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Prairie Dog Hunt in New Mexico

Prairie Dog New Mexico

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#1 Rudy

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 01:59 PM

This thread will be about the prairie dog hunt I took in New Mexico during the last two weeks in April. I'm going to include various pictures and post some ideas that might be interesting. The hunting wasn't ideal but it was still lots of fun.

 

I got a Franklin F17 17WSM for this hunt and did some experimenting to determine how to get good accuracy out of it since this is my first AR. My first approach was to use what works for my air rifles and 17HMR as shown in the picture. I use a bipod, a relaxed hold, and a rear bag that I slide along the stock belly and pinch the ears to adjust for elevation. The stock is obviously not designed for using a rear bag this way so I used boards to help adjust for elevation, which would be too cumbersome for any practical hunting. This approach gave me 5 shot 100 yard groups that were about 2-3 inches which wasn't good at all. 

 

 

IMG_0877_29.jpg



#2 Rudy

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 02:04 PM

I figured this rifle probably wanted a much heavier cheek weld and a more solid rear rest. So I tried stacking boards under the stock and putting plenty of weight down with my cheek. 

 

IMG_0879_30.jpg


Edited by Rudy, 15 May 2016 - 02:05 PM.


#3 Rudy

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 02:20 PM

Here are two 10 shot groups using the second approach using Winchester 20 grain ammo at 100 yards.

 

IMG_0880_35.jpg

 

I shot the top left target first and got a very nice 8 shot cluster. One flier isn't too bad but the second one is horrible and barely clipped the edge of the paper. 

 

When I shot the second target I tried using the same exact hold, but I got a mediocre group. 

 

My conclusion is that the rifle is certainly capable of good accuracy, but it is sensitive to hold. It prefers a very heavy cheek weld and solid rear rest. I'm sure there are AR shooters who are thinking "Duh .. I could have told you that!"   But I did figure it on my own. 

 

So the next step was to come up with a setup that was practical for real hunting.


Edited by Rudy, 15 May 2016 - 02:22 PM.

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#4 MikeNC

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 02:45 PM

This is interesting Rudy....Thanks for taking all the time to post it up..!! Looking forward to more.


Then I'll get on my knees and pray

We don't get fooled again

Don't get fooled again

No, no..! Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!


#5 Rudy

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 03:09 PM

The picture shows what I came up with. 

 

I added a Magpul PRS stock and a CTK monopod. 

 

By adjusting the cheek height I can get a consistent amount of weight on the comb once I line up my eye with the reticle. 

 

The monopod gave me solid rear support and worked extremely well when put to practical use in the PDog fields. 

 

Since targets can popup in any direction, I wanted something that was easy to rotate yet provided a solid front rest. So I over stuffed my Caldwell Tack Driver bag with rice then used a flat bungee to secure it to the shroud. For general front height adjustment I used 15" shelving material from my local hardware store. I selected shelving material because it is quite slippery so nothing will bind up as I maneuver for a shot. The interior of shelving material is particle board which doesn't hold up to water  so the edges need to be water proofed.

 

The bungee not only allowed me to move the rifle and bag together, it also made sure the contact between the shroud and bag was consistent. Doing this on a rifle without a shroud would obviously be a bad idea since any contact with the barrel is undesirable.

 

This setup was very fast and easy to maneuver which worked out very well when hunting.

 

 

IMG_0886_29.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#6 Rudy

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 03:30 PM

Here are 5 consecutive targets that I shot with my final setup at 100 yards using Winchester 20 grain ammo. Each target has 5 shots. The shooting order was 1.09  .70  .90  .86  1.38 and they tell an interesting story.

 

The .70 target really does have 5 shots and I believe illustrates what can be achieved when the shooter is perfectly consistent.

 

The .90 and .86 show horizontal spreading. There was a 5-7 mph breeze from almost directly behind me, so I don't believe this was caused by wind. I believe this was shooter error.

 

The 1.38 target shows a clear vertical spread. Which is most likely shooter error.

 

I concluded two things from this.

1. The rifle is sensitive to hold.

2. I need to work on my shooting skills.

 

IMG_1052_36.jpg

 

 

BTW ... The targets I posted so far were shot prone from the back of my truck for two reasons:

1. I tend to group better from prone than from a bench

2. Chiggers and ticks can't get me


Edited by Rudy, 15 May 2016 - 04:11 PM.

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#7 jpx2rk

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 04:59 PM

Good report, thanks for sharing.  I would think that the 5-7mph breeze would move those 20gr bullets around, but it's always best to man up, and take the blame for a dismal less than MOA group.   :huhcamo:  :rolleyescamo:



#8 Rudy

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Posted 15 May 2016 - 07:06 PM

One last target.  A couple of days after arriving in NM I had a very nice calm morning so I checked my 150 yard zero with three shot groups. The first three shots are shown with white checks above them. This was followed by a scope adjustment and three shots in the red. The second group measures about .8 inches ctc which put a smile on my face. :D

 

These were shot from the "Super Ultimate Portable Shooting Table" I built.  I'll put a picture of it up later in the week.

 

I'll also put up some more pictures later in the week. 

 

IMG_1071_30.jpg



#9 Old Hickory

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Posted 16 May 2016 - 02:02 AM

Great thread and nice going, Rudy!



#10 Rudy

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Posted 19 May 2016 - 03:14 PM

This picture is a good example of what the weather was like for most of the two weeks I was there. And it wasn't pretty! A late winter storm moved in and kept coming back.

Snow, mud, sleet, mud, rain, mud.

And did I mention there was lots of MUD!!

 

The wind was 15-30 mph almost every day. Temperature was low 30's in the morning and high's were usually about 48. We did get a few breaks with warmer days where the sun came out and the mud dried up. But the wind was <10mph for only a couple of hours after sunrise. And when the mud did dry up, the storm would invariably return and muck things up again. I took my 4 wheeler with me which was a good idea.

 

Fortunately I own lots of winter hunting clothes. Unfortunately... I left most of them in Oklahoma.  :(  Live and learn!!

But I still had a blast!!  :grincamo:

 

I took three rifles:

Daystate .177 Air Wolf w/ Hawke Sidewinder 30 SF 6-24x56  SR Pro

Anschutz 1727 17HMR w/ Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 FFP EBR-2C MOA

Franklin F17-L 17WSM w/ Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 FFP EBR-2C MOA

 

The hunting conditions were poorly suited for the air rifle so I only used it once to shoot a PDog that dug a hole in my cousin Susie's front lawn.

 

The 17WSM worked nicely when there was snow on the ground because the PDogs really stood out. They would come out in the afternoon for a snack or to just sit by their holes and try to soak up what little sunshine there was. The 17WSM cartridge is definitely better suited for windy or longer range shooting than the 17HMR, and I really liked it. My longest kill shot was 240 yards which was good considering the conditions.

 

 

IMG_0897_38.jpg


Edited by Rudy, 19 May 2016 - 03:19 PM.


#11 Old Hickory

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 03:33 AM

:shockedcamo: Wow! Those were miserable conditions, Rudy! You sure did rise up to the occasion, though. Thanks for sharing.



#12 Rudy

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 05:20 PM

I decided a shooting bench was the best way to utilize the Franklin. So I built my own Ultimate Portable Shooting Bench, and it only cost about $30. This turned out to really work well because I could " drive,park & shoot" in any conditions. This picture was taken in my driveway after I returned from NM and washed all the mud off the 4 wheeler.

 

I split my hunting to bench shooting with the 17WSM and stalking with the 17HMR and a shooting pod.

 

IMG_1080_34.jpg


Edited by Rudy, 20 May 2016 - 05:46 PM.


#13 Rudy

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 06:19 PM

The PDog population was down significantly after last years hunting and some locations showed a large decrease. Even though the weather was terrible I still managed to shoot 776. I shot 196 with the 17WSM and 580 with the 17HMR. The primary reason the 17HMR count is higher is that I chose to stalk several densely populated areas with full camo and a quieter rifle in order to get as many as possible while the wind was down early in the morning, then follow up with the 17WSM. For sparsely populated areas with no brush, I usually preferred the 17WSM.

 

Here is the shooting record:

4/16/2016  Saturday   11/26  Corral 17WSM / Vega 17WSM
4/17/2016  Sunday       2/6/12 West of house 17WSM / Big Pond 17WSM/ Vega 17WSM
4/18/2016  Monday      3         Vega 17WSM
4/19/2016  Tuesday     17/6/17/18 Luciano's 17HMR /West of house 17WSM / Big Pond 17WSM/ Vega 17WSM
4/20/2016  Wednesday 2/4/58      West of house 17WSM / corral 17WSM/ Tio Abel's 17HMR
4/21/2016  Thursday   103            Velarde's 17HMR
4/22/2016  Friday        47/6/2        Velarde's 17WSM / Max's 17WSM / West of House 17WSM
4/23/2016  Saturday    26             Max's 17HMR
4/23/2016  Sunday      153/6        Mac's 17HMR / Luciano's 17HMR
4/24/2016  Monday     105           Mac's 17HMR 
4/25/2016  Tuesday    1/2            Susie's lawn PG / West of House 17WSM
4/26/2016  Wednesday 32/82      Mac's 17WSM / Mac's 17HMR
4/27/2016  Thursday    12           Isac's 17HMR
4/28/2016  Friday         17          Max's 17HMR
 
This picture shows 15 PDogs taken with the Anschutz. The bare ground is a good example of the damage PDogs do when the population gets out of control.
 
 
IMG_0924_22.jpg

Edited by Rudy, 25 May 2016 - 01:33 PM.

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#14 Rudy

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Posted 20 May 2016 - 06:25 PM

Close Up Pic

IMG_0926_20.jpg


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#15 jpx2rk

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 04:31 AM

Good report, thanks for posting.  Wish I could go Pdogging sometime in the near future.