July 2014

Late in June I got to go prairie dog hunting for the first time since 2000. In preparing for the trip I loaded just about every piece of brass I had in 22 cal or smaller. This added up to about 2300 rounds and included the following calibers:

17 Hornet
204 Ruger
22 Hornet
222 Remington
220 Swift

I killed PD's with every gun I took but my favorite turned out to be the 204 Ruger with the 222 Remington and the 17 Hornet in 2nd and 3rd place.

The 220 Swift was the expected winner but after shooting the lighter calibers successfully, the recoil on the swift was not as pleasant and I just kept drifting back to the lighter calibers. So the 204 was the surprise winner. I've killed coyotes with this gun but was disappointed with round performance so I've always had a burr under my saddle about this gun. This is the gun I cut the barrel on a year or so ago but I had not killed anything with it since. In preparing the 204 for the trip I ended up shooting Mid South bullets in 34 grain HP. They were cheap, plentiful and accurate.

Shots ranged from under 100 yards to well over 400 yards with a lot of the shots ending with "holy crap" just because of the distance and the resounding connection thud.

The list of lessons learned from the trip would take up several pages but I will condense it as much as possible.

Naturally I procrastinated loading the ammo to the point I was a little pressured to get finished up. However, all of the ammo was loaded with proven recipes. Some of which were tested and settled on just days before leaving on the trip.

I had bought several hinged top ammo boxes and that proved to be a worth while investment. When they're open they stay open. These are the loose hinge type not the integral plastic that creeps towards closed and eventually breaks with use.

They stay closed, they stack and the 100 round unit cuts down on the sheer number of boxes.

I used a Caldwell Rock front rest (which worked great) and my trusty old leather sandbag on the rear. The leather did not slide around and drive me nuts like the nylon Caldwell did. The front rest came with a small nylon rear bag prefilled and ready to go. Mine got wet in route home when we drove through a monsoon at Rapid City. The bag contents swelled and turned to concrete. Stick with a leather sand bag or at least a leather bottom bag. Sand is heavier but it dries out should your "water proof" storage leak.

Rifle scopes were another eye opener. The last time I PD hunted I took the Swift with it's B&L 4200 in 6-24x40. Years ago I started using scopes higher than 9 power, say 16 or 18, and have not regretted it. However, I did catch myself scanning for targets at 6 or 8 power and cranking up the power to shoot but not cranking it all the way to max. At max power I was loosing field of view and with some of my scopes, clarity too. I had a couple of scopes that I wanted to rip off of the gun and run them through a chipper shredder. Like when I was scanning for targets at 300 plus yards. The power was set low and the adjustable objective had been adjusted everything was good. Then I'd find a target, crank up the power and focus was out. Played with the focus and or the AO and could clear it up. While other scopes did not behave that way. Once the AO was set, turning up the power did not blur the view.

Cussing those scopes in the field but not making notes of which ones were driving me crazy, I intend to go back through them and determine which one(s) were sending me over the edge and replace them.

Click Here for some pictures from the trip.

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Last Modified: Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:40 PM