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Hey all,
I've been back now since last Thursday and have mostly recovered from 2-30hour+ drives and a week camping on the Montana prairie, so I thought a few of you might want to hear a bit about the trip. Scott has filled in most of the important stuff, but I might be able to add a few things. Also, George Foster made a comment on another post that I thought should be addressed.

Most of the folks who were on the safari aren't boardies, so I'll just use first names and won't bother with who they are as you don't know them anyway.

Todd picked me up on Thursday July 19 about 6:30 AM and we hooked up my trailer and headed north. Around mid day in Indianapolis, at Doug Roberts' we added Shane to the load as well as enough rifles and ammo to outfit us all :). The we headed west. Todd has one of those enormous GMC diesel pick ups and it was very comfortable, although by the time you spend 30 hours in anything it does get tiresome. We stopped for dinner near the Wisconsin Dells and for breakfast in western ND. We arrived at the designated ranch near Winnett MT a little after noon MST. After some discussion about the logistical issues caused by a flooded small river we decided to set up cam several miles away on the ranch owned by Scott's friend Wade. Bobby & Bod arrives later that day as well IIRC. Also, my high school friend Chuck arrived from Idaho Falls. WE set up camp, had dinner and planned the next day. Seems like a couple of guys went out for a few dogs that evening.

On Saturday Scott, Chuck & I explored the area looking for where the dog population would sustain us. It appeared that most areas were sparse. Reasons for this have been speculated about, but no firm conclusion has been reached. My personal opinion is that since last year was very dry and grass was almost non-existent, the female dogs possible had no litters. Then the combination of a good shoot last year, the fact that there were many shooters in the area before us this year and the high grass hiding dogs, made the population seem quite low.

There were, in fact, dogs to shoot, but they were scattered and difficult to find in large concentration. That being said, most of us got in some good shooting even if we had to actually hunt dogs. Shooting styles were varied with Booby & Shane driving around and shooting from Bobby's side by side, Todd and Bob using tables and several of us do walkabouts with stools and shooting sticks. Walkabouts are my current favorite method. The weather wasn't so hot that it was exhausting and one tends to get closer to the targets. In the course of four days I shot just over 300 rounds, unusually low, but had a very high hit ratio. I had a very good time. Probably most everybody else shot more, especially those using AR's.

Every morning we would divide up and choose the spots we wanted to hunt while consuming the mornings' beverage of choice, mostly a couple pots of coffee, but a few choosing caffeinated soft drinks. We would gather in early afternoon for a break and some lunch and then again between 7 -9 for dinner and maybe a shower. Todd have provided a heated shower mechanism which was much appreciated. We divided responsibility for the meals and they were all excellent, selections including lasagna, spaghetti, turkey dinner, red beans & rice and more. No one went hungry as far as I could tell. Scott's son Doug got there on Saturday, Corey & Chris arrived on Sunday and JR (damncowfarmer) on Monday. So at one point, including Deb (Scott's wife) we had twelve in camp. I think I'm correct in saying we all got along well and enjoyed each other's company.

Bobby & Bob left on Tuesday afternoon intending to visit Devil's Tower on the way back and Todd, Shane & I left on Wednesday morning after dismantling the portable garage and refilling the trailer. After another 30 hours + and dropping Shane off in Indy. I arrived back home about 4:00PM on Thursday.

There was quite an array of firearms from 20 VT to 260AI. Probably there were more 223's than anything else, followed closely by 204 Rugers. Personally, I used a 20 VT, 221 Fireball and 223 AI.

These trips are not expensive, or at least they don't have to be. The three of us split the fuel and groceries and spent about $275 each. A couple of meals on the road added some as did incidentals like ice, extra water and such. All told besides ammo, I spent well under $400 for the trip. Pretty good for being gone from home eight days I'd say. Since I load my own ammo and already had the cases, only bullets, powder and primers didn't amount to much. To George and others, if this is something on your bucket list, there is really no reason to not do it. It's not expensive, doesn't take a lot of time and there are folks who will help you get it done. You just have to say so. I am no longer young, but I don't intend to give it up yet. Next year I plan to go it again.

The pics below show the camp from the west side, looking into camp from the north, sitting in the midday shade, Bobby's War Wagon and sunrise from the "phone booth" (the hill overlooking cam where we could get a cell signal).

It was a good party,
Rick
 

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I think Rick pretty much covered it all. I did get a few pics, this first one Scott and I headed out in his RZR and I do think this was the first one I shot. We tooled around with me shooting out of the RZR with my AR for a while and a few off the knee shots. I had quite a few hits even though I felt wobbly most of the time.


I got a few pics before a storm rolled in on us, it never did rain but the wind blew for a while and had the portable garage flopping about.


Here was a pic of camp, Bob and Bob had left already. This was taken from up on the hill...aka..phonebooth.

I took an AR in .223, a 12fv in .204,.223, and in 20Tac. I also had a .221FB and a 20VT and my 260AI. The only one I shot were my AR,.204,.20TAC and just a few rounds in my .223 bolt gun. I took my portable??..swivel bench but only shot off of it twice and the rest of the time I rode with Bobby in his Ranger. We would roll up a little and rest the rifles on the front slide down windshield and pop a few and move a little more. Big fun for sure and the wind would rock it about some but I had plenty of ammo. I did do a few walk abouts and that produced good shooting as well. First one was with Scott and Doug and me taking the AR I only had 1 30rnd mag and 1 20 rnd mag with me so my walk about was quite short! I had more mags they just hadn't been loaded yet and I left a loaded one on my cot.:rolleyes: You can bet that won't happen again!
I had a hell of a good time and would do it again in a heartbeat....I got enough ammo loaded for maybe 3-4 more trips.:D It was finally nice to meet Doug and all the non board guys as well. I made the mistake of taking a shower one morning after getting up and boy let me tell ya it was a cold MF'r when it's not quite 60 and the winds blowing on your bare ass and wet!
Now the shower setup was pretty slick with a water heater too but it didn't matter to much...you was drying off fast and getting clothes back on.

All the food was great and like Rick said if you was hungry that was your own fault for sure. Doug broke out some Bear sausage that kicked ass too...I don't think that bag lasted all that long. I only seen one snake and it was one the road and Bobby and I stopped for a peek...didn't see no rattles and its head was in the ditch so I stepped on his tail and he took off. Not sure what it was.
I would have taken some better pictures as I had the wifes new Nikon camera with me but I was told if I break it...it would be placed somewhere that I would find uncomfortable for sure...so it stayed in the tent most of the time.
 

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Nice !

Good write-ups with good pictures. Thanks to everyone for sharing.
 

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Thanks for the writeups, fellas. Sure brings back good memories and fuels the fire to go it again soon, maybe even the long roadie to Montana.

I'm a little disappointed and a little relieved, Shane, that you didn't get to experience a full prairie blow in that portable garage. Having stayed in it on two trips, I'm a believer. I NEVER thought that thing would survive on the prairie, but it has, and this spring's South Dakota sprint included a nasty, nasty thunderstorm one night.

I'm confused about the fifth-wheel camper, is that Bobby C's or Skruske's? And if it's Skruske's, where did Bobby and Bob sleep, in that long black cargo trailer, maybe?

Shane, your story about the field shower made me chuckle. One summer in Colorado, the Professor (John Beauchamp) and Greyfox rigged up an outdoor shower that we hooked to about 200 feet or so of black hose. We were hoping the sun would warm the water, but we had no idea it would warm it to dang near boiling. So we had plenty of really hot, hot shower water, but when you stepped out from under it and the wind hit you it was like going from a sauna right into a snowbank. I swear we could have boiled lobsters in that solar-heated water.

Glad it sounds like everyone had a good time and thanks again for taking us along with your stories and photos.

Carpman

Here's a blast-from-the-past photo from our 2011 PD Safari camp north of Holly, CO. Note the carefully placed ropes securing the homemade awning on Rick's trailer. Sucker looked like a spiderweb by the end of that week. Ha!

 

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Mike Bobby and Bob slept in what you described it had fold down beds and was pretty well set up.
And that is Scott's 5th wheel.
 

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Short trip for me but it’s always fun. Dogs weren’t as plentiful as previous years but I don’t go to kill a bunch of dogs anyways, I do that here at home about every weekend anyways.

We shot my 223AI and my CZ 455 both wearing cans from the truck. I packed the 223AI around on our hikes also, I think I came home with about 300 pieces of fireformed brass. Had my 204 under the seat of the truck the whole time and I didn’t even take it out once.
 

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Excellent report!!! I appreciate those of you who were on the hunt taking the time to post narrative and photos. Even though there weren't hordes of prairie dogs, it sounds like you all had a blast (pun intended)!!! I hope you get to get out again next summer.
 

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Excellent write up guys.....

Love the pictures,Montana is wonderful.I love the great times I have had there and remember honest to goodness 500 round days,I need to get up again,thanks for sharing your hunt and inspiration to go again.:)
Matt
 

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Any of y'all who been military or had someone in the military know what it means when you hang your Boots on the Tree, Fence or Electric Line. Done.
Thanks to all who helped me enjoy years of Prairie Dog hunting or shooting. Voldoc in early years, Skruske in later years. I have had a lot of fun and met a lot of good folks.
Declining health, Declining number of Prairie Dog Targets, and responsibilities at the farm. Thanks again and see yall around.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for posting/sharing. Sounds like a good trip with friends.
Yes, good point. I have, from time to time, had other friends ask me what's so great about driving across the country to reduce the rat population. Truthfully it has more to do with spending time with good friends and enjoying the space, scenery and unfettered time as much as anything. We rarely get in a rush for anything, have the time to spend over coffee in the morning and adult beverages in the evening. No need to rush off to bed and get to see spectacular sunrises from the open door of the tent. Rat killing is just an excuse to run off and play unsupervised.

Rick
 

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It seems I became head clown at the Montana prairie dog circus. No doubt about it, the shooting opportunities were significantly less than in years past. The big ranch had just a couple isolated towns that worth shooting over for a couple hours. JR & me cleaned up a few along the winding driveway into the ranch but even those dogs went down after a few shots.

The newest place we had access to shows promise but high grass made shooting a pick & choose deal.

The place we camped was good but not great. Behind the ranch house was good enough for afternoons & we had lasered a great place for long distance lead flinging. Light rain kept the dust down so that factored in to limit that endeavor.

Some parcels of state land & BLM produced shootable numbers but those dogs are always smart after the first couple shots.

I have shot out there since about 2002 & have established friendly relationship with the ranchers. None of them expect to be paid for the privilege of access to their land. That is unusual in the "Pay to play" world. The ranchers are genuinely glad that we come in with a crew to help tamp down a problem rodent.

While the ranchers don't charge us, I make a point of "tipping" as a way to say thanks. One guy steadfastly refuses any offer of money as he did again this year. I get around that by mailing him a Cabelas card each August.

The comradery and cooperative spirit at camp is always the highlight of our stay. Guys from several walks of life & varying backgrounds get together for some large laughs. I am glad to see that everyone chips in & no one person is burdened with a particular responsibility.

Every year & every trip out there is different. Some years are unforgettably great, others are barely good. None have ever been bad.

I will continue to do more satellite recon for more shooting opportunities. I will also keep going back.
 

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PD Safari 2018

If I didn’t know any better, I would think you guys are salesmen for a PD guide service. You sure make it sound like fun.

I think everyone on the board enjoys these hunts.
 
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