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As far as I know, there are no prairie dogs in CA.

I have been working on a ground squirrel infestation on one of the islands near me. The 17 HMR is doing an excellent job at preventing a ground squirrel population explosion. Pun intended. Very few of them are lifted off the ground when hit. Mostly they just roll over and quiver for a few seconds. All of this is easy to watch through the scope at 18X.


Here is a picture of some taken with the 17 HMR last spring.

I have never gone prairie dog shooting, but the ground squirrels make a good substitute, being a bit smaller with a bushy tail.
 

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On the average, from 100 to 200 yards.

When I am out doing ground squirrel control for the ranchers, I usually setup in a location about 100 yards away from the main colony. The little 17 HMR is very effective from 100 to 200 yards. I have my 17 HMR sighted in at about 1" high at 100 yards and out to 150 yards, it is a dead on hold. At 200 yards, I have to hold just a tad above their back when they are on all four. Of course, if some stupid ground squirrel pops his head up under 100 yards, I give it every chance to participate in the thinning process.

If there is another bunch of ground squirrels out past 200 yards, I usually move up to about 100 yards from them. It there are just a few, I will take the long shots. Sometimes it takes a couple of rounds to connect. Especially if it is windy.

The 17 HMR is an excellent rifle for this with its mild report and exceptional accuracy.

Where I really have to be quiet, I use a 22 RL barrel on my Contender and shoot Aguila (sp) 22 Shorts that are very quiet and accurate enough out to about 75 yards. Anything beyond that and it is pure guesswork and luck to hit a ground squirrel.

Good Hunting... from Varmint Al
http://www.varmintal.net/17hmr.htm
 
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