We’re going through a transition. I hate that word. Transition generally denotes change and change is not always comfortable but I find the transitions in the predator and varmint hunting world are easier because they hold promise. I love to call predators. It’s one of the most exhilarating things in the world but after a long, cold winter of piling on layers and fighting the snow, the varmint fields start to look pretty inviting. The colony varmints are starting to come out now—actually they’ve been starting to come out for weeks but the transition in the weather isn’t keeping up with the desire of my mind! Our sage rats are trying to get out between rain showers and snow squalls and icy winds . The “‘rats” don’t offer the heart pounding excitement of a charging predator but, hey, there’s something to be said for a hunting sport that doesn’t require a 4:30 alarm and can see hundreds of rounds fired per day!
The sage rats offer the shooter an unequalled opportunity to burn ammunition and utilize that last quarter inch you wrung out of your handloads at the range. This early season ground squirrel and prairie dog shooting is made for the accurate centerfire rifle. It’s just as hard for the grass to go above ground as it is for the squirrels so the cover is almost non-existent. With relatively exposed targets and large ones at that, we get to stretch the legs on the heavy barrel rifles with the Hubble-like scopes. Accuracy trumps terminal bullet performance now and laser trajectories make reaching the practical limits of your rifle’s accuracy on a target that only spans two inches less than a mathematical, computer-driven event and more a relaxed chance for trigger time. We just bust out the benches and shoot! That said, the rockchucks have been peeking out about as long as the sage rats.
Our country doesn’t hold a lot of rockchucks so we have to practice self-imposed conservation measures to keep from shooting them out. What that means for others is up to you but for us, we’ve put a self-imposed limit of “No rockchucks under 1000 yards ‘til May.” A few years ago 400 yards would have been just as realistic in conserving the resource. For you, the minimum range may be much further. My son, Ben, connected on his first rockchuck of the season last year at 1044 yards so, “Game On!” as they say . The size of rockchucks makes them a viable long range target. They will weigh up to maybe fifteen pounds in our area. So, now the need for a dedicated long range rig comes into play and, yes, you better get to the computer or, better yet, carry one with you. One nice thing about long range rockchuck shooting is that there are generally multiple targets at similar ranges and they don’t necessarily run off when the shots are coming out of the next zip code. This allows a shooter with a spotter to “walk” onto target. It doesn’t make it pure sniper “one shot, one kill” stuff but it allows newer long range shooters a chance to work their way into the game. “One shot, One kill” stuff can be progressed into as the LR shooter gains experience.
A few good sage rat shoots have kept the reloading press busy already this spring but the big events have been our LR rockchuck attempts. The first two attempts resulted in more data-gathering sessions than killfests. Does “No animals were harmed in the process of this shooting” mean anything to you? On the third try of the year, it started to come together. My son, Ben, and I each connected on 1000+ yard rockchucks in one evening.
You can read the whole story here:
It felt like sweet success but I’ve also come to know that “Pride comes before the fall.” So I won’t hold my breath that the feat can be repeated any time soon. But, you know what? Today is another of those rare-for-this-spring sunny and calm days. Maybe we should go out to see if it was just a fluke or not…..