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ND Prairie Dog Hunt on 5-29-2020

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31 May 2020, 22:29
ND Prairie Dog Hunt on 5-29-2020
My pain level is keeping me from doing many of the things I like to do, but my aversion to pain could not keep me from going out on a prairie dog hunt last Friday. I am still suffering from the pain, but it was worth it!!!

It has been a loooooooong time time since I was last out shooting prairie dogs—October 17, 2019, to be precise!! I noticed a couple Board members were wondering if I was still alive because I hadn’t made any posts recently. I am still ALIVE and I did manage to get out shooting a few prairie dogs on Friday, May 29, 2020. I was going to leave town a little earlier than usual, but I had a few unexpected things pop up and didn’t manage to leave town until 11:21 a.m. The temperature was 61º and there was a slight SE wind. I arrived at my usual parking spot for the wind direction and started to get my gear out. When I lifted the Schwinn cart out of the pickup box, I said “OH #@$%#!!!” Both tires were 110% FLAT!! I was a bit perplexed because I had aired up both tires about a week ago before I lifted the cart into the pickup box. No problem, that’s why I carry a 12-volt portable air compressor. I got that out and aired the tires up to about 50# each and put the compressor back into my pickup. I think I’ll put some Green Slime in them to see it that will solve the air leakage problem. While I was loading the cart a couple noisy prairie dogs received 25 gr. V-Max sleeping pills from me. When I shot the second PD, I thought the bullet hit rather high so I set a target out at 100 yards. I did a little tweaking on the scope settings. It was 1/2" high and a whisker and a half to the right. I hauled the target box back to the pickup and put it up in the pickup box. I loaded shells in the shell holder on the stock and filled the magazine and set the rifle across the fence.

The rifle I was shooting was built on a Jerry Stiller Predator action. I installed a Jewell trigger and adjusted it to 18 ounces of pull. I placed a wide aluminum trigger show on it. It has a 24" stainless steel super match grade Pac-Nor barrel in medium Palma contour on it. It IS HEAVY! It has a 1 in 9 twist, three groove barrel and was chambered and installed by my gunsmith.

The chamber has a .197" neck and I’m using neck-turned Nosler brass and Tula Small Rifle Magnum primers. My gunsmith added some 5/16" flutes, threaded the muzzle for my suppressors, and put his fancy scrolling work on the outside of the barrel. This rifle was rebarreled the winter of 2018 and I had shot 232 bullets down the barrel before today.

The scope is a Leupold VX-III with 6-20X power and has a 40mm objective lens. It has the duplex reticle with fine crosshairs, side focus, and the tube is silver in color to match the SS barrel and silver colored action. The load I settled on for this rifle and the 25 gr. V-Max bullets coated with hBN is 21.9 gr. of IMR 8208 XBR and I seat the bullets .010" off the lands. (Please use caution and DO NOT START with 21.9 gr. of 8208. Start at least a grain below that weight charge and work your way up slowly.) I used the same reamer to chamber a Stainless Steel Lilja barrel that has a 1 in 9 twist and 4 grooves and that one is on a Remington 700 BDL action. Primers for both rifles are the Tula Small Rifle Magnum primers. I also use the same weight powder charge for both rifles and the Lilja barrel gives me 3,869 fps while the Pac-Nor barrel gives me a muzzle velocity 186 fps faster at 4,055 fps. I could use the brass interchangeably, but I keep the brass separate and won’t mix it.

Anyway, it was 1:55 p.m. when I started walking to do my hunt and I already went 2 for 2 shots. Business was slow and I only had 4 shots by 2:03 p.m. I stopped shooting to take some photos of blossoms that were all over the prairie. I’ll put together a collage of blossom photos for you.

Check out the blossom collage above. I took those photos with my Samsung Galaxy 10 cell phone. I was finished taking blossom photos by 2:50 p.m. I had taken 14 shots and killed 16 prairie dogs. There were very few pups up out of the dens. I had my lunch and took a 40 minute nap. I went 10 for 10 shots after lunch on distances from 40.6 yards out to 150 yards. At 4:30 I started walking to the west and used the washout water had hewed into the prairie as my low spot to sneak up on more PDs to the west. That worked pretty well. I could pop up out of the washout and pick off prairie dogs over about a 225º arc. Then I’d drop down, hike a ways further west and repeat the scenario. It was about 6:30 when I started my walk back to the pickup. I did shoot a few more PDs on the way back. My total number of shots at prairie dogs was 46. I killed 44 singles and one confirmed double for a total of 46 dead prairie dogs for those 46 shots. I thought I might have had a couple more doubles, but when I got to each mound, I only found one dead PD so no proof, therefore I don’t count the double unless I find lots of blood.

I stopped by the landowner’s home before I drove away and thanked him for letting me shoot prairie dogs on his land. I started driving for home at 7:00 p.m. and was parked in my garage by 7:45 p.m. I know some of you seem to like the “Hero Photos” I often post with my stories so this one is for you. Here’s a photo of the rifle I used today and one of my many satisfied prairie dog customers.

Catch ya L8R
02 June 2020, 04:01
Thanks for the report and the photos.

I'm headed out this week with my son and two grandsons for our favorite spot in the Texas Panhandle. The rifles we'll be taking range from a Hornet and a .20 Vartarg up to our "big guns", being a couple of .222 Magnums. The landowner friend where we hunt reports plenty of dogs and favorable conditions.
03 June 2020, 01:27
heading to wyoming with 3 grandsons and 1 son thursday need to check and see if dogs pie from a high velocity 22 or covid 19 first
06 June 2020, 20:21
Forgot to take any photos, but we had a great hunt. There were plenty of targets until the mid-day sun got too hot for them, but even then if you had patience an opportunity would raise its head every couple of minutes.

Two things I've come to value little in PD hunting: Big calibers (the 6mm's and larger) and high power scopes (more than about 14X). Once the sun and mirage sets in shooting beyond the range of centerfire .22's is a fool's errand, anyway. So the "big gun" and powerful scope contribute little. You can't see through that mirage at 500 yards, much less effectively aim. Besides, the range of .22 centerfires, even the smaller ones, is effectively very little less than larger calibers.

A scope between 10X and 14X provides ample magnification and its larger field of view allows you to find the target in the sight picture faster. Combined with a light-recoiling round it also lets you keep the target in the sight picture when you shoot, which allows you the gratification of seeing where your shot landed for yourself. On the other hand, if you're shooting a .243 with a 24X scope you'll have to have someone else tell you where your shot landed and if it was successful.

Actually, the two favorite rifles of the several we took on our latest trip were a .221 Fireball built on a Sako L461 and a .20 Vartarg, also on a Sako L461. Both wore 4-12X scopes. No recoil, call your own shots, slow to heat the barrel, and cheap to feed.
07 June 2020, 04:14
"Pa. Mike"
Glad you got to get out and have some action. Nice write-up , thanks for sharing!
10 June 2020, 00:41
wedidn't do to well - winds 30mph+ dogs don't like wind
13 June 2020, 05:04
Prairie Dog Hunt on 5-29-2020

Good for you, gett'en old ain't for sissies, we just have to put the pain away and don't let the old man in!! Keep moving and we,ll meet one day in the great hereafter! tu2

Ray Atkinson
Atkinson Hunting Adventures
10 Ward Lane,
Filer, Idaho, 83328
15 June 2020, 16:49
Thanks for the report. Nice pics. I was able to get out PD shooting in mid Nay, Wyoming. Took six rifles and shot about 650 rounds in 1.5 days. Lots of carnage.

NRA Patron member
26 June 2020, 07:38
K Evans
Thanks for the report, I've yet to do a prairie dog hunt...threatened to several times but haven't. I, too, have a .17 Rem, thought not as fancy as yours and it shoots both 20 and 25 grain bullets extremely well. I'd like to take that rifle and an old Rem 788 in .223 and try my luck on the critters. I believe there are some places around Lubbock that allow PD hunting, I'll see if I can get something figured out.

Karl Evans