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My son hadn’t been out prairie dog shooting with me since July 18, 2019, and he had about 8 vacation days he had to use or lose so he graciously consented to go prairie dog shooting with me on June 23, 2020. He hadn’t shot his Savage 12VLP in .204 Ruger since 2019 and I hadn’t checked out where it was hitting on the paper since I cleaned it for him last year. He set up our target box at 108 yards from the pickup. His load is hBN coated 40 gr. V-Max bullets, seated .010" off the lands of his 1 in 11 twist 25" Douglas SS barrel topped off with an AAC Ranger II suppressor. I had Kevin Rayhill work his magic on this action several years ago. We use 27.2 gr. of H4895 powder, Remington 7½ primers and the muzzle velocity is 3,799 fps. We got his scope adjusted.
I took out my .20 VarTarg to shoot a few shots and adjust my scope. The action on this rifle is a RB/LP Savage Target action. I had the action timed and trued by Kevin Rayhill. The barrel on this rifle is a 24" SS X-Caliber with 1 in 11 twist. I had X-Caliber start the contour of the barrel out at a diameter of 1.250" and go that diameter for 3" and then use a straight taper down to .800" at the muzzle. I was shooting hBN coated 32 gr. V-Max bullets seated .005" into the lands. I use Lapua .221 Fireballs casings, 18.5 gr. of H4198 powder, Remington 7½ primers and the 32 gr. V-Max leaves the barrel at 3,699 fps. The barrel is a 24" SS X-Caliber with 1 in 11 twist. I made some scope adjustments and off we went to have some fun. Here’s a photo of my son carrying the target box and the box we set the target box on back to the pickup.
We left the pickup in the shade of some green ash trees and headed to the ENE. We spotted PDs to the NE of our position and agreed to count to 3 out loud and say fire and pull our triggers. He hit one that was 251 yards away and I hit one that was 150 yards away. Jeff hit another one and the next shell I tried to chamber WOULD NOT CHAMBER . My next four shells chambered fine and I hit four more in a row. I eventually tried the shell that wouldn’t chamber and it chambered just fine??? The prairie dogs were very skitterish and there were long waits between shots. We agreed that they had been shot at quite bit already this summer.
This prairie dog town is quite long (well over a mile) and fairly narrow except where it widens out with the lay of the land’s valleys. I did a lot of spotting for Jeff and he quickly got his shooting eye tuned up and hit 7 prairie dogs on his first 7 shots. He was making frequent hits from 250 to 285 yards. His longest hit of the day was at 320 yards!!! We didn’t take any still photos of the carnage his 40 gr. V-Max shells did and no photos of the carnage caused by my 32 gr. V-Max shells. Jeff did use his high-end camera to run something like 12 frames a second to get the action on some of my hits with the 32 gr. V-Max shells. Here’s a five frame collage of a prairie dog that did some very fine acrobatics before he came back to earth.
Around 11:40 a.m. I walked back to the pickup and drove east along the trail and eventually parked it in the shade of some trees where we had lunch at about 12:10 p.m. We decided we needed to rest our eyes so we took a siesta and woke up around 3:35 p.m.!!! We drove east to another parking spot in the shade and did some more shooting. Jeff decided he wanted to preserve some of the ammo I had loaded for him so he sat up on a hill and took photographs while I shot prairie dogs.
Here’s a little collage of some of the blossoms he photographed. There were some pear cactus plants that were starting to bloom too, but no photos are available.
We started our walk back to the pickup at about 7:25 p.m. and got our gear loaded into the pickup and were on our way back home at 8:10 p.m. Jeff had taken 36 shots, missed on 7 shots and nailed 29 prairie dogs. I didn’t fare too well and only hit on 18 of 24 shots. It must be due to old age and my sore back, hips, knees and ribs!!!
Here are the “Hero Photos” of Jeff and Silverfox.
I hope you enjoyed the hunt—I know we did!!!
Catch ya L8R
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George L. Dwight
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