Tony Martins And Arizona Prairie Dogs

Tony Martins is an airgun authority and outdoor writer based in Arizona. He was instrumental in obtaining stateapproval for more hunting opportunities for airgunners in that state. This season, .35 caliber PCP airguns and larger are legal for more large game than any other state in the country, including bear, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, javelina, antelope and mule deer. PCP airguns of .25 caliber and larger are approved for predatory and furbearing animals.

Instead of Easter Bunnies we hunted prairie dogs (Gunnison’s variety) Easter Sunday afternoon in Eastern Arizona. Despite very windy conditions requiring as much as two inches of windage compensation, I was able to connect on 5 out of 9 shots from 33 to 58 yards with a .25 caliber Marauder on the final day of the early season. The pinpoint accuracy and quietness of the Marauder enabled me to take the pair in the photo above from the same hole. Remarkably, the second dog remained in full view even after its mate was dropped!  These are tough little animals, but a well placed Benjamin “Destroyer” pellet takes them down quickly.

Hunting prairie dogs with an airgun requires patience… and kneepads are recommended!  I typically crawl into range of a hole that one or more dogs have disappeared into, check the distance, adjust the scope and wait for them to reappear – which may take 20 minutes or more. I use a bipod for sitting shots when bushes or rocks are available for cover, and remove the bipod for prone shots when laying out in the open.  If you want to add even more challenge, drag along a video camera on a short tripod to record your hits… and misses!

Below are several frames from one of my videos showing a prairie dog taken with the Marauder .25 at 92 yards. The pellet in flight is circled in red. The scope was zeroed at 40 yards, so I allowed about five inches for elevation and the pellet actually dropped about 5.5 inches to hit him in the throat. It takes a remarkable gun to make a remarkable shot! By the way, I now zero the scope at 50 yards when I will be hunting prairie dogs.

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