So you want to do a DIY prairie dog hunt? Perfect! You’re in the right place! Many people recommend if you’re traveling to do a prairie dog hunt to hire a guide. The reason being that a guide will know where you can hunt and where the prairie dogs are, so you’re guaranteed to get into some action. That being said, a DIY prairie dog hunt is completely feasible and can be just as successful as a guided hunt! It may also be that you’re just going to plan a hunt on your own land or a neighbors land. These tips can be used for either route. Let’s get into it!
I’d like to start by mentioning that I believe prairie dog hunting is a necessity to help control populations on farm and grazing lands. Their towns can disrupt acres of ranchers and farmer’s lands. Therefore influencing livestock in a negative way. Prairie dogs can also carry the Bubonic plague.
My mother always told me “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”. It took me a couple of times after hearing it to make sense of it so you’re not alone! The statement holds true when it comes to a DIY prairie dog hunt. The best time of year to hunt prairie dogs is when they’re most active in the late spring to early summer.
First you want to check to see if where you are going hunting requires a license or permit.
Let’s start out by assuming you will be traveling to do your dog hunt. The first thing I recommend doing is buying a Forest Service map. These maps are crucial to knowing not only where the prairie dogs may be but knowing where you can shoot them. The maps will show State land, BLM land, and National Forest land. Depending on the State you plan on hunting in there will be different restrictions on which land you can hunt. A current map will help you figure this out. If that doesn’t suffice then a simple google search will assist in this.
Now the main reason I prairie dog hunt is to help local farmers and ranchers as mentioned earlier. Now, how does this help you? Well, many of these ranches and farms are plagued by prairie dogs. This is where you come in. They need help mitigating the problem and are usually happy to have someone help them. What’s the best way to approach this? A simple knock on a door. Ask the ranchers or farmers if they need help with their prairie dog problem. The great part about this is you’ll typically be able to hunt on their land for free! The prairie dogs are such a nuisance that they need all the help they can get. If you plan on going back to this location year after year I highly recommend going this route and building relationships with the farmers and ranchers!
What if you’re hunting on your own land or a neighbors land?
The planning is much easier! You probably already know where most of the prairie dogs are and when they’re most active.
What Will You Need?
I touch more deeply on this in my prairie dog hunting checklist! Here are some items that are necessary though.
You’re of course going to need a rifle. For short ranges, you can use as small of a caliber as a .22. For longer ranges, a 22-250, .223, .204, or a .17 HMR will get the job done.
Ear protection. Protect your hearing and bring some ear protection!
Binoculars. If you’re a long-range shooter you can’t leave home without a good pair of binoculars. You could, of course, use the scope on your rifle to do this but it’s just more convenient if you have binoculars!
Snacks. Lots and lots of snacks!
This, of course, is the basics of what you’ll need for a DIY prairie dog hunt. For a more in-depth checklist look at my prairie dog hunting checklist.
The Game Plan
So you’ve planned your trip and you have your essentials. Now its time for the most important part. The hunt. As you scout the land you’re looking for what they call ‘towns’. These are large colonies of prairie dogs where they’ve burrowed hundreds if not thousands of acres of land with their tunnels. Prairie dogs love to feel the warmth of the sun in the early spring and summer. So as soon as that sun starts hitting the ground with warmth be on the lookout for them to start popping up.
If your rifle is dialed in then you simply keep an eye out for movement and align your sights.
A DIY prairie dog hunt can be very successful and a lot of fun. It helps farmers and ranchers tremendously. With the right gear and plan as mentioned in the article, you can help reduce the threat of plague, help livestock, and help prevent damage to farm and grazing land. So get your gear and maps ready to tackle BLM or National Forest land. Also, knock on some rancher’s doors and watch how happy they will be that you want to help with their pest problems!