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Big Jackrabbit Cycle Story...

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Big Jackrabbit Cycle Story...

Old 08-03-15, 02:58 PM
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Big Jackrabbit Cycle Story...

Big Texas Jackrabbit

Finally getting around to writing about my recent experience in Dalhart Texas. Dalhart is about the last big town you pass through before leaving the Texas panhandle and crossing over into New Mexico. You would not think it, but it's an area of heavy industry in chicken, dairy, cattle farm and ranch not to mention steal (oil and gas), and wind (electricity). It's a productive area with people working hard for whatever they have. I was there for a few weeks working the Occupational Health Care Clinic. The thing about Dalhart is that it's out in the middle on no where, or so it would seem. They have a small lake that's part of the Rita Blanca State park system with a six mile clay/gravel trail around it. I am not one of those cyclists that handles street traffic. Especially highways with big, BIG trucks on them. Don't get me wrong, when you are riding the highways around Dalhart you will get plenty of friendly waves and honks from the passerby's but it's still a little unnerving with them zooming by at 75 plus miles an hour. If you do stop, it's not long before you have someone offering you a ride into town.

I decided to make my rides, short and late in the evening about 20:00. Luckily I just switched my 1" road tires on my ChroMo 80s UNIVEGA to some 1.25 Continental Touring tires. I am not a dirt rider. Not even on my motorcycle. So when I hit that six mile trail around the lake those clay/gravel, soft spots really had me twisting and turning like a real panhandle side winder. The air was good, cool, with pleasant updrafts off the water. In the whole six mile ride you may only run into a few people walking or jogging so its nice and quite too. It's a real gem.

On the third day of riding I spotted a large Jackrabbit crouched under the shade of a small tree alongside the trail. He was looking at me closely, ears up, allowing me to creep up on him. I was moving pretty quick but still kind of shaky in the dirt and at about 20 yards he turned and hopped down the trail. Jackrabbits don't hop like normal rabbits. They kind of gallop on those big legs and all the while watching with ears up. When I tuned the next bend there he was again, waiting in the shady part of the trail. Again he allowed me to come up on him and then he just bounded off. At the next bend he was there but suddenly turned to look up the trail and then stepped off into the high grasses to disappear. Immediately after, two guys jogging side by side came around the bend. As they passed I asked them, "hey did you see that jackrabbit" they replied "yeh... hes out here all the time..." I decided to called him Jack.

The next couple of rides were the same and my speed was picking up as I adjusted to the loose trail. I got to the point where I would make the first bend without slipping in the clay and speed up on the Jack. He would then just bound off again, never really changing his gait and easily out distancing me to the next bend to wait for my approach.

Before my last day of work I rode a few hours earlier. It was hot and the sun was beating down on me. I did not expect to see Jack and when I made the bend he was not there. I kept up my pace and then heard the padding of something coming up behind me. It was Jack, and he caught up real quick. There he was. Just next to me on the trail side, even with my front tire. He was bigger up close with his ears high above his long face. Me puffing on my bicycle and Jack just effortless in his pace. I moved to get into a faster gear and it must have spooked him. He crouched low in the shoulders, I saw his ears lay back and boom, he took off with after burners literally kicking sand and clay in my face. I was so impressed. I had no idea they could go so fast.

The whole park is at a lower level below the main town. Along the northern edge there are some very nice houses with big well kept yards that overlook the lake and trail. That evening I was driving through in my beater 2000 Astro Van to go get some groceries for my 600 mile drive home the next day. In the dusk light I saw a little girl no more then 10 years old running across the yards of houses as fast as she could. There was Jack. He was running in front of her and then she would stop and turn and run in the opposite direction and he would chase and turn again. Wow... I wanted to stop and talk and find out the story of Jack, but a 60 plus year old guy in a beater van would not look right trying to talk to a little girl in the dark dusk light.

Thank you Jack for great company in Dalhart Texas...





Here is a pic of a Jackrabbit similar to the one I saw in Dalhart. When standing on his hauches, his​ ears would be almost even with the top of my handle bar stem.
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Old 08-03-15, 04:21 PM
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Very cool!
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Old 08-03-15, 04:56 PM
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I saw a coyote catch a jackrabbit once... it was an impressive display of life and death; pursuit and pursued.
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Old 08-03-15, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
I saw a coyote catch a jackrabbit once... it was an impressive display of life and death; pursuit and pursued.
That's one very fast coyote. I've watched jackrabbits toy with huskies and wolves and it's a bit like Usain Bolt running a race against me. Those things can really move.
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Old 08-03-15, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
That's one very fast coyote. I've watched jackrabbits toy with huskies and wolves and it's a bit like Usain Bolt running a race against me. Those things can really move.
This isn't the same one, but in the same area. I'm not sure the jackrabbit even knew he was being pursued - and the coyote wasn't so much faster, but smarter... the rabbit was running a zigzag and the coyote sort of knew where he was going to be at the time of intercept. Also not sure ours are as big as the ones in Texas... I'd estimate 18" without the ears.



Here's another one - looks even smaller.


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Old 08-04-15, 10:07 AM
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I am thinking that the Jackrabbit in Dalhart must be a pet and that's why he is so big and friendly...

Wish I knew more, he must be a local icon...
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Old 08-04-15, 10:58 AM
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I read about Dalhart Texas in "The Worst Hard Time." Any place with denizens tough enough to have survived the Dust Bowl has got to be interesting.

We've got both jackrabbits and cottontails out here ... the jacks are sooo much more interesting. Those ears are truly amazing.
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Old 08-04-15, 11:26 AM
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