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Prairie Dog Hunting in Wyoming

July 5, 2023
Kevin "KJ" Jarnagin

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Prairie Dog Hunting in Wyoming: A Thrilling Adventure in the Heart of the West

Wyoming's expansive prairies offer hunters a unique opportunity to engage in an exciting venture: prairie dog hunting. Combining the excitement of marksmanship with the beauty of the natural landscape, I headed out to Q Creek Outfitters for a chance at combating the expansion of prairie dogs on the plains.

Prairie dog hunting in Wyoming is regulated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) that ensures sustainable and responsible practices.

The Wyoming Prairie Dog Management Plan emphasizes the need to balance the interests of hunters with the conservation of these keystone species. Prairie dogs play a crucial role in the ecosystem, providing food for a variety of predators and creating habitats for numerous other species.

Prairie dog hunting provides a unique thrill, blending the beauty of Wyoming's landscapes with the satisfaction of a well-placed shot. It offers an opportunity to test marksmanship skills at varying distances, providing challenges that keep hunters engaged. The unpredictable nature of prairie dogs adds an element of excitement to the pursuit, as these small creatures are quick to detect danger and alert their colony.

Additionally, prairie dog hunting in Wyoming allows hunters to immerse themselves in the vastness of the American West. The state's breathtaking vistas and rugged terrain make every hunting expedition an unforgettable adventure. The solitude and serenity of the prairie create a remarkable backdrop for an authentic outdoor experience.

The group set out to locate dog towns early in the morning, and we were on the hunt for the entire day. We’d set up on prairie dog towns with clusters of 10-40 prairie dogs. This meant a bunch of windshield time. In and out of vehicles takes a toll on gear. My poor Thompson Center Venture Compact didn’t know what hit it. I have to first say how much trouble it is to travel with firearms. Excuse my tangent.

I sent firearms to be delivered 10 days before I arrived. In the Pelican case, I had camera equipment, two rifles, all my magazines, binoculars, and other necessary equipment for the hunt. The Pelican never arrived. The case arrived the day I left…just in time, right?

I was lucky to have great hunting camp partners that brought a few extra rifles. But, I really wanted to test out the Leupold VX-3HD with WindPlex reticle. I’ll get into how it went later. Okay, end tangent, back to the hunt.

Once a colony was located, we set up shooting positions utilizing the BOG Deathgrip to keep rifles in place. A stable shooting platform is key when pursuing prairie dogs. They are small targets at long ranges. Patience and keen observation are crucial, as prairie dogs are known for their alertness and ability to quickly retreat into their burrows at the slightest sign of danger. That didn’t matter much because each shooter had clear, superior glass.

The group employed a wide variety of calibers and configurations. On the line, we had Ruger Mark IVs, AR-15, Savage Arms bolt-actions, and Long-range rifles. The best part? Each firearm was equipped with a variation of Silencer Central Banish suppressor. Why would you hunt with a suppressor? Those questions only come from people that haven’t experienced the joy of shooting suppressed. It offers a better shooting experience, and I don’t have to wear hearing protection since all Silencer Central suppressors are hearing safe.

Tough hunting adventures require quality components and equipment. Ask me how I know. I had a pile of great gear on the trip. From Remington High Performance Rifle to the Caldwell Flash Bang, everything stood up to my endurance test and the rigors of moving from vehicle to shooting positions several times. I even managed to drop the Leupold VX-3HD out of the Deathgrip. That sucker maintained zero throughout the rest of the trip. That occurrence made me stop and think how great glass on a tough hunt makes the difference.

We’ve all experienced failure of gear. It isn’t pretty. It can lead us down a dark road of manufacturer boycott, airline distain and mental failures. The Leupold VX-3HD on that little 22-250 has seen some stuff. I’ve beaten it up on deer and coyote hunts, but it always maintains zero. Plus, it has a simple WindPlex reticle. I love a simple reticle for small game. I confuse easy so don’t judge. We are living in the days of busy reticles that look like the Jarnagin Family Christmas tree. I love em for precision rifle but give me a simple reticle for hunting.  

The hunt continued and featured stuck vehicles, tons of prairie dogs, plenty of laughs and countless memories made. The landscape of Wyoming offers wonderous views, but the real magic is what happens underground when a small prairie dog pokes his head out of the ground, and you’ve got great gear helping make a quality shot. ~ KJ

Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter and often finds himself in a different venture often. His early career had him working with one of the finest PR agencies in the outdoor industry – Blue Heron Communications. Before that, KJ molded the minds of business school students at the University of Oklahoma. Quickly learning he had to grow up sometime, KJ dedicated himself to the outdoors no matter what it took.

Sporting his flat-brimmed cap, KJ traverses the country in pursuit of the greatest game and best adventures. Whether it’s making his way to British Columbia for elk or training with pistols, KJ always seems to find a gun in his hands and adventure on his mind. KJ is a skilled communicator and connector in an industry that he has loved since a child.

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