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Guns & Shooting Hunting Small Game

ARs for Varmint Shooting

by John Geiger   |  June 1st, 2012 1

ARs have low recoil and lots of room in their magazines, and they are easy to accessorize for your style of hunting. Ground squirrels and prairie dogs didn't care for the M&P15 in .223 (pictured with a Trijicon Reflex) and its little brother, the M&P15-22 in .22LR. Photo by John Geiger.

Prairie dogs make holes. Lots and lots of holes. Cattle and horses can step in them and break legs. Farm equipment grinds to a halt on dirt mounds. Native grasses have a hard time getting a foothold in these p-dog towns.

So I’m happy to do my part helping ranchers control the population. The rascally rodents also make great targets, and that helps me shoot better.

Luckily, gun makers have been pumping out quality rifles and handguns to help us bring the out-of-control rodent population back in check.

On a recent shoot in Wyoming, my friend Steve Gash and I hauled out long-range Thompson Center Icons and T/C Venture Predators in .223 and .204 to knolls and rolling hills near Encampment on the Spur Ranch. We’d ride two tracks till we saw what looked like a mortar-training area — holes with light-colored sandy dirt spread around — that indicated an infestation. Then we’d get to work.

If the spot looked like a prairie dog city with hundred of rodent residents, then we’d break out the tables, spotting scopes and Lead Sleds for long-range action.

Gash, a longtime gun writer, is a nut for the “walking varminter,” the Venture in .204, and you can’t blame him.

“When it goes off, recoil is so slight the barrel barely jumps,” said Gash. “You can see where you hit, and see where you need to hold next time, if you miss. You can view it all through the scope. I like that.”

And he especially liked it when it was on target. A whoop went up with each satisfying pink cloud.

We’d pop p-dogs out 300, 400 and 500 yards. Gash had one beauty at 617 from one ridge to another. It took him 10 shots with the .204 as a spotter directed.

“High and left by 10 inches. Left, 6 inches. Bingo!” said Everett Degger of Hornady Ammunition. He said it was as much fun spotting as pulling the trigger. I don’t know if I’d agree with that, but to each his own.

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