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Old 07-28-2009, 04:40 AM
Silverfox Silverfox is offline
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Default 7-22-2009 Prairie Dog Hunt--Lots of pics, some very graphic!!

Part 1 of 6

I got up a little earlier than usual (OK, only 15 minutes earlier) to make a little longer trip than my usual 40 to 60 mile trips and headed out to a couple of prairie dog towns on private land. I got my pickup parked in the shade of some trees by 9:10 a.m. I uncased my Lilja barreled .17 Remington and took out three different loads I’d use today. This was going to be the last time this rifle fired rounds through the .17 Remington barrel and I had 56 rounds of ammo I wanted to shoot. I had some 25 gr. Hornady HP reloads and these casings had not been fired in the chamber of this rifle, there were also some 25 gr. HP Starke reloads and some 30 gr. HP Starke reloads.

I wanted to fire some of these rounds to see where they were hitting. Since there were cattle walking around my pickup and the spot I was going to set up to shoot my target from, I decided to take my rifle and my bean bag rear rest with when I set up the target box. I set up my target box at 100 yards and walked back to my shooting spot. First thing I noticed was my bean bag rear rest had been left by the target box. I walked out and got the bag and walked back to my shooting spot. By the time I got back to where I was going to shoot from, four yearling Black Angus heifers had wandered over to my target box and were checking it out. I walked out to the target box and shooed the cattle away and walked back to my rifle. Once again, the cattle were curious and were back over by the box again. This routine went on a total of four times before I got them chased far enough away so I could test my ammo. Before I was done testing the three different loads, I had walked 1,600 yards!!! I probably should have taken a nap after that, but decided to go shoot prairie dogs instead. I did manage to shoot two prairie dogs while I was checking the POI of my ammo.

Here’s a photo of my pickup parked in the shade of the trees. The cattle were lying in the trees to the right of where you see the pickup. This is the same grove of trees where I killed a rattlesnake back on June 12, 2009, on my first trip to this dog town this year. I didn’t want to get too deep into the grove of trees and take a chance on meeting up with another rattlesnake in the shade of those trees where it is hard to see those buggers.



The 25 gr. Starkes were hitting 1.25" high and on the money for windage. The 25 gr. Hornadys were 3/8" left and about 1.25" high, and the 30 gr. Starkes were 3/8" left and 1.50" high. I just left the windage and elevation knobs alone and adjusted my aim. Most of my shots were under 200 yards, so this wasn’t a rocket science deal to make hits with the three different loads without changing the windage and elevation settings.

This rifle, with a Remington 700 BDL short action, is going to be fitted with a new stainless steel Lilja barrel with a 1 in 9” twist and 4 grooves next week. The new barrel is one of the “in-stock” Remington Varmint contour barrels Lilja carries and it took about 5 days from the time I called in my order until it arrived at my door!!! I have been very happy with the #5 contour Lilja barrel presently on the rifle and wanted to give another Lilja barrel a chance. The new barrel will be chambered for the .17 Tactical caliber with a reamer a member of one of the Boards has graciously consented to let me use!!! Now that’s a very kind deed and I am very grateful to this gentleman for the use of his reamer and all of the excellent advice he has given me.

I had spent over an hour checking out where my ammo was hitting and chasing cattle away from my target box, but I was on my way and shooting prairie dogs at 10:21 a.m. Here’s a photo of a couple of the first victims of the 25 gr. Hornady HP ammo.



While I was snapping the photo above, the rancher who owns the cattle in this pasture came driving up. Unknown to me, he rents this pasture and did not know I was going to be in the pasture shooting prairie dogs. I introduced myself to him and we had a friendly conversation. He asked me how many prairie dogs I had shot so far and told me he’d sure like to have me shoot all the prairie dogs I could on the east end of the town because they keep moving closer and closer to his land and then he has to poison them. I told him I’d shoot as many as I could. He wished me good luck and said he’d be getting out of my way so I could get busy exterminating prairie dogs.

The temperature was getting hotter and hotter and I looked for spots to shoot from where I could be laying in the shade. I didn’t check the temperature very often, but around noon while in the shade of a tree I had my thermometer laying on my backpack and it read 90.5º!!!

Here’s one spot, marked with the red X, where I was able to get behind a couple of fallen trees and in some shade and I managed to shoot a pile of prairie dogs from this shady spot. I was able to rest the legs of my bipod on the log that is horizontal and rested my elbows on the log that is just behind the horizontal log. It worked better than I expected.

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  #2  
Old 07-28-2009, 04:41 AM
Silverfox Silverfox is offline
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Default 7-22-2009 PD Hunt

Part 2 of 6

Here’s a few of the prairie dogs I shot from my perch behind the old fallen dead tree trunks which is marked with the yellow arrow.



Here’s a close-up photo of those prairie dogs. The adult in the middle was HUGE!!!!



I finally shot the last of my twenty-two cartridges loaded with the 25 gr. Hornady HP bullets and had hit on 20 singles and one double with one missed shot. I took out the fifteen 25 gr. Starke HP reloads and started shooting those at about 11:40 a.m. My first shot was a miss and I knew then that I had shot high. That prairie dog didn’t even flinch at the first shot, but gave me some nice red mist on the second try. Unfortunately, when I opened the bolt to extract the empty casing, the casing was stuck in the chamber. I gave the rifle three or four minutes to cool down, hoping the casing would shrink enough to enable me to eject it, but that didn’t work. Well, I have had this situation happen before and carry a .17 caliber cleaning rod in my pickup, but it was almost a half mile back to the pickup, but the trip had to be made. I got the cleaning rod and made the trip back to the rifle which was resting in the shade of a tree and popped the casing out. I had to use the rod to remove four more casings from the chamber before I finished shooting the last shot with those reloads at about 12:15 p.m. I had managed to bag one double, 12 singles, and had missed two shots—both right over the top of the intended targets.

Here’s a photo of another shady spot I did some shooting from that day. As you can see there sure weren’t many leaves on this tree, but between the branches, the few leaves and the trunk of the tree, it did provide some shade. This is the “shady spot” where I got a temperature reading of 90.5º right where you can see my rifle’s silhouette.



The last shells I was going to shoot were the 30 gr. Starke HP reloads. I only had fifteen of these reloads to shoot. I had a pretty stiff load of VVN-540 powder in these casings that moves these bullets out at 3,900 fps!!! This has been my coyote load for fall and wintertime temperatures in the Lilja barreled .17 Remington. I was a little leery about shooting them in this heat, but being a dumb Norwegian, I decided to take the chance. I took my time between shots, not wanting the barrel to heat up too much and I definitely DID NOT allow a loaded round to sit in the chamber and cook before shooting the next shot!!! I walked over to another spot that afforded me some shade and discovered the lavender blossoms of very nice looking wild bergamot flowers. Plains Indians made tea from this plant to treat intestinal ailments and skin eruptions. The foliage has a minty smell and can be used to scent closets, drawers, pillows etc. The wild bergamot is also used in the popular Earl Gray tea.

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  #3  
Old 07-28-2009, 04:42 AM
Silverfox Silverfox is offline
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Default 7-22-2009 PD Hunt

Part 3 of 6

Here’s the wee bit of shade I found. I placed my cap just on the right edge of the opening in the bushes where I shot 10 shots with the 30 gr. Starke HP reloads. The wild bergamot flowers were in the bushes right behind this shady spot.



It was 1:05 p.m., so I started my walk back to the pickup with five more 30 gr. Stark bullets to shoot. I had lots of noisy prairie dogs just begging me to shoot them. I obliged several of them. Here’s the last one I shot. He was about 75 yards away when I squeezed off the shot and he was blown back about 12 feet. If you look close at the top of the mound opening, you can see large chunk of his insides.



Here’s a close-up of the parts of the prairie dog lining the mound opening:



And here’s a look at the exit hole left by the 30 gr. Starke HP Red Prairie Varmint bullet:



I managed to bag 13 single prairie dogs, one double and had one missed shot with the 30 gr. Starke bullets. The total body count for this first part of my hunt was 53 prairie dogs for 54 shots.

I arrived at the pickup, stowed my empties, cased my Lilja barreled .17 Remington, and checked on my ammo for the Savage 12VLP in .204 Ruger and discovered I had only 37 of the 39 gr. Sierra BlitzKings left to shoot. I had shot a total of 2,567 rounds through this factory barrel and I haven’t been loading hundreds and hundreds of rounds for this rifle because I thought the barrel would be losing accuracy sometime soon. I really can’t say it has lost much accuracy, so I loaded up 100 rounds of 39 gr. Sierras the day after this hunt. I guess I will have to keep the brand new super match grade 1 in 11" twist, 4-groove Pac-Nor barrel I have for it waiting for chambering and installation a while longer.
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  #4  
Old 07-28-2009, 04:44 AM
Silverfox Silverfox is offline
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Default 7-22-2009 PD Hunt

Part 4 of 6

I headed south on a two-track trail to my next PD town and also to have some lunch. I arrived at my parking spot around 1:50 p.m. I unloaded my ice chest, got my chair set up in some shade and started eating lunch. I was serenaded with a chorus of mooing by about 10 cows with their calves, and one Black Angus bull doing his grunting and high-pitched bellowing. This little herd of cattle was walking through the chokecherry trees not more than 15 feet to my right. I kept a watchful eye on them to make sure they weren’t after my sandwich. I was also somewhat worried that the cows might sense I was a danger to their calves and make a charge at me. I have had that happen when I’ve been out coyote calling, but have always managed to escape injury. I finished lunch around 2:35 p.m.

I got my .204 Ruger and other gear out and walked across a beaver dam to the other side of the creek and walked ENE along the creek bed to get near the east end of this dog town to begin shooting. I noticed some very colorful yellow coneflower blossoms along the creek and stopped to snap some photos. The yellow coneflower is named after the cone-like shape of its flowers. Plains Indians made tea from it to cure stomach and headaches, rattlesnake bites, and poison ivy. It was also used as dye. An insect decided he’d like to get into the photo and posed on the blossom for me.



There were many more yellow coneflowers in this spot and I took many more photos for my personal enjoyment, but I’ll share one more with you. This one has almost all of the brown cone portion at the middle of the flower completely intact.



I scared up a huge toad along the creek bed. I spent about 10 minutes trying to sneak around and get close to him, but I couldn’t get a decent photo of him because of all the grass along the creek edge.

I began shooting prairie dogs at about 3:05 p.m. Ten minutes later, I had taken 8 shots and hit on all those shots. The distances were only 75 to 125 yards. Shooting wasn’t too fast or furious after that and I had only shot 22 shots by 4:30. I had hit one double, had 19 singles, and missed on two shots. One of those shots was through a bunch of weeds and I’m sure the bullet was deflected. The other miss might have been due to me letting the barrel get way too hot, but it was a miss, nonetheless. I had worked my way to the NW end of the main dog town by now and since the gun barrel was extremely hot, I decided to sit down in the shade of the trees and have a couple cookies and some ice cold water. I checked the temperature here in the shade of some trees and it was 95.5º in the shade!!!

I sat down with my back to a tree and closed my eyes for a while. After about 5 minutes, I could hear a chipmunk chattering away. I got my camera out and tried to see where he was at. I finally spotted him rushing back and forth on an old dead bent tree trunk. I cranked the zoom on my camera up to 36X and steadied the camera as best I could and snapped one photo. I cranked the zoom up to 48X and took a few more photos of the little guy. I estimated he was 35 to 40 yards away from me, so the photos aren’t the best, but it was interesting to watch him running back and forth on this old dead tree trunk while he was chattering away.



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  #5  
Old 07-28-2009, 04:45 AM
Silverfox Silverfox is offline
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Default 7-22-2009 PD Hunt

Part 5 of 6

I was about ready to get my gear and head up to the little prairie dog suburb just north of this dog town, when I looked to the left of where I had been sitting and noticed a little plant with some extremely tiny white blossoms. I set my camera for macro focus, got down on my belly and elbows and snapped a few pictures of the dainty blossoms that this plant was producing.



I set a .204 Ruger casing loaded with a 39 gr. Sierra bullet alongside the little plant and snapped a couple photos to give you a better perspective of the small size of this plant and its little white blossoms.



I was finishing up taking photos of the little white blossomed plant when an extremely rude prairie dog began barking at me from about 35 yards away. I was already lying on the ground taking photos, so I carefully placed my camera back in its carrying case and moved myself over to my rifle. I got the rifle pointed at the barking prairie dog with my bean bag firmly under the butt of the rifle. I got the crosshairs on the middle of the barking dog’s body and then moved my head away from the scope and squeezed the trigger. I could see the body fly back and left and body parts go flying 15 feet to the right. On close shots like this one, when I can get my rifle dead steady, I like to take my eye off the scope and watch the action with both eyes. Spectacular!!! Here’s the damage done by the 39 gr. Sierra from 35 yards away.



I did get in a few shots up in the little colony north of the main dog town, but not as much action as I got there in June. I had shot all thirty-seven of the 39 grain Sierra loads and headed back to the pickup at 5:50 p.m. I had shot 2 doubles, 31 singles and had 4 missed shots. I had dispatched 35 prairie dogs with those 37 shots. With those 37 shots, I have run 2,604 shots through the factory barrel on my Savage 12VLP and it is still shooting very accurately. Total body count for the day was 88 prairie dogs for 91 shots.

It had been an extremely hot day, but a good one for me. The wind speed never got much above 5 mph and while a little more wind speed would have helped keep me cool, I wasn’t complaining much about the lack of wind. I was able to use up all the ammo I had loaded for the Lilja barreled .17 Remington and I delivered the rifle and new barrel to my gunsmith on Saturday, July 25 to have the new barrel chambered and installed. I got back to the pickup at 6:00 p.m. and stored my gear, got a cold can of Caffeine Free Diet Coke out of my ice box and headed back for town at 6:21 p.m.
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  #6  
Old 07-28-2009, 04:46 AM
Silverfox Silverfox is offline
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Default 7-22-2009 PD Hunt

Part 6 of 6

On my drive back out of this rugged badlands country I stopped and snapped a couple photos of the beautiful bottom land that stretches out between the rugged clay buttes. Things are still fairly green in this land and I always enjoy getting out and seeing the beauty of the North Dakota grasslands.



Here’s a zoomed-in shot of some of the distant clay buttes.



Oops, I’ll bet you thought I forgot the “Hero Photo” again—WRONG—Here's Old Silverfox with the Lilja barreled .17 Remington on its last prairie dog outing:

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Last edited by Silverfox; 07-28-2009 at 04:48 AM. Reason: Spelling error corrected
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:46 PM
Mac Mac is offline
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Default Thank you

Silverfox,

Your post are so full of awesomeness that I read them with the same kind of intensity that a 15 year old boy would give to a Playboy magazine.

/btw I mailed your package this morning, thanks again.
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Old 07-28-2009, 10:34 PM
ab_bentley ab_bentley is offline
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Silverfox, as always, magnifico. Adam
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XKandyX cam

Last edited by ab_bentley; 09-10-2011 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 07-29-2009, 02:56 AM
ray h ray h is offline
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Great post Silverfox. Did the Coneflower really work on snake bites???
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:28 AM
Silverfox Silverfox is offline
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Mac, ab_bentley, & ray h--thanks for the kind words about my little story. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it. I know I had a lot of fun out there on the North Dakota prairie while pottin' prairie poodles.

Mac--I'll be sitting by my mailbox waiting for the package!

ray h--I don't know if the yellow coneflower worked on snake bites or not . I think I'd rather try some anti-venom shots
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