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Arizona Prairie Dog Hunting


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#1 VarmintAir

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 09:10 AM

I've been hunting prairie dogs for close to four decades, but never in Arizona, and never in Arizona with airguns. Prairie dog season opened here on Tuesday, so yesterday I ventured forth to see what I could find.When I got to the area I intended to hunt, I could tell the weather would eventually be a problem. I could see thunder storms forming in the distance, and the prevailing wind was blowing them directly toward me. With no time to waste, I dug out my RWS Rapier, got geared up and started my hunt.The dog towns here in Arizona are populated by the Gunnison's variety of prairie dog. They are not as large as the Black tail variety of Wyoming, and they aren't anywhere as numerous. Actually, they're quite scattered throughout the dog town area. This reminded me more of hunting ground squirrels, than the prairie dogs I'm used to hunting in Wyoming.I had scouted several areas that would be good for hunting with powder burners, but were way to open for hunting with airguns. No chance of getting within a hundred yards of most of the dogs. I finally located a good sized town that was perfect for hunting with airguns. It has plenty of ground cover, and getting to within 50/60 yards is doable, at least sometimes.With thunder storms brewing, the wind was ever present. I could hear dogs barking out their warning calls here and there but I wasn't able to see them in the vegetation. As I hunted along, I was glassing the tops of mounds that were visible. As I got out into the sage and vegetation, I could see other mounds that weren't visible until you were almost on top of them. This was going to be very, very, challenging.I would occasionally see a prairie dog sitting on a mound out at 100 plus yards, but in closer, I was obviously in their danger zone, and for the most part, they were only showing a head above the top edge of their mounds.The first one I dropped was a 51 yard head shot with the RWS. I stopped for the requisite photo op. I then continued to hunt while keeping an eye on the approaching storm. I could see lightning and hear thunder off in the distance. The wind was starting to pick up even more, so I knew this hunt was going to be cut short. I hunted in a big loop back to my vehicle. Along the way I dropped several more prairie dogs, and started to get the hang of spotting them in the thick vegetation. The other gun that I had wanted to hunt with was my Mac1 Discovery. Rain drops were starting to pelt me intermittently, but nothing serious yet. I decided to put the RWS away and hunt awhile with the Disco.I got the Disco out and started hunting in the direction the storm was coming from. I wanted to keep a close eye on it's progress. I was several hundred yards from my 4Runner, when I spotted a small prairie dog down on all fours, on the top of a mound facing me. The range finder said 46 yards. The wind was in my face, the gun is sighted in at 50 yards, so I put the crosshair on its nose and squeezed the trigger. I heard and saw the pellet impact, and the dog rolled off the mound.I decided to get a picture and hightail it back to my vehicle. The lightening was occurring more frequently, and I could see it was raining very hard in the distance. I got back just in time to throw my gun in the back of the rig and hop inside before the skies really opened up. I immediately headed for the pavement, which was about five miles away. The type of soil that prairie dog towns are typically found in, turns to the consistency of axle grease when wet. It also wraps around a tire like rolling up a carpet. It can be a real challenge keeping the front end of your vehicle going in the direction you want. Whatever you do, do not loose forward momentum. The rear tires were throwing some nice mud rooster tails, but I did make it back to the pavement. The track I left looked a lot like the one a snake leaves when crossing a dusty road. Fishtailing was the operative word.For the first attempt at hunting prairie dogs with airguns in Arizona, I was very pleased. I wasn't happy about the weather cutting the hunt short, but learned a lot about the area I had found, and will be back out next week to give it another go.Here are a few pics. I've included a shot of the country I hunted in to give some perspective.Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

#2 packhorse9

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 10:06 AM

looks like a good time to bad about the weather but when your out in the flat land carrying a metal rifle with lighting cracking do you start feeling like your holding a lighting rod? last time I was out and the lighting storm was going good for about 30 min. it dawned on me I'm the tallest thing around sitting on a metel table under a metel framed umbrella swinging around a metal rifle, once I had that brain storm, left the table & umbrella grabbed the gun and hit the cabin untill the sun was shining bright

#3 crazyhorse

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 12:09 PM

Get there before they come out of their burrows....set up an ambush...(.looks like good prone shooting area,as well...)

#4 VarmintAir

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:36 AM

looks like a good time to bad about the weather but when your out in the flat land carrying a metal rifle with lighting cracking do you start feeling like your holding a lighting rod? last time I was out and the lighting storm was going good for about 30 min. it dawned on me I'm the tallest thing around sitting on a metel table under a metel framed umbrella swinging around a metal rifle, once I had that brain storm, left the table & umbrella grabbed the gun and hit the cabin untill the sun was shining bright

The lightning was all at the trailing edge of the storm, so I just kept an eye on it as I hunted. When the leading edge of the storm started blowing an increasing amount of rain in my direction, I knew it was time to head for the pavement. It sure was fun while it lasted. I'm heading back out there next Wednesday. The weather is supposed to be much better. This dog town covers about 4 or 5 square miles. Lots of walk around airgun hunting opportunities out there.

#5 VarmintAir

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:45 AM

Get there before they come out of their burrows....set up an ambush...(.looks like good prone shooting area,as well...)

I found that a spot and stalk method that worked pretty well was to approach them at an oblique angle. I would still be closing the distance on them, but not be heading directly at them. Heading directly at them seemed to put them down in a hurry. If it appeared that I would pass at a distance, many of them stayed up long enough to give me a shot. Sometimes it was only a head peeking over the edge of the mound, but that was okay.No logs or stumps to put the critters on for the photo shoots, so I've found a new use for my Stoney Point bipod.Posted Image

#6 crazyhorse

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 12:01 PM

That is a good technique in the open...but I hunt so much in one area they see me and bolt at 100 yards..then I have to sit and wait on them...lol....

#7 Rimrock

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 12:23 PM

It sounds like you had a great time and have found a place to get some good shooting. You shouldn't let a little rain, lightning and mud bogs put a damper on a hunt. :smiley-innocent-halo-yellow:

#8 Bennie

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 12:55 PM

Great post. You guys are makeing me want to go out and buy an air gun.

#9 Jerry

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 01:11 PM

Hmmm, he is showing symptoms! Transmission of the airgun-itis is almost complete! :smiley-innocent-halo-yellow: Get one, they are AWESOME!

#10 river rat

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 06:05 PM

Wow it looks like your air rifle tore it up

#11 ShooterJohn

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 06:11 PM

You have every sort of animal there Cliff. Squirrels in the mountains and now prairie dogs too. I know you are probably loaded with rabbits for something else to shoot. :signlol2iu:

#12 VarmintAir

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 06:39 AM

It sounds like you had a great time and have found a place to get some good shooting. You shouldn't let a little rain, lightning and mud bogs put a damper on a hunt. :P

I learned my lesson, about sticking a 4X4 in the mud, back in the middle seventies in Wyoming. It was the first time I had encountered a gully washer while out on the prairie shooting prairie dogs. It's also when I learned the lesson about not losing forward momentum, EVER, while trying to drive out of that mess. :lol: Wound up having to wait about six hours for it to dry out enough to dig the rig out. It was hot, humid, and the mosquitos were out in force. It was not fun, but it sure was an adventure. :smiley-funny-post-sign:

#13 VarmintAir

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 06:57 AM

You have every sort of animal there Cliff. Squirrels in the mountains and now prairie dogs too. I know you are probably loaded with rabbits for something else to shoot. :smiley-funny-post-sign:

We've been out of Kaliforniastan now for two years. It's one of the best things we've ever done for ourselves, in more ways than one. Arizona is very gun and hunting friendly. Varmint hunting here is excellent. Lots of big game hunting as well, but I don't know much about that since I'm mainly focused on hunting small game and varmints. Especially with airguns. Kalifornia's laws for hunting with airguns are a bit more generous than here. For example, no hunting upland game with airguns in Arizona, but I can live with that. Hunting tree squirrels here in the Fall is an absolute blast. Roaming around these beautiful pine forests hunting the wily Abert's Tassel Eared tree squirrel is hard to beat. Lots of stuff to hunt here. :lol:

#14 THE KNOT

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 05:06 AM

You have life by the short and curlys ,you should serious give thought to being a guide for the serious airgunner . I would consider it a plesure to follow your lead in the varmint country for sure great pic's again




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