July 9th, 2016

Summer Adventure: A North Dakota Prairie Dog Safari

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

Adam Scepaniak, of The Guns and Gear Store, has written an interesting story about Prairie Dog Hunting in North Dakota. If a P-Dog safari is on your “bucket list”, you’ll want to read the full story in the Sierra Bullets Blog. Adam provides many tips that can help you plan a successful prairie dog adventure.

Prairie Dog Hunting in North Dakota with Sierra Bullets (Excerpt)
It’s that time of year where lots of men and women point their vehicles westward and try to push the limits of their rifles on prairie dogs. I was a part of this group of people just a few days ago while in northwestern North Dakota. CLICK HERE to Read Full Story.

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safariLittle Missouri National Grassland
Once my hunting party arrived at the Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota we immediately began scouting for prime prairie dog towns. There is a certain amount of strategy involved in choosing a prairie dog town … for several reasons. For one, you should try to always stay “above” the prairie dogs.

Small objects like rocks, cactuses, and prairie vegetation can easily obstruct your view if you’re shooting prone on a level plane. We encountered this in the first small prairie dog town we stopped and shot at. The prairie dog town was very visible while walking and standing, but once we laid down with our rifles on bipods the two-foot prairie grass became a severe obstruction. We shortly moved on because the small town became quick-studies to our shooting.

North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

The second prairie dog town we hunted was at the base of a small ridge with a dried, cattle creek at the bottom. This area offered better shooting opportunities because we were above most of the prairie dog holes, and if we were not above them, a deep ravine separated us from the prairie dogs removing any obstructions from our rifle scopes which was our previous problem. This area had its own disadvantage though because of some other wildlife present. There were approximately fifty head of cattle in our close vicinity grazing, which was to no surprise because many ranchers utilize the National Grassland for grazing. We had to wait for the cattle to leave our area as to not have an incidental hit due to a rare ricochet. As the sun passed over the horizon we decided to return to this spot the next morning, but would change our shooting position to increase our advantage.

This Location Offered a Nice Overlook.
North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

Zoomed Image Shows Individual Prairie Dog Mounds.
North Dakota Prairie Dog Hunt safari

My previous varminting best was a 275-yard shot near Mobridge, South Dakota on a separate prairie dog hunting trip. With more experience and better reloading, Here in North Dakota I was able to make a solid hit on a prairie dog just over 400 yards which made me ecstatic! For a central Minnesota, shotgun-raised guy, I was pretty happy that my bullet selection and hand-loading ability produced a 125-yard improvement.

Once we cleaned and cased our rifles for the journey home we had shot a little over 200 rounds of my Sierra® reloads. This was a lot less than previous prairie dog trips I have been a part of, but our hit percentage was substantially higher as well. Traveling into a new area meant a lot more scouting and experimentation for us as a group. In future trips or hunts of your own, it can be very beneficial to schedule an extra day just for scouting[.]

Little Missouri National Grassland is a National Grassland located in western North Dakota. At 1,033,271 acres, it is the largest grassland in the country. Within its borders is Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Little Missouri National Grasslands was once a part of the Custer National Forest, but is now a part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, a National Forest unit consisting entirely of National Grasslands. A predominant feature of the grassland is colorful and beautiful badlands, a rugged terrain extensively eroded by wind and water. It is a mixed grass prairie, meaning it has both long and short grass.

The boundaries of the grasslands on certain maps can be misleading. Within the boundaries of the national grassland are significant portions of state-owned and privately-owned land, much of it leased by cattle ranchers for grazing.

The grassland is administered by the Forest Service as part of the Dakota Prairie Grasslands from offices in Bismarck, ND. There are ranger district offices in Dickinson and Watford City.

Permalink - Articles, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
July 9th, 2016

Prices Drop as Supplies of .22 LR Ammo Increase

.22 LR Rimfire Ammo Sales Dean Weingarten
Photo ©2016 by Dean Weingarten.

Are we seeing an end to the “desperate days” for .22 LR rimfire ammo? Are supplies finally starting to catch up to demand? At least one industry analyst thinks so. Gun journalist Dean Weingarten has been watching trends. Makers of .22 LR ammo have increased production by 20%. That’s a good thing. We are starting to see the effects, Dean observes, with increased supplies and falling prices for rimfire ammo. Here is Dean’s report from Arizona.

Report by Dean Weingarten, GunWatch.com:

I chanced to be at the local WalMart in Yuma, Arizona today (July 8, 2016). This is the store on the frontage road off of old Highway 8, East of town. Until Friday, June 24, 2016, I had not seen any .22 Long Rifle in the store for three years.

On that date, there were 2,300 rounds of CCI Mini-Mags and 1,000 rounds of CCI Standard Velocity. The Mini-Mags were in plastic 100-round boxes at $7.47 a box. The Standard Velocity were in paper, 50-round boxes at $3.47 a box.

Just 10 days later, on the 3rd of July, I was in the same store, and there were 1900 rounds of CCI Stinger, in 50-round boxes. It is premium .22 Long Rifle ammunition, and has always been pricey. The price was $6.47 for a box of 50, or a little under 13 cents a round. They also had CCI .22 Maxi-Mag, .22 magnum rimfire cartridges, for $13.47 a box of 50, or nearly 27 cents a cartridge. It has been scarce, but not as bad as the .22 Long Rifle.

Two sightings in 10 days after three years was remarkable.

.22 LR Ammo for 5.36 Cents Per Round
Today, the 8th of July, there were two cases of bulk pack Federal .22 Auto Match. That is 6,500 .22 Long Rifle cartridges.This is only five days after the previous sighting. The boxes contained 325 cartridges. [The clerk] was just opening the cases to stock the shelves when I showed up. She said there had been a couple of bricks of .22, but they had been purchased immediately.

.22 LR Rimfire Ammo Sales Dean Weingarten
Photo ©2016 by Dean Weingarten.

At $17.42 for 325 rounds of Auto Match .22, that is 5.36 cents per round. A little over two years ago, I wrote that the .22 ammunition bubble would be over when you saw .22 LR ammunition on sale below 4 cents a round:

“You will know that the bubble is close to the bottom when you see .22 LR on sale for below 4 cents per round. At the lowest, we might see .22 LR cartridges below $10 for 500.” Read Article from 6/7/2014.

Many dismissed my prediction. They said that we would never see .22 cartridges below 4 cents a round again. People said that I was crazy when gasoline was at $4 a gallon, and I wrote that we would see it below $2 in the future. It went below $2 a few months ago.

The .22 ammunition bubble is hanging on. The push for more Second Amendment infringements by the Obama administration keeps it inflated. But with only six months to go to the end of that administration, the bubble has become fragile. The .22 ammunition manufacturers have increased production by 20%. That puts a lot of strain on the bubble.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten. Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to GunWatch.com.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 10 Comments »
July 9th, 2016

TECH Tip: Empty Chamber Indicator for Rimfire Rifles

Larry Medler has come up with another smart little invention–a simple, inexpensive Empty Chamber Indicator for rimfire rifles. It is made from a section of plastic “weed-wacker” line and a wooden ball from a hobby shop.

Medler Rimfire Empty Chamber Indicator

Larry explains: “At all Highpower rifle matches, silhouette matches, and other shooting events I have attended, Open Bore Indicators (OBI), or what are now called Empty Chamber Indicators (ECI) have been mandatory. The NRA’s yellow ECI for Highpower rifles is easy to use and has been well-received by the shooters. However, I had not seen a truely workable ECI for 22 rimfire rifles–until I visited Michigan’s Washtenaw Sportsman’s Club where I saw juniors using ECIs for their 17 Caliber Air Rifles. Someone at the club made the empty chamber indicators by attaching an 8″ piece of weed wacker line to a 1″-diameter wooden ball, painted bright yellow. I now make similar ECIs for the 22 rimfire silhouette matches I run.”

Construction Method: First, drill a 7/64” diameter hole all the way through the 1″-diameter wooden ball. Then enlarge half of that 1″-long hole using a 13/64” diameter drill. Next insert an 8″ piece of heavy duty (0.095″ diameter) weed wacker line through the ball, leaving about 2″ on the side with the bigger-diameter hole. Then, with the short end of the line, fold over the last half-inch so the line is doubled-over on itself. Then slide the line into the ball, stuffing the doubled-over section through the 13/64″ (large) hole. Finally, pull the longer end of the line until the doubled-over section is flush with the outside of the ball. This gives you a sturdy line attachment without messy adhesives. When the assembly’s complete, hold the ECI by the tail and dip the ball in yellow paint. If you’re making more than one ECI, you can drill horizontal holes in a spare block of wood and use that as a drying rack.

Permalink Competition, Tech Tip 3 Comments »