I feel the same as you concerning LR 'chucks. Our colonies are also small and scattered. We learned conservation lessons the hard way and it was primarily responsible for getting us into LR shooting. Long range shooting was a self-imposed conservation method. But, to answer your question regarding cooking/eating them, the local Paiutes have a rockchuck feed each summer. We would keep any headshot 'chucks for them. The traditional rockchuck bake entails gutting the 'chucks then sewing them back closed and putting them into a bed of coals like a pig. The hair burns off and the hide turns hard causing the 'chuck to baste inside the hide basting in it's own fat. They prefer medium size rockchucks (maybe seven or eight pounds) for this and they take them just before they go down for the summer quiescence. This sounded plausible so my son (who will try anything) kept one to bake.
Ben spent about three or four hours digging a pit , burning a good pile of coals and sewing his 'chuck back closed. The first mistake was that he kept a huge old 'chuck that weighed 16 pounds. He was almost as wide as he was long. Once it was baked, he also wasn't able to break the hide off without coating the meat with a lot of black. The fat was in globs inside the hide. Suffice it to say that "Rodent is not
what's for dinner" at our house! YMMV. You may find that a younger rockchuck without as much fat might bake up nicely. I think I'm over it.
That said, long range rockchuck shooting is still one of my favorite passtimes. Ben has his first 1000 yard 'chuck mounted in our living room as proudly as any bull elk!