Jackrabbits: The Plague of the Dust Bowl

Having grown up in Oklahoma — and as the daughter, granddaughter and niece of more than a dozen Dust Bowl survivors — I relied heavily on the stories I’d been told over the years to write my book, The Edge of Nowhere.  My dad has always been a prolific storyteller, so I had no end of anecdotes at my fingertips.  The only thing I really needed to do was to fill in the gaps to get a real “feel” for the era.  To do that, I relied heavily on a PBS Documentary called The Dust Bowl:  A Film by Ken Burns.  This film filled in the visual pieces that I was missing, but were necessary to write my story.  You see, it’s one thing to be told how it was; but it’s completely another to actually see it firsthand.  Or, at least as firsthand as you can from film taken nearly a century ago.

One of the things I’d heard through the years was that there was an abundance of Jackrabbits.  They swallowed the fields in droves and ate anything they could reach.  What was already an impossible growing situation was made worse by what became seen as a plague on the earth.  To reduce their numbers, large groups of men would gather together and round up these Jackrabbits for slaughter and, in some cases, relocation.  But their numbers were too large to risk injuring a human by shooting with a shotgun.  Instead, they used clubs and sticks.  Now imagine how dense the population of Jackrabbits has to be in order to kill one with a club!  Under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t be easy!

Yesterday I stumbled across a YouTube video from the era that made my jaw drop.  It showed a 1934 Kansas prairie overcome by Jackrabbits.  Men and children lined up side-by-side with clubs in their hands in order to herd and kill these animals, and it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  Imagine an infestation of mice or roaches or ants, and then replace the species with Jackrabbits, and now you have a visual image of what this looked like.  Still, it’s just not enough to imagine it.  Imagining does no justice for the actual seeing.

I wish I’d had the video below when writing my novel.  It’s truly a must-see!

Published by C.H. Armstrong

C.H. (Cathie) Armstrong is 1992 graduate of the University of Oklahoma and is the author of THE EDGE OF NOWHERE (Penner, 2016), ROAM (Central Avenue, Feb. 5, 2019) and co-author of DÉJÀ YOU: STORIES OF SECOND CHANCES. She is represented by Tina P. Schwartz at The Purcell Agency, LLC.

9 thoughts on “Jackrabbits: The Plague of the Dust Bowl

  1. Dear Jackie,

    It’s one of the most intriguing articles/videos I’ve seen in a long time. I had never heard of “dust bowl” before. However, I remember hearing in my childhood that something similar occurred in Australia. Is it that it was actually Oklahoma and degenerated version reached to me in my childhood?

    Thanks for sharing this. I have shared it on Google, Facebook and Twitter. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anand for sharing! It’s unlikely that the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma reached you in Australia, mostly because it would’ve been long before your time. The Oklahoma Dust Bowl lasted from roughly 1930-1940 and it was AWFUL!

      My book, The Edge of Nowhere, is coming out in January. If you follow the following link, it talks a little about what the time was like and there’s a brief video at the end. It was crazy-awful!



      Liked by 1 person

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