Prairie Dog hunting in SD with new equipment

Discussion in 'Varminter & Hunting Forum' started by powderbrake, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. powderbrake

    powderbrake Gold $$ Contributor

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    I just returned from a prairie dog trip to South Dakota. I went with 3 other friends from our local gun club. We hunted the Rosebud Reservation again, as I have for the past 20+ years. Hunting was OK, as it gets a LOT of hunting pressure, but nowhere near as good as 15-20 years ago. We had perfect weather for the first 3 days, low to high 80's, few or no clouds, and two days of almost no wind. 3rd day brought 12-15 mph winds, not too gusty so windage offsets were not difficult.

    Two of our guys left on the 4th day, and two new guys filled the foursome for Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately the winds were about 25mph and gusting on Friday, which made it particularly hard on the one newbie in the group, but he was enjoying the shooting. Saturday we set up in the morning, but got rained out about 11 am, so we packed up and called it a great 4 1/2 days.

    I was trying out some new equipment, a SEB Mini rest with F-Class products Mini Mod Top side plates, and a Kestrel 5700 Elite with Applied Ballistics on a vane mount.

    The Mini, so I could use the joystick for the final adjustments to the sight picture before firing, and the mini mod top to firmly hold the stock, as it is adjustable in width. I use this at our range for both sporter stocked and benchrest style (3") fore end stocks. This was a trial to see if I could get the elevation changes needed quickly without moving the rear bag.
    Here are some pics of the equipment which I use.

    DSCN1880.JPG
    I mounted the Kestrel 5700 on a monopod, and drilled some small centers to locate the rest. I typically range the dog with a set of Lieca 10X40 Rangefinder binoculars. The Kestrel 5700 is Bluetooth connected to my iPhone running the Kestrel app, so I enter the range on the iPhone, and have it lying parallel to the rifle, so I can then touch the DoF ( direction of fire) button, and the windage and elevation clicks appear on my iPhone. I set the windage and elevation on my scope, and hold the dot on the prairie dog, and pull the trigger.
    DSCN1886.JPG

    The table is from Custom Metal Products, and I sit like this, leaning into the table, with a lot of room for my right elbow and arm to rest on the table. While I am gripping the bag, I normally have my hand on the joystick. You can see how the stock is guided on both sides by the Mod Top. Note this pic was staged, the chamber was verified empty and the bolt was closed by the photographer.

    DSCN1894.JPG

    Here is the Kestrel unit on the vane. It can also be used hand held. It is showing 37 clicks UP, and 3 clicks LEFT. This also shows on the Kestrel app (free) on the iPhone on the table.

    DSCN1891.JPG

    Here you can see 37 clicks up, and 4 clicks left, the wind picked up as I was taking the picture. Near the bottom, the range is 554 yards. That is input either by sliding a finger on the yellow arrows on the right of the wind circle, or by touching the range and a keyboard appears that you can type in the yardage.

    You can see on the wind circle that the wind is from 8:30, but you don't really care where it is from if you have the 5700 on a vane, as it knows the wind direction, and only need to know your direction of fire. You input the Direction of Fire by touching the DoF "button" on the iPhone, and it reads the iphone compass and tells the 5700 the DoF.

    You can see the iphone is hard to read in the sun. Kestrel is coming out with their own display which will replace the iphone and app. When It comes out in August I will probably get one.

    DSCN1902.JPG

    It is pretty country, and you can see the skies were clear. Yes that's a cow out there.

    So, how did it all work? The 5700 works GREAT. I was used to ranging and measuring the wind with a wind meter, and inputting the data into The Applied Ballistics app on my iPhone, but this is way easier and quicker. Simply range the dog, put it in the app, and touch DoF, and get your W & E settings.

    The SEB Mini made it easy to get a sight picture, and the Mod Top held the rifle in place and kept it from rolling to the side. I have a bubble level in the top of the rear ring and I check it each shot.

    Can I go to an F class stock with a flat lower edge with no taper related to the bore? Probably not, but it needs more evaluation. You can use the mariner wheel to raise and lower the Mini, but it is slower than sliding a bag under a tapered stock.

    Here are the specs on my rifle and the web links to the products.

    Rifle:
    Stiller Predator V action, bedded, 28" Krieger 8 twist barrel with a 6BR .272 neck, .104 freebore, McMillan A3 stock, Jewell trigger, Nightforce NXS 8-32 scope, Nightforce rings, 20moa Stiller rail.

    Cartridge:
    6BR,Lapua brass, 88 gr Berger High BC Flat base Varmint, BR4 primer, 32.3 gr Varget, 3141 fps

    Table:
    Custom Metal Products Precision Varmint Bench
    https://custommetalprod.com/precision-varmint-shooting-bench-b77

    Kestrel 5700 and vane
    https://kestrelmeters.com/products/kestrel-elite-weather-meter-with-applied-ballistics

    vane https://kestrelmeters.com/collectio...ating-vane-mount-carry-case-for-5000-series-1

    Mini Mod Top
    https://www.fclassproducts.com/buy-products/p_422001/mini-mod-top-with-3-piece-bag-set-

    Mini Rest:
    https://sebrests-usa.com/mini-rest/

    Monopod
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Q6ZCCY8/?tag=accuratescom-20
     
  2. Chuck G

    Chuck G

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    I have been sitting here looking at this post for 15 min. and i am still thinking what the heck?
     
  3. remy3424

    remy3424

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    I thought I was putting way too much effort into things when ranging each one and dialing up my elevation turret. My technology would be the range finder and the trajectory table taped to my stock. This is practice for a shooting competition I am assuming. This can't be equipment purchased for the sole intent of whacking prairie dogs, right? About how many rounds down the tube over 4+ days? What distances were you accurate out to? Good write-up and pics. Leaving in about 38 hours for a SD shoot with my father (82 this year) and a buddy. I will try to remember to take some pics this year.
     
  4. powderbrake

    powderbrake Gold $$ Contributor

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    No ,not practicing for a competition, just shooting prairie dogs.
    I had been using Applied Ballistics app on my iPhone, but I found the Kestrel 5700 Elite and vane in the reloading for sale portion of this forum, so I decided I had to have it. Besides one of our group has one and I could not let him get ahead of me in the number of toys. Besides, it does make it a lot easier and quicker getting on target, and it's inputting the wind, temp, humidity, and barometric pressure constantly, so you get good solutions.
    I managed a few one shot hits at 500 yards. I let the newer guys with the 204 Rugers and AR's shoot the close ones, and I generally work on those 350 yards and out.
    The SEB Mini was also acquired on this forum, and with the add on side plates, it will accept any width fore end. I use it at our range a lot for most of my shooting out to 600 yards.

    Good luck on your trip to SD, may you see many fat ones. We saw mostly pups, which makes the shooting a little tougher.
     
  5. ChrisNZ

    ChrisNZ

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    Is that a bison in the middle of the last pic??
     
  6. KY-Windage

    KY-Windage

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    What the wind is doing at my table is only part of the equation when you are talking about 300+ yard shots. I read how the wind/mirage is running across the prairie between me and the target, and try to come up with an average. Also, if it is breezy I like to set up in the lee of the vehicle to keep the table from being blown around, so I would not be getting good readings anyway.

    But, it looks cool and I admit I would enjoy watching you put that stuff to good use. Thanks for posting that!

    I would say you guys need to be suppressed. You get a LOT more shots that way, and you can talk to each other.

    Taken one month ago in SD:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  7. JSH

    JSH

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    A lot of neat equipment, some I have myself. I could see taking it for the 500+ yard shots, if I or a buddy was spotting and doing the work.
    Alone, I would be so frustrated in short order it would all get packed up I am afraid.
    A few weeks ago three of us were out. Usually 1-2 shooters and one on the spotting scope. Even at distance dogs stand around for pretty short time.
    With a spotter we connected on more than one with 223 and 204’s at 5-600 ranged.
    A very good write up on gear. But I think I take to much now myself.
     
    K9TXS and Mark W like this.
  8. powderbrake

    powderbrake Gold $$ Contributor

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    No, that was a bull.
     
  9. powderbrake

    powderbrake Gold $$ Contributor

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    I agree, the winds downrange could be different, anyway, that's what I tell myself when I miss.

    It looks like your grass was pretty brown, we had a lot of high grass.
     
  10. powderbrake

    powderbrake Gold $$ Contributor

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    I agree, spotters are very helpful, but you still have to range it, and then find it in your scope. I did a lot of cranking on the scope magnification to find the dogs after I ranged them. "Let's see...…… if I go up and to the right on that dark mound, there should be 3 white mounds in a row, and he is supposed to be on the second one" Lots of times he was gone by the time I got to the mound. Patience is a virtue when hunting PD's. I outwait the little rats, have a beverage, sit in a folding chair, and they eventually come up, particularly the pups.

    As to too much gear, the Kestrel and the vane come in a small hand sized package, and the post collapses into a 10" stick. The seb mini is a bit larger than my original front rest, but I do not break it down when we move, just put it in the car. My buddy carries a lot more stuff, and my Tahoe is full.
     
  11. powderbrake

    powderbrake Gold $$ Contributor

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    My buddy brought along his new drone, and took some videos of the area we were hunting one day. The logo at the beginning is in French, "Hunters Without Borders". The stuff at the end is an explanation for people who ask " why do you hunt them, they are SOOOOOOO cute".

    South Dakota had received a lot of rain, and everything was very green.

     
  12. JSH

    JSH

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    Lol, I have patience, but when one goes down or runs off and there is another in the scope........just like Lays potatoe chips, one is not enough.
    I get a scope set and pan around level and find what I can hit, then move up or down.
     
  13. KentuckyFisherman

    KentuckyFisherman

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    Here's the new piece of equipment my PD troupe had to use in South Dakota in late May. The road to the ranch we shoot was flooded, so the rancher took us in via the bucket on the front of his 4WD tractor.

    [​IMG]
     
    Greyfox likes this.
  14. powderbrake

    powderbrake Gold $$ Contributor

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    Near one of the towns we shot, a rancher trying to move some cattle got his Tractor-trailer stuck in the mud. He is going to need a 4WD tractor to help him get out. The front cab was resting on the frame rails.
     
  15. sw282

    sw282

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    Many fond memories shooting the RoseBud in the early 2000s. Lots of ''needed'' toys l see too. Was never fortunate enough to hunt private land in that area tho:-( No more Rez.
     
  16. Calgary Bill

    Calgary Bill

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    Great write up. Thanks for sharing.
    The range finder is a critical piece of your equipment.
    I see that you use a Leica 10 power geovid. I use one as well but have found that it can give bad readings under some conditions--- such as mounds--- the rangefinder gets confused at which mound it sees--- it might even give an average of one or more mounds which would likely mean a miss at longer yardage.
    Have you experienced this problem? I have read that the width of the laser beam is an important factor--- a narrow beam is better as it will see a specific target and not the background.
    I am considering an alternative to my Geovid. I see Sig Sauer have a range finding binocular on the market and has had favourable reviews.
    Bill
     
  17. sw282

    sw282

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    l got a Swarovski rangefinder maybe 15 yrs back. 8x and good for 800m/yds its still very accurate down to 25yds or less. l think they came out with a 10x 1200m/yd model a few yrs later. Sadly they are no longer made.. Swarovskis were and are pricey, and that's the main reason l didn't upgrade to the 10x 1200m/yd model... For ME, personally, l refused to buy good quality binoculars like Zeiss or Swarovski because l have only ONE eye. Call me cheap or whatever l am just NOT going to pay big money for something l can only use HALF of... My Swarovski is both rangefinder AND binocular
     
  18. powderbrake

    powderbrake Gold $$ Contributor

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    Bill;
    I understand what you are talking about. I suspect part of the problem is holding the binoculars steady when ranging, particularly at longer yardages. We considered this exact problem when the shooting table was designed. I am able to place both elbows on the table, I take off my glasses and press the eyepieces into my face, against the bottom of my eyebrows, and lean my body into the table. This give me a secure and steady picture thru the binocs. See pic.

    DSCN1388_Medium.JPG

    I was under the impression that Lieca had a very small laser dot. I checked the specs on the Geovids on the web, and they state a 2.7 X 1.5 mrad beam dispersion. That figures out to a 0.5 dia beam at 100 yards, and a 3.0 dia beam at 600 yards, both of which are within a prairie dog, so a mound should be no problem.
    I looked at the Sig Sauer website and the beam dispersion or spot size is not specified. I recommend you find out the size before purchase. I have no experience with the Sig, but you have to go a long way to better Lieca when it comes to optics.

    One reason I use the Geovids is the magnification power, I had a Lieca rangefinder, but it was only 6 or 7 power. I bought the Geovids which are 10 power and the binocular vision helps locate and see targets. I look at the Terrapins and other monocular rangefinders, and most of them are 6 to 8 power. That may be OK to range a house or barn, or maybe an elk, but seeing and ranging a prairie dog is a tougher job. I also don't care about ranging past 1000 yards, because I likely can't hit the prairie dog that far away anyway.
     
  19. Calgary Bill

    Calgary Bill

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    Thanks for your quick turnaround, Powderbrake. I have a table similar to your to put my elbows down for stability but still have some difficulty. Wind can be an issue as can overcast days. Like you, I don't like the monocular rangefinders---I have an older Leica 7 power and it is good for deer at 300-400 yds but not so hot on prairie dogs.
    I also have a Laser Technology G7-BR2 monocular range finder that is marketed by Gunwerks in Wyoming---I didn't bring it on my recent trip but maybe I should have---I tried it in the past with so so results on prairie dogs---its marketed with lots of hype but I'm skeptical about its applicability on p dogs.
    I wonder if my Leica Geovid which is 4-5 yrs old could be mal functioning. I've used it successfully in the past---I rarely shoot beyond 400 yds which should be within its useful range. My Geovid does not measure the equivalent horizontal distance but I rarely shoot more than 25-50 ft in elevation which amounts to only a small correction.
    I had one really good evening with no wind and the sun at my back and I shot a couple dozen of the little critters at 300-400 yds with only a couple misses---my Geovid sure worked that evening.
    I'll post any fruitful findings.
    Bill
     
  20. Capt. Oblivious

    Capt. Oblivious

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    Cant you guys have some sort of “arm” next to the bench that you can attach the range finder to sort of like n tripod that can swing out of your way when not used. I can stretch my RF’s legs allot further when mounted in a tripod especially on smaller targets
     

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