Ranging prairie dogs

Discussion in 'Varmint Hunting' started by tmarvin, May 7, 2011.

  1. tmarvin

    tmarvin Member

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    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?
     
  2. strombeckj

    strombeckj Well-Known Member

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    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.

    Jon
     

  3. roaddog1m

    roaddog1m Well-Known Member

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    Another option is to use a mil-dot reticle. But that has it's limitations too on such a small target.
     
  4. ilscungilli

    ilscungilli Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  5. BillR

    BillR Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  6. jerrschmitt

    jerrschmitt Well-Known Member

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    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:
    http://http://www.samcoglobal.com/acc-range.html

    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.
     
  7. MTBULLET

    MTBULLET Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  8. KennyA12

    KennyA12 Member

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    I have been using a Bushnell 800 R.F. for PD's and sage rats for years, but I always range the mound and have never had a problem. I have never tried past 500 yds. as I probably couldn't hit at that disance anyway. I'm not a longrange shooter, but enjoy reading about it.
     
  9. SAVAGE22-243AI

    SAVAGE22-243AI Well-Known Member

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    We have tryed all types of range finders, most are good for 400 yds or less. But if you walk out into field before you start and range your buddy or truck then mark distance with flags or paint on mounts, that works great, because a dog ranged at 616 came out to 492 measured or ranged back to truck.
    We don't use range finders anymore, we just shoot them from experence. Spot for each other and it doesn't take long to remember your hold over for the distance. Last week I hit three at 715 yds in Wyoming, couple at 550, a bunch at 460 to 490, and then lots of smaller dogs at the 180 to 300 yd range. Also a measuring wheel works good to check ranges when checking you finder....................gun)

    My friends this year used the best built tables you have ever seen, used range finders, wind meters, ballistic charts, levels on table and rifles, take 5 to 15 minutes per shot, then squeeze the trigger on their 30 pound rifles and miss! From .204's to 6.5x284, experence in the field beat out the tectical equipment this year...............have fun Dogging!gun)

    Their kill ratios were 15% and 22%, mine was 33%, not bad for the wind, rain!
    We all had a wonderful time in Wyoming.gun)
     
  10. SBruce

    SBruce Well-Known Member

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    Ranging the prarie dog itself is very difficult. Even with the 1200 and 1600 yd laser rangefinders. Sure, we can get mounds and grass and sage at far distances but the dogs themselves are just too small. Some of the pups right now aren't any bigger than a pair of pliers!

    Flat ground is very decieving. The rangefinders really struggle then. Too often we get a reading from some grass or mound or brush that's either in front of or behind the actual dog. Having some elevation and "looking down" on the town will help though.

    As Savage22-243AI mentioned, first round hits are not that common in the dog towns. Especially when the wind is blowing 15-25 mph.

    I went out and did some shooting yesterday in those winds. Even though the furthest edge of the town was only 400 yds, it was taking at least 1 shot, usually 2 just to get the wind dope figured for that particular dog. If you get close without getting a hit, they'll go down their holes and then we gotta find another one.........then it starts all over again, because that one is a different distance or angle or both.
     
  11. jerrschmitt

    jerrschmitt Well-Known Member

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    33%? Just think how much better it would be if you used that field experience with the high tech equipment.

    The human eye does not allow a person to accurately judge distance much over 300 yards.

    Trying to remember ballistic tables for three different rifles in the field is pretty tough.

    Until you have used a level on your rifle, you won't believe how off plumb your hold can be, and how much difference it makes in long range shooting.

    Experience in the field is wonderful but if you're shooting a new field, the equipment will make the difference
     
  12. SAVAGE22-243AI

    SAVAGE22-243AI Well-Known Member

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  13. FAL Shot

    FAL Shot Well-Known Member

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    I use a Bushnell Scout 1000 and it is adequate, but a Leica 1600 would be much nicer, or even a Leupold RX1000.

    The Ruger .204 is my favorite PD caliber. I don't waste ammo on very long shots. I sight in at 200 yards, and rarely take a shot past 250 yards. I stalk through a PD town rather than setting up a benchrest. You'll get more PD's that way. Find a rifle that shoots like a laser beam.

    Our ground is slightly rolling in most spots, and once you learn a town you know where to sneak up over rises.

    Wind is worse than bullet drop calculation. With a ballistic reticle, you can get a failry good idea of range on an average sized prairie dog. My scope has windage marks on either side of the crosshairs.
     
  14. SAVAGE22-243AI

    SAVAGE22-243AI Well-Known Member

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    Our last PD hunt in WY late this year really messed up our range finders that my friends have. A Bushnell 800yd Binocular and Bushnell 1000yd range finder. We went back to same location as last hunt, set up same place and range finders ranged different ranges. Short ranges became 150 to 250 yds farther and shorter ranges became very short. We knew the old ranges because we wrote them down.
    The last day of hunt the range finders wouldn't range at all for half the day. Slight overcast, warm. We pulled out the bulky military range finder and got what we wanted.

    Colorado hunt shot PD at 1200 to 1400 yds but couldn't range with finder even at broken distances. Gave up and couldn't walk it either due to terrian.

    Three hunts this year and broke again.............having fun!gun)