackrabbits flying out of that corral in every direction!! It was quite a sight.
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Re: MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by Big Muddy rancher » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:08 pm

That would be a sight to see, FH
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Re: MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by leanin' H » Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:04 pm

There was an old guy that worked for a rancher named Charly Redd in SE Utah. The rabbits were decimating the hay yards and that hired man started shooting and trapping them. He bought a brand new pickup truck in the spring with his rabbit cash.

We still have a lot of jack rabbits out here on the desert. I used to go shoot them but I never liked shooting something and not eating it, so I don't anymore. I was headed across the desert late one night to attend an antelope hunt early the next morning. Stopped counting jacks at 500.
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Re: MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by webfoot » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:53 am

It has been some years since I last saw one in Washington. Now living here in Oregon I have yet to see one. But a few years ago we left Winnemucca early one morning and headed out on Hwy 140 toward Denio, NV where the wife used to own a ranch. There were enough jack rabbits on the road that I ran over 4 with the pickup in that 80-100 miles.

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Re: MY DAD’S JACKRABBIT SALES in 1956, by Steve Moreland, January 13, 2019

Post by Trinity man » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:56 am

Great Story Soap. I used to go coon hunting with two old men (in their 70's) that was brothers when I was young. The youngest of the two and I did all the walking while his oldest would drive around a pick us up. One cold night the dogs caught a coon in the swampy area that was pretty deep. The old man I was with had chest waders on. I wasn't but maybe 5 at the time so he picked me up and put me on his shoulders. He was walking into the water and fell into a beaver hole, the water came up to his belly pretty fast and he just stood there saying my hockies, my hockies. I looked down and said what's your hockies? He said my nuts and they gotten to cold to fast and he couldn't move until his body adjusted to the temperature. Needless to say we saved the dog from the coon drowning and freezing ourselves. I miss those old men and I miss coon hunting. No one even buys them around here anymore and we used to make pretty good money hunting them every winter.
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