History of Ralph's Rabbit Ranch

History of Ralph's Rabbit Ranch

Friday, June 14, 2013

What is a Hodag?

I think because the Rabbit Ranch is only about 83 miles from Rhinelander, Wisconsin, we get a lot of tourists stopping at the Ranch on their way to Rhinelander. After they take a tour of our grounds and play with the rabbits, without exception they wind up asking the ranch hands the same question - What is a Hodag?   

As far as we know, the Hodag is an animal that is unique to the Rhinelander, Wisconsin, area (thank God) although there have been unconfirmed sightings down in Ogema near Carlson road; however that was supposed to have occurred during a severe winter and the Hodags were out forging for food. Luckily, we don't have to worry about Hodags here at the ranch; Hodags don’t come to Lugerville, Fifield, Park Falls, Phillips or Oxbo because they don’t like the climate. The story most of us at the Ranch know goes like this:  

The old timers in the Rhinelander area say the Hodag was first spotted during the spring thaw of 1896 by a Rhinelander pioneer named Gene Shepard. According to Mr. Shepard, a successful logger, the beast sprang at him from a behind pile of white pine logs while he was out working in the woods. Mr. Shepard, who was able to flee the creature, said it was a horrible sight! He said the Hodag is a fierce and frightening looking monster - and there is nothing else like it in north America. It's a hairy creature approximately seven feet long when mature and has a thirty-inch long tail. Adults have studded backbones that are adorned with about a dozen or so white horns; its muscular vise-like jaws bear huge – I mean huge - white tusks. Most menacing of all are its fore and hind legs have razor-sharp claws.  

(This is a picture taken years ago of loggers trying to catch a baby Hodag)

Because the Hodags only graze in the Rhinelander area, the City of Rhinelander has made the Hodag its city symbol. Rhinelander’s biggest recreation area is Hodag Park and school athletic teams are proud to call themselves the "Hodags". One of the largest musical events in Wisconsin is Hodag feast where people from all over the world come out to try and get a glimpse of the Hodag. Even though it has been nearly 110 years since Mr. Shepard's first sighting of a Hodag, many local residents, as well as tourists, say they have had encounters with them in the woods.  

All we can tell you for sure here at Ralphs Rabbit Ranch is that every one of the tourists who have returned back to the Ranch to pick up their packed and wrapped Gabe’s Gourmet Rabbit meat or try on their tailor-made rabbit vests after visiting Rhinelander, are all convinced there are Hodags living over by north U.S. Highway 51 in the Rhinelander, Wisconsin, area. 

For more information about Hodags, take a trip to Rhinelander, Wisconsin and see for yourself.  Don't forget be sure to stop at the Ranch and enjoy the rabbits.  Its not to early to put in your orders for your rabbit lined gloves, ear muffs and undergarments.  You'll need them this fall and you will be glad you ordered them.
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