As I get used to my new home in the Far(ther) North, there have been several things surrounding my hobby that require attention; find out about airgun laws, find out about hunting laws, find out where to get my air tanks filled (I go through lots of air) and find places to shoot and hunt. I live in the burbs, and though our house is on a ¾ acre lot, there are no fences allowed and our yards all merge into a kind of centralized park …… great for the kids, not so much for a shooting range.
One of my first tasks was to go through the hunting regulations, to get an idea of what I could hunt, when I could use my airguns, and when it was allowed to hunt. Finding a place to hunt has been fairly painless, I’ve asked for permission to hunt varmint and predators at five farms and a hunt club to date, and only been turned down once. That’s great odds and bodes well for my varmint and predator outings. I’m also planning my first big game bow hunts up North (for bear and deer) I’ll probably use an outfitter this year.
But even more to the point, I’m only a short few hours from South and North Dakota, and one day prairie dog shoots are now feasible! To me, prairie dogs are THE summer airgunning quarry, going out with the expectation of 100 shots per day is a realistic objective. If you live in, or are close to the states that have huntable p-dog populations, this is an airgunning hunt I’d highly recommend…. It doesn’t get much better!
Out west jackrabbits keep me hunting through the hot months, either walking them up in daylight or sniping them at night. Spot and stalking a jackrabbit in the daylight hours can be a cat and mouse proposition, as the old smart ones will work around you rather than bolting outright. This is more like shooting a deer on the ground than hunting cottontails out east.
But the guys out east have their own sport, another summer hunt that I enjoy is groundhogs. Most guys shoot these with small bore centerfires from a long ways off (like prairie dogs), which is more about shooting than hunting. But go out with a high power pcp and the objective of a 50-75 yard kill, and it becomes a hunt! The animals are very hard to get up close to, and taking one with an air rifle on open farmlands is a real challenge.
And almost anywhere in North America, pigeons can be found in numbers; it’s legal to take them with airgunsin just about every State across the country. If you have a place to hunt around livestock feed yards, or industrial buildings the shooting can be intense.
The gear is about the same as that used during fall/winter hunts …. Obviously you have to match your camo to the surroundings which means a lot more green mixed in. I like the 3D leafy bug suits, as they are much cooler to wear when the weather starts to heat up. I wear a mesh face cover to keep the bugs away, and also use liberal applications of insect repellent. Speaking of bugs, at this time of year check yourself in the field and especially when you get home to make sure no tick have latched on along the way. Also, if your going to shoot summertime prairie dogs with an airgun it means getting up a lot closer than sniping with a centerfire; as you walk along getting close to the towns watch your step, the rattler like to come out hunting them also. Every year I come a rattle away from sitting or stepping on one.
Make sure you have plenty of water along; I take a couple bottles which I freeze the night before and drink as they melt…. This is a much needed relief on the very hot days deeper into summer. Just remember the hot months might require a change in game plan, but you’ll always be able to find something that will provide the rush of the hunt and keep your skill sharpened!
Now that this piece is written, I’m running out the door for the airport …. I’m flying out to Texas for a predator hunt and hope to have some good material to share next week.