Another nice day was in the forecast for last Saturday, September 2, 2017, so I headed down to the same dog town I had hunted in during the afternoon of August 18, 2017. There was a big area to the SE of where I took my last shots on the 18th that I needed to explore this day. My weapon of choice for today was my Tikka Master Sporter in .22-250. I had the factory barrel replaced with a SS 1 in 12 twist Brux barrel and had that barrel treated with melonite after it was chambered and fitted to the action. The barrel was finished at 24", flutes cut in the barrel, and threaded on the muzzle for my AAC Ranger II suppressor. A friend of mine suggested I try the 53 gr. V-Max bullets in this rifle so I tried them and sold all the 50 gr. V-Max bullets I had after testing the 53 grainers. I had 40 rounds loaded with 35.3 gr. of IMR 8208 XBR. (YES, that is well over the max load listed so approach that load with EXTREME CAUTION if you are considering this load!!!) Once in awhile I have bolt lift problems with the casings, so I loaded up 50 rounds with a milder weight powder charge. My goal was to shoot all of the 35.3 gr. cartridges and then sight in the scope for the lighter weight charged casings.
My first shot of the day was at a prairie dog facing me head on at a lasered 100 yards away. The prairie dog lost that face off in a BIG way. As I was approaching the body, I found a “chunk” about 15 feet in front of where the body was. Here’s a photo of the Tikka and the victim with chunks marked with yellow arrows. As you can see—parts are all over.
I had another prairie dog that was barking at me and the range finder told me it was 75 yards away. I took aim, squeezed the trigger and heard the WHAP of the bullet hit and saw something flying off to the left of where the PD was sitting. I approached the scene of the impact and saw the PD’s head lying 15 to 18 feet left of where it had been sitting. The body must have disappeared down the den hole, but the head was all alone on the prairie. The photo below shows you a look from the den of the PD to where his head ended up on the prairie. There were flies on the PD remains that lined the edge of the den hole.
Here’s what the head looked like—not a very pleasant sight.
The photo, below, of another head-shot victim that looked to be quite young or else undernourished!!!
A little bit before my lunch hour, I managed to bag the double that you see taking a sunbath in the photo below. I don’t know which one was hit first, but the one in the foreground was thrown about 10 feet from the mound. I didn’t think that little 53 gr. V-Max had that much energy!!!
I left my cart near the site of this double and walked back to bring the pickup up to where I would eat lunch. I managed to shoot a couple more prairie dogs on my walk back to the pickup. I found a nice shady spot near a tree and got my lunch bucket out and set up to have my usual picnic out on the prairie. I just don’t understand why my wife doesn’t want to come with me so she could have picnic lunch with me??
It was 11:49 a.m. when I started eating lunch and I finished eating at 12:00 noon. I spread my ground cloth out in the shade of a nice tree, and placed two of my elbow pads on top of my camo bean bag to use as a pillow. I like to drape my red cowboy handkerchief over my eyes, place my glasses on top of that to hold it down so the wind doesn’t blow it off and then put my beautiful boonie hat on top of that. It definitely keeps the sun out of my eyes!!! I woke up around 1:00 p.m. and still felt tired so I rolled over on my side and dropped off to sleep again. I woke up at 2:07 and heard a prairie dog barking. I spotted the little critter and got my Tikka ready to silence the noisy little beast. That one was my 14th victim of the day with only 13 shots.
I buttoned up my pickup, moved stuff around in my Schwinn cart and headed off to the ESE. I managed to shoot 5 more prairie dogs and missed one. Still walking ESE stopping to shoot and then moving on until I got the barrel so hot I had to use my BarrelCooler to cool it off. I had shot more prairie dogs and had only 12 loaded rounds left out of the box of 40 that I started with. I wanted to use up all of those rounds so I stayed in that spot and took pot shots at PDs in a 360º area around my shady spot. By the time I shot the 40th shell, I had missed on only one shot, got one double and hit on 38 singles for 40 dead PDs with 40 shots.
I broke out the box of 50 reloads that were loaded with 34.5 gr. of 8208 XBR and the 53 gr. V-Max bullets. I wanted to check the POI so I moved 50 yards away from a dead tree stump and fired three shots at a worm hole in the stump. According to my drop and wind deflection chart I needed the bullets to hit 0.1" low at 50 yards and dead on for windage. The bullets hit about 3/16 of an inch left and 3/16 of an inch high. I decided I’d just leave the knobs alone and shoot some PDs and adjust if needed. I wasn't thinking very clearly and forgot I needed to double the distance I was off since I was only 50 yards from my target. I shot one PD at about 40 yards with no problem. However, when I started shooting at longer distances, I missed my next two shots. The light bulb came on and I recognized my error in adjustment calculations. Since my scope has 1/8 inch clicks, I did two clicks down and two clicks right and hit on 9 out of the next 9 shots I took. I knew I would have to shoot at some paper after today to get the scope adjusted properly and that proved to be true because I took 5 more shots while heading back for the pickup and only hit on 3 of them. So with the new loads I hit on 13 out of 17 shots so my total for the day was 53 dead prairie dogs for 57 shots. I also bagged a nice looooooong nap!!!
During the course of my shooting I did manage to take a few photos of some blossoms and another couple artifacts. The top-right photo, IMHO and my sermon for today, shows two items that shouldn’t be mixed when you are out shooting high-power rifles.
And no story that I put together is complete without the “Hero Photo” so here it is. This photo was taken in the morning with the double I managed to shoot.
I hope you enjoyed the hunt.