KY, this was my third year. My buddies were doing it for about 4-5 years before they talked me into going...It is a BLAST.
It really isn't "Hunting," but more like "Target Shooting with Live Targets."
Or as I like to call it,"Whack-a-mole with Expensive Rifles."
You can hunt P-dogs in virtually any state with a prairie west of the Missouri River, don't ask me why. Maybe they can't swim?
We go to South Dakota because that is where they have always gone with another guy who has since stopped going and they kept bugging me, so I just kind of joined the "stooges," I guess I am their "Shemp."
The South Dakota Nonresident Predator/Varmint license costs $37 for one year. I believe it allows you to shoot badgers, Coyotes, Wildcats, or whatever else qualifies, etc, along with P-dogs, but all we shoot is P-dogs.
If you call ahead and book ahead, most motels will give some sort of discount for doggers. But the BAD news is the best shooting corresponds with the tourist season near the Badlands, Rushmore, Sturgis, etc, that the "no-tell" motels raise their rates ALMOST as high as the big chains!''The first time we made no plans and we paid $80/night per room for a not very impressive Econo Lodge
...the next year $55/night at a comparable Motel 6 we booked in advance, and this year $49/night at a local motel my buddy tracked down, treated us like kings, had a map ready for us of dog towns on Federal Land, a real nice guy that we will use from now on....
On Federal Land (Which is ALL around there!) it is free shooting, for two years the season started June 15th, but now there is no closed season, and for a $10 fee for a map the nice Ranger Ladies will gladly map out the best and most active dog towns for you. The BAD news is while 3 years ago you could drive all over the prairie, the last two years the rules (Obama?
) are you cannot drive either with a vehicle or ATV more than 30 feet off a "marked roadway" which means two track, on Federal land, so you have to ask them nicely where the most active towns you can reach by roads are.
But we have yet to see a ranger out there, and this year we got out there later and saw a lot more "Doggers," diving ALL over the prairie with heir 4x4s and ATVs, which we understood to be illegal under the new rules, and the big town we shot over was very confusing on the "marked" two track a mile or so past three or more "forks" from the last "marked road"
On PRIVATE land there is no season, and can drive wherever the rancher will let you, but you must have permission, and doggers guard "their" ranchers with a vengeance. (Think Fisherman guarding their favorite "hole."
) In many states ranchers are charging doggers to hunt, which I don't get, why have to PAY to do them a favor? Ours doesn't.
Yeah we have our own "rancher," who three years ago gave us GREAT shooting, but poisoned his towns in 2011, but when we called this year said they were back and we shot a few for him, (mostly with my Glenfield out the windows of the 4Runner
) but they were not "back" enough to set up over....
We use my RASS Shooting Bench at our "base camp," near where we park, usually on a ridge overlooking a town we have spotted from the truck with binocs....we all have lawn chairs (my canopy chair is best, there is NO shade on the prairie!) and we have a cooler well stocked with water and Gatorade on ice, and this year we bought a case of MREs for lunch, which worked well for the 5 days we were out there.
We do NOT go for body count, like a lot of guys who shoot thousands of round per shooter. About half of the shooting is from the bench, one shooter, alternating, with the other two spotters/abusers
. We also rotate rifles, every body takes a turn with each other's rifle, untio the barrel heats up, then we rotate another rifle into the mix...
But every so often either after a spectacular blow up kill, or some other break, one or the other of us will go for a walk, and either another will go with him and one "holds down the fort" and shoots in the other diirection while they walk, or all three of us will go, which may take another hour or so, shooting "targets of opportunity."
It really isn't "hunting" because we don't get up at o-dark 30, LOL We get up whenever, wander over to one of thetwo
restaurants and eat a good country breakfast somewhere between 8:30 and 10:30, (depending on how much whiskey we drank the night before!
) Decide where we are going today, usually are shooting somewhere between 10 nd 12, and shoot until about dark, then come back, walk to one of the two restaurants and eat a steak or a burger, then clean the rifles back at the hotel, then break out the whiskey and cigars, and sit around telling lies until bedtime!
As for money, it pretty much is how much gas it will take to get there ( I am lucky, I drive the company car so they pay for gas, I pay taxes on it later....), $49/night for lodging, the license, and your share of the food/drink bills...I generally pay for one or two fairly expensive meals becasue of the booze
, and two less expensive Breakfasts and/or lunches. Bring your own bologna sandwiches for lunch and dinner and you could save even more. (I did that the first year, LOL
As for shooting, we are NOT like a lot of doggers that go for body count, we killed maybe 700 or so among the three of us, over 5 days of shooting. We always tell each other THIS year we are going to keep track but the shooting alternates between really lazy and methodical slow shooting about one shot every 5-10 minutes, to fast and furious, as fast as you can get another round in the chamber until the barrel gets too hot to touch, and we always forget to keep track....
I took 450 Swift reloads with me and brought back a few over 200 unfired...we shot maybe 300-400 .22-250 through their 2 different rifles, and maybe another 200-300 .223 through their 2 different .223 Varmnint guns.
I shot maybe 50-100 rounds of .22lr through my Glenfield, and they each shot maybe 100 rounds through through each of ones .17hmr and the other's .22 K-Hornet.
I had my AR-15 with me I used the previous two years with about 300 rounds and didn't even take it out of the case....
I guess I could save a little more money by missing less, and buying cheaper cigars and whiskey, LOL
But it is a great time, relaxing and fun at the same time, shooting nice rifles at small targets in the wind, in good company, in beautiful "Big Sky" country!