1500 Yard Prairie Dogs

This past March, Eric Wallace and I were doggin’ outside of Gillette, Wyoming, and I was able to have another “first” with one of my handguns. We were really working on getting a 1,500 yard plus dog for Eric with one of his specialty handguns, but he ran out of ammo. One of the things that I haven’t mentioned yet is that many times the spotter gets to have more fun than the shooter, since he gets to see the whole show. I know that many of you can spot your own shots with rifles, but there is just something enjoyable about spotting for your partner.


One of Eric’s shots was so close, it hit just below the dog and flipped him in the air. At first, I thought he hit it and I got so excited I almost knocked over his Leica spotting scope. Once he was done, I got out my 7mm Dakota center-grip XP-100 that Kirby Allen built for me. Using what ammo I had with me, I shot till I was almost out of 200 grain Wildcats, but connected on a small prairie dog with three rounds left at 1450 yards while shooting off of a Harris BR bipod. That was my first long range bipod dog, and that made it even more rewarding. Optic is a Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 8.5-25 with Holland’s ART. I still have a goal of a 2000 yard plus prairie dog with a specialty handgun, but it hasn’t happened yet.

One other trick I learned as a matter of necessity when using lower power scopes is that you can extend distances accurately with lower magnification scopes if you do not try to quarter the prairie dog with the crosshair. Instead, run a click or two (depends on your click adjustment) to the right or left and the same with your elevation so that the dog is now on your right edge of your vertical reticle and the dog now is in full view with the top of your horizontal line at the ground/bottom of the dog. Now your reticle is not covering up a portion or almost all of your target and it is easier to make small adjustments.

If a 1500 yard connection on prairie dogs is possible with a specialty handgun, just be assured that even further distances can be accomplished with a rifle. For many prairie dog shooters it is hard to go from a high body count mindset to just a couple for several days in the field. If you dedicate the time and effort, I think you will be rewarded richly with achieving some long range dog goals that in times previous you thought were all but impossible.

*General reminders and recommendations for 1,500 yard prairie dog shooting:*

Sub quarter minute accuracy, but you can get it done with a sub-half MOA gun.

When accuracy falls apart, remember it may not be the conditions that are always causing it.

Have cleaning gear and basic maintenance items with you with a spare table for such maintenance.

If limited on brass, take your loading equipment with you.

Have a sturdy bench with a comfortable stool that is adjustable for height.

Solid front and rear rest.

Bone up on bench rest techniques so as to take yourself out of the shot and let your gun do the work.

Higher magnification rifle scopes (I recommend 20x as a minimum) with a reticle that will allow precise aiming.

Have enough internal MOA in your scope and or through your base or rings.

Get the best spotting scope that you or your partner can afford.

Use heavy or solid tripods.

Ideally have your spotter set-up as close to directly behind as possible to better spot your shot and he/she will enjoy the vapor trail too.

The hearing enhanced hearing protection is a great help in communicating.

Always wear eye protection.

Set aside enough time and remain determined to reach your goal.

Try to pick a time of the year when the weather is more likely to be in your favor.

Choose a cartridge that will have enough velocity combined with the better ballistic coefficients for the caliber used.

Learn to use the reticle you have to your advantage as mentioned above.

Don’t shoot the dog at the mound, but away from it, so you don’t lose it down the hole if it falls into the hole or does not die immediately.

Ernie Bishop resides in Gillette, Wyoming, where he serves as a preacher. He enjoys long range hunting for varmints and big game with handguns. Ernie also uses his specialty handguns in tactical style matches and in 1,000 yard competitions once or twice a year.
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