What’s all the Hype with Prairie Dogs Anyway….?

Are you looking at me?!

     What is all the hype with hunting prairie dogs?  I don’t know, but when mentioning a prairie dog shoot to a buyer or rep, they are all over that!  When can we go?!   I have never done this before and had reservations about doing this…since it isn’t something you actually eat around here.  They are very destructive for ranchers and other agricultural properties.  They live in burrows and have 1-6 entrances per burrow.  The entrances, ranging in size from 4-12″ in diameter, can be what they term craters or dome craters, where they mound the dirt about a foot high.    They live in large colonies or “towns” than can cover hundreds of acres.      Plus I figured shooting them on the plains is better than poisoning them like some urban developments do and then having possible poisoning to the hawks, Golden Eagles, fox, badgers, ferrets, Burrowing Owls, and other  predators that are going to dine on these tasty little fur balls.   So, in the circle of life, I deemed this not so terrible after all.  Oh, did I mention they are susceptible to bubonic plague where many wild colonies have been wiped out from time to time.     So much for that… my boss in past years has hosted some OEM accounts to prairie dog hunts in Wyoming and they still talk about how much fun they had!  Apparently this is pretty big business in Wyoming..and I’m sure parts of Colorado and a few other states in the region.  But I was surprised to find out they actually have “guided prairie dog hunts”…tons of outfitters up there that conduct these, some complete with lodging, meals, and they combine it with perhaps a little fishing in the area over the summer months.  I had no idea this was such a big deal.  I mean, growing up back east, we shot squirrels…but I don’t think there are “guides for that”.  

    We had one distributor in particular that just grew phenomenally last year for us!  The Buyer there has done a fantastic job!….oh…and our rep too.  I invited them to join us this summer for a prairie dog hunt.  Their eyes lit up immediately!  They’re in!       Now I need to get geared up for this…I only have a tricked out 10/22 that I use in competitions…ok for closer yardages, but I didn’t have a “varmint rifle”.  So late last summer I picked up a Remington 700 model .22-250.   Everyone I asked had different opinions on the proper scope I needed… how confusing!   I decided to go to the top and spoke directly with Cyndi Flannigan of Leupold to get her recommendation for the proper scope.   How could I go wrong there? 

   The Leupold scope is a 6.5-20 x 50mm ….very nice.  One of the guys in here instructed me on mounting the rings, and lapping them before attaching the scope.  I learned so much!  I’m sighted it in finally when the weather warmed up a bit here in Colorado.  This was the first time I had shot this caliber…a little more “punch” to it than what I expected!  As I was doing this by myself at the range one day, I started at 50 yards and shot one to see how far off I was, made the adjustments on the windage and elevation.  Shot one more that was very close and moved over to the 100 yard range.  Shot a few more with minor adjustments and had a good group, slightly high at 100 yards, but then I am expecting to shoot closer to 200 yards on some of these shots anyway.  I called it good, …yadayadayada…so I’m not a perfectionist.  The groups were good!

  The scheduled hunt (shoot) is next weekend already!  Ammo supplies were getting tight this spring.  Luckily I had ordered the different calibers we were all bringing early before they were all running out of stock.  (Gee, could be an election year.  Anyone else seeing a pattern here?) A few days up at the base of the Snowy Mountain Range in Wyoming, out to the plains for lots of shooting during the day and a stop over at the Saratoga Hot Springs on the way back!  Not that’s how I see a nice finish to a fun couple of days!


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