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Varmint Hunting Techniques For Prairie Dogs, Woodchucks, etc.


Ranging prairie dogs

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Unread 05-07-2011, 08:55 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 10
Ranging prairie dogs

My brother and I just went prairie dog shooting for the first time. We went in far eastern Colorado on fields provided by Rebel Ridge Outfitters in Syracuse, KS. We had a terrific time and learned much about something we had only previously read about in magazines. We quickly learned the limitations of our firearms and optics. One area where I was very disappointed was in the performance of my Nikon Hunter 550 rangefinder. I couldn't get hits on anything on the prairie and there was little except a few patches of white weeds to use for a ranging target. I couldn't get a range on a prairie dog at even 100 yards. Are my expectations for laser rangefinders too high? What can I use to range these varmits against the prairie background?
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Unread 05-08-2011, 12:07 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Colorado, Front Range
Posts: 561
Re: Ranging prairie dogs

I use a Leica CRF 1200 and can range a pdog out to 600 yards or so, any longer and I need to range something else like yuka. IMHO Leica RF's are the best bang for the buck.

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Unread 05-08-2011, 01:58 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Timber Lake, South Dakota
Posts: 306
Re: Ranging prairie dogs

Another option is to use a mil-dot reticle. But that has it's limitations too on such a small target.
Indian Country Lawman
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Unread 05-08-2011, 08:17 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Colorado
Posts: 341
Re: Ranging prairie dogs

My Leica 1200 CRF has ranged pdogs out to 723 yards. I haven't tried ranging any farther than that. My friends have the Nikon model you have, and they also have trouble ranging from time to time.
If you like your hunting rifle, you can keep your hunting rifle.
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Unread 05-08-2011, 09:01 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Nebraska
Posts: 410
Re: Ranging prairie dogs

I use the Leica 1200, one thing I have learned to do is to try to range off the mound or one close to the PD's. I can get out past 900 yds by doing this without much trouble but if there is nothing to range off and all you have is grass with a dog in it, it can get a bit tough. Probably pulls your ranging down to around 600 yds then. It can keep two doggers pretty busy ranging and shooting but if you trade off and one shoots and the other ranges and then switch it works pretty good. Keeps barrels cool though which is good.
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Unread 05-08-2011, 10:12 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Superior, WI
Posts: 118
Re: Ranging prairie dogs

I have found that laser Range finders are practically useless for long range prairie dog shooting. If the dog is sitting on a mound and the grass is short you might have a chance. You will have to give up a lot of shooting when the dogs are feeding out in the grass on a flat prairie.

The best solution I have found is one of the WW2 optical range finders, such as:

The 12 power optic allows you to range prairie dogs sitting in the grass out to 1200 yards with ease. Gets a little tougher after that. Sitting on a mound would be even farther.

The one I just bought from SAMCO was in great shape considering that it was made in 1947 and had been sitting in a warehouse for all these years. There was some green funk on the brass buckles and leather harness but it cleaned up with a little vinegar and a soft brush.
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Unread 05-09-2011, 07:56 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,055
Re: Ranging prairie dogs

I use the leica 1200 , and have good luck with it out to about 800 yds. The biggest cause of "failure to range" is the operator. If you try to "hand hold" the range finder at long distance the beam can't stay on target. I use a tripod from my "mini" camcorder to hold the leica when p'doggin', and that allows far better ranging.
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