A favorite hobby that may not appeal to all, but defiantly a "Shooting Man's Sport!"
This page is always under construction check back occasionally, as I continue to add Prarie Dog hunting resources
I have been out west to South Dakota on several dog hunting adventures. The first time that we went, we were not sure just exactly where to go, or how far west to go. We knew there were dogs in Montana, but we did not want to drive that far west if it could be avoided. The trip for us is simple, just hop on I-90 West, and go. Our first stop was the South Dakota visitors information station near Sioux Falls and right there we picked up this brochure
our first stop was White Lake, a very nice community of friendly folks. We bought our hunting license here, and stopped at one of the local establishments to wash down the road dust, and asked the barkeep if there were any dogs around to be hunted. He placed a few quick phone calls, and put us onto some local farmers. Our first trips were in October, and we soon learned that prairie dogs had been trained all summer long, on just how this game is played. We would get our gear set up, BANG!, and down the hole they went for the rest of the day. Well this was a far cry from the rumors we had heard of 500 shot days, so we kept on moving west to the Badlands., To hunt on the National Grasslands We mad a stop at Wall Drug, (free ice water) and bought this map
Hey Lookey, they even mark the location of the Prairie dog towns with a little dog icon
Out we went through the Badlands, It is defiantly worth seeing this, the stark beauty is impressive, and drove right into a dog town. Surprise !! There were the remnants of a 10 square mile dog town, that was completely gone. Hey what happened here? Well, it turns out that the National Grasslands are up for rent to the local ranchers to graze their cattle on, and they see fit to poison the dog on the public land. I don't know if this is still allowed, but at the time in 1988 it was routine practice. It turned out after a day of driving through the grasslands, that we had only seen one lousy prairie dog. Disgusted, we headed back to the campground, and to our disbelief along side the road were thousands of dog running about. We stopped at the first farmhouse we seen, and asked about the dogs. They said Sure! come-on-back tomorrow and have at 'em, well here the results
My friend Bob, and his trophy, this dog was shot at a distance of over 650 yds, not much expansion left in the bullet, at this range it was hit with a 70 grain Nosler Ballistic tip bullet How does one shoot these over that far of a distance? It's a little like Artillery fire.
You need one spotter, and one shooter. You take your best guess on your first shot, taking into account the wind, and distance, at the time, affordable laser rangefinders were not yet invented, and as wide open and flat as it is out here, 200 yards can be easily mistaken for less than 100. their is nothing to get a frame of reference from. Once the shot has been made, the spotter conveys the point of impact to the shooter, and the shooter compensates and makes another shot. As long as you dont knock dirt into their faces, the dogs will continue to mill about the hole. We have made as many as 4 shots, in order to get a dog that was way out there.
This trip was over by Winner S.D. and in the spring, a little greener, and more interesting terrain than up north by Chamberlain My friend Wendell, on the lookout for a good place to set up shop
Prairie dog hunting can be a very physically demanding sport. This trip was with a motor home, get out first thing in the morning, cook breakfast, and lunch right on site, you don't want to miss out on a moments shooting.
Looking for dogs from the bench, after a few hours of shooting, there are a lot of carcasses around, and you have to look for ones that are still moving
Found one, go git him
Sometimes you have to get off your duff, and wander out into the town for a good shot. But Watch-Out!! there are little cactuses mixed in with this grass, and do they ever hurt, when you lay on one on you belly.
It was more than Wendell could resist, he has left his spotter post, and decided to blast one that was sneaking up on him.
After a hard day's shooting, back to the motel. We always eat good on these trips we bring coolers of steaks, camp stoves, and gas grills. We cooked out in the parking lot of the motel every night after shooting.
Well Just how big are these things? Here's one that was shot at over 400 yards with a beer can next to him for size reference, He's holding 3 rounds of 6mm
And here he is on the hill that he lived in.
Some people may find the Sport of dog hunting disgusting, or objectionable. They may even argue that it is inhumane. From my own perspective, until you have first hand witnessed the destructive capability of these creatures you may begin to understand why the locals are keen to have them removed. The hill in the above photo was about 6 foot in total diameter, and around 1 foot high with a 10" opening straight down. In populated towns, the dogs will dig a grid of holes 40 to 50 foot apart, and they go on for miles. The dogs will have litters of pups 5-7 each, three time in a year, with the first litter able to produce pups in the same year. They are prolific ! Being from Illinois, we have some of the best agricultural land around, this is defiantly not the case in South Dakota, they soil is very poor, and the vegetation not very good. It can easily be seen how farmers cannot afford to have their cattle or grain resources in competition with these creatures. As for the Humane part I spared the audience the gruesome picture of what a high velocity custom designed varmint round can do, Generally there only remains a head, nothing more, and as a hunter, I can control what get shot, as opposed to a poison, that would be used instead, and may kill many other desirable species.
I have put this link in for Varmint Al's, He has a nice web sight that discusses other types of varmint hunting, and some neat reviews of rifles.