Sure, a proper varmint hunting gun and plenty of furry critters to plink makes for a heck of a hunt, but one of the things you’ll learn about a southern Wyoming prairie dog shoot is that there are a couple of key tools that’ll make the shooting a lot more enjoyable.
The first thing that every rodent hunter must carry along with them is a solid pair of binoculars. We were fortunate to be given a couple sets of Weaver Classic binos for our p-dog shoot and let me tell you, they were crucial for spotting the pint-sized varmints among the sand and sage.
The Classics are the most economical of the Weaver binocular lines, with models sporting an 8x32 magnification all the way out to a 10x42 set. They were lightweight, fully armored and worked great in a variety of lighting situations. And at anywhere from around $260 to $350 bucks, they won’t put a huge dent in a hunter’s wallet.
Another piece of kit that helps a lot in a prairie dog run-and-gun is something that can keep your rifle steady for multiple long shots. To help put the lead where we wanted it, we tested out Champion’s new folding shooting sticks. These little bad boys break down into a pocket-sized bundle and weigh just a few ounces. The simple design allows a hunter to brace his rifle in just about any sitting or kneeling position and the textured grip yoke helps your hand lock the stock in place.
If you’re shooting prairie dogs, get ready for long shots — lots of them. A reliable, accurate long-distance optic is key. But it’s important to use one that won’t overburden a lighter rifle shooting typical varmint loads. Weaver sent along some of their Kaspa and Grand Slam scopes for the hunt, and rest assured, no matter how far away those pesky p-dogs stood, we got up close and personal through those optics.
Most of the Weaver scopes come in a variety of reticles and sizes to suit a hunter and his gun, but with the newly designed Grand Slam series, the glass was clear and crisp and the controls made it easy to pick out a 300 yarder and pull the zoom back out quickly for a closer shots.
You’re talking, you’re scoping, you’re shooting, you’re whooping… Why doff and don ear protection when you don’t have to? A varmint hunt means lots of shooting and spotting for your buddies, so electronic noise cancelling ear protection is important in order to shoot, move and communicate during a long day of plinking. We used Champion’s electronic earmuffs to keep our hearing intact.
While not the lowest profile muffs on the market, Champion’s electronic muffs are pretty inexpensive at about $40 and downright economical on battery power. The volume adjusts for each ear and cancelled out all the harmful bang-bang while letting in plenty of hoots and hollers from successful shots.