Prairie Dog Hunting
It’s fast. It’s fun. And you get to shoot… a lot. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
There are five species of prairie dogs, including black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison’s, Mexican and Utah, the most common being the black-tailed, and the only of which is found out in the Great Plains of our country. As for the prairie dogs, they serve their role in the prairie ecosystem by providing habitat for burrowing owls and providing micro habitats for a whole host of other critters. Although there are instances where they need to be eradicated, and those instances usually are in pastures where cattle are present or in farm fields where they can bring economic hardship on farmers and ranchers. Or if one colony gets too big, Mother Nature will control it with a disease or plague.
While we’re not advocating eradicating this prairie rodent, sometimes conservation calls in the strangest ways, meaning that when Mother Nature does intervene, death comes slowly and painfully. So why not shoot a few?
Most people that hunt prairie dogs are of the “whack ‘em and stack ‘em” variety. Others, like us, care more about another number – the yardage between the tips of our rifle barrels and the target. It’s one thing to sit and shoot a stationary target all day and consistently produce tight groups. But if you really want to learn to make quality shots, ones that will count in the moment of truth when it’s big game in your crosshairs, live, moving targets are the best preparation.
Look to the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana for top hot spots. You can find good hunts on public land, but you’ll need ample time to scout, and the easily accessible towns will have likely been shot out. We’d recommend finding private land. Booking ahead of time either through a guide service or finding a private rancher in need of some pest control is the best way to guarantee a good shoot. It’s one thing to travel hundreds of miles and not kill an elk or deer, but when shooting is the game, well…
With most outfitters, and in most states, you can shoot any caliber from a .22 LR to a .50 cal. We recommend the lower-middle tier calibers like .222 Rem, .22-250 and .223. Our BCR24 Varmint Hunter and the BCR23 Sport Hunter are wonderful rifle options for a prairie dog hunt. If you’re going to be doing a lot of shooting, you’re probably not going to want to beat yourself up with a larger caliber. Of course, moving up to any of the .30 calibers to keep your skills sharp for big-game hunting won’t hurt unless you run a lot of rounds through the rifle.