Rangefinding gear for my 1st P-Dog hunt.


February 3, 2012, 12:01 PM

I am gearing up for my first P-Dog hunt in Montana this summer. I am bringing a 6mm BR, .204 Ruger and .22-250.

My question has to do with range finding. I don't want to get into which brand Laser RF.

My question is this. Will I be prepared with a quality RF, ballistic charts for each of my rifles and a Mil-Dot master to estimate windage and elevation corrections? Is there any other gear I should consider in the range finding department?

Seeing as this is my first trip and given the rifles I have, I don't think I will attempt shots much past 500 to 600 yards.


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February 3, 2012, 12:07 PM
I hunted them for years without a range finder, and still don't see any need for one.

The first shot will tell you how far away the center of the dog town is.

You can adjust from that if you see the bullet strike through the scope.
Which you almost always do.

There is a LOT of loose dirt & dust by every prairie dog hole.

I don't think I will attempt shots much past 500 to 600 yards.That right there is gonna be a good plan!!


February 3, 2012, 12:46 PM

Seems like a waste of ammo if you are just going to guess range for the first shot and adjust from there.

Am I missing something?


February 3, 2012, 01:03 PM
Well, the reality is, do you want to play Whack-A-Mole trying to get one to set still long enough to range it, consult the charts, adjust the scope, and then find out he went back down his hole when you finally look through the scope again to make the shot?

Personally, I only had to drive a short distance to hunt them when I was hunting them.
And even then, wasting a shot was child's play compared to what the rest of the trip cost.

Besides, if you do it a little while, you know what they look like through the scope at various ranges, and where to hold without thinking about it too hard.

And at 400-500 yards, range is the very least of your problems anyway.
Wind drift is.

You gotta miss a few before you actually know what the wind is doing way out there.


February 4, 2012, 02:23 PM
Thats the whole fun of hunting them, even if you just nick one, he'll go down. Not every shot is going to be dead center anyway, I've had some that just nicking the neck is enough for a DRT. After a few shots, they'll stay down for awhile, then start coming back out...... just bide your time. We've waited sometimes 25 to 30 min. for them to come out, then wait some more.... let 4 or 5 of them gather around the hole, when you get 3 or 4 lined up, one behind the other, then shoot! We called this a "Walton shot", getting them all with one round!

February 4, 2012, 03:57 PM
RC is spot on as usual. For one thing, you would play hell getting an accurate range from a laser on a P Dog anyway. I usually don't pass 300 yards on P-Dog shoots with my .220swift. Even though I could probably nail them at 600 pretty easily with it, wind will be a MAJOR issue. I would set up no further than 300 yards with the cartridges that you have at your disposal if there is any wind at all. And in Montana, you can pretty much bank on it.

I have been hearing some very impressive reviews about that .204. If what I have been hearing is correct, that may very well be your best cartridge that you will be taking with you.

Michael R.
February 4, 2012, 04:10 PM
When me and my dad went prarie dog hunting in SD it was really fun. We didn't use a rangefinder and it was easy to see hits(because of the loose soil around the hole). It was fun. Make sure you bring enough ammo too, because if you run out it will stink.

February 5, 2012, 07:37 AM
I spend quite a bit of time and money hunting P-Dogs. In terms of gear, the rangefinder is a luxury item. I bought one several years ago (a Leica) thinking it would be a great asset on the towns. In reality, the loose earth on/near the mounds doesn't allow for a very good reflection of the beam back to the rangefinder. While it does get used for checking out the distance after a long shot has been made I would have been far better off to spend the money on a great set of binoculars.

Just my $.02. BTW - you're going to love the 204 on the dogs! Expect lots of flippers and the occasional starburst.

February 5, 2012, 01:02 PM
Okay, I will listen to your advice. I still bought the range finder as it will come in handy for other types of hunting.

I will be bringing binoculars, camcorder, tripod, shooting bags, gun cleaning supplies and lots of ammo.

Are there any other must have items I should bring?


February 6, 2012, 07:35 PM
Take the rangefinder if you have room. I sometimes use it on the first couple of days to range fixed objects in a field. That gives me a reference that helps judge distance until I get used to the open country and the scope power I'm using. Also, I try to use the same scope power setting on all rifles when I'm judging targets. I once took a fixed 24 power scope and I would misjudge after shooting at 15-16 power on everything else.
Prior posters are right on about windage being the bigger variable. At longer distances, I generaly want the target broadside, not standing, so I have a little more tolerance for windage.
You need to take long sleeves, a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen. Even if you are used to the sun, the open skys, wind and 14 hour days with no shade can burn you.
Think about a quality shooting bench. You can shoot prone, but it may limit where you can set up due to height of the grass. Especially if you are worried about snakes and some of the more aggresive ants and flies. Much of the year, shooting prone will also limit how far you can see due to heat mirage. Just getting a few feet off the ground may let you see thru mirage a couple of hundred yards further.

February 6, 2012, 07:40 PM
Another tip.

Never ever stick your hand down a dog hole trying to retrieve one, or get your face close to a hole looking down it.

Dog towns in eastern Colorado at least are infested with rattlesnakes looking for an easy meal.
Also fleas & other stuff you don't want living on you.


February 6, 2012, 09:42 PM
I can also attest to rattlers in SD, NE, and NM. Over 25 years, I don't think we have failed to kill at least one per trip.

February 6, 2012, 09:45 PM
Good advice on the broad side shots and not sticking your hand down a prairie dog hole. I will keep both in mind.:D


February 7, 2012, 06:45 PM

What is the approximate cost of a prairie dog hunt? Are you using an outfitter, or local friends? I'm itching to apply my M700 Police with Nightforce 12-42X56 with NP-RR1 reticle. The circles range 9 inches, and the lines range 18 inches.


February 7, 2012, 08:35 PM
Tons of places to go Geno. I usually go to Montana or the Dakota's. I have several friends in the areas with lots of land and just about ANY landowner would be happy to let you kill a town or two. Especially if they have cattle or horses. Many broken legs on them because of P-Dogs. I forget what state you are in Geno. PM me and I'll see if I know anyone close to you that would allow you to come kill some. We usually have our P-Dog shoots in late spring to early summer.

February 7, 2012, 08:58 PM
Are there any other must have items I should bring? Yeah, a friend to act as your spotter while he/she is letting their rifle cool down. I use a rangefinder to at least give me an idea how much to dial for starters, but then again, it is built into my binos.

Fat_46 is correct. A great set of binoculars is a must. My p-dog hunting partner and I both use our regular big game binos in 8x42 power. Great resolution and clarity will trump "power" any day.

February 8, 2012, 02:52 PM
most of the time there is enough level changes to use a range finder effectively. I have a mil dot on my .220 and find it useful out to 500 yards. The thing no body mentioned is a range mat: everything out west is sharp. The other thing: GOOD hearing protection! The trick to handling wind deflection is to get down wind! It also reduces the blast effect of them going in hiding. It is also fun to bring a .17HMR and practice your "Kentucky Windage"

February 8, 2012, 06:21 PM
I don't use a matt. Most of the places I hunt do not allow for "prone" position shooting. I use the D.O.A. portable shooting table. It disassembles and assembles easily for vehicle transport. Makes for an extremely stable shooting platform. Fairly comfortable. Would be more comfortable to an average sized person. It's the best I could find for my above average height.

As you can see here from their site, prone would not have worked well at all. http://www.doatactical.com/images/600_DSC04007.JPG



February 12, 2012, 10:11 PM
Freedom Fighter,

That looks like a comfortable set up. Turns out my outfitter has shooting benches. I hope they are as nice as the ones you posted!


February 13, 2012, 12:23 AM
You ain't Prairie Dog hunting if:

You aren't laying on the ground in the sand burs.
Looking through your scope.
While sweat is running in your eyes and dripping on your glasses.
With sand fleas chewing on your belly meat.
And getting stared at by a huge jumping spider the size of your hand a foot off to your right eye.

The hand that was pulling the slack out of the trigger.
But is now busy feeling around down there.
For whatever is crawling around in your pants.

You just need to remember the old saying.
If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger.
And concentrate on the cross-hairs and the squeeze.

And, Real Prairie Dog hunters don't use them fancy shooting benches parked in the dirt road! :D


February 13, 2012, 02:39 AM
Ha! True. I like walking around and blasting those things however one might.

February 15, 2012, 06:41 PM

Some middle-aged farts like me, what had dozens of spinal surgeries can no longer go prone. So, I like those benches!!! 'sides, jus' 'cause I can't go prone, don't mean I can't knock the feces out of any 2-liter-pop-bottle-sized target I see inside of 525 yards. :evil:

However, I would prefer that those benches to be atop the hills, as it flattens trajectory. That might even extend my range to 550 yards. Let me know when you want to go. I'll write-out a few dozen death warrants for them critters. :D


February 16, 2012, 12:50 AM
And, Real Prairie Dog hunters don't use them fancy shooting benches parked in the dirt road!

HA!!! I don't "usually" do the side of the road thing unless there is a good sized "town" within 300 yards or so then by golly yer sure as tootin I'll post the group, set up the tables, break out the sharp whistles and commence to making the beautiful pink mists and star bursts! I put WAY more than my share of time in the dirt and sand burrs as well as donated gallons of blood to the sand fleas! Glad to see I'm not the only one that gets a bit perturbed at the corner of the eye sighting of a spider that looks to be big enough to call me dinner!

Back when I bought mine, the legs were not very adjustable for uneven terrain. It had some adjustable points but not really much. I modified mine to give it 3 point adjustable legs for up to 30* table level stance. I think they have since modified it the same way. They are far from cheap at around $550 bucks but they are very well made and mine has seen a LOT of time in the field with my big rear end on it with absolutely no issues to date.

Geno, the more the merrier! There is usually 6 of us that try to get together a few times a year out in Montana with a few other friends of mine out there for some slinging of small caliber lead at insanely high speeds to seed the ground with fresh P-Dog meat for a more fertile grassland :D You know, it's always nice to give back to mama nature ;)

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