Last week, I finally had a chance to get my new AA 510 TC .22 cal rifle out for a prairie dog hunt. Because of the two air cylinders, a buddy suggested that I should title this blog story, "AA 510 TC Does Two On The Town." Meaning of course, the two air cylinders, and one prairie dog town. I liked the Idea, thus the title of this story.
Just a quick refresher on how this gun shot on paper. At 20 yards indoors, she was putting 18 grain JSB's through the same hole.
At 50 yards, out of doors, in zero wind, she was doing almost the identical thing. I knew right then that this was going to be a really good long range shooter.
On day one of the hunt, I was in the dog town, geared up, and ready to hunt by about 6:45 AM. It gets hot out there, and is usually in the low 90's by 10:30 or 11:00. I don't handle the heat as well as I did when I was a lot younger, so I'm usually through hunting by 10:00, and on my way to a late breakfast by about 10:30.
The prairie dogs we have here in Arizona are the Gunnison's type, and they aren't as prolific as the Black Tail variety found in the Great Plains States. I can't just set up in one place and shoot for several hours. I have to get out on foot, and dig these guys out. The terrain is rolling, arid, high desert. The dogs danger zone is about 50 to 60 yards, so you need to be prepared for a lot of head shots at those distances. As the ranges get longer, you will see more of the dog exposed.
The wind was blowing 5 to 6 miles per hour, almost from the get go, and picked up as the morning wore on.
At the present time, I have a Nikko Sterling, 4-16x50mm scope mounted on the AA 510 TC. At the higher power of 16x, I'm not real impressed with the image quality, but since I run my scopes at 8x, and the image quality is very useable at that setting, I find the scope adequate for what I'm using it for. On the plus side, and something I really like, is the fact that the crosshairs are real fine, and the mildots are small. Nothing is more annoying in a scope, used for long range shooting of small critters, than crosshairs and mildots, that are so thick, they cover up the whole target. I make small adjustments in my hold for shots at long range, and I need the fine crosshairs and small mildots to do that effectively.
The ranch I have permission to hunt on, is shot over by the ranch owner's son and his friends, shooting powder burners. I learned early on, to get a good 300 yards into the town, and away from the road, before starting to hunt. The kids drive the roads shooting along them, and the dogs, out to 300 yards or so, get educated real fast to the fact that an approaching vehicle can be bad news.
Once I'm away from the road a good 300 yards, I'll start to glass the area looking for prairie dog heads looking at me from behind the sage, or just sticking up from the prairie floor. It didn't take long before I was spotting prairie dogs sitting on mounds, in the sage, and a few heads poking up out of the prairie floor.
The AA 510 TC .22 performed exactly as I expected. Extremely accurate, and putting pellets right on target when asked to. Hunting with a rifle this accurate is almost a religious experience. Calling the shots in my head, and sometimes out loud, and then watching as the pellets go right where expected. Man, that is just plain exhilarating, and never gets old.
I am really, really, pleased with the performance of my AA 510 TC on her first prairie dog hunt. At the longer ranges, the excellent accuracy, really payed off in spades .
As a side note. The cottontail rabbit population seems to be on the up swing. The high desert versions of the little things, were running everywhere.
Below are some video clips I shot during the hunt. They may take 20/30 seconds to load, and run about 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Sorry about the wind noise in the background, but it just comes with the territory in the dog towns.
Those are just some of the clips I shot, as I have time, I'll get some more of them posted.
Hunting prairie dogs with airguns, is my second favorite kind of hunting, right behind hunting California Ground Squirrels with airguns, and then, only because the scenery in squirrel country is a lot nicer to look at, compared to this high desert terrain, but in the end, it's all good.