Prairie dog hunting is both a great way to improve your hunting skills and help out farmers at the same time. While prairie dogs are not the most illustrious prey, they help hone your abilities that can be used when hunting other animals. Read on for 6 quick prairie dog hunting tips.
Why Hunt Prairie Dogs?
While cute, prairie dogs are considered pests for various reasons. Like other small mammals, they reproduce quickly, and an uncontrolled amount can cause serious damage to the farmlands and pastures they feed on. The tunnels they dig can cause serious harm to livestock, like horses and cattle. They also carry various diseases as well as fleas that can harm livestock and people.
Prairie dogs are considered a pest by livestock farmers, and prairie dog hunting is considered varmint hunting, given the need to control prairie dog populations.
If you want to hunt prairie dogs, you should find ample opportunity throughout North America, particularly in the Midwest. Prairie dogs make for great hunting practice – they are small, agile, and not directly dangerous.
New and relatively inexperienced hunters can hunt prairie dogs to familiarize themselves with their weapons, improve their shooting skills, and train their patience. These 6 quick prairie dog hunting tips can help you on your way to hunting prairie dogs.
6 Quick Tips to Hunting Prairie Dogs
Know the Right Location
Check state rules depending on where you are, as you may need a license to hunt prairie dogs on public land. Some states, such as Wyoming, have declared prairie dogs to be pests, so in such places, you won’t need a license. Nebraska, Montana, Kansas, Colorado and South Dakota are also states where prairie dogs are plentiful. Still, they all have different rules and regulations, so check the state’s wildlife department website first.
Ask for permission on private lands, but landowners will generally be happy to receive your help in exterminating prairie dogs, assuming you have some experience and aren’t just hunting for the first time.
If you are a novice hunter looking to get experience, go with more experienced hunters on a prairie hunting dog excursion. Permission from landowners is more likely if they know the hunting party is experienced and can be trusted with their weapons. In addition, hunting together with someone else means one of you can help the other to spot the animals.
If you're hunting on a public land make sure you apply these tips on our recent article.
Know the Right Time
The best time to hunt prairie dogs is usually in the late spring to early summer, when the pups are born and come out of their holes. Naturally, this is also the time when it is most necessary to control their population.
Prairie dogs come out during the day whenever it’s sunny, so the sun is the only natural precondition for hunting prairie dogs, along with permission and adequate gear.
Have the Right Weapon
Hunting prairie dogs is different from most other forms of hunting because the animals are defenceless aside from their speed. Even deer pose a potential threat to hunters because of their size. Still, prairie dogs make for excellent target practice, however, due to their size and nimbleness. As prairie dog hunting qualifies as varmint hunting, you should consider weapons that are specially manufactured to hunt varmint, e.g., varmint rifles.
Your choice of rifle should depend on the range you’ll be hunting at. For beginners, hunting at a shorter range under a hundred yards is advisable, and the .22 LR HP, the most popular varmint hunting rifle, will suffice. Slightly more experienced hunters may want to test their skills at the 1o0-150 yard range, and may find a .22 Magnum rifle to be useful. The more skilled the hunter, the more they’ll want a challenge. A .223 Remington is a good choice to cover 250 yards or over.
You can, of course, use any weapon you want or are comfortable with. Bolt action rifles and gas guns are other options. Bow hunters also find prairie dogs to be a good challenge and a way to improve their targeting and speed skills.
Use a Suppressor
Prairie dogs have extremely fine-tuned hearing, so shots fired will send those at close range scurrying back down their holes. Using a suppressor on your weapon will help considerably to avoid alerting them to your presence.
Have the Right Optics
You’ll spend a considerable amount of time looking through the rifle scope, so eye fatigue can become an issue if you don’t have the right optics, so make sure you invest in decent to high-range optics and spotting scopes. Make sure your scope is accurately zeroed to ensure accuracy.
Have the Right Gear
- Ammunition – You’ll generally need plenty of ammunition, but how much also depends on what type of hunter you are and how you like to hunt. Pack spare ammunition to be sure.
- Binoculars – Binoculars are a must for hunting at range, and you may find that prairie dogs become scarcer the longer you hunt, so you’ll need to be able to see further afield.
- Shooting bench – Many hunters find a shooting bench useful because the increased height it lends improves visibility and the accuracy of shots.
- Protection – If the prairie dogs are out, it’s likely to be hot. Use a hat and sunscreen to shield yourself from the sun, and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.
The Hunt is On
Make adequate preparations like those suggested above and head out early with the necessary gear. Research the best spots and where your prairie dog hunting services will be welcomed.
You’re likely to be out all day and cover a lot of terrain, so pack provisions. If you’re new to hunting, ask to go with more experienced hunters. Take breaks and exchange spotting roles with hunting buddies.
The Multiple Benefits of Prairie Dog Hunting
Prairie dog hunting is relatively straightforward, assuming you have the right tools and make the necessary preparations. It serves a purpose, and it’s good for developing hunting skills such as speed, accuracy, scoping, and patience. It’s a great way to bond with friends, and it’s practically guaranteed that you’ll improve your hunting skills.
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