The surgeon who did the surgery on my back was here in Williston on Wednesday, August 2 and said I’m healing well, but if your buddy drives his truck into the ditch, don’t help push him out. So I can do the physical things I have been doing and I need to stop an activity if it is hurting my back. The weather forecast was for great PD shooting on Friday so I contacted my son to see if he wanted to go out. He said, “GREAT, let’s go.”
So, my son and I left Williston around 7:40 a.m. last Friday morning. We hadn’t been out shooting prairie dogs together since August 20, 2016!! I think he was suffering withdrawal symptoms from not shooting prairie dogs for almost a year like I was on July 1, 2017!!!
Jeff would be using the Remington 700 BDL I purchased the fall of 2013. He and my grandson used the rifle as it was the summer of 2015, but the barrel was in pretty rough shape. I purchased a 1 in 9 twist 4 groove stainless steel Remington Varmint contour barrel from Lilja and had my gunsmith chamber it with my reamer that has a .197" neck. After I broke in the barrel, I had my gunsmith send the barrel in to have it given a Melonite treatment. The barrel was fluted, threaded at the muzzle for my suppressors, and finished at 24". I had an extra Leupold VX-III 6.5-20x40mm scope with the fine duplex on hand and installed that. I found a decent load for the rifle and planned on using my GEMTECH Trek-Ti suppressor on this rifle. The trigger has a pull weight of around 1.5 pounds. I used a load of 23.4 gr. of Varget early last summer with the 25 gr. V-Max coated with hBN, and that load produced a muzzle velocity of 4,098 fps. I decided that was a bit too hot. No sense burning up the barrel any faster than necessary. I switched to a load of 21.9 gr. of IMR 8208 XBR and that produces a muzzle velocity of 3,957 fps and is quite accurate. I’m using Nosler brass for this rifle and really like how uniform it is. I neck turned all of the casings too. Here’s a photo of the rig.
I would be using my .17 Remington built on a Jerry Stiller Predator action back on May 29, 2010. It has a 26" Lilja Remington Varmint Contour stainless steel 1 in 9 twist, 4 groove barrel with the muzzle threaded for my suppressors. I had my gunsmith use my reamer with a .201" neck. Since there wasn’t a lot of real uniform .17 Remington brass, I formed casings for this rifle from WW .204 Ruger brass and turned the neck wall to .0125" thickness. Lately, I have been testing loads using Nosler brass those loads seem to be a little bit more accurate. I was using 29 gr. GENCO bullets until I ran out of them in 2013 and they don’t make them any longer. I worked up a load of 22.3 gr. of IMR 8208 XBR for the 30 gr. FBHP Starke Red Prairie Varmint bullets coated with hBN and they give me a muzzle velocity of 3,840 fps. The 25 gr. V-Max is very accurate out of this rifle too. Here’s a look at this rifle.
We arrived at the PD town and could see vehicle tracks all over the dog town. This PD town is on National Grasslands acres and it is illegal to drive any vehicle off established trails. We decided to get our gear ready and try out luck in this dog town. I had my Schwinn cart to carry my backpack, Caldwell DeadShot Field Pod, little 4-legged stool, my cooler with my soft drinks and lunch, my boxes of ammo, and my three-legged camera holder. The photo to the left shows you what that rig looks like.
I inserted a golf bag pull cart handle into the hitch that would attach to the back wheel of a bike. I have my Field Pod strapped to the top of the cart, my three-legged camera holder sticking out from under the cart cover (the camera holder is made from three carbon fiber arrows with rubber castration rings as a hinge). My backpack was in the back of the cart and since it was the heaviest item in there the balance of the cart was very good. It was easier to pull than I had imagined. It just wasn’t a lot of fun to pull up steep ravines or hills.
We set up on the top of the bank of a dry creek and had fairly good shooting. My Field Pod was a bit unsteady again and my percentage of hits was way below what I usually have. I had tightened the little nut that holds the pivot point to the legs, but it became a bit loose. We shot until about 11:30 and broke for lunch. We decided we could both use a bit of a “power nap” so about an hour and a fifteen minutes after we laid down, I woke up, what I should say is my son’s snoring woke me up!!! I moved about 50 yards west of where he was laying and took another 20 minutes of nap but woke up when he started shooting prairie dogs again. Darn inconsiderate youngsters!!! LOL
We decided to pack up our gear and head to the SW. We saw oodles of PDs running around on a hillside to the west of us and decided to set up and shoot there for a while. We had good shooting there. I had decided to abandon the Caldwell DeadShot Field Pod and lay prone. My percentage of hits went from 66.7% in the morning to 91.3% in the afternoon giving me 80.5% for the day. I did miss a few shots after that, but decided I would ditch the field pod for my next outing. Jeff shot 72 shots and killed 58 prairie dogs for an 80.6% hit percentage for the day. The wind was fairly calm for the first 45 minutes of our hunt but then started blowing from our backs so that didn’t pose a big problem. However, about half way through the morning the wind picked up and was blowing 10 to 15 mph for the rest of the day. When we began shooting in the afternoon the wind was blowing at about 90º to the path of our bullets, but we seemed to have the wind deflection figured out pretty good. I had the range finder, but Jeff didn’t so he was at a disadvantage on figuring out distances. He may have to invest in a range finder. I do have a range finder for golfing and I think that will work on ranging prairie mounds. I may have to try it if he doesn’t purchase a range finder.
When the prairie dogs on the hillside we were shooting in the afternoon got wise to us, we headed to the south. We got in some shooting there, but then I discovered my little camo bean bag was missing. I spent 15 minutes looking around where we were at and couldn’t find it. I told Jeff to just keep on shooting and I would meet him at the pickup at a little before 5:00 p.m. I retraced every step I had taken from where we were shooting at PDs on the hillside and failed to find the bean bag. I may go back to that dog town and do some more searching. I’m sure no bird flew away with it and also sure no prairie dogs took it down into their den. I was bewildered that I couldn’t find it. Old age is really starting to suck.
Jeff really enjoyed his first prairie dog shoot of the year and is anxious to get back out there again. We had a great time but didn’t take a “Hero Photo” of the two of us. We’ll do that next time. We got our gear into the pickup and headed for Williston. We were supposed to try to get back by 6:00 p.m. for a dinner appointment but didn’t get into Williston until about 6:15. I met Jeff and his wife at Quinn’s Steakhouse and we had dinner together and Jeff picked up the tab. That’s my boy!!!