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Varmint Hunting Techniques For Prairie Dogs, Woodchucks, etc.


How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?

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Unread 02-12-2011, 10:46 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 46
Re: How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?

BowElkStalker: Couple of things to add.
For decades I did much of my Prairie Dog Hunting alone.
I worked 6 day work weeks (and had 2 days off on each end) for funny "weekends" that came most often during the middle of a week.
So I would head out on 10 day Varmint Safaris alone with my bed in the back of the VarmintMobile and between 6 and 12 Varmint Rifles along.
I would sleep at the edge of the Prairie Dog Town I intended to Hunt the next morning.
I rose with the sun and shoot til sundown on countless Varminting days.
No trips to "town" for cafe meals - time was just to precious to waste driving and chasing waitresses when I could be "trigger timing" in a good Dog Town.
I would often have to pause at lunch time to set up and clean all the Rifles that were dirty (usually having 40 to 50 rounds down the tube) and I would eat and drink then. Then I would move on to the next shooting position and start dirtying my Rifles again.
I have had MANY 500 to 700 round days and some days I would average 85% hits - so I am guessing my best day would be around 560 Prairie Dogs killed!
Those days are long gone now due mostly to the popularity of the sport and my changing status from Hunting alone for 25+ years to now Hunting more often with 2 or 3 shooting partners (thank God for Suburbans!).
I am lucky anymore to fire 200 rounds in a days "rotation shooting" of Prairie Dogs - for a kill total of 120 to 150 Varmints being a great shoot.
On the last Hunt I did (last summer) I was with 3 Hunters and we shot mostly in rotation and ate our meals in small towns - and I fired about 100 rounds a day - but had an absolute blast doing so with some great friends.
In a 14 hour day of GOOD "alone" shooting my best day ever, about averaged "killing" 40 Prairie Dogs an hour!
That is an insanely industrious and rare situation!
I have had people tell me with a straight face they have KILLED 1,000 Prairie Dogs in a DAY!
I know how REALLY difficult that would be to accomplish - having never ever come close to that mark in 42+ years of Hunting Prairie Dogs.

And this other item - one of the posters here mentioned that Prairie Dogs do not compete with cattle for range grass - I beg to differ!
I have seen Prairie Dogs take range grass down to DUST in huge areas!
The range cattle around these "dusty Dog Towns" simply do not even walk amongst these dusty dens!
The Prairie Dogs range outward from these dust areas by simply walking to edible grass and once full walk back to their dens.
These towns are rare anymore because of human Hunting and the rarity of finding a town that has not been "artificially" (by man!) population controlled!
Many folks do not know (or are not aware!) that Prairie Dogs easily "chomp down" on sage brush bushes killing them and turning the tiny bits they chew the sage brush into bits that are easily blown away by the wind!
Thus, expanding their potential "grasslands" and allowing them to leave their dens and feed in new and more directions - and, no where for Coyotes and Fox to hide and stalk up behind the sage brush bushes!
I have MANY remote Prairie Dog towns on my "secret list" where I don't take anyone but myself.
Most all of these secret spots of mine are "hike in" and long distances from remote roads.
Observing the Prairie Dogs in these natural and un-humanized habitats is VERY interesting and entertaining.
Once I have approached and "set-up" in one of these remote areas I always pause and pull out my binos to observe the Prairie Dogs and let them "settle down" a bit before I start to plunk the big ones!
I hope all the Prairie Dog Hunters here get to find a "virgin" Dog Town in their lives - its a whole nother world of Varminting fun - believe me.
Hold into the wind
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Unread 02-13-2011, 07:33 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Casper Wy
Posts: 1,388
Re: How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?

I hope all the Prairie Dog Hunters here get to find a "virgin" Dog Town in their lives - its a whole nother world of Varminting fun - believe me.

I Believe!! Been doggin a few years in Montana, N&S Dakota, Nebraska Colorado Kansas and Wyoming. Found a virgin town in Montana late one summer when the pups where not much smaller than Momma. I sure wish I would have taken pics and/or video as there where 6 dogs on every mound as far as the eye could see and dumb as stumps!!! We had herd it would take 250+ dogs to win the Miles City prairie dog shoot with 100 rounds and doubted it untill that day.
Lot of towns along the oil roads will be plenty spookie....Slamming the truck door when you get out will tell you in a hurry how spookie, there might be hundreds of dogs out and about but slamming the door will put a shot-up town down their holes till you leave!!
Dang near impossible to shoot out a prairie dog town but the plague and/or poison sure can do a # on them!

How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?
Somestimes hundreds.........Sometimes just a couple=its all good
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." -Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
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Unread 02-17-2011, 09:53 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 237
Re: How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?

Finding "virgin" towns these days is very difficult . I know how to do it , but it's expensive . I talked to a Pilot in Montana , and he told me that such towns were available , but not accessible by vehicle , and that he could fly me in by helicopter ......wish I had kept his name and phone number as I might consider it today ! I don't like to keep track of how many shots , etc. etc . , too much like work , but I have done it two or three times : best ratio was about 90 % .....it was in a protected bowl-like valley and ranges were all under 400 Yards . Worst was way less than 25% ....wind was blowing so hard I literally could not stand up with my stand-up Tripod ... unless I was protected by trees , and I gave up after a short while ....just a waste of Ammo . I prefer the walk and shoot method , but could not walk well for many years . Now I can again ( at least a lot better ) , and I hope to restart this year !
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Unread 03-03-2011, 12:48 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 46
Re: How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?

Tulku: I am so glad you have regained the ability to walk better.
Thats great news.
I can remember the first satelite photo I was shown of an Indian Reservation that I used to bribe my way onto many years ago.
The Chief that showed me the photo let me take notes and make drawings of it for an hour or so - the Prairie Dog Towns were EASILY distinguished in the aerial photo - they show up white against the surrounding tan and green forests and grasslands.
I used my notes to walk my way onto many Virgin Dog Towns from secondary roads.
It is a whole nother ball game shooting on a Virgin Town than the places where Hunters get to so often!
Now that would be a hoot - getting "air-lifted" to a Dog Town!
I wonder how many Rifles you can get in a helicopter?
I was on the Tongue River in SE Montana many years ago and I had "humped" myself, a day pack full of ammo and water , a shooting mat and TWO heavy Remington 40X Rifles about 2 miles from a line shack at the end of a road.
I followed a dry creek wash (as per ranch hands instructions) down to a Virgin Town!
It was simply Varmint Hunters Heaven once I got there!
I was a bit ashamed of myself for running 100 rounds each through those two superb Rifles without cleaning them - normally I stop at 40 or 50 rounds per Rifle.
The shooting was SO good I simply could not stop when I knew the barrels were dirty.
I did though, give them plenty of time to "cool" their barrels between shots, as I searched out only the tallest and plumpest of Prairie Dogs to spend my precious bullets on.
On my way back I was coming up over the lip of the dry wash and at eye level in front of me in the cleaned out ring of an ant hill was the MOST beautiful arrowhead I had found in decades!
I literally dropped those two 40X's in the grass as I lept onto that arrowhead - like there could have been someone beat me to it!
I have that arrowhead on display in my den to this day.
What a grand day that was.
In fact I made that trip several more times in the next several years until - alas - I made the trip one more time several years ago - again on foot - and the dreaded plague had wiped the whole town out!
Not a single survivor was to be seen.
Sad day that.
I have not recently been back to that town to check and see if they have re-established themselves there yet.
Again great news on your improving capabilities.
Hold into the wind
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Unread 03-03-2011, 01:00 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 46
Re: How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?

MachV: Now that would be something - killing 250 Prairie Dogs with 100 shots!
Now I have shot into tight groups of Prairie Dogs on MANY occassions and it may be hard for folks to believe but I have several times killed 3 Dogs and a time or two killed 4 Dogs with one shot!
It takes a larger caliber, usually, to get this "blast effect of shrapnel" rolling - normally 24 caliber or bigger but I have had many multiple kills (usually two Dogs) with one shot using the 22 calibers - especially the 220 Swift!
I have not Hunted Kansas and Colorado for Prairie Dogs as yet - they are on your list though. I also have Hunted Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.
I have Hunted Utah though and there is some good shooting down there.
Have a good year!
Hold into the wind
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Unread 03-03-2011, 09:03 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 22
Re: How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?

I shot 278 in 2 hours, with 260 rounds. Unlikely to ever get into something like that again in this area. A couple comments on the cattle/prairie dog symbiosis thing: What about during the winter when the grass isn't growing? Lots of the guys in this country will not graze some of their pastures during the growing season and "stockpile" the grass for the winter season. If there is a prairie dog infestation it really cuts into what their cattle have for winter forage, and thusly increases their hay and feed expense. Also, as the prairie dogs expand and move about the pasture they leave the old burrow with all of its exposed, denuded area that is now wide open for weeds or other less desirable grass species to move into. Purple threon (sp?) is taking over some pastures that have been stripped down by prairie dogs. This is stuff that the prairie dogs won't even clip down for visibility, let alone eat. Cattle will eat if that is all that is there, but it has the nutritional value of broom straw. Prairie dogs have their place in the environment, but they do need to managed, especially in a long term, contained, grazing program. (read: private land and adjacent public land) Just my experience/thoughts/observations. ObarO
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Unread 03-05-2011, 11:00 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 237
Re: How many Prairie Dogs have you shot in one sitting?

VarmintGuy , thank you for your kind comments . Can't say I've ever seen any Arrowheads , but I will keep my eyes open from now on . Funny , the old memories that spring to mind : I remember shooting a huge Ranch in SD when the husband and wife Ranchers rode up and told us that they would be rounding up cattle and for us to stop shooting when we saw them approaching over a far off rise to our far left . We were to leave our position and go up on another rise as the cattle were shy and not used to people . An hour later , we saw them coming and did just that , leaving all our Rifles and equipment behind . Bad move . Those cattle headed hundreds of yards out of their intended path towards our equipment . I did'nt want my Rifles stomped on , so I slowly went to retrieve them . Cattle did'nt like me , so I quickly gathered up the best equipment and scampered out of the way . Ranchers were'nt too happy with my moves , but did'nt chase us off . My buddy had taken his vehicle off a steep drop and got stuck for about an hour . The sun setting was great to watch while I waited for him to return . Another time we were hunting rattle snake country . My buddy was a gunsmith in Michigan for 30 years . He was totally deaf in one ear and pretty bad in the other . He had some close scares because he could only depend on his eyesight . Speaking of Snakes , I heard the weirdest noise coming from one that I had ever heard . I was walking down a Tractor Trail in SD when I heard a noise behind me that sounded exactly like taking an old style radio and spinning the the Station knob . I actually thought it was my friend driving up benind me . A large snake came out of the grass maybe 20 feet away , and it was the only thing I could see which could have made that noise . He saw me and went right back in the grass . I have seen Badgers come right out and eat the Pdogs I have shot . Saw a big Bull Snake and Hawks do the same thing . Also Pdogs eating Pdogs a few times . Did'nt know they were meat eaters .
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