Nothing makes you a better hunter than hunting itself. It’s just like a football team taking part in scrimmages between games. Right now most of you are between games. Winter fur season is history, spring bear and turkey seasons are closing and the long months of summer are upon you. How do you keep your hunting and shooting skills sharp? Plan a varmint hunt. Located from coast to coast, hunters have access to a variety of varmints that provide opportunities to hunters who would rather ditch the range and hit the field. Here’s a quick rundown of reasons to hunt varmints this summer.

1. It’s really hunting. Few varmints like gophers and woodchucks sit around waiting for you to set up a shooting bench, range and sip a cool drink. When the first round goes off they go into escape mode meaning you’ll have to be savvy for your next shot.

2. You can shoot the big stuff. You don’t have to shoot a .17 Hornet for gopher-sized critters. You can take your big predator rig out for a test run and even tote along your big-game rifle. Your goal is to reduce the number of rodents, not put packages in the freezer so have an open mind.

3. Test your ammunition. Do you reload? Have you decided to switch ammunition manufacturers? If so, now is the time to move your ammunition choice from the range to the field for a true perspective on how it will fare this upcoming season.

4. Shoot in real-world conditions. Summer varmint hunts allow you test rifles and ammunition when the wind is blowing, at long range and in heat extremes. You’ll also be able to test your shooting skills from prone, sitting and standing. Your targets are moving and quick. It’s the ideal test of your hunting skills.

Are you excited? If you don’t have an idea of varmints to chase visit your local county Cooperative Extension Service. They know and understand the agricultural issues, including rodent damage. Here are some quick options. If you live in the East consider a woodchuck hunt, but don’t shoot Punxsutawney Phil. If you live in the North consider gophers like the Richardson’s ground squirrel. For Western folks the king is the black-tailed prairie dog, but you may also want to go further west and hunt California ground squirrel. And if you live down south, go big. Hunt hogs year-round. The problem isn’t going to fix itself so help a farmer out. Have fun and drop us some comments on your favorite summer varmint hunt!