Long Range Prairie Dog Hunt In South Dakota

By Len Backus, Dec 31, 1969 | |
  1. Len Backus
    Page 2/2

    B&G Machine also built the scope mounting system that Will designed, which is similar to the Harbor Engineering Mount, but without the micrometer thimbles. He makes his adjustments by simply using a feeler gauge to set his height (MOA) and locks it down. This makes it a much more compact unit. It has 370 MOA of adjustment. As of now, it has no windage adjustment, but Will is working on the new and improved version as I write this, because we both ran out of windage this year. The mounting system holds a NF 12-42 BR scope with NP-2DD reticle.

    Will shoots 190 gr Berger VLD's over 64 grs of IMR 4831 set .032 thousandths jump from the lands. This combo runs 3070 fps with good accuracy. When the driver does his part, this gun shoots low, .1’s to low .2’s.

    Jesse Grove's Rifle

    Now for my long range rifle. I bought my rifle used and unfinished. I was told it had 250-300 rounds through it. Looking at it with a bore scope, I’d say the man didn’t lie. It is a 300 WTBY Imp. with a .332 neck. The action is a Remington converted to single shot with a 29” Lilja barrel and a glue in Lilja barrel block. The stock is a discontinued Lee Six benchrest stock. The gun was chambered and assembled by Dan Lilja of Lilja Barrels. It has a Jewell 2 oz. trigger. Total weight of this rifle is 51 lbs.

    The stock needed finish and some glass bedding work done to it and I also added a stainless steel rail for the butt of the rifle to ride on. The front rides on two small stainless steel rails.

    My sighting system consists of an EGW 15 MOA Picatinny Rail that sits upon an Ivey ASM mount that has 150 MOA. The mount is small and compact and is adjusted by the thimble on the back and works perfectly. Sitting on top of the Ivey are Burris signature rings with +20 and -20 MOA inserts in them with a NF 12-42 Br scope. I shoot 210 Berger VLD’s in front of 80 grs of RL-25 for a velocity of 3044. When I do my part, I’ve shot in the low 1’s at 100 yards, 1” at 500 yards, and 4” at 1k, all five shot groups.

    To shoot these kinds of distances you need a good spotting scope. We use a Swarovski 80 mm HD with a 20-60 eyepiece set on a surveyor’s tripod, this setup is very stable in the prairie wind. We used a Garmin Etrex to do the ranging. This is the easiest, most accurate way to range these distances.

    We had numerous kills over 1000 yards, both Megan (age 13) and Cindy scored on multiple dogs at the same mound. The distance was a confirmed 1056 yards with both guns. This put both young ladies securely in the 1000 yard club. Congrats to both for some excellent shooting.

    Jesse and Will

    The longest confirmed kill this year was 2218 yards with Will’s gun. We were positioned at a slightly higher location for the longer shots. Will needed a total of 108 MOA to reach the mound. We dialed in 95 MOA into his mounting system, and 13 MOA in the scope. The scope mount system is set up so the elevation adjustment for the scope is in the middle, for ease of minor correction for distance. To put MOA into the mount system, you need 0 .0165 thous. for every 10 MOA at 100 yds. So for the 95 MOA needed for the shot: 9.5 x 0.0165=0.157 thous. Dial up 0.157 on the feeler gauge, set the space in the mount, and lock it down tight. You now have your primary MOA set. You then fine tune with the scope turrets from there.

    We had a fairly good day for seeing the little critters at 2k plus. Once we had the range dialed in, we found it best just to wait for the dogs at the same mound to come out because the distance is deceiving between mounds. Now that the range was there for Will, it was a matter of judging the wind and making the shot. On around the 15th shot a prairie dog went down for the count and they drove out to confirm the kill and get the exact yardage, 2218 yards, confirmed.

    On the second day, we headed out for more, only to find that the rain the night before had put a damper on trying to see the bullet splash at long distances. Instead, we spent the day picking the little buggers off from as close as 40 yards, out to 1100 to 1200 yards.

    On the last day, we were shooting at a ranch we nicknamed Coyote Canyon. There were six confirmed kills on songdogs in a single day at that location. After a quick setup, the others were having fun shooting. We started glassing for some long shots, which turned out to be longer than we had expected. We soon found ourselves landing Berger VLD's out to a distance of 2992 yards with my rifle. My long range rifle is sighted in at 200 yards because we shoot 200, 300, and 500 yard groundhog matches. I need 21.5 MOA to get 1000 yards. I needed all the adjustment in my Ivey mount, plus all that was left in my scope, and the 4 MOA between the two dots in the Night Force NP-2dd reticle, which adds up to the 196 MOA. My first shot was 20 yards short. Then I was able to work up into the mound. Though we never hit a prairie dog at that distance, when we were done shooting, we drove over to within half a mile. Then, after crossing fences, we walked the rest of the way to the dog town, and found that most of the shots stayed within a 20” circle at each mound we shot at. On the walk back, we walked past the one mound we first hit and the guide’s helper, Pete, found a 210 Berger laying on the ground about 18” or so from where it hit. After we returned to the rest of the group, I finally got our guide, Kerry, to take a shot with one of our rifles. His first shot landed about 6" to the left of the dog. He stood up and said, “Close enough. Now I can tell all my friends that I was within 6 inches at 3000 yards.” He says he just can’t believe how accurate you can be at these distances. Again, all distances were measured with the handheld GPS, Garman Etrex. Needless to say, we were quite pleased with the performance of both guns on the trip. We are excited and can’t wait for June of 2009.

    Next year will be a new year with new goals that are to have confirmed kills at 3600 yards, and I believe that with our new scope system with more windage, three days, and a little luck, we can achieve our goals. Wish us luck!!!

    Jesse Grove is a 38 year old union pipefitter from central PA. He enjoys shooting, groundhog hunting, and riding motorcycles. He says he tries to stay out of trouble, but this long range shooting and hunting sure can be a man's downfall!

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