Where are the prairie dogs?

Discussion in 'Varmint Hunting' started by Dogmann, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. Dogmann

    Dogmann Member

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    Jul 15, 2013
    Hi guys. I usually go to winner sd and the rosebud for prairie dog shooting but I can't justify the long trip this year due to the low numbers of PDs in that area.

    Any suggestions of another state / area for good PD shooting?
     
  2. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Well-Known Member

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    Mar 2, 2009
    I'd look to WY or MT. Some are out there, just need fresh reports. My last trip was in the Murdo, SD area, mixed reports lately though.
     

  3. mitchell

    mitchell Well-Known Member

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    Dec 30, 2010
    i think number are really low everywhere due to two really rough summers . the towns i shoot here in colorado are nearly died out. only places i get good shooting is in the river bottoms
     
  4. tuck2

    tuck2 Well-Known Member

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    Plague and poison has destroyed whole prairie dog towns in the area I live. The shooting is very limited compared to what I shot in the mid 2000 years.
     
  5. notajeep

    notajeep Well-Known Member

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    Dec 22, 2011
    Not what I'm wanting to hear. I'm thinking about putting together a PD hunt in Wyoming for next spring with my son. Never hunter PD's anywhere other than Western Kansas. Hopefully I can find something that way.
     
  6. Triple BB

    Triple BB Well-Known Member

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    The dog town I usually hunt was almost void of dogs. Not sure if its disease or the drought. Wasn't much for green growth or water a few weeks ago...
     
  7. FAL Shot

    FAL Shot Well-Known Member

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    The Musselshell River Valley of central Montana has one of the highest concentrations of prairie dog towns in the USA. There is a dogtown on Queen's Point Road south of Highway 12 near Melstone that is 3 miles long and swarming with PD's. There is a dogtown on 4 Mile Road between Musselshell and Flatwillow that is swarming with PD's as far as your binoculars can see. This is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Many local ranchers want you to blow away as many PD's as you possibly can, and will take you to dogtowns off the beaten path. I have access to a 2-mile long dogtown north of Ryegate on a private ranch through my brother-in-law. Way more PD's than ammo I can afford to shoot them with. I use everything from a BSA PCP air rifle to a .204 Ruger. The key is to gain the rancher's trust and use rifles and ammo that doesn't threaten cattle. Small calibers with lightweight frangible bullets are preferred. About the only Weatherby Magnum and .25-06 brass I have ever picked up was at prairie dog towns, and ranchers frown on the use of such rifles and ammo near their cattle. You can use such rifles on BLM land in the area from April until big game hunting starts in October. BLM lands are generally not as good as private ranches, as the PD's get shot at by everybody using everything. From Harlowton on downriver to the Charles Russell game preserve is prime PD territory. A lot of the dogtowns will be far from the river, especially north of the river. Don't expect to see many above 4000' elevation. Bull Mountains south of the Musselshell River are much more limited in dogtowns, but the one on Queen's Point Road is an exception. There is an outfitter in Winnett who guides on many of these large dogtowns on private ranches. All the creek valleys that feed into the lower and middle Musselshell River will have large dogtowns. A blind man with a beating stick could kill a lot of PD's in my area. My dog likes to grab them and toss them around. I have had better luck with killing PD's with a CZ 452 .22LR shooting subsonic ammo than with my .204 Ruger, as far as numbers killed are concerned. In a town that hasn't seen hunters, air rifles and subsonic .22LR don't spook PD's and you can shoot them about as fast as you can load ammo. Save the centerfires for when the PD's get savvy and you have to take them out at long range. That's fun too, but the close range carnage with a subsonic .22LR in an unsophisticated dogtown is more my thing.

    But still, in the summertime, I'd still rather be fishing the Musselshell for catfish and smallmouth bass than running up a big ammo bill on worthless PD's. They taste a lot better than PD's. PD's these days are for practicing my shooting skills for the big game hunting season in the fall. This place is full of nice mule deer and antelope, and elk and whitetail deer as well. PD hunting is a favor to ranchers to gain big game hunting access in the fall. I would also rather kill one grouse or pheasant and get to eat it than kill 100 worthless prairie dogs. Once you have killed them day in and day out, they are just a worthless rat that lives on the prairie, and it becomes rather boring. Fried bass and catfish, and the Musselshell River provides outstanding specimens of both, are a lot more interesting than a dead prairie dog.
     
  8. tuck2

    tuck2 Well-Known Member

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    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 .
     
  9. FAL Shot

    FAL Shot Well-Known Member

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    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: Aug 9, 2013