Hunting prairie dogs is a great way to blow off some steam while enjoying some target practice with a wide variety of firearms. However, it is important to familiarize yourself with the laws on hunting these animals in your area before heading out, as well as learning the basics on how to find a great prairie dog colony. Hunting prairie dogs is quite a bit different from going after other common types of prey, as it is almost like visiting a shooting gallery once you discover a well populated prairie dog colony. If you find that hunting prairie dogs is as much fun as most hunters do, you will probably want to invest in the proper equipment to get the job done right, especially the right scopes and ammunition. Here is everything that you need to get started hunting prairie dogs right away.
Prairie Dog Hunting Laws
Generally speaking, the hunting laws regarding prairie dogs are relatively loose, as these critters create a serious hazard to the cattle on the property of ranchers due to the damage that prairie dog colonies inflict on the terrain. However, there are usually certain times of the year when prairie dog hunting is prohibited. For example, hunters are prohibited from hunting prairie dogs on public lands in South Dakota between March 1 and June 14. There are a handful of animal rights organizations that have been pressing to have prairie dogs listed as an endangered species in the United States, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has resisted these pressures due to the large populations of these animals in the country and the nuisance that they cause land owners.
Finding Places to Hunt for Prairie Dogs
So long as you know who to talk to, you should have no trouble finding an active prairie dog population in any part of the country that they are common. One of the best ways to find a good prairie dog hunting spot is to get to know some of the ranchers in your area. They are generally more than happy to let hunters help them with their prairie dog infestation, but it is essential that you obtain their permission before hunting on their land and that you treat their property with the proper respect. If you are relatively new to the area, it is a good idea to speak with the staff at your local hunting supply store or joining a hunting organization or two so that you can find out who you need to speak too. Once you find a good place to hunt, you can locate a prairie dog colony by searching for flat, low-lying parcels of land and just waiting for a head to pop up. Once you find a colony, you should be able to blast away until heart’s content, as these critters will keep popping out of their holes until the sun goes down.
How to Hunt Prairie Dogs
The key to hunting prairie dogs is finding a good spot to shoot that lies approximately 100 to 200 yards away from the colony. Before you head out, it is a good idea to calibrate your guns so that they are ready to take out a target of 1 inch from 100 yards. Your best bet is to get to the colony as early in the morning as possible, as these animals are particularly active as the sun is coming up. Find a nice, sturdy rest for your gun and get yourself comfortable. Once you find your first prairie dog, simply aim for them dead in the chest and pick him off.
Equipment for Hunting Prairie Dogs
The most popular ammunition for hunting prairie dogs is .203 and .223, although some people prefer to use a regular .22. If you get hooked on hunting prairie dogs, you will definitely want to invest in a good optical scope; something like a cartridge variable power scope should be all that you need. Many hunters prefer to use a decent hunting bench for long days of shooting varmints, but using a simple ground cloth will make it much easier to stay mobile if you decide you want to move around amongst the colonies.