My Favorite Prairie Dog Battery

Larry Potterfield's Favorite Prairie Dog Battery

How many guns does one man need to shoot prairie dogs? Well, at least three, one for up close, one for mid-range and one for way out there. Always experimenting, I settled on a three-gun battery that made the most sense to me.

My short-range gun, out to 50 yards, was a Smith & Wesson Model 28, 357 Magnum, with a 6” barrel. Full-house 125 grain JHP hand loads were my favorite and typically I would shoot 150-200 rounds per trip. Earlier, I tried a S&W M-19 with 4” barrel, but it just wasn’t heavy enough to enjoy shooting 357 Magnums through.

Mid-range was everything out of reach of the Smith 28, but not far enough out to require a scoped rifle. If the sun was shining and the wind quiet, the dogs would stand up and I could see them well enough to shoot with iron sights out to about 125 yards. For this shooting, I preferred a Remington #1-1/2 Rolling Block Sporting Rifle in 32/20 Winchester. A folding tang rear sight and Beech front, provided for the finest sight picture. I’ve also used a Winchester low wall and a Winchester Model 92, in the same caliber, for mid-range work; but the Rolling Block is easier and more efficient to operate, as you simply roll back the hammer, then the breech block to extract the empty case and load a fresh round. The low wall and 92 require a second hand to operate the under lever. Whether walking & stalking, sitting at the bench or shooting off the truck door, this little rifle was always a joy to shoot and very accurate with Hornady 90 grain XTP bullets.

The third gun in my battery, and always the last one put into action, was a Remington Model 7 in 221 Fireball, with a Leupold 6-1/2 x 18 side-focus scope and a 40-X trigger. I have shot dogs with this gun out to four hundred yards on a calm day when the sun was shining; but have used it at 75 yards, shooting heads, on overcast days -- with the wind blowing at gale force. I have also fired lots of 222 Remington, 223 Remington, 223 Ackley Improved and 22-250, always in Remington actions; but settled on the 221 Fireball.

This three-gun battery served me well, and on my next trip, these will be the guns I take along.

Larry Potterfield
North, South, East and West of
Medicine Bow, Wyoming
June 2008

For more of Larry’s Short Stories, visit

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