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Varmint Hunting Techniques For Prairie Dogs, Woodchucks, etc.


Where are the prairie dogs?

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Unread 08-06-2013, 07:18 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: About 60 miles from Wyo and Colo
Posts: 94
Re: Where are the prairie dogs?

FAL SHOT: I started shooting prairie dogs in 1949 with a 22 RF rifle. I too have found that prairie dogs become muzzle blast smart. When shooting a 243 Win rifle I have seen them head to their holes 400 some yards away. Over the years I have looked for better prairie dog shooting cartridges. So far I have shot them with a 17 HM2, 17 HMR, 17 Fireball, 17 Rem, 204 Ruger, 22 LR RF, 22WMR, 22 Hornet, 221 Fireball, 222 Rem, 223 Rem, 22-250 Rem, 220 Swift, 243 Win, and some big game rifles. I have a CZ 17 Hornet on order and will also get a 17 WSM RF if one is made in a rifle I like. In any year the most p dogs I shoot is with the little rimfire rifles and am very fond of the 17 HM2, and 17 HMR rifles. During the fall and winter I take out the 22 and 243 rifles to see how far out I can hit them, but the most kills each year is with the rim fire rifles. Now ,Plague, and poison, in the area I live has greatly reduced my shooting .
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Unread 08-09-2013, 09:54 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Montana Plains
Posts: 289
Re: Where are the prairie dogs?

Most ranchers around here have given up on poisoning PD's. It just reduces their numbers for a while and one rancher told me he got sick even though he applied the poison by the rules with all safety gear. Rabbits and squirrels are considered varmints in Montana with no restrictions. Don't like to eat squirrels, but grew up eating wild cottontails. Hunting rabbits with night vision gear is legal in Montana, and it actually beats PD hunting in my book. Owls moved in several years back and almost wiped out the rabbits. Owls are gone now and the rabbits are rebuilding. Will shift my focus to them. Have a real nice Hawke 50mm night scope with illuminated reticle on a .25 cal BSA Lonestar magnum PCP air rifle, and my Russian night vision spotting scope.

Since .17HMR ammo is available with FMJ bullets from Winchester, it should make the ultimate small game rifle as there is more speed and accuracy without tearing up a lot of meat. Of course, I can always download the .223 Rem and use FMJ bullets, but the .17HMR would be superior as you want to do as little meat damage as possible. If I get another rimfire rifle it will be chambered in .17HMR. However, it is still supersonic and will spook small game a lot more than the subsonic Wolf Match Target ammo I like to use. I discovered that WMT was the only affordable subsonic ammo that would reliably cycle a Ruger 10/22, and it shoots superby in a CZ 452 and is no louder than a magnum PCP air rifle. Using a suppressor is a waste of money and useless weight when you shoot WMT out of a long barrelled bolt rifle. At distance, the ballistic crack from Velocitor or Stinger bullets is far more noticeable than muzzle blast. A Benjamin Marauder in .25 cal using heavy pellets would be an ultimate game getter for night hunting as the shrouded barrel means the loudest sound you hear is the ping of the hammer opening the air valve. .25 cal PCP air rifles put down small game even better than subsonic .22LR, in my experience, due to the bigger diameter pellet. FPE is a useless issue as the .25 cal pellets have always exited everything I ever shot with them, at any range, up to jackrabbit and skunk sized varmints. When shooting water filled milk cartons, they outpenetrate .22LR Stinger by a vast amount. (5 milk cartons vs 3 milk cartons) They are great for big varmints like skunks and big jackrabbits. Some guys shoot coyotes with them.

Night hunting is common in England, and the Hawke scopes have a ballistic reticle specifically designed for subsonic .22LR and magnum PCP air rifles. I use the SR6 reticle as it is best at around 6X. The SR12 reticle would require 12X which is not bright at night even in a 50mm scope. Every tick mark past zero works out to exactly 10 yards with H&N Baracuda or JSB pellets. Nick Jenkinson, an English rimfire and air rifle shooting champion, designed the Hawke SR reticles. The illuminator on my Hawke scope has a very useful range of very dim to very bright in 12 steps.

Of course, PD's are not out at night, but the Hawke SR6 ballistic reticle was very useful at dogtowns when paired with a laser rangefinder. Unlike my Burris scope, the ranging marks on the AO ring are incredibly inaccurate on the Hawke scope. In good light, under 100 yards, the 4.5-14X Burris Timberline scope on the CZ 452 agrees with my laser rangefinder, and if shooting subsonic inside 100 yards (which is long range shooting for small game in dense cover) there is no need to pack a rangefinder. However, the reticle tick marks were not made for subsonic use like the Hawke rimfire/air rifle scopes, so a lot of interpolation is in order.

Last edited by FAL Shot; 08-09-2013 at 10:25 AM. Reason: add info
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