COUNTY AGRICULTURE AGENCIES
I have not had a lot of luck with these agencies, but I certainly haven't checked out all of them either. Some agencies may have contact information about ranchers that want dog hunters, and other counties won't bother. If you have the time it is worth contacting them to find out.
POUNDING THE PAVEMENT
Lets say, for whatever reason, you're in an area that could have dog towns. How do you find them? The following are some of the methods I have used depending on the general area I am in.
As you are driving around, if you see anyone working a field, opening/closing a fence, doing anything that looks like they own that land, stop and talk with them. Ask them if they know of anyone that has prairie dogs. If there is any in the area they WILL know, as they don't want any on their ranch.
I have stopped at taverns and asked, but the pain involved was usually not worth the information I got so I rarely do this any more.
Sporting goods and convenience stores have not worked very well for me. But don't overlook the restaurant that serves a good breakfast and has all those dusty pickups parked outside.
The best information I have found I got from stopping in at feed mills, or any places where the local ranchers have to go for supplies. This method of getting good contacts trumps all others.
So what is the secret method of finding dog towns with your computer? Well, if you have the right equipment and connection, Google Earth could be your new best friend. First of all you need a relatively new computer and a fairly good connection or the program will run intermittently and you can get frustrated. At least I do. It only takes a few minutes to download Google Earth and you are ready to go. Two clicks on the spot you want to go and you are ready to start looking for prairie dog towns. What you are looking for is randomly scattered, sandy colored spots on the prairie. In some areas, the resolution of the image is not that great and you have to look carefully. Other areas have a greater resolution and it is fairly easy to spot them. So far I have found several new towns that I want to check out. Remember, what you are viewing is not in real time. Most of the images are one to three years old, so there are no guaranties that the town hasn't been poisoned or killed by the plague, or for what ever reason doesn't exist any more.
Am I concerned? Not in the least. Experience has taught me prairie dog towns are fleeting, here one year, gone the next. I am excited because after spending so much time and money hunting dog towns over the years, I have to smile when I find one, sitting in an easy chair, moving around this little mouse and clicking my way across the prairie.
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Jim grew up on Wisconsin's famed Wolf River, fishing, set lining, hunting and turtling. After a stint in the Air Force, and a couple of years in Montana, he settled in Northern Wisconsin. His passions are building custom rifle stocks, shooting, hunting prairie dogs, calling coyotes and small mouth fishing.
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