Whether you're just trying to improve your accuracy that comes along with this polarizing hobby or you're only joining the bandwagon because there are no available animals to shoot in the wild, prairie dog hunting is just about any hunting today — it has certain parameters for you to follow to become efficient. These requirements will either spell success or doom on your hunting aspirations. This article should serve as your quick guide to prairie dog hunting with that prowess that you richly deserve.
In our discussion, we'll tackle some of the only tips that you need to make your hunting experience an efficient one. But right before we head into them, let's briefly cover first what prairie dogs are, their known habitat and the behavior they'll usually exhibit.
Dubbed as "keystone" species, prairie dogs have colonies that develop habitats that benefit roughly 150 other species. They also serve as a food source for other animals which include coyotes, eagles, badgers, and the endangered black-footed ferrets. These dogs are likewise known to allow a greater diversity of plants to endure and thrive.
The population of prairie dogs once accumulated to over a billion — a figure that also catapulted most hunters to term them as varmints. Some of the fraction of the population can be found most in North America alone. Over the years, their numbers have thinned out by over 95 percent. At this point, the numbered prairie dogs are around 10 to 20 million.
The black-tailed type of prairie dogs eat grasses, sedges, forbs or the flowering plants, and the roots and seeds. Meanwhile, prairie dogs are also noted for eating insects.
Prairie Dogs' Known Behavior
Observed as very social animals, prairie dogs live closely in family groups that are known as "coteries." These comprise of an adult male, one or more adult females and the young offspring of course. They are mostly grouped together in "wards" (neighborhoods). When wards expand, they'll make up a colony or town.
Prairie dogs also possess a sophisticated system of communication. It includes a variety of pitched warning barks that mean different types of predators. If you've ever wondered how prairie dogs got their moniker, this is because of the earlier settlers who traveled across the plains who happened to think that the warning calls these animals evoked were sounding like dogs which are barking.
Watch this video to see on how prairie dogs behave.
Key Things To Consider When Hunting Prairie Dogs
1. Find The Best Locations To Go Hunting
One of the considerations you need to keep in mind when hunting for prairie dogs is location. No matter how expert a hunter you are or how accurate your shooting prowess is, if your area doesn't produce these animals, all your bets are off.
Inarguably, the best times to hunt prairie dogs are during late spring and early summer. Once this heat hits these critters, they'd prefer to lurk in their holes to protect themselves from the intense heat. Meanwhile, shooting them can still be available throughout the year. And if you're gunning for more prairie dogs, it's believed that mid-May is the best time for this hunt. It is when new pups begin to emerge.
On the other hand, the shooting is deemed to be slower in the heat of the day at the end of June to early July. It is also when these dogs are more alert and cunning at the same time.
2.) Choosing The Right Gun
As prairie dogs aren't stationary targets, your ideal shot on them rests on a limited window of time. As such, the best rifle for this experience is said to be the flat-shooting guns. These guns should work whether you want to target the longer shots or would only go for the closer dogs as flat trajectories implement.
I'd advise that the ideal rig for this shooting is to arm yourself with two rifles along with a rimfire 17 for your close shots. Also, go for an accurate centerfire to accommodate the long-range bragging shots.
3.) Your Knowledge On Zero And Ammo
Before heading with your friends to go hunting, ensure that you come with a solid zero. It is always a safe and a smart idea to check that zero once you arrive in your location. Even if you're already seasoned, some best rifles can still experience a change of zero, especially in extended trips. Remember that it's difficult to zero a rifle using a dust signature even for the best shooters out there.
Another thing to consider in this section is your ability to shoot in the wind. If you have a limited experience with this, it is best that you equip yourself first with some education. As the wind isn't quiet on flat plains, you are most likely to shoot in full value winds that go beyond 15 miles per hour. You can better your skill by making use of wind gauges and applying your knowledge of reading mirage.
4.) A Great Pair Of Binoculars Should Make A Huge Difference
Settling for an inexpensive and vaguely functioning optics during your hunting is a miserable way to live your experience in this respect. Always go with a reliable pair of binoculars and spotting scope to better your aim. As prairie dogs are smaller targets, ensure that you check your parallax adjustments especially when you go from close to distant shots. A good range finder is likewise crucial in leveling up your shooting average.
5.) Wear A Hat!
As the sun will most likely be unforgiving on the high plains, it's a must that you wear something above your head. Also, an application of sunblock wouldn't hurt! For your upper and lower garments, go for the new, sweat-wicking pants and shirt. Both should make you more comfortable in the long run.
6.) A Quiet Rifle Is A Silent Prairie Killer
Most seasoned hunters are suggesting to equip yourself with a suppressed rifle. This kind of gun should benefit you as prairie dogs are hypersensitive to sound. The more noise your gun makes, the more time they may lurk in their holes. Moreover, owning and using a suppressor means that you won't be needing an ear protection and that itself is a bonus.
Hunting prairie dogs are just about any other hunting activities. It involves similar firearms and equipment that you may, in fact, also use to some of your other hunting hobbies. With just a little modification on your gear and attitude altogether, your experience should be quick in no time.
The tips that I've outlined for you should guide you enough in this specific journey. Meanwhile, feel free to sound in the comment section below if you feel like I've missed on something crucial. Until then, happy hunting!
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