With this coronavirus pandemic closing down many of the shooting ranges, you might have to get a little creative to stay in practice. If you don’t have a hundred acres of your own land, finding a place to practice shooting can be tough. But if there’s a farm or ranch near your town, and I’ll bet there is, you might be able to have a little fun and hone your shooting skills at the same time.
Get on the phone and make some calls to farmers and ranchers you know, and they might give you some leads to other landowners. Find out if they have any prairie dog towns on their places that need some population control. Be prepared to be turned down a lot. Not everyone is excited about letting a complete stranger onto their land with a loaded firearm. But if you’re polite, you’ll probably find someone who’ll let you shoot some varmints.
Be aware that it’s illegal to shoot prairie dogs from a vehicle in Wyoming, no matter whether you’re on public or private land. That includes bench rests mounted in the bed of a pickup.
Varmint hunting can be great shooting practice. The targets will move, unlike a paper target. You’ll get better at anticipating movement and timing your shot, so when that bull elk steps out of the trees in October, you’ll be ready for him.
A prairie dog is only a little smaller than a deer’s vital organs, so a three-hundred-yard shot on a whistle-pig is about the same as a three-hundred yard shot at big game. It’s good, practical practice.
To make sure you can come back and hunt varmints on the landowner’s land again, be responsible while you’re shooting. Pick up your brass and leave the land the way you found it. Do it right, and you might be invited back.