I just looked at the calendar, and realized, that it's only about four weeks until I'll be able to squeeze in a bit of prairie dog hunting before the season ends on March 31st.
Prairie dog season here runs from June 16th through March 31st of the following year, but they are in hibernation mode from around early November, until the third or fourth week of March. Come the tail end of March, as they are emerging from hibernation, I'm always looking to get in a hunt or two before the season ends. The dogs are just starting to come above ground, so there aren't usually a lot of them out yet, but it can be worth a day trip or two.
I've set up two rifles specifically for hunting prairie dogs with. I've learned, that in the windy dog towns around here, I have the best success with a heavy gun. I do all of my shooting from the standing position, with the rifle rested on a telescoping Stoney Point bipod, and the wind will definitely blow a light rifle around, making it very difficult to hold steady on small targets at long range.
A heavy gun resting on the bipod, is easier to hold on target in the wind, than a lighter gun is. I've learned this through many windy, and frustrating hunting experiences.
With my Marauder .25 cal, I've added a laminate stock that weighs about 8 ounces more than the factory stock does. I've also selected a large scope, in the CenterPoint, Power Class 4-16x56mm variable. This scope has a 30mm tube with large glass, and adds another 26 ounces to the overall weight. With scope, scope rings, camera mount, and video camera, the total weight of this rig comes to just shy of 12 pounds. Just what I'm looking for in a long range (by airgun standards) prairie dog rig.
The accuracy of this rifle is as good as it gets. It's an 8 shot repeater, and I take a lot of prairie dogs all of the way out to 100+ yards with it. This rig is more than capable of making head shots at that distance.
The targets below, show the final sight-in group, shot at 65 yards, 5 shots with Beeman 30.8 grain Kodiaks, easily covered with a dime. This rifle also shoots the Benjamin 27.8 grain dome head pellets just as well.
The power level of this rifle, when shooting the 27.8 grain Benjamin domes, is 44 fpe, and 46 fpe when shooting the 30.8 grain Beeman Kodiaks. More than enough power to blow clear through prairie dogs at 100+ yards.
The .25 cal carries some serious energy down range, and this rig is absolute death on prairie dogs at long range.
The second rifle that I have set up, specifically for prairie dog hunting, is my AA 510 TC .22. It's a 10 shot repeater. This gun is a little different from most PCP's, in that it has twin air cylinders mounted side by side, like a shotgun. As shown below.
The obvious advantage of that is, more air equals a much higher shot count. In this rifle, I shoot the 18 grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. For hunting purposes, this rig gives me 60 shots on one air fill, where my .25 Marauder gives me 16.
The reality though is, I rarely get enough shots in our local dog towns, on a morning hunt, to use even the 16 shots I have with the Marauder. The exception to that general rule is, from about mid June, to early July, when the years new crop of pasture poodles come above ground.
They are young and dumb, and haven't quite figured out, that coyotes, badgers, hawks, and a dude with an airgun, can be hazardous to their health. During that time period, the shooting can pick up substantially.
Again, for long range shooting in these dog towns, I need guns that are accurate in the extreme. The AA 510 TC more than qualifies in that respect. The below targets show the final sight in target shot at 50 yards. The three pellet holes in the bullseye, were made during scope adjustments. That group near the eye, is the final five shots, that essentially went through the same exact hole easily covered with an Advil tablet. I would call this rifle a tack driver, but it's way better than that.
The rifle, with Nikko Stirling, 4-16x50mm scope, with 30mm tube and big glass, scope mounts, camera mount, and camera, weighs just a tad over 11 pounds. Again, this beauty also holds nice and steady in a windy dog town.
Next up, I'm going to clean their barrels, clean the lenses on a my binos, and range finder, make sure the scope lenses are clean, check my day bag for appropriate magazines and ammo, and we're ready to kick off the 2012 prairie dog games.
If you would like to see some video clips of these two rifles in action, go to the side bar on the left of this page, scroll down to the "Hunting Video Library" category, click on that, and then scroll through the videos, clicking on the ones you want to view. They start, with some AA 510 TC hunting videos, with a lot of .25 cal Marauder clips in there as well.
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