best caliber for prairie dog hunting

What is the Best Caliber for Prairie Dog Hunting? Find Out Here

As a hunter, one of the most important decisions you can make is selecting the right caliber for your target. Prairie dog hunting is no exception, with numerous options available for prairie dog hunting caliber, and ultimately, what is the best prairie dog hunting caliber for your specific situation. In this article, I will explore the various recommended calibers for different shooting distances and provide valuable insights on which calibers to consider for efficient and humane prairie dog hunting.

Key Takeaways

  • Selection of the right caliber is essential for efficient and humane prairie dog hunting.
  • Rimfire calibers like .17 HMR and .22 LR are excellent choices for short-range shooting.
  • .223 Remington is a popular and effective choice for medium-range prairie dog hunting.
  • Long-range shooting often requires calibers like .243 Winchester or .22-250 for better accuracy and stability.
  • Ammunition cost, personal skill, and hunting environment should be considered when selecting the ideal prairie dog hunting caliber.

Understanding Prairie Dog Hunting Calibers

When it comes to prairie dog hunting, choosing the right caliber is essential for achieving precision and ensuring a humane dispatch. In this section, we will discuss the importance of caliber size in prairie dog hunts, explore popular caliber options for varied distances, and consider the economical aspects of ammunition for prairie dog shooting.

The Importance of Caliber Size in Prairie Dog Hunts

An excellent trigger is a pivotal feature of a varmint hunting gun, as it aids in accuracy when shooting small targets. Additionally, a suppressor can be beneficial for preventing the game from being frightened off due to loud shots, as prairie dogs have sensitive hearing. With these considerations in mind, selecting the right caliber is crucial for effective prairie dog hunts.

Popular Caliber Options for Varied Distances

For high-volume short-range shooting within 100 yards, calibers like .17 HMR and .22 LR are suitable choices. In contrast, the .223 Remington caliber serves well for medium-range shots, as it is effective up to 450 yards and benefits from a reliable scope. Long-range hunting often relies on precision rifles with flattish trajectories and suitable calibers for wide, windy spaces. Accessories like rangefinders and shooting sticks can also enhance shooting accuracy at long distances.

Choosing between a short-, medium-, or long-range caliber is essential for maximizing success during a prairie dog hunting expedition.

Economical Aspects of Ammunition for Prairie Dog Shooting

When hunting in a populous prairie dog town where volume shooting is expected, it’s crucial to have an economical caliber with ample ammunition. Calibers like .223 are recommended, paired with standard magazines for efficient shooting. Hunters should carry substantial ammunition, often several hundreds of rounds per rifle, to ensure they do not run out during hunts.

Caliber Effective Range Ammo Cost
.17 HMR 100 yards $0.25-0.30 per round
.22 LR 100 yards $0.04-0.07 per round
.223 Remington 450 yards $0.40-0.60 per round

When selecting the appropriate caliber for prairie dog hunting, it is essential to consider factors such as shooting distance, the hunting environment, and ammunition cost. By carefully weighing these factors, hunters can make an informed decision and choose the right caliber for an enjoyable and successful prairie dog hunting experience.

Top Calibers for Short-Range Prairie Dog Shooting

When it comes to short-range prairie dog hunting, particularly under 100 yards, two calibers stand out: the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR) and the .22 Long Rifle (LR). Praised for their ability to deliver rapid-fire rounds effectively, these calibers remain in high demand among hunters targeting prairie dog populations. Let’s delve into what makes these calibers the ideal caliber for prairie dog hunting at closer ranges.

  1. .17 HMR: Introduced in 2002, the .17 HMR has quickly gained popularity among varmint hunters due to its flat trajectory, low recoil, and high accuracy. This caliber excels in short-range encounters because it can deliver multiple shots rapidly while maintaining effective performance.
  2. .22 LR: Perhaps the most well-known rimfire caliber, the .22 LR has been a trusted companion for many hunters tackling short-range prairie dog shooting. Its versatility, affordability, and ease of use make it a prime choice for many, regardless of experience level.

These two calibers not only offer balanced accuracy but also allow for quick follow-up shots, making them crucial assets when targeting squirmy, fast-moving targets like prairie dogs.

“You can never go wrong with a .17 HMR or a .22 LR if your hunting range is within 100 yards. Their accuracy and speed allow you to easily adapt to different prairie dog shooting situations.”

Here’s a comparison of the performance characteristics of these two powerhouse calibers:

Caliber Bullet Weight (grains) Muzzle Velocity (fps) Muzzle Energy (ft-lbs)
.17 HMR 17 – 20 2375 – 2550 245 – 250
.22 LR 30 – 40 1080 – 1640 98 – 191

In conclusion, the .17 HMR and .22 LR prove themselves as the top contenders for managing short-range prairie dog shooting effectively. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a beginner, these prairie dog hunting calibers are tailored to help you succeed in your hunting endeavors.

Ideal Rifle Calibers for Mid to Long-Range Hunting

When it comes to mid to long-range prairie dog hunting, the choice of caliber plays a vital role in achieving excellent precision, humane kills, and overall hunting success. In this section, we will discuss the best rifle calibers for mid to long-range prairie dog hunting, as well as the importance of accessories for maximizing your efficiency in the field.

Balancing Power and Precision at Medium Range

For medium-range engagement, up to about 450 yards, the .223 Remington remains a favored choice. This caliber is capable of pairing power with precision when teamed with appropriate optics. Rifles such as the Ruger American in .223 exhibit the characteristics that benefit a prairie dog hunter in achieving a successful medium-range shot. Another strong contender for medium-range shooting is the popular .204 Ruger, delivering high accuracy, minimal recoil, and a flat trajectory.

Long-Range Shooting: When Ballistics and Stability Matter

Long-range prairie dog shooting often requires calibers that maintain a flat trajectory and offer stability in windy conditions. Two of the most preferred calibers for these situations are the .243 Winchester and the .22-250. They both provide excellent accuracy and energy at longer distances, which is crucial when dealing with small, fast-moving targets like prairie dogs.

“Long-range prairie dog hunting is both challenging and rewarding, but the key to success lies in choosing the right caliber and rifle setup for the job.”

Accessorizing Your Hunting Rifle for Maximum Efficiency

An essential aspect of successful prairie dog hunting is accessorizing your rifle for maximum efficiency. Here are some crucial components to add to your hunting rifle:

  • High-quality scopes: A good scope designed for precision shooting is crucial for long-range hunting. Models like the Elite 4200 or Weaver Grand Slam scopes can offer features like mil-dot or B-plex reticles for windage and bullet drop compensation.
  • Rangefinders: A rangefinder is a valuable tool that helps you measure the distance to your target accurately. This can significantly improve your shot placement and ensure a humane kill.
  • Bipods and shooting sticks: Stability is crucial for long-range shooting, and using bipods or shooting sticks can help you maintain steadiness, even in windy conditions.
  • Spotter: Having a spotter to call shots and support you during your hunting can be exceedingly helpful, especially when dealing with elusive prairie dog targets.

By considering the ideal caliber for prairie dog hunting at various distances, along with adequate accessories, you can ensure a successful and enjoyable hunting experience.


In conclusion, the best caliber for prairie dog hunting often depends on the specific situation and shooting distance. Rimfires like the .17 HMR excel in short-range scenarios, while .223 Remington serves well at medium ranges, and calibers like the .243 Winchester are preferred for long-range precision. Factors like ammunition cost, personal skill, hunting environment, and legal regulations should all be considered when selecting the ideal prairie dog hunting caliber.

With the right caliber and gear, prairie dog hunting can be an intensely rewarding sport. Choosing the right caliber for your needs can enhance your hunting experience, allowing you to enjoy your time on the range or in the field while minimizing game waste and maximizing efficiency.

Ultimately, determining what is the best caliber for prairie dog hunting comes down to your individual preferences and expectations. By carefully considering your primary shooting needs, researching various calibers, and investing in quality equipment, you can choose a prairie dog hunting caliber that will ensure success and satisfaction on your hunts.

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