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May 31st, 2022

Summer Varmint Adventures — Gear, Cartridge Choices, Planning

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

Will you be heading to the varmint fields this summer? Proper planning is key to a safe, satisfying, and productive varmint holiday. Of course you’ll be busy reloading, but you should make a check-list of all the gear and supplies you need. Bring a variety of rifles if possible — you’ll need to switch off as one barrel gets hot, and the chambering that works best for your close shots may not be ideal for those longer shots out past 400 yards. Here are some tips from our Forum members that can help you shoot more effectively, and avoid problems on your varmint hunt. Here’s one key tip: at your shooting station, put a strip of surveyor’s tape on a tall stake to show the wind direction. Then shoot in the direction the wind blows. This will minimize the effect of cross-winds.

Savage LR Precision Varminter

Varmint Safari Planning, Equipment, and Shooting Advice

From PatchHound: “The gear you bring will make or break a trip out to Prairie Dog land. A lot has to do with where you going and how far you are from [civilization]. For starters, bring lots of water. It will be hot in Wyoming in a few more weeks but it don’t hurt to bring warm clothes in case it snows. It’s best to wear leather boots unless you’re real good at dodging cactus while walking around. Good sunscreen [and a wide-brimmed hat] will save the day too. [What you need to bring] really depends on whether you’re shooting on some friendly ranch or 100 miles in the middle of [a wilderness area]. Good survival gear is a good thing to have for the latter!”

Savage LR Precision Varminter
This photo is from a Dan Eigen TV Show video featuring a P-Dog hunt.

From Stoner25mkiv: “I’d suggest an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. A laser rangefinder is a huge asset. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. We also take a couple pivoting benches, heavy movers’ pad/blanket, sandbags (Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag) for shooting from near the vehicle. Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.

Uncle Bud's Bulls Bag

Anyway, on to the rifles…consider bringing a 17 HMR, .223 Ackley bolt gun, .223 Ackley AR, and a 243 WSSM. Some years the 17 HMR isn’t removed from its case. We had a couple windless days and the 17 was lots of fun. I’d walk into the dogtown and then lay down and wait. After five minutes or so I’d have dogs within easy rimfire range, and out to as far as I’d care to stretch the rimfire. 275 yards was about it.”

From CTShooter: “The .204 [Ruger] is a laser beam and good to 400 yards easy. Forget the rimfire! Do you have a portable bench that pivots? Bring bipod, binocs. Bring a LOT of water. I have a milspec sniper shooter’s mat/drag bag with shoulder straps. It is good to carry everything when you want to wander off and shoot prone with bipod. Here’s a view through my 6BR in ND.”

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

From RJinTexas: “In most of the locations that we’ll be shooting we’ll usually set up a minimum of 200 yards from the edge of a major dog town. We’ll start by working over the close-in dogs and shooting our way out, some of these towns may run in excess of 500/600 yards deep. I believe that a rimfire will put you at a distinct disadvantage. The only rimfire that will somewhat work is the 17 HMR and you can reload for your 204s for close to the cost of HMR ammo and you’ll be less apt to be under-gunned. Your 204 will work well out to 300/400 yards unless the wind is blowing hard. We classify a 10-mph crosswind as a very calm day and what makes it a little more challenging is that it is usually also gusting.”

From Wes (P1ZombieKiller): “[For my first PD trip] there are so many things I was not ready for. The one thing that I did bring (that no one told me about) was a canopy. I’m glad I did. Even though the weather was [near perfect], I know that sun can humble you real fast. With my pop-up canopy, I could shoot all day without getting killed by the sun. You had to tie the canopy down real well or the wind would blow it across the pasture.

We sat on shooting benches that pivot 360°, and are fast and easy to set up. Most all shots were 175-250 yards. I just felt comfortable at that range. It was more fun for me to be able to film the hits, and the camcorder I was using just did not get good video past 350 yards. The digital zoom distorted the image too much. I knew I would only get this one chance to film my first P-dog outing, and I wanted to get it on film for [posterity].”

Bring Multiple Rifles on Your Varmint Adventures

On our P-Dog adventures, we like to have multiple rifles — a .17 HMR for close work, then maybe a .20 Practical AR for 150-250 yards, then a larger caliber such as 22 BR, 6BRA, 6 Dasher or 6XC for those long shots. The classic 22-250 is also a wickedly effective varmint cartridge.

Prairie dog adventure varmint hunting

.20 Practical (20-223 Rem) AR-Platform Varminter
Here is a .20 Practical built by Robert Whitley. Whitley’s Ultimate Prairie Dog Rifle (PDR) features a 24″ Bartlein 11-twist cut-rifled barrel, DPMS side-charging upper, and a Jewell trigger. It is chambered in 20 Practical, a cartridge popularized by Warren “Fireball” Brookman.

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

This .20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Remington necked down to .204. You can use your existing .223 Rem brass — no special case-forming required! The 20 Practical is accurate, flat-shooting, and has almost no recoil. The advantage over the standard .223 Remington is that, grain for grain, the bullets have a higher BC and travel at a higher velocity for more dramatic effect on a small varmint. The ultra-low recoil allows you to easily see your hits, even without a muzzle brake. The 20 Practical, launching 40-grainers at about 3750 fps, shoots flatter than a .223 Rem with 55gr hollowpoints.

.17 HMR Savage A17 Varmint Rifle
We also like to have a Rimfire for the closer shots, inside 150 yards. The .17 HMR or .17 WSM are good choices. With a rimfire you save on ammo costs and you don’t waste precious centerfire barrel life.

This video shows a successful Prairie Dog hunt with a .17 HMR. Watch and you’ll see hits out to 160 yards (00:50), proving the effective range of the 17 HMR cartridge. The host is shooting a Savage A17 semi-auto 17 HMR rifle in a Boyds laminated stock.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
May 10th, 2022

Varmint Cartridge Options and Tips for Novice Varmint Hunters

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Here is one of Bill Reid’s 6mmBR (6BR) rigs. Like his Sako 6 PPC, this is exceptionally accurate.

AccurateShooter Forum member Bill White (aka “CT10Ring”) is a New Yorker who relocated to Idaho in his senior years. From his Idaho home, Bill enjoys long-range target shooting. But his favorite gun pastime is varmint hunting in nearby states — the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. Every year he loads up his truck and hits the road, often doing a grand circle route, visiting prairie dog havens in multiple states.

Bill has a large rifle collection, most of which see duty in the varmint fields of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Here are his key “take-aways” for his eight favorite varmint chamberings: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .22-250, .22 BR, .22-243, 6 PPC, 6mmBR, and 6-6.5×47 Lapua (aka 6×47).

Eight Great Varmint Cartridge Types — .204, .224, .243 Calibers

.204 Ruger — This delivers great velocity with the little .20-caliber bullets, with mild recoil. The .204 Ruger easily reaches out to 400 yards, but heavier winds do move the tiny bullet around. Tremendous splat factor under 250 yards. I use Sierra 39gr bullets with IMR 8208 XBR in a Sako 75. Even now, .204 Ruger ammo is relatively easy to find.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

.223 Remington — Probably the most popular centerfire rifle round in the USA, the .223 Rem offers inexpensive brass, and is a great choice for AR-15 owners. If you run short on ammo, you can find it nearly everywhere. I often bring one AR-15 and one .223 Rem bolt gun on varmint safaris. My Rem 700 5R 1:9″-twist barrel likes 53gr V-Max bullets.

.22 BR — My .22 BR is my first choice for most prairie dog missions. Accuracy is superb with necked-down 6mmBR Lapua brass — quarter-MOA and blazing fast. With the right twist rate, this chambering can shoot anything from 40gr FB bullets to 80gr VLDs. Load development is easy. Below is my .22 BR ammo for another varmint trip. I use 55gr Sierra BlitzKings with Varget in my 1:12″-twist Shilen-barreled rifle. 60gr Bergers are very accurate with a fairly flat trajectory for useful distances.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

.22-250 Rem — A classic varmint cartridge, the .22-250 with 50gr V-Maxs delivers spectacular hits. If three P-Dogs happen to be lined up, I’ve witnessed one .22-250 shot take ‘em all out with a triple hit. I currently have five .22-250-chambered rifles: 3 Sako 75s, one Rem 700, and a single shot Nesika that shoots tiny groups. I favor the very deadly Berger 52gr Varmint HP. Making a custom .22-250? With a 1:8″-twist barrel you can use the full weight range of .22-cal bullets, while spinning the lighter bullets fast for “red mist” effect. Remember this cartridge can be a barrel burner. Don’t shoot too many rounds too quickly.

.22-243 Win — This wildcat is even more potent than the .22-250, delivering devastating results on P-Dogs. Run a .243 Win case slowly through a full-length .22-243 die, with plenty of lube to form the brass. I start with Lapua .243 Win brass. There can be some issues necking-down the brass. Watch for donuts forming at the neck-shoulder junction. I bought my .22-243 rifle not sure how it would perform. But now I love shooting it. My .22-243 delivers half-MOA groups with 41.0 grains RL-22 and Hornady 75gr Amax bullets. With those 75-grainers, it’s great in the wind and good to 600 yards easily.

6 PPC — You may consider the 6 PPC a benchrest competition cartridge only, requiring fire-forming. However I have an original Sako 75 single-shot 6 PPC rifle that I load with Sako-headstamp 6 PPC brass (see below) so no fire-forming is required. This Sako 75 came with a test target that measured 0.113″! With my 6 PPC Sako, I found that 58gr V-Maxs, pushed by Vihtavuori N133, are potent out to 300 yards. [Editor’s NOTE: As the Sako brass is no longer available, new 6 PPC shooters will need to fire-form their brass, or try to find Norma 6 PPC brass.]

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6PPC 6 PPC Sako 75 Ruger

6mmBR — The 6mmBR Norma (6BR) offers a nearly unbeatable combination of accuracy, efficiency, and tunability. With the 6BR and a fast twist barrel, you can shoot everything from 40gr flat-base bullets to the latest 105-110gr match bullets. I load Lapua brass, Vihtavuori N135, and Hornady 58, 65, and 75gr bullets for my Krieger 1:14″-twist HV barrel. While this cartridge is capable of long-range accuracy, I usually limit my 6BR shots to 350-400 yards.

6-6.5×47 Lapua — I have a nice 6-6.5×47 Lapua varmint rifle, with Surgeon action and Manners stock. I Cerakoted the barreled action and then bedded the action. Shown below is 6-6.5×47 ammo I loaded for testing. Note how I separated different bullets and powder loads into multiple, labeled bags. Hodgdon H4350 is a great choice for this cartridge — 39 grains H4350 with 105gr Amax was the winner here, but 88gr Bergers also shot well. This cartridge has tremendous “critter dismantling” abilities out to 600-700 yards.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Six Tips for Novice Long Range Varmint Hunters

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

1. Take twice as much ammo you think you may need. The fields could be particularly rich, or, because of wind or other variables, you may have far more misses than expected.

2. When possible, set up with the wind at your back (or, alternatively, directly ahead). This will minimize the effect of cross-winds. Set up a stake with a ribbon to show wind direction.

3. Bring at least two rifles. Ideally one would be a low-recoil rifle with cheaper components for the closer shots. Then bring a rifle with higher-BC bullets for longer shots where wind is a bigger factor.

4. Check the weather before you head out. Prairie dogs like sunshine and calm conditions. If a cloudy, very blustery day is predicted, considering staying in town and cleaning the rifles.

5. Bring plenty of water on a trip. An adult male should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water (or other liquid) every day — more if it’s very hot or you are sweating a lot.

6. Preferably always hunt with a companion. If you do go out solo, have a Garmin inReach SatComm/GPS for emergencies if there is no cell coverage in your location.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
May 4th, 2022

Rimfire Varminting Adventure — Plus Free Varmint Target

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim See

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim SeeRimfire Varmint Adventure
Can you shoot prairie dogs with a .22 LR Rifle? The answer is yes, if you have an accurate rifle, know your drops, and keep your targets within a reasonable distance (inside 240 yards). While the .17 HMR and .17 WSM are much more potent, flat-shooting, and effective P-dog slayers, a talented marksman CAN get good results with a .22 LR rimfire rifle, as ace PRS shooter and gunsmith Jim See recently proved.

Posting on his Facebook Page on 7/9/2020, Jim wrote: “Took out the .22 LR for some LR prairie poodles, there were not many in this town, but it gave me a chance to get some impressive hits. Norma TAC-22 ammo put the smack down on a first-round hit, called head shots at 189 yards. The body-shot dog was a first-round kill at 240 yards. I had one more head shot with a second round hit at 163. The nice part about using the .22 Long Rifle ammo is the [critters] don’t spook too bad, so a follow-up shot with a correction is usually available to get a better wind hold.” Even unsuppressed, a .22 LR rimfire shot makes much less noise than a centerfire round.

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim See

NOTE: The Norma TAC-22 .22 LR ammo used by Jim See offers great bang for the buck. It is quite affordable — a 50rd box is just $4.50 at Palmetto State Armory. Some lots have show outstanding accuracy. These target photos (below) come from Champion Shooters Supply which may have gotten an exceptional lot. This vendor tells us: “We have found this to run very well in Ruger rifles, handguns, and target pistols. These are 5-shot groups at 50 yards with an Anschutz 1913 rifle. This is an incredible value.” Jim says the TAC-22 ammo delivers 1″ groups at 100 yards in his rifle.

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim See
5-year-old Norma TAC-22 results. Current TAC-22 is on sale at $4.50/box at Palmetto State Armory.

Free Sierra Varmint Target — Prairie Enemy

Sierra Bullets has introduced a new line of loaded centerfire varmint ammunition, the Prairie Enemy series of cartridges. Sierra currently offers Prairie Enemy ammo for six cartridge types: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .224 Valkyrie, .22-250 Rem, .243 Win, and 6.5 Creedmoor. To celebrate this new ammo line, Sierra created a colorful Prairie Enemy P-Dog target. Click the image below to download the PDF target.


Click HERE to Download Target PDF »

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim See

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
May 3rd, 2022

17 HMR for Prairie Dog Adventures — Good for Closer Ranges

Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

We are coming into peak Prairie Dog season. For long shots you’ll definitely want a centerfire. We like the 20 Practical in an AR and a 22 BR/BRA in a bolt-action. That will have you covered out to 700 yards. But for shorter shots on small critters — say inside 150 yards — it makes sense to have an accurate 17 HMR rimfire rig. Today’s 17 HMRs are capable of surprising accuracy, rivaling a good centerfire rig, but with way less recoil and much lower cost per shot. And the 17 HMR offers more than double the velocity of a .22 LR — up to 2650 fps with a 17-grain bullet.

Top Shot former Champion Dustin Ellerman likes his Volquartsens, and we can see why. With one of his favorite 17 HMR rimfire varmint rigs, he’s seen some outstanding accuracy with CCI ammo. A few seasons back, on his Facebook page, Dustin reported: “Prepping for prairie dogs and I’m floored by this cold, sub-half-inch group shot with the Volquartsen Custom 17 HMR at 100 yards.” This thumbhole-stock rifle features a Bowers Group USS suppressor, and 3-12x56mm Meopta Scope. Dustin tried different types of CCI 17 HMR ammo. This small group was shot with CCI A17 ammo.

Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

What’s the effective range of a 17 HMR on prairie dogs? You might be surprised. in 2015, Dustin took another Volquartsen 17 HMR on a Prairie Dog hunt in Wyoming. He was impressed with the rifle (shown below) and the little rimfire cartridge. Dustin says the effective range of the 17 HMR is farther than one might expect: “I made hits out to 300 yards. 200 yards was easy as long as the wind wasn’t too bad.”

Here’s the Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin used in Wyoming in 2015:
Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

After that 2015 P-Dog expedition, Dustin became a fan of the 17 HMR cartridge: “Never paid it much attention before now because the ammo is five times more expensive than .22 LR and I mostly target shoot. However, for prairie dogs, the 17 HMR is amazing!” Consider this — Hornady’s 17 HMR ammo pushes a 17gr V-Max bullet at 2550 fps, twice as fast as typical .22 LR rounds.

Prairie Dog Adventure with Savage A17

This video shows a successful Prairie Dog hunt. Watch and you’ll see hits out to 160 yards (00:50), proving the effective range of the 17 HMR cartridge. The host is shooting a Savage A17 semi-auto 17 HMR rifle in a Boyds laminated stock.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
July 11th, 2021

Sunday Gunday: Multi-State Varmint Adventures with Bill White

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
This photograph and all images for this story are by Bill White, aka “CT10Ring” in our Forum.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 RugerAccurateShooter Forum member Bill White (aka “CT10Ring”) is not your typical member. For 37 years, Bill worked in NYC as a studio photographer specializing in still lifes and products. A neighbor visiting Bill’s home in Connecticut with a .270 Sako inspired Bill to revive his interest (obsession?) with shooting after a 25-year drought. And he owns a few Sakos now! With his gun hobby renewed, for many years Bill drove to the Western USA to shoot long range steel and a LOT of prairie dogs in season. He loved the life of the varminter, so it made sense for him to move West after retiring. He choose Idaho as his new home.

From his Idaho base, Bill enjoys long-range target shooting. But his favorite gun pastime has been varmint hunting in nearby states — the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. Bill found prairie dog shooting rewarding and mapped out a western circuit route of ranches and National Grasslands in SD, ND, MT, and WY. Every year he loads up his truck and hits the road, often doing a grand circle route, visiting prairie dog havens in multiple states. In this article we feature photos from Bill’s annual “grand circle” varmint safari.

For his many cartridge types, Bill learned about reloading methods, loads, and vendors (and more) primarily from AccurateShooter.com. We start today’s story with the biggest caliber rifle he shoots regularly, his 6.5-284 Winchester. Bill favors this rig for his long-range steel shooting. He also uses it for prairie dog shooting, but only “sparingly”, because he wants to preserve barrel life, and he has many other dedicated varmint rigs.

6.5-284 for Long Range Steel Targets (and Sometimes Varmints)

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

In his home state of Idaho, Bill likes to shoot steel at long range. For distance work, Bill favors his McMillan-stocked 6.5-284 Win. This rifle was crafted in 2012 by Bob Green of York, PA, using a 1:8″-twist 28″ Krieger HV barrel (.298″ neck). The trued Rem 700 action was purchased from Long Rifles in Sturgis, SD. Bill did the Cerakote and bedded the action. For his 6.5-284, Bill loads 139gr Lapua Scenars, H4831sc powder and BR2 primers. He shoots both steel and varmints with this rifle, but the varmint work is limited because the 6.5-284 cartridge tends to be a barrel burner. The photo below from an Idaho range was taken near a 500-yard target, looking back at the firing line.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

In the Varmint Fields — Traveling Light

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Once situated, Bill (shown above) prefers to walk to Prairie Dog towns with a shooting mat, two bipod-equipped rifles slung up, rear bag, water, and his trusty Leica 10X42 GeoVid binoculars. While he has used a portable bench, he prefers to shoot from bipod, firing down from a mound if possible. This allows him to set up a line-of-fire that minimizes cross-wind effects. Bill notes: “While I often start early, end-of-day shooting has worked worked well for me. A setting sun shows targets better, the wind is usually down, and it’s not so hot. Often you can spot the bullet trace and that’s fun.”

Eight Great Varmint Cartridge Types — .204, .224, .243 Calibers

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Here is one of Bill Reid’s 6mmBR (6BR) rigs. Like his Sako 6 PPC, this is exceptionally accurate.

Bill has a large rifle collection, most of which see duty in the varmint fields of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Here are his key “take-aways” for his eight favorite varmint chamberings: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .22-250, .22 BR, .22-243, 6 PPC, 6mmBR, and 6-6.5×47 Lapua (aka 6×47).

.204 Ruger — This delivers great velocity with the little .20-caliber bullets, with mild recoil. The .204 Ruger easily reaches out to 400 yards, but heavier winds do move the tiny bullet around. Tremendous splat factor under 250 yards. I use Sierra 39gr bullets with IMR 8208 XBR in a Sako 75. Even now, .204 Ruger ammo is relatively easy to find.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

.223 Remington — Probably the most popular centerfire rifle round in the USA, the .223 Rem offers inexpensive brass, and is a great choice for AR-15 owners. If you run short on ammo, you can find it nearly everywhere. I often bring one AR-15 and one .223 Rem bolt gun on varmint safaris. My Rem 700 5R 1:9″-twist barrel likes 53gr V-Max bullets.

.22 BR — My .22 BR is my first choice for most prairie dog missions. Accuracy is superb with necked-down 6mmBR Lapua brass — quarter-MOA and blazing fast. With the right twist rate, this chambering can shoot anything from 40gr FB bullets to 80gr VLDs. Load development is easy. Below is my .22 BR ammo for another varmint trip. I use 55gr Sierra BlitzKings with Varget in my 1:12″-twist Shilen-barreled rifle. 60gr Bergers are very accurate with a fairly flat trajectory for useful distances.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

.22-250 Rem — A classic varmint cartridge, the .22-250 with 50gr V-Maxs delivers spectacular hits. If three P-Dogs happen to be lined up, I’ve witnessed one .22-250 shot take ‘em all out with a triple hit. I currently have five .22-250-chambered rifles: 3 Sako 75s, one Rem 700, and a single shot Nesika that shoots tiny groups. I favor the very deadly Berger 52gr Varmint HP. Making a custom .22-250? With a 1:8″-twist barrel you can use the full weight range of .22-cal bullets, while spinning the lighter bullets fast for “red mist” effect. Remember this cartridge can be a barrel burner. Don’t shoot too many rounds too quickly.

.22-243 Win — This wildcat is even more potent than the .22-250, delivering devastating results on P-Dogs. Run a .243 Win case slowly through a full-length .22-243 die, with plenty of lube to form the brass. I start with Lapua .243 Win brass. There can be some issues necking-down the brass. Watch for donuts forming at the neck-shoulder junction. I bought my .22-243 rifle not sure how it would perform. But now I love shooting it. My .22-243 delivers half-MOA groups with 41.0 grains RL-22 and Hornady 75gr Amax bullets. With those 75-grainers, it’s great in the wind and good to 600 yards easily.

6 PPC — You may consider the 6 PPC a benchrest competition cartridge only, requiring fire-forming. However I have an original Sako 75 single-shot 6 PPC rifle that I load with Sako-headstamp 6 PPC brass (see below) so no fire-forming is required. This Sako 75 came with a test target that measured 0.113″! With my 6 PPC Sako, I found that 58gr V-Maxs, pushed by Vihtavuori N133, are potent out to 300 yards.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6PPC 6 PPC Sako 75 Ruger

6mmBR — The 6mmBR Norma (6BR) offers a nearly unbeatable combination of accuracy, efficiency, and tunability. With the 6BR and a fast twist barrel, you can shoot everything from 40gr flat-base bullets to the latest 105-110gr match bullets. I load Lapua brass, Vihtavuori N135, and Hornady 58, 65, and 75gr bullets for my Krieger 1:14″-twist HV barrel. While this cartridge is capable of long-range accuracy, I usually limit my 6BR shots to 350-400 yards.

6-6.5×47 Lapua — In this story’s lead photo is my 6-6.5×47 Lapua varmint rifle, with Surgeon action and Manners stock. I Cerakoted the barreled action and then bedded the action. Shown below is 6-6.5×47 ammo I loaded for recent testing. Note how I separated different bullets and powder loads into multiple, labeled bags. Hodgdon H4350 is a great choice for this cartridge — 39 grains H4350 with 105gr Amax was the winner here, but 88gr Bergers also shot well. This cartridge has tremendous “critter dismantling” abilities out to 600-700 yards.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Six Tips for Novice Long Range Varmint Hunters

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

1. Take twice as much ammo you think you may need. The fields could be particularly rich, or, because of wind or other variables, you may have far more misses than expected.

2. When possible, set up with the wind at your back (or, alternatively, directly ahead). This will minimize the effect of cross-winds. Set up a stake with a ribbon to show wind direction.

3. Bring at least two rifles. Ideally one would be a low-recoil rifle with cheaper components for the closer shots. Then bring a rifle with higher-BC bullets for longer shots where wind is a bigger factor.

4. Check the weather before you head out. Prairie dogs like sunshine and calm conditions. If a cloudy, very blustery day is predicted, considering staying in town and cleaning the rifles.

5. Bring plenty of water on a trip. An adult male should be drinking at least 64 ounces of water (or other liquid) every day — more if it’s very hot or you are sweating a lot.

6. Preferably always hunt with a companion. If you do go out solo, have a Garmin inReach SatComm/GPS for emergencies if there is no cell coverage in your location.

Veteran Varmint Hunter Shares his Secrets

Where to Find Abundant Prairie Dogs — Generally, black-tailed P-Dogs are found in the Western high desert, in the same states/areas where cattle are raised. You’ll find good hunting in Montana, North and South Dakota, Colorado, and Wyoming. There are good hunting grounds on private ranches, BLM tracts, and U.S. National Grasslands. To find specific locations, I’d suggest calling the USFS, BLM, and State Fish & Game. Some have lists of ranches that allow P-Dog shooting. Give the agencies a call before your trip and then check in with ranchers. IMPORTANT: You need a current hunting license in some states.

How to Connect with Ranch Owners– A good varmint adventure can begin with a local connection. Stop into the local Ag/feed store and the town breakfast spot. I bet you’ll find some retired ranchers having coffee together who may direct you to a place that needs rodents thinned out. Let’s say you’re in Roundup, Montana. Stop by a local store and ask what ranchers allow PD shooting. Keep in mind that ranchers may be wary of allowing a total stranger to sling lead on their place. Show respect and if you had a good experience, send a thank-you note. A guided shoot is worth considering — the outfitter will know where the P-Dogs are and he has arrangements with landowners. He may even supply benches. I’ve taken two guided trips, with excellent results, one near Sturgis, SD, and the other on Sioux tribal land near Rosebud, SD.

Getting Set Up — I start early in the a.m. to mitigate mirage. Plus there is usually less wind at that hour. I prefer to drive to within half mile or so of a PD town, then walk and shoot prone. Most shooters like to set up a rotating bench on a knoll. This is a tried-and-true way to shoot long distances accurately, especially if you are on top of a hill and can shoot 360 degrees. I once shot from a rotating bench, but I prefer walking now. Some country is quite stunning and that’s half the fun — being out in nature. But yes there are negatives to shooting prone — ground hazards and tall grass can impede your vision.

Equipment for a Serious P-Dog Safari — In the field, I normally carry two rifles with Harris 9-13″ bipods, backpack, a rolled-up shooting mat, at least two liters of water, food, ammo, two rear bags, and binoculars. A good laser rangefinder comes in handy. If you prefer shooting from a bench you may want to have a front rest and a spotting scope. Many guys will shoot prone from the bed of a truck. That gets you off the ground without the need to haul around a heavy bench. But some locations restrict vehicles. Before a P-Dog trip, I make a detailed pack list and check off as I load my truck and camper. I would suggest bringing waterproof rubber or muck boots. June in South Dakota can be cold and wet, and the mud there is not to be believed. Don’t attempt to drive off road in it!

It’s good insurance to bring an extra 5 gallons of fuel for your vehicle in a jerry can and 2 gallons of H20. There may be NO shade for miles and dehydration is a real possibility. Having a couple heavy duty tarps will provide a sun shade and cover your gear in a rainstorm. I bring a 16″ X 20″ plywood target backer, a stand, and paper targets. This allows me to check zero on each rifle before I head out to the Dog Town.

Western Varmint Country Vistas

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger
Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Taking Photos on Shooting Adventures

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 RugerBill knows a thing or two about taking pictures, having been a professional photographer in NYC for many decades. He uses modern digital cameras for both his outdoor and indoor work. Most photos in this story were taken with a Canon EOS 5DSR MKIV. We asked Bill for some tips on taking good photos. Here are his FIVE Top Tips for Photography:

1. Take photos in the early a.m. and later p.m. when the light has definition. Mid-day results will not be so nice.
2. Use the highest-resolution camera available that fits your budget. Yes lens quality, focus, and exposure controls make a big difference.
3. When feasible, shoot using a manual setting with the lens wide open (for shallow focus). Set the focus on the most important object/subject in the frame.
4. Photoshop is useful, especially when RAW images need to be corrected to show the scene more faithfully, or enhance it.
5. After you take a picture, before you post it on social media, learn to crop the image, straighten the horizon, and do other basic fixes. This can make a big difference.

Bill white varmint hunting North South Dakota Wyoming 6x47 6.5-284 22BR .204 Ruger

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June 29th, 2021

Varmint Safari Notebook — Tips for a Summer P-Dog Adventure

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

Will you be heading to the varmint fields this summer? Proper planning is key to a safe, satisfying, and productive varmint holiday. Of course you’ll be busy reloading, but you should make a check-list of all the gear and supplies you need. Bring a variety of rifles if possible — you’ll need to switch off as one barrel gets hot, and the chambering that works best for your close shots may not be ideal for those longer shots out past 400 yards. Here are some tips from our Forum members that can help you shoot more effectively, and avoid problems on your varmint hunt. Here’s one key tip: at your shooting station, put a strip of surveyor’s tape on a tall stake to show the wind direction. Then shoot in the direction the wind blows. This will minimize the effect of cross-winds.

Savage LR Precision Varminter

Varmint Safari Planning, Equipment, and Shooting Advice

From PatchHound: “The gear you bring will make or break a trip out to Prairie Dog land. A lot has to do with where you going and how far you are from [civilization]. For starters, bring lots of water. It will be hot in Wyoming in a few more weeks but it don’t hurt to bring warm clothes in case it snows. It’s best to wear leather boots unless you’re real good at dodging cactus while walking around. Good sunscreen [and a wide-brimmed hat] will save the day too. [What you need to bring] really depends on whether you’re shooting on some friendly ranch or 100 miles in the middle of [a wilderness area]. Good survival gear is a good thing to have for the latter!”

Savage LR Precision Varminter
This photo is from a Dan Eigen TV Show video featuring a P-Dog hunt.

From Stoner25mkiv: “I’d suggest an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. A laser rangefinder is a huge asset. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. We also take a couple pivoting benches, heavy movers’ pad/blanket, sandbags (Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag) for shooting from near the vehicle. Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.

Uncle Bud's Bulls Bag

Anyway, on to the rifles…consider bringing a 17 HMR, .223 Ackley bolt gun, .223 Ackley AR, and a 243 WSSM. Some years the 17 HMR isn’t removed from its case. We had a couple windless days and the 17 was lots of fun. I’d walk into the dogtown and then lay down and wait. After five minutes or so I’d have dogs within easy rimfire range, and out to as far as I’d care to stretch the rimfire. 275 yards was about it.”

From CTShooter: “The .204 [Ruger] is a laser beam and good to 400 yards easy. Forget the rimfire! Do you have a portable bench that pivots? Bring bipod, binocs. Bring a LOT of water. I have a milspec sniper shooter’s mat/drag bag with shoulder straps. It is good to carry everything when you want to wander off and shoot prone with bipod. Here’s a view through my 6BR in ND.”

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

From RJinTexas: “In most of the locations that we’ll be shooting we’ll usually set up a minimum of 200 yards from the edge of a major dog town. We’ll start by working over the close-in dogs and shooting our way out, some of these towns may run in excess of 500/600 yards deep. I believe that a rimfire will put you at a distinct disadvantage. The only rimfire that will somewhat work is the 17 HMR and you can reload for your 204s for close to the cost of HMR ammo and you’ll be less apt to be under-gunned. Your 204 will work well out to 300/400 yards unless the wind is blowing hard. We classify a 10-mph crosswind as a very calm day and what makes it a little more challenging is that it is usually also gusting.”

From Wes (P1ZombieKiller): “[For my first PD trip] there are so many things I was not ready for. The one thing that I did bring (that no one told me about) was a canopy. I’m glad I did. Even though the weather was [near perfect], I know that sun can humble you real fast. With my pop-up canopy, I could shoot all day without getting killed by the sun. You had to tie the canopy down real well or the wind would blow it across the pasture.

We sat on shooting benches that pivot 360°, and are fast and easy to set up. Most all shots were 175-250 yards. I just felt comfortable at that range. It was more fun for me to be able to film the hits, and the camcorder I was using just did not get good video past 350 yards. The digital zoom distorted the image too much. I knew I would only get this one chance to film my first P-dog outing, and I wanted to get it on film for [posterity].”

Bring Multiple Rifles on Your Varmint Adventures

On our P-Dog adventures, we like to have multiple rifles — a .17 HMR for close work, then maybe a .20 Practical AR for 150-250 yards, then a larger caliber such as 6BRA, 6 Dasher or 6XC for those long shots. The classic 22-250 is also a wickedly effective varmint cartridge.

Prairie dog adventure varmint hunting

.20 Practical (20-223 Rem) AR-Platform Varminter
Here is a .20 Practical built by Robert Whitley. Whitley’s Ultimate Prairie Dog Rifle (PDR) features a 24″ Bartlein 11-twist cut-rifled barrel, DPMS side-charging upper, and a Jewell trigger. It is chambered in 20 Practical, a cartridge popularized by Warren “Fireball” Brookman.

varmint hunting prairie dog dakota dogtown

This .20 Practical cartridge is simply the .223 Remington necked down to .204. You can use your existing .223 Rem brass — no special case-forming required! The 20 Practical is accurate, flat-shooting, and has almost no recoil. The advantage over the standard .223 Remington is that, grain for grain, the bullets have a higher BC and travel at a higher velocity for more dramatic effect on a small varmint. The ultra-low recoil allows you to easily see your hits, even without a muzzle brake. The 20 Practical, launching 40-grainers at about 3750 fps, shoots flatter than a .223 Rem with 55gr hollowpoints.

.17 HMR Savage A17 Varmint Rifle
We also like to have a Rimfire for the closer shots, inside 150 yards. The .17 HMR or .17 WSM are good choices. With a rimfire you save on ammo costs and you don’t waste precious centerfire barrel life.

This video shows a successful Prairie Dog hunt with a .17 HMR. Watch and you’ll see hits out to 160 yards (00:50), proving the effective range of the 17 HMR cartridge. The host is shooting a Savage A17 semi-auto 17 HMR rifle in a Boyds laminated stock.

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June 27th, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Tennessee Triple — Voldoc’s Varmint Rifles

Varmint rifles 20 BR Stiller Diamondback 6mm Dasher

Shooting Prairie Dogs at extreme long range takes some highly specialized equipment. Forum Member VolDoc and his friends have taken long-range varminting to a whole new level. With his Savage-based, Hart-barreled 20 BR, VolDoc managed a verified 1,032-yard Prairie Dog kill, possibly the longest recorded with a .20-Caliber rifle. But that’s just part of VolDoc’s impressive precision varminting arsenal. Here we showcase three of VolDoc’s accurate rigs: his stunning English Walnut Diamondback 6BR/Dasher, his Nesika-actioned “Orange Crush” Dasher, and the 1K Prairie Dog-slaying 20 BR Savage.

Diamondback Switch-Barrel Rifle Specifications
The action is a Stiller Diamondback, drop-port. The custom stock is similar to a Shehane ST-1000, but crafted from 40-year-old English Walnut. [Editor’s note: the wood on this gun is gorgeous!] There are three barrels for the gun with three different chamberings: 6BR Brux 1:8″-twist HV; 6BRX Krieger 1:8″-twist HV, and 6mm Dasher Krieger 1:8.5″ twist fluted straight contour (no taper). The scope is a Nightforce 12-42x56mm, with 2DD reticle.

Stiller Diamondback 6mm Dasher English Walnut

Comments: This rifle is a good study in comparison of the three different chamberings. On the same rifle platform (same stock and action), each of these barrels had killed prairie dogs over 1,000 yards. So if someone asks which is best, a 6BR, or 6BRX, or 6 Dasher, VolDoc says they are all effective. The improved cartridges will deliver higher velocities, which can be an advantage. On the other hand it is simpler to load 6mmBR brass right out of the box, and it’s easy to find an accurate load for the 6mmBR (see photo).

Stiller Diamondback 6mm Dasher English Walnut

Nesika 6mmBR/Dasher Rifle Specifications
VolDoc’s “Big Orange Crush” rifle has a stainless Nesika ‘J’ action, with 2 oz. Jewell trigger, in a painted fiberglass Shehane ST-1000 stock. Originally a 6BR, the gun is now chambered as a 6mm Dasher with a .271 no-turn neck. The barrel is a 1:12″-twist Krieger fited with Vais muzzle brake. On top is a NightForce NXS 12-42x56mm scope with double-dot reticle. The double-dot gives precise aiming and lower dot can be used as an aming point, when you need a few more MOA of elevation in the field.

Nesika 6BR 6mm Dasher

Comments: Big Orange Crush shoots 87gr V-Maxs into bugholes at 3,400 fps. VolDoc’s load with the 87s is very stout, more than 32 grains of Vihtavuori N-135 with Wolf SRM primers. Cases are full-length sized, with an 0.266″ bushing for the necks.

Nesicka 6BR 6mm Dasher
This 3400 fps load with the 87gr V-Maxs has accounted for hundreds of Prairie Dogs killed from 97 yards to 1,050 yards. The 87gr V-Max at this speed literally picks Prairie Dogs up and throws them 10 feet vertically and laterally. VolDoc reports: “The barrel now has more than 3,000 rounds down the tube and exhibits little throat fire-cracking and no loss of accuracy. I can’t explain why, it just hasn’t deteriorated yet. This rifle is my best-ever ‘go-to’ Prairie Dog rifle.”

Savage 20 BR Rifle Specifications
The action is a Savage Dual Port, with an aftermarket Sharp Shooter Supply (SSS) 4 oz. Evolution trigger. The stock is a modified Savage factory unit that has been pillar-bedded. The factory barrel was replaced with a 28″ Hart stainless, 1:9″ twist barrel fitted with a Rayhill muzzle brake. The gun is chambered in 20 BR with a 0.235″ no-turn neck. Kevin Rayhill did the smithing. To provide enough elevation to shoot at 1,000 yards plus, Ray fitted a +20 MOA Bench Source scope base. This +20 rail is very well-crafted, and made especially for the Savage Model 12.

Savage 20BR

Comments: VolDoc reports: “When I got the Savage back from Kevin Rayhill, it still had my 6 BR factory barrel on it, as I use it to compete in Factory-class regional matches. I put on the new 20 BR Hart barrel Kevin had chambered and quickly put in a full day of load development using the 55gr Bergers (0.381 G1 BC) and the 40gr V-Maxs. Both proved very easy to tune and I soon had my loads. My 55gr Berger load with runs about 3590 fps. Varget was very accurate with the 55s (see load dev. targets below).

Savage 20BR load development targets

The mild recoil of the 20 BR, along with a very good muzzle break (Rayhill’s design) enables me to spot every hit or miss myself. Kevin also re-contoured the underside of the Savage stock so it tracks straight back on recoil, also making seeing hits easier.”

The 20 Caliber 1000-Yard Prairie Dog Quest

Savage 20BRMaking the 1032-Yard Shot with a 20 BR
by Dr. John S. (aka “VolDoc”)
This article covers my recent successful quest for a 20-caliber varmint kill past 1,000 yards. This may be a first — I couldn’t find anyone else with a confirmed 20-Cal Prairie Dog kill at 1000+. I started a thread on the Varmint section of the AccurateShooter.com Forum about building a 20 BR capable of 1,000-yard Minute of Prairie Dog accuracy and many said 20 Cal bullets just could not do it. Some came to my defense and said those that doubted had never studied the ballistics of the 20BR with the new Berger 55gr bullets now available. Well, folks, I can tell you, hitting a Prairie Dog at 1000 yards isn’t easy — but it IS possible. Here’s how it was done….

Gale-Force Winds and High Temps
After arriving at our Prairie Dog Ranch in Colorado, I soon realized my quest was going to be especially difficult because we had continual 40+ mph winds and 100° heat every day. We had a special place where Birdog and I had made many 1,000-yard+ kills in years past, so I knew the ideal location but needed a small window of opportunity either early morning or late afternoon. Based on past experience, I knew I needed about 21 MOA from my 100-yard zero to get to 1,000 yards. On the first day of the Safari, I shot the 20 BR in the 45 mph brutal winds and heat of 97°. But after about 20 shots, I connected on a dog and lifted him about three feet high. Well, that’s a start.

Savage 20BR

Winds Subside — Here’s Our Chance …
On the second day of our shoot, I had listened to the early weather forecast, so I knew that there was to be a brief period of light winds early in the morning. We were out on the Colorado prairie at daylight and the conditions were perfect. The sunrise was at my back and we had about a 10 mph tailwind. I looked through my Leica Geovid Rangefinder Binos and the Prairie Dogs were out for breakfast. I quickly ranged the targets and found a group at about 1,050 yards. The technique is to find the dogs, range them, click-up according to your ballistic chart and shoot.

Savage 20BR

My first shot was very, very close. I added about four clicks up and a couple of clicks left for windage and let another go. That shot threw dirt all over, but the dog didn’t even flinch. This is another good point to remember about long-range Prairie Dog hunting. To be successful, the dogs can’t be too skittish, because if they have been shot at even a few times, they will go down and stay down. So, you should have an agreement with those in your party as to where each member is going to be shooting and respect this boundary. Drive-by shooting style is OK if that’s your thing, it’s just not mine.

Savage 20BRHitting the Mark — Dead Dog at 1032 Yards
On the fourth shot, I saw the dog go belly up and kick its final throws. My quest for the 20-Caliber 1,000-yard Prairie Dog had become a reality. We confirmed the distance with our lasers at 1,032 yards. Our technique for retrieving a dead dog at that range is worth mentioning. When I killed that dog, I left it in the crosshairs of my Nightforce scope. My shooting buddy kept looking through the scope (of my gun) and guided me to the deceased dog using Motorola walkie-talkies. When I got to the dog I was jubilant. I marked it with my tripod and orange jacket, and we took some pictures. (See view through scope photo below). The 55gr Bergers require a center mass hit as they will not expand, especially at that range. I centered this dog in the head — his BAD LUCK, my GOOD.

After making the 1,032-yard kill, I shot many many other Prairie Dogs with the Savage 20 BR using the 40gr V-Maxs. The dog flights were spectacular — red mist and helicopters, counter-clockwise or clockwise on demand. I killed at least five at over 500 yards. I will not use the 55 Bergers on Prairie Dogs again since the quest is over. I will use the 40gr V-Maxs and 39gr Sierra BlitzKings for next trip’s 20 BR fodder.

Savage 20BR

CLICK HERE for More Info on Voldoc’s 20 BR Savage Varmint rifle »

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July 22nd, 2020

Accuracy Requirements for Prairie Dog Hunting Ammunition

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure
Photo by Forum member R. Hardy. View Related Thread.

Summer’s here, so many folks will head to the hinterlands on prairie dog safaris. On a good P-Dog adventure, you may shoot hundreds of rounds over a long weekend. So you’ll need plenty of ammo. With these ammo volume requirements, you probably won’t have time to load to benchrest standards, and you may not have the budget for match-grade bullets. To save time you may throw (rather than weigh) your charges, or even load on a progressive press. This all raises the question of ammo accuracy — how good is “good enough”? A Sierra Bullets expert answers that question here — explaining how to efficiently load ammo for varmint work.

Ammunition Accuracy Requirements 101 — Varmint Ammo

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

This story based on article by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd
I load and shoot ammunition for a living. In my duties here at Sierra I constantly test bullet accuracy for our production needs. Because of this, I shoot a variety of different calibers and cartridges on a daily basis and a large demand of this shooting is keeping the guns and loads tuned for optimum accuracy. I have a very narrow window of tolerances to maintain in order to provide our customers (you) with the most accurate bullets on the market.

I have learned many tricks and techniques over the years to tuning a load, prepping brass, and cleaning barrels to keep a gun shooting. I often utilize the things I have learned and take them to extreme levels when competing in a shooting event. I also often ignore most of these things (other than safety) and simplify the process if the shooting I will be doing does not warrant.

Recently I went on a prairie dog shoot in Wyoming with some good friends. The targets cooperated as did the weather with the exception of some challenging winds we experienced. We had a great time and make a lot of hits on those small rodents. When loading for the .223 Remington rifles and the TC Contender, I cut a few corners in the ammunition-loading process due to both time constraints and accuracy needed. When shooting at a prairie dog a miss is simply that, but when shooting at say the X-Ring at 1000-yard competition, a poorly-placed shot [harms your] placing in the match. Because of this, I can afford to miss an occasional shot at a varmint due to ammunition capability without worry but will not allow the same tolerances in my match ammo. For the Wyoming trip I utilized a powder measure and simply dumped the charges into primed cases that had been full-length sized and primed.

Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

I had measured enough for length to know that while there was some variance all were under maximum length. I know there is some variation of the measure I utilized but not significant enough to warrant weighing every charge. When seating the bullets a competition seating die was used and I verified OAL on the occasional cartridge to make sure nothing changed.

This varmint ammo, with thrown charges, put TEN shots inside ONE inch at 200 yards. That’s half MOA. Good Enough? Absolutely!
Wyoming varmint hunt prairie dog Sierra Bullets Tommy Todd Reloading accuracy powder measure

The ammo produced shot under one inch at 200 yards in one of the guns I planned on taking on to Wyoming with me. [Editor: That was for TEN Shots — see above.] I knew I had loaded ammunition that was quite suitable for the task at hand which was evidenced by the number of hits I was able to make at fairly long range.

NOTE: The author, Tommy Todd, explains that, when loading ammo for F-Class matches, he uses more exacting methods. He weighs every charge and seats his bullets carefully with an arbor press. Todd adapts his methodology for his particular application. The lesson here is to load to the level of precision demanded by your discipline. READ Full Story HERE.

Varmint Prairie Dog hunting safari reloading powder measure Tommy Todd

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July 11th, 2020

Small Varmint Hunting with .22 LR — and FREE Varmint Target

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim See

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim SeeRimfire Varmint Adventure
Can you shoot prairie dogs with a .22 LR Rifle? The answer is yes, if you have an accurate rifle, know your drops, and keep your targets within a reasonable distance (inside 240 yards). While the .17 HMR and .17 WSM are much more potent, flat-shooting, and effective P-dog slayers, a talented marksman CAN get good results with a .22 LR rimfire rifle, as ace PRS shooter and gunsmith Jim See recently proved.

Posting on his Facebook Page on 7/9/2020, Jim wrote: “Took out the .22 LR for some LR prairie poodles, there were not many in this town, but it gave me a chance to get some impressive hits. Norma TAC-22 ammo put the smack down on a first-round hit, called head shots at 189 yards. The body-shot dog was a first-round kill at 240 yards. I had one more head shot with a second round hit at 163. The nice part about using the .22 Long Rifle ammo is the [critters] don’t spook too bad, so a follow-up shot with a correction is usually available to get a better wind hold.” Even unsuppressed, a .22 LR rimfire shot makes much less noise than a centerfire round.

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim See

NOTE: The Norma TAC-22 .22 LR ammo used by Jim See offers great bang for the buck. It is quite affordable — a 50rd box is just $4.41 at Midsouth Shooters. Some lots have show outstanding accuracy. These target photos (below) come from Champion Shooters Supply which may have gotten an exceptional lot. This vendor tells us: “We have found this to run very well in Ruger rifles, handguns, and target pistols. These are 5-shot groups at 50 yards with an Anschutz 1913 rifle. This is an incredible value.” Jim says the TAC-22 delivers 1″ groups at 100 yards in his rifle.

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim See

Free Sierra Varmint Target — Prairie Enemy

Sierra Bullets has introduced a new line of loaded centerfire varmint ammunition, the Prairie Enemy series of cartridges. Sierra currently offers Prairie Enemy ammo for six cartridge types: .204 Ruger, .223 Rem, .224 Valkyrie, .22-250 Rem, .243 Win, and 6.5 Creedmoor. To celebrate this new ammo line, Sierra created a colorful Prairie Enemy P-Dog target. Click the image below to download the PDF target.


Click Image to Download Target PDF

Norma Tac-22 ammunition .22 LR varmint prairie dog Jim See

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July 3rd, 2020

North Dakota Summer Grasslands Prairie Dog Adventure

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
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. [A few seasons back] I was a part of this group of people… 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.

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May 22nd, 2020

Hunting Prairie Dogs in South Dakota — Varminting Video

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

South Dakota Varmint Hunting SafariNever had a chance to hunt prairie dogs in the American west? Then check out this video. Dan Eigen, host of the We Love It Outdoors Television series, ventured to South Dakota for some varmint hunting. Dan teamed up with Varmint Hunter Association President Jeff Rheborg to patrol some South Dakota Dogtowns where things get serious. In the video, you’ll see p-dog hits at distances from 70 yards to roughly 450 yards. The hunters were shooting from portable, wood-topped swivel rests, using AR-platform rifles on X-type sandbag rest. (Rifle zeroing session is shown at the 5:30+ mark.)

Multiple cameras were employed so you can see both the shooter’s POV and close-ups of the prairie dogs downrange. Watch the shooters having fun with a prairie dog cut-out and some Tannerite at the 9:00-minute mark. This guys are having a grand old time sending critters to Prairie Dog Heaven — we think you’ll enjoy the video.

Prairie Dog Hunting Starts at 2:20 Time-Mark in Video:

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

South Dakota Varmint Hunting Safari

NOTE: This video actually covers three sequences: 1) Three-gun training; 2) Prairie Dog Hunting; and 3) Coyote Hunting. The Prairie Dog segment runs from 2:20 to 15:15. If you wish, you can slide the controls forward or back to watch the other segments.

Video found by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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April 12th, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Ernie Bishop’s Bolt-Action Specialty Pistols

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

Specialty Pistols — Report from Ernie Bishop in Wyoming

For those who know of me in the shooting world, you would probably know me in one of two ways: Dealer for SEB Rests or someone who does most of his competing, varminting, and or hunting with specialty pistols. These are typically bolt-action, single-shot rigs that can be used with a bipod. They can seem very similar to a pistol-grip rifle, but without a conventional buttstock.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

My interest in all things specialty pistols (Remington XP-100, TC Contender, MOA Maximum, Pachmayr Dominator, H-S Precision HSP, etc.) goes back to the early 1980s. Most of the specialty pistols listed are no longer made, so when I discovered that Kauger Arms was making two, I was excited. I have not had much time to shoot my new Kauger “Black Widow” chambered in 6.5×47 Lapua. But so far, the experience has been fun, even though I have not taken it prairie dog shooting yet or hunted big game with it. For this report, I went to my friend Dan’s place as one can load in the house, and simply shoot off his back porch.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

When thinking of a precision shooting platform, most of you would not consider a wood back porch as ideal. But we managed a 0.179″ 3-shot group at 100 yards using a Harris bipod and a small leather bag. Yes the Black Widow can shoot! My load was Lapua brass, Federal 205M primers, Varget powder, and the Hornady 123gr A-Max, with a MV of 2514 fps. I selected the Hornady 123s with prairie dogs in mind. As shown in the top photo, the scope on the Black Widow is a Sightron S-III 6-24 with a Holland’s scope level. The Black Widow also sports a Holland’s Radial Baffle brake.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP
Here is the Black Widow with a different scope base and scope, ready to go on Dan’s porch.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSPThe day we planned to shoot prairie dogs was windy, so we headed to public land nearby and set up steel to get ballistics drop info and simply to play at distance. We had 5″ steel at 220 yards, 10″ steel (diamond) at 510 yards, and 10″ steel (square) at 650 yards. Wind was from 8 mph to just over 20 mph, so the little 123 grainer was getting tossed about, while keeping us humble all at the same time. Regardless of the gusty winds, I considered the session a success!

Kauger Arms has been making parts for a number of companies in the firearm industry for over 20 years. In 2014 when things slowed down for them, they decided to start building rifles and decided to make their own actions. Good decision — these actions, which are machined in a single process to keep everything true to the bore, are great. Bolt manipulation with Kauger’s action is the smoothest I have ever experienced.

Tim Kauger explained features of his actions to me. The Kauger cock-on-opening action has a Rem 700 footprint for action holes and trigger shoe. The semi-coned bolt features a floating bolt head which is slightly smaller than the bolt body. The firing pin assembly is 1/4-turn removable. There are user-changeable bolt body and knob options. There is a side bolt release above the stock line. All moving surfaces are nitrided. This can be ordered single shot, feed rails or DBM cut. Also the long action will accept up to a .338 Lapua/.300 Norma Mag if ordered that way (with 1.25″ barrel cylinder).

Kauger Arms offers a right-hand or left-hand grip, which is very comfortable. I shot the Black Widow both right-handed and left-handed with no problems whatsoever. Kauger Arms can build the Black Widow in many more chamberings than the two that are listed on the KaugerArms.com website.

New left-bolt/left port action from Kauger Arms — To the specialty pistol shooters reading and to those considering entering the SP world, Kauger Arms has listened to your requests and is working on a left bolt/left port short action that will be offered either as a single-shot action or with bottom metal. You grip the pistol with your right hand, then run the bolt with your left-hand.

Specialty Pistol 2 — The Camo .223 Remington HSP

Here is another one of Ernie Bishop’s specialty pistols. This eye-catching camo-stocked rig was crafted by H-S Precision. Sadly, H-S Precision is not making these HSP pistols anymore. This .223 Remington features a 1:7″-twist, 15-inch-long H-S barrel fitted with the “H” Brake. On top is a Burris XTR-III 5.5-30x56mm scope with SCR 2 MIL reticle and Burris rings.

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSPGreat Results with Varget + 77gr Sierra TMKs
Ernie tells us: “For a load, I have been running Lapua brass, Rem 7.5 primers, Varget, and the 77 grain Sierra TMK. Muzzle Velocity is 2675 FPS. As you can see, it shoots pretty well. Shown at right is a measured 0.265″ 3-shot group at 100 yards, shot from Harris bipod and small field bag.

Previous to this, I was shooting Federal Match ammo with the 77 grain SMK (MV was 2500 fps), with prairie dog kills past 600 yards, and have played on steel out to 1000 yards. This H-S specialty pistol is great for young or old alike, for novice shooters or experienced shooters. Everyone needs a fast twist .223 Remington!”

Here is my friend Dan shooting the .223 Rem HSP with factory ammo during a prairie dog trip.
.223 Rem Remington specialty pistol H-S Precision HSP

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August 23rd, 2017

Shooting USA Spotlights Texas Benchrest Varmint Silhouette

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

If you like accurate rifles and reactive targets, you’ll enjoy this episode of Shooting USA TV, which features long-range varmint silhouette competition in Texas, the Lone Star State. We have participated in these kind of matches on the West Coast — they are definitely a ton of fun. The sport combines the pure accuracy of benchrest competition with the fun of knocking down critter targets. These are smaller than standard silhouettes, so it’s quite a challenge to hit them at 300 yards and beyond. In this episode, host John Scoutten competes with his 6.5 Creedmoor PRS rifle. He found that 1-MOA Coyotes offered plenty of challenge at 385 meters! Most shooters use benchrest-grade rifles with premium front rests.

EDITOR: We strongly recommend you take the time to watch this Shooting USA feature — it shows some top-flight benchrest rifles, and also covers the origins of benchrest varmint silhouette in Pennsylvania. There are even some AccurateShooter Forum members on screen. John Scoutten also does nice job explaining the challenges of shooting this discipline with a PRS rig. We think any benchrest or tactical shooter will really enjoy watching this video.

Full 48-Minute Episode of Shooting USA featuring TX Varmint Silhouette:

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

Travis Frazier of Field & Cave Outfitters says shooters love the reactive targets: “The most exciting thing is seeing your hits — these [targets] really go airborne”. Yep, that’s the best thing about Varmint Silhouette matches — hits deliver instant gratification. Travis designs and produces these steel targets.

This Texas match features multiple target shapes, 10 at each distance: Tiny Prairie Dogs at 200m, 3″x3″ Armadillos at 300m; 3″x5″ Coyotes at 385m; 5″x4″ Hogs at 500m; Chickens (on swingers) at 600 yards; and Pigs (on Swingers) at 750 yards. Competitors are allowed 10 rounds and 10 minutes to hit each set of targets.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

BONUS Features in this Shooting USA Episode

Rimfire Challenge World Championship
This episode also includes the Rimfire Challenge World Championship in Alabama (starting at 33:25). This event attracts hundreds of shooters who ring steel with .22 LR rifles and pistols. This may be the ultimate fun match for the whole family. Many of the top shooters are juniors, who can run the all-steel stages in three seconds. The 16 stages each have 5 to 8 steel targets that can be shot in any order, but the last round must go on the red-marked “Stop Plate”.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten

History of the Gun: Remington 700
This week’s gun history segment of Shooting USA features the Remington 700, one of the most successful bolt-action rifles ever, with over 5 million produced. The Rem 700 has served hunters, military marksmen, and Rem 700 actions have been used for countless competition rifles.

Shooting USA TV show varmint silhouette Texas benchrest Travis Frazier John Scoutten.

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August 13th, 2017

P-Dogs Beware — Dustin’s Wicked Accurate 17 HMR

Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

Top Shot former Champion Dustin Ellerman likes his Volquartsens, and we can see why. With his latest 17 HMR rimfire varminter, he’s seen some outstanding accuracy with CCI ammo. On his Facebook page, Dustin reports: “Prepping for prairie dogs and I’m floored by this cold, sub-half-inch group shot with the Volquartsen Custom 17 HMR at 100 yards.” This thumbhole-stock rifle features a Bowers Group USS suppressor, and 3-12x56mm Meopta Scope. Dustin tried different types of CCI 17 HMR ammo. This small group was shot with CCI A17 ammo.

Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

A couple years back Dustin took another Volquartsen 17 HMR on a Prairie Dog hunt in Wyoming. He was impressed with the rifle (shown below) and the little rimfire cartridge. Dustin says the effective range of the 17 HMR is farther than one might expect: “I made hits out to 300 yards. 200 yards was easy as long as the wind wasn’t too bad.”

Here’s the Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin used in Wyoming in 2015:
Volquartsen 17 HMR Dustin Ellermann 17 HMR

After that 2015 P-Dog expedition, Dustin became a fan of the 17 HMR cartridge: “Never paid it much attention before now because the ammo is five times more expensive than .22 LR and I mostly target shoot. However, for prairie dogs, the 17 HMR is amazing!” Consider this — Hornady’s 17 HMR ammo pushes a 17gr V-Max bullet at 2550 fps, twice as fast as typical .22 LR rounds.

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April 19th, 2017

Tiny Twenty Punches P-Dog at 1032 Yards — Voldoc’s Story

Voldoc Savage 20BR 1000 yard Prairie Dog

The “Holy Grail” of prairie dog shooting is dispatching a dog at ultra-long-range — the farther the better. Here we recount the quest of Forum member VolDoc to nail a Prairie Dog at 1000+ yards with a Savage .20-caliber rifle. If you’re a fan of the “Terrific 20s”, or have an interest in ultra-long-range varminting, you’ll enjoy this story. VolDoc, a dentist by trade, is a seasoned Prairie Dog Hunter who has made many trips to the P-Dog fields in Colorado with his hunting buddies. But until recently he had never managed to nail a P-Dog at 1000 yards with a .20-caliber rifle. Nor, as far as we can determine, had any one else. But VolDoc did it — accomplishing a verified Prairie Dog kill at 1032 yards, possibly the longest recorded with a .20-Caliber rifle.

READ .20-Cal 1000-Yard Prairie Dog Quest FULL STORY

Modified Hart-Barreled 20BR Savage Does the Job
Shooting Prairie Dogs at extreme long range takes highly specialized equipment. To make his 1032-yard kill shot, VolDoc used a modified Dual-Port Savage chambered in 20 BR. The stock was geometrically-uniformed and pillar-bedded by smith Kevin Rayhill, who fitted a 28″ Hart barrel with a Rayhill muzzle brake. VolDoc loaded his 20BR with 55gr Berger BT LR Varmint bullets (0.381 G1 BC) pushed by a stout charge of Hodgdon Varget.

Voldoc 20BR Savage Rayhill

It took good conditions, and patience to make the successful 1000+ yard shot. Voldoc explains:

“We were out on the Colorado prairie at daylight and the conditions were perfect. The sunrise was at my back and we had about a 10 mph tailwind. I looked through my Leica Geovid Rangefinder Binos and the Prairie Dogs were out for breakfast. I quickly ranged the targets and found a group at about 1,050 yards.

My first shot was very, very close. I added about four clicks up and a couple of clicks left for windage and let another go. That shot threw dirt all over, but the dog didn’t even flinch. On the fourth shot, I saw the dog go belly up and kick its final throws. My quest for the 20-Caliber 1,000-yard Prairie Dog had become a reality. We confirmed the distance with our lasers at 1,032 yards.”

Voldoc Savage 20BR 1000 yard Prairie Dog

Voldoc’s Accurate Arsenal
In our report on VolDoc’s successful 1K Prairie Dog quest, we spotlighted two of VolDoc’s other accurate varmint guns. First, fans of fine wood will love VolDoc’s switch-barrel, drop-port Stiller Diamondback rifle. The wood on this gun is stunning. The custom stock was crafted from 40-year-old English Walnut to match the profile of a Shehane ST-1000. The rifle has three barrels with three different chamberings: 6BR Brux 1:8″-twist HV; 6BRX Krieger 1:8″-twist HV, and 6mm Dasher Krieger 1:8.5″-twist fluted straight contour (no taper). The scope is a Nightforce 12-42x56mm, with 2DD reticle.

Voldoc Diamondback Dasher Drop-Port

VolDoc’s “Go-To” Prairie Dog Rifle — Big Orange Crush Dasher
Next, check out VolDoc’s “Big Orange Crush” rifle. This features a stainless Nesika ‘J’ action in a painted fiberglass Shehane ST-1000 stock. Originally a 6BR, the gun is now chambered as a 6mm Dasher with a .271″ no-turn neck. The barrel is a 1:12″-twist Krieger fited with Vais muzzle brake. Big Orange Crush shoots 87gr V-Maxs into bugholes at 3,400 fps, according to VolDoc. He tells us that “The barrel now has more than 3,000 rounds down the tube and exhibits little throat fire-cracking and no loss of accuracy. I can’t explain why, it just hasn’t deteriorated yet. This rifle is my best-ever ‘go-to’ Prairie Dog rifle.”

Voldoc 6mm Dasher Nesika Varmint Rifle 12-twist

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
February 15th, 2017

P-Dog Gone Good Deal on Varmint Bullets

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog
This custom war wagon hauls varmint hunters around the Longmeadow Game Resort in Colorado.

If you’re planning a spring Prairie Dog adventure, it’s time to load up a big supply of ammo. On a 4-day varmint safari you can easily shoot 800 rounds or more in a prime P-Dog location. To save on ammo costs for high-volume shooting, it makes sense to buy components in bulk. Here’s a super deal on bullets for your .224-caliber varmint rig.

Right now Midsouth Shooters’ Supply is running a special on Varmint Nightmare XTreme Bullets. Available in both hollow point (HP) and lead-tip soft point (SP) styles, you can get these bullets for under $50.00 for 500. The .224 55gr Flat Base Soft Point variety is on sale this week for just $42.92 for 500 bullets (that works out to just $8.58 per hundred). We’ve loaded these in .223 Rem, 22 Dasher, and 22-250 cartridges and they worked well (considering the really low price).

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

For shorter-range ground squirrel loads, we also like the .224 34gr Flat Base Hollow Point at $44.25/500. These work great in a .221 Fireball (using Lapua .221 Fireball brass of course).

Powder Suggestion for High-Volume Varmint Loads
For high-shot-count varmint safaris, you want a clean-burning powder that minimizes barrel fouling. While there are many great powders for the .223 Rem, we like Hodgdon CFE 223 for our high-volume varmint loads. This powder really seems to keep barrels cleaner. Originally developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems, CFE 223 incorporates a proprietary chemistry named “Copper Fouling Eraser”. Based on tests with extended shot strings, Hodgdon claims that, by using CFE™223, match shooters, varmint hunters, and AR shooters can maintain accuracy for longer periods, with less barrel-cleaning time. You may want to check it out.

CFE 223 Powder Varmint Bullet Prairie dog

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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.

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May 2nd, 2016

Tips for Summer Varmint Hunts — Gear and Guns

Will you be heading to the varmint fields this summer? Proper planning is key to a safe, satisfying, and productive varmint holiday. Of course you’ll be busy reloading, but you should make a check-list of all the gear and supplies you need. Bring a variety of rifles if possible — you’ll need to switch off as one barrel gets hot, and the chambering that works best for your close shots may not be ideal for those longer shots out past 400 yards. Here are some tips from our Forum members that can help you shoot more effectively, and avoid problems on your varmint hunt. Here’s one key tip: at your shooting station, put a strip of surveyor’s tape on a tall stake to show the wind direction. Then shoot in the direction the wind blows. This will minimize the effect of cross-winds.

Savage LR Precision Varminter

From PatchHound: “The gear you bring will make or break a trip out to Prairie Dog land. A lot has to do with where you going and how far you are from [civilization]. For starters, bring lots of water. It will be hot in Wyoming in a few more weeks but it don’t hurt to bring warm clothes in case it snows. It’s best to wear leather boots unless you’re real good at dodging cactus while walking around. Good sunsceen will save the day too. [What you need to bring] really depends on whether you’re shooting on some friendly ranch or 100 miles in the middle of [a wilderness area]. Good survival gear is a good thing to have for the latter!”

From Stoner25mkiv: “I’d suggest an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. A laser rangefinder is a huge asset. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. We also take a couple pivoting benches, heavy movers’ pad/blanket, sandbags (Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag) for shooting from near the vehicle. Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.

Uncle Bud's Bulls Bag

Anyway, on to the rifles…consider bringing a 17 HMR, .223 Ackley bolt gun, .223 Ackley AR, and a 243 WSSM. Some years the 17 HMR isn’t removed from its case. We had a couple windless days and the 17 was lots of fun. I’d walk into the dogtown and then lay down and wait. After five minutes or so I’d have dogs within easy rimfire range, and out to as far as I’d care to stretch the rimfire. 275 yards was about it.”

From CTShooter: “The .204 [Ruger] is a laser beam and good to 400 yards easy. Forget the rimfire! Do you have a portable bench that pivots? Bring bipod, binocs. Bring a LOT of water. I have a milspec sniper shooter’s mat/drag bag with shoulder straps. It is good to carry everything when you want to wander off and shoot prone with bipod. Here’s a view through my 6BR in ND.”

From RJinTexas: “In most of the locations that we’ll be shooting we’ll usually set up a minimum of 200 yards from the edge of a major dog town. We’ll start by working over the close-in dogs and shooting our way out, some of these towns may run in excess of 500/600 yards deep. I believe that a rimfire will put you at a distinct disadvantage. The only rimfire that will somewhat work is the 17 HMR and you can reload for your 204s for close to the cost of HMR ammo and you’ll be less apt to be under-gunned. Your 204 will work well out to 300/400 yards unless the wind is blowing hard. We classify a 10-mph crosswind as a very calm day and what makes it a little more challenging is that it is usually also gusting. I only took my 17 HMR once, I’ve since even quit taking my 17 Mach IV because when the wind blows hard it range is limited to around 200 yards. Gusting wind will play havoc with 25gr pills.”

From Wes (P1ZombieKiller): “[For my first PD trip] there are so many things I was not ready for. The one thing that I did bring (that no one told me about) was a canopy. I’m glad I did. Even though the weather was [near perfect], I know that sun can humble you real fast. With my pop-up canopy, I could shoot all day without getting killed by the sun. You had to tie the canopy down real well or the wind would blow it across the pasture.

We sat on shooting benches that pivot 360°, and are fast and easy to set up. Most all shots were 175-250 yards. I just felt comfortable at that range. It was more fun for me to be able to film the hits, and the camcorder I was using just did not get good video past 350 yards. The digital zoom distorted the image too much. I knew I would only get this one chance to film my first P-dog outing, and I wanted to get it on film for [posterity].” To learn more about P1’s first Prairie Dog Trip, visit his Website.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
March 18th, 2016

Benefits of Wind Flags for Varmint Hunting

Improve Your Hit Ratio by Using Wing Flags
It’s not unusual for varmint hunters to invest $3,000.00 in a custom rifle, pay thousands more for spotting scope and laser rangefinder, and spend countless hours loading ultra-precise ammo. Yet, when they head off to the prairie dog fields, they’ll omit an essential piece of gear that can make the difference between a hit and a miss.

We’re talking about windflags. Many casual shooters, varmint hunters, and even some “tactical” shooters disdain windflags as gadgets suited only for the accuracy-obsessed benchrest crowd. In fact, windflags are just as important for the varminter as for the benchrest competitor. You may think that you can easily notice a major wind shift. But consider this, a change from a light 2.5 mph left breeze to a 2.5 mph right is a 5 mile per hour switch. That is enough to make you miss a prairie dog even at just 200 yards.

Here’s a chart that shows the effect of a 5 mph full-value (i.e. 90-degree) wind change at various distances. The values assume a typical .250 G1 BC varmint bullet launched at 3500 fps at a 3″-wide critter (center hold).

Varmint Hunter Wind Flag

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on windflags. Even a bit of surveyors’ tape on a post is better than nothing. A simple windflag, placed at your shooting station, helps minimize the effect of cross-winds. If you align your shooting position so the breeze is at your back you can shoot with greater confidence even in high winds. Watch the way the windflag blows, and shoot at the dog mounds that are directly downwind.

Our friend Boyd Allen offers another tip: “When you go varminting, be sure to bring some kind of portable target stand. Accuracy or zero problems are much easier to diagnose and remedy if you can set up a target at 100 yards. A simple wood, A-Frame design, hinged at the top, works well, stores flat, and is easy to build.”

Windflag photo courtesy Flying Fish Fundamentals, makers of single-and dual-vane wind flags.
Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
August 19th, 2015

Dustin Dusts Wyoming P-Dogs with a 17 HMR

Dustin Ellermann Prarie Dog Wyoming Volquartsen 17 MHR Varmint Hunting

Dustin Ellermann Prarie Dog Wyoming Volquartsen 17 MHR Varmint HuntingTop Shot Champion Dustin Ellermann has been busy up in Wyoming slaying varmints. On his Facebook Page, Dustin wrote: “I’ve been helping some ranchers out with their prairie dog infestation in Wyoming. The 17 HMR Volquartsen Custom is amazing! The Meopta Sports Optics R1r is super nice as well. Can you guess how many prairie dogs I eliminated in two days?” (Facebook users post guesses HERE.)

Dustin says the effective range of the 17 HMR is farther than one might expect: “I made hits out to 300 yards. 200 yards was easy as long as the wind wasn’t too bad.”

Dustin was very impressed with the 17 HMR cartridge: “Never paid it much attention before now because the ammo is five times more expensive than .22 LR and I mostly target shoot. However, for prairie dogs, the 17 HMR is amazing!” Dustin is now a fan of the speedy rimfire round. Consider this — Hornady’s 17 HMR ammo pushes a 17gr V-Max bullet at 2550 fps, twice as fast as typical .22 LR rounds.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »