Going on first Prairie Dog hunt 2012

Discussion in 'Varmint Hunting' started by Block City, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. Block City

    Block City Member

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    I am wanting to hear from you guys that are experianced prairie dog hunters, I live in Kentucky and have a long drive to any prairie dog town , I am buying my gear now to be ready , anything yu can tell me about the location , Rifles , Benches, Lodging , would be very helpful to me . Thanks this is my first thread on here. Merry Christmas everyone !!!!
    Thanks Again: Ricky
     
  2. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    Hello Ricky, and Welcome to LRH.

    You've opened a big can of worms, because the options are limitless:)

    I believe there are praire dogs in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Montana. There might even be some in other states that I don't know of. I am guessing that WY, CO, SD, and MT are probably the most populated with PD's, but that is a guess.

    Some guys make their own bench's, others use folding tables, some buy pre-made benches, some shoot off a bipod prone in the dirt, others shoot off the hood of pickup trucks, and others build elaborate benches mounted to trailers with umbrella's, beer kegs and BBQ's attached, again the options are limitless.

    Rifles that work best are highly accurate, not picky about ammo, not cold/heat sensitive, and shoot good even with dirty barrels. They usually resemble a benchrest gun, more often called varmint guns........the heavier the better. Something from 204 Ruger to 25-06....lots of choices in between. If you find a good town that's fairly fresh, you'll shoot alot of ammo pretty quick.....so cost of ammo and components is a consideration for some. Low recoil is a consideration for most.

    You'll probably want a scope that magnifies at least 10X, 14-18X works great, 20-24X is ok so long at the heat waves and mirage aren't too bad.

    You can spend as much as you want on rests and bags, but you don't necessarily have to. You can fill some shot bags with sand and shoot your barrel out just as fast as the guys with $1000 pedestal rests.

    Take sunscreen, bug juice, plenty of water and ammo. Don't forget the cleaning rods/solvents, ect. Binoculars are a big help IMO.

    We could discuss this subject for hours and hours.
    The Varmint Hunters Association is a good reference/magazine if you'd like to get really serious about it. I've been a member there since the early 90's.
     

  3. Block City

    Block City Member

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    Thank You S. Bruce I didnt mean to open up a can of worms LOL, but yes you were a lot of help, The recoil rifle would be a problem especially after shooting 300 rounds in a day , I am really looking at the .223 in the new Savage LRPV , I have the Ruger no1 V in .243 . I am really loooking forward to this trip , we are looking at panhandle of Texas really good , just because of distance . but dont know about PD population ?
     
  4. Browninglover1

    Browninglover1 Well-Known Member

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    I think the 223 is the ideal pdog rifle for the average person. The cost of ammo is the reason I think it's the best. You can buy super accurate black hills ammo for relatively cheap and shoot it till your barrel is so hot you can't touch it. The 223 will also create plenty of red mist out to 400 yards and hits beyond that are still very possible, the results just aren't as dramatic.

    I've shot pdogs with a 17 HMR, 22 mag, 223, 22-250, 243, 6mm, and a 300 WSM. I think you'll want a 22 lr, 17 hmr, or 22 mag to carry with you in the truck so you can shoot the little bounders up close and save a little money. If I had a dedicated pdog rig for high volume shooting it would be a 223. If the pdogs are few and far between then I'd take whatever rifle I have and get some good practice with it.
     
  5. Block City

    Block City Member

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    Thank You , BrowningLover your reply is a very good assurance to me about the .223 . Where can i buy the Black Hills Ammo ? If i decided to fly out and ship my ammo thru the mail and send my rifles with me on plane you think that would be reliable to have everything there when im there and ready for it ?
     
  6. Browninglover1

    Browninglover1 Well-Known Member

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    You can buy Black Hills through most large sporting goods stores like Sportsmans Warehouse, Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas etc. You might find another ammo that your gun likes really well that's even cheaper, but Black Hills is truly great stuff and has shot well in all guns I've tried it in.

    Depending on where you're going to hunt I would just buy the ammo from an online store and have it shipped to wherever you will be staying, or if you will be hunting in an area that's close to one of the good store I'd just buy it locally and save yourself shipping costs/hassels.
     
  7. tulku

    tulku Well-Known Member

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    Ricky , your choice of a Savage 223 is good for all the reasons posted above . Before you go buying a ton of Ammo , make sure that your Rifle likes it . It may and it may not . Saying that , I've seen Black Hills Ammo work well in a friends Savage after he ran out of his handloads in S. Dakota . I've seen it for Sale all over SD and Montana . Don't know which Bullets they offer now , but pick a Hollow Point or Polytip Bullet . I like 40 Gr. Vmaxes for my 223 . A good Laser Rangefinder is a big aid . A used Leica 1200 will serve you well and is seen on this Boards Classifieds fairly often . Try the different types of shooting and see what you like , whether it's with a Bipod on the ground ( be real careful what you lay on .....lots of stuff will sting you ) , off a Bench , off the hood of your vehicle ( watch the Paint & Mirrors ) . I much prefer walking ( when I am able ) and shooting off a stand-up tripod . Get yourself a good pair of Sunglasses and take a lot of water . Get a set of really detailed Maps ....the BLM Maps are very good . When I was pressed for time ( like when I was working ) , I picked a Big City near where I wanted to Hunt . Went to the Library , got a phone book out and called one of the Sporting Goods Stores and looked for one which would accept my "stuff"'. Don't know what the Rules are now , but I shipped my Guns & Ammo to myself in care of the Store . I did that well ahead of time and everything was waiting for me there . Once you go Pdoggen you won't want to quit !
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  8. Block City

    Block City Member

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    Hey Thanks , that is great idea on the shipping your ammo and guns to yourself in care of sporting goods store. If i could fly i know i couldnt take everything i need like if i drove , but we are talking atleast 1500 miles each way that is 4 days on road that is lot of hunting time i could be doing if already at place. It would be nice to meet with someone that is already familiar with hunting prairie dogs and the places to hunt . Maybe something will come between now and then .... Thanks Again , stay in touch maybe we can do some shooting sometime ... Ricky in Kentucky
     
  9. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    The 223 and 243 are both good choices in caliber. I've shot dogs with both.
    Most serious doggers (myself included) load their own ammo for not only best accuracy, but lower cost.

    The 243 is definately cheaper to load your own, but some 223 is a good deal and hard to beat their prices by handloading.

    Black Hills is a good brand to try, I've used it myself in my AR's.
    Cabelas sells it, so does Midway. You might also call First Stop Guns (605) 341-5211.........they stock alot of it and might ship you whatever you want.

    UltraMax also is located in Rapid City, SD and they make alot of 223 ammo. They seem to be one of the most affordable brands out there. Midway and Cabelas also sell it, I think Natchez does too.

    If you want to shoot factory ammo in the 223, you might try a box or two of both BH and Ultramaxs' stuff and see which shoots the best groups in your rifle.......then buy a bunch. You're looking for the tightest groups possible at 200 to 300 yds. The status quo "1/2 minute" rifle will struggle when the dogs get beyond 400 yds.

    Use the 243 if it's windy, you'll know when it's too windy for the little 223, when it's taking 4 shots per dog just to get the wind figured out. You may not get to experience that in Texas, but it's not uncommon to have to shoot in 15-20 mph winds in Wyoming and South Dakota. The 223 with "normal" weight bullets will blow off about 1" at 300 yds for every 1 mph of wind. If we misjudge the wind by only 2mph, that's very likely a miss.........................the 243 with 100-107 grn bullets is only blown off about 1/2" for every 1mph at 300 yds...........twice as good in the wind is another way to look at it.

    I'd say the average dog is about 3" wide when standing upright. Some are only 2", others are 5", but 3" is a good average to use.

    Now you're beginning to see how a gun that shoots 2" groups, and is blown off course 2 more inches really easy by a measly 2mph wind, makes it tough to hit a 3" wide dog at 400 yds............that's exactly why I say "use the ammo that shoots the smallest groups at 200 or 300 yds"

    Good Luck, Happy to try and answer any questions regarding prarie dog shooting. It just might take me a while to get back with you.
     
  10. Armed in Utah

    Armed in Utah Well-Known Member

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    You need at least two rifles for the trip...223 & 6BR will work just fine...Savage of couse
    These two are very accurate....economical to shoot...26 grs powder in 223...31 in the BR
    Heavy is good...my p/dog rigs are Savage s/shots with Pac Nor tubes....average from 14# to nearly 19#...handloading your ammo is the only way...especially with 2-300 rd mornings....rimfires do not interest me much...I do shoot a 17 M2 once or twice a summer...only in a very infested need to remove field(s)...my shooting will range from 300-1000 yrds with appropiate calibers....20 Vartarg up to 6.5x55...my newest barrel being built is a 9 twist 20 BR...shooting the super flat .381 BC 55's...
    Once you shoot p/dogs it gets addicting...I've been at it 16 yrs or so pretty steady...always look forward to it every summer...remember some states have a 'season'..usually April 15 thru June 15 th is closed on public land....as in Utah...you have plenty of time to gather gear...
     
  11. Armed in Utah

    Armed in Utah Well-Known Member

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    Once dialed in....keep shootin'

    20 Vartarg @ 520 yds.......

    [​IMG]
     
  12. strombeckj

    strombeckj Well-Known Member

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    A .223 is always a good bet in the PD field. A buddy of mine buys 50gr Federal HP's @ $86.00 for 200 at wally world. If your going to reload then there are many other great calibers. In factory rigs a .204 is hard to beat for lack of recoil and performs very close to a 22-250 out to 500 yards. The .221 Fireball and 17 Fireball are also nice PD rounds, they just don't have the reach and work better for a 2nd rifle. Part of the joy in PD's is watching the hit so my PD guns are heavy or wear muzzle breaks. I have set fields I hunt and most of it is done via shooting mat, elbow pads and bi-pod. I will also use a Coyote Jake's bench and Leica CRF when in the PD field. Make sure you get some trigger time and know your rifle and round combo otherwise your just burning $$ with every shot. Most shots are at least 200 yards on PD fields that see any use, the exception to this is late spring and early summer when the pups are out... but they are also about the size of a salt and pepper shaker, so again a accurate rifle is a must.

    Good luck!

    Jon
     
  13. Kurt

    Kurt Well-Known Member

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    Only about 1200 miles from lousiville to great sd pd shooting. My brother has drove from charlotte in 24 hrs so really not that far. it is nice being spoiled and driving a mile to multiple dog towns. Ammo ammo and more ammo is a must. the wind likes to blow here and you never know if it will be 30 or 100 in june so come prepared. Bring any thing from a .22 to as big as you want as going long as you want can be done out here.
     
  14. Block City

    Block City Member

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    Thanks , i will look into that , But my friend and his brother of New York state is going to drive and pull trailer with all the supplies are going (both retired) and im going to fly and meet them in Peorie,Sd .....