Small Game


Squirrels, groundhogs, jack rabbits, coyotes and wolves all qualify as “varmints” in many parts of North America, but prairie dogs probably stand as target No. 1 for most varmint hunters. A burrowing rodent that can live in huge colonies or “towns” across the Western plains, a hunter can shoot the throat out of his rifle on a good day. Varmint shooting is all about accuracy, so flat shooting small calibers are preferred, such as the .223 and .22-250, but rimfires can get the job done, too. It’s not uncommon to put 100-plus rounds downrange, so a heavy rifle that helps tame recoil is a good idea. Bench-rest or target rifles are a smart choice, as are modern sporting arms like the AR-15. After prairie dogs, predators like coyotes (link to profile) are often the target of varmint hunters. They can be called within rifle range anywhere in the country, but if you're planning a trip, consider the grasslands of the American West where there’s lots of open country to shoot, and generally more game afoot.