Where to hunt Prairie Dogs
Prairie dogs are, as everyone knows, not dogs, but a kind of rodent. They have been called so for their specific alarm call, that resembles yaps of a dog. This alarm call signal is said to be highly sophisticated: it can render not just that a predator is approaching, but what predator, at what distance, and from which direction. Prairie dogs live in large colonies, known as “towns”, all over the Great Plains in the USA and Northern Mexico.
Prairie dog hunting is not particularly expensive. Most outfitters charge from $200 to $500 a hunter a day. In fact, your most significant expense item will probably be ammunition: prairie dog hunting involves a lot of shooting, and on a good day near a populous prairie dog town it’s not uncommon to fire several hundred rounds.
When to hunt Prairie Dogs?
In most states and provinces prairie dogs can be hunted all year round. The best time for hunting prairie dogs is held to be the break of spring and summer. Some diehard antelope and mule deer hunters will set out after prairie dogs before the start of the big-game hunting season, to dust off their long-range marksmanship, but the summer heat makes the rodents spend more time in their burrows, to say nothing of its effect on the hunter.
Prairie dog hunting is almost entirely about shooting. A hunter, equipped with an accurate rifle with a powerful scope, and a rangefinder, approaches a prairie dog “town”, selects an animal, takes aim and shoots. If that sounds easy, you probably never tried it. To hit such a small target at the range of a few hundred yards is a challenge in itself. In fact, the modern sniper rifle owes a lot to “varmint rifles” designed for prairie dog shooting. The hardest part of the job is that the shot will have to be taken very quickly: like most rodents, prairie dogs are very active, and will not give you all the time in the world like a paper target. Many rounds of ammo will spend their energy on dry prairie ground before a newbie hunter learns to hit prairie dogs reliably.
Why hunt Prairie Dogs?
Ever since the start of European colonization, prairie dogs have been heavily persecuted. Their colonies may do significant damage to crops, and there’s a widespread belief that horses or cattle can be seriously injured if their legs get trapped in a prairie dog burrow. Today the principle reason to hunt prairie dogs is not so much to control their numbers, as to hone long-range rifle skills. Counterintuitively, prairie dog hunting can have a positive effect on their population. Prairie dogs are so numerous that simply shooting them can hardly reduce their numbers dramatically. On the other hand, it can give the colonies a monetary value, and save them from being exterminated by more lethal means such as gassing.
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