First Time Prairie Dog Hunting at Fort Pierre Was a Blast [VIDEO]
I had never gone prairie dog hunting in my life.This past weekend I took my first shots at it in the Fort Pierre National Grassland. I am now addicted and will go every chance I get.
I left Sioux Falls on Saturday morning around 8:30 A.M. and arrived in Pierre three hours later. I stopped into a local gun shop and got a map of the prairie dog towns and headed out.
Day one, not shown in the video, was my learning experience. I learned you should already have your longer range scope on your rifle and sighted in. I still had my Burris 1-4x on it. It's a great scope, but it's not of much use for shooting prairie dogs beyond 200 yards. The next morning I switched scopes and sighted it in. I was much happier.
The dog town I went to was the largest in size on the map. What the map did not show me was that there was a small reservoir right in the middle of it. Three other guys arrived about the same time I did. They must have been there before because they new the layout and I did not. They set up within range of three-quarters of the town. I was only in range of about a quarter of it. I had a little action, took down three prairie dogs, and was bitten by mosquitoes at least 31 times. I counted the itchy bites. If not for the bug spray I would have been eaten alive.
Dispersed camping (tenting it in the middle of a field with no modern amenities) is free inside the grassland. So I did that since it was just me. I'm not picky about where I sleep. However, had I known there was at least one hundred head of cattle in the area, I would have picked a different field. I woke up to a loud "MOOOOOOOO!" That's a good alarm clock. I looked out the tent and saw a dozen of them all slowly making their way towards me. I quickly threw all my stuff from the tent into the truck and threw the tent, still put together, into the bed of the truck. I disassembled it after I got to an area where there was less beef standing around.
Day two was awesome. This is what is featured in the video. I picked a dog town that wasn't very big, but it was visible from the road and it looked active, more active than the huge town I was sniping the day before. I am guessing it was only sitting on two to five acres. What I didn't know was that 45 degrees to my left was another slightly larger town. It would offer up some shots that I am guessing, using Google Earth after I got home, were in the 350 to 380 yard range. with a 10-15 mile per hour wind, it was sure to be challenging and fun! It was definitely both. I was only shooting for three hours but it felt like 30 minutes.
As you can see in the video, I made the first shot I attempted, sending the prairie dog flying and tumbling backwards after hitting it dead center. I'm not that good of a shot. What really helped me look like I knew how to gauge wind and loft was the Strelok ballistic calculator app on my phone. There is a free and paid version for Android and a paid only version for iPhone and iPad. Plug in the basic details of your rifle, the scope, and cartridge. Type in the range, wind speed and direction and Strelok will give you a drop table and also a graphic look at where to hold over on your target. It was so simple. The two handloaded cartridges I was using, a 55 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip and a 50 grain Barnes Varmint Grenade, had been chronographed so I knew the average velocity when fired out of my rifle. You can also pre-enter data for different rifles and scopes into the app, as well as different cartridges. When I switched from the Nosler to the Barnes rounds, I just changed the cartridge. The rifle and scope stays the same.
There are a lot of places in South Dakota to shoot prairie dogs. After just getting a taste of it this weekend I can't wait for the next opportunity to shred some more of the little varmints.