Tag Archives: Prairie Dogs

Knives, Prairie Dogs and Spiders

I haven’t gotten around to talking about the recent Prairie Dog shoot a couple weeks ago as I haven’t been feeling real good this week.  So let’s get the reason why out of the way.

Spiders.  Or should I say “spider”?  Last Sunday I woke up with a mild burning sensation on the back of my knee.  When I checked it out, it looked like 4 or 5 very small pimples in the crease of my knee.  I didn’t think much more about it until Sunday evening when those pimples had turned into  blisters.

By Sunday nite they were looking really ugly.

I went to the Dr Monday AM with a temp of around 101 and a leg that was sorer then hell.  By Tuesday morning my knee was swelling , it was looking worse and the temperature was still a factor.  So back to the Doc, more antibiotics and instructions to apply warm, damp heat and keep it elevated.  But….no diagnosis as to what in the hell may have bitten me.

After a ton of reading and conversations and picture sharing with friends from down south, the consensus is I’d bitten by a brown recluse spider.  We’re far north of their normal range but 3 Florida transplants all agreed that’s exactly what it looked like and the symptoms were consistent.  I’ve been bitten by all sorts of critters over the years but I’ve never had a reaction like this.

It’s still plenty ugly but I think it’s starting to heal.  Lots of drainage and dead hide peeling off but I think I’ll save the leg!!

Fortunately, that was all preceded by another great trip to the Dakota’s.  Our friends in North Dakota hosted a Prime Rib dinner (which included a trap shoot) for the participants in last years Pheasant Shoot .

One of our team members is 5 months pregnant but that didn’t stop her from getting in on the trapshooting competition.  She didn’t bring a shotgun but a couple of the guys were glad to set her up with a shotgun.  While she’s not even half our age we have a great time when we get together with Erin and her husband Pat.  We think of her as the daughter we never had.  She’s one of those people that are just plain fun to be around.

Just to let you know how serious a sportswoman she is, she hunts Elk, has hunted mountain lion in the Southwest, hogs in Texas, has hunted deer since she was 11 or 12 years old, used to run her own coon hounds when she was 16, hunts alligators with her dad in Louisiana and just came back from hunting bullfrogs down south a couple of months ago.  It’s kinda fun to listen to some fella try to impress her with his hunting experience and watch her just smile and say ‘really?’.   Gotta love her!!

We had some rain the first day we were out there so we spent some time driving through the southern unit of the Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  Just gorgeous country where you can see Elk, Antelope, Buffalo, Wild Horses and all things wild.  And the scenery… 

And we had time to get in some shooting as well.  Conditions were wet and that ground turns into a consistency of greased glass.  Your tires don’t sink in but the tread immediately fills with a mixture of clay and rock (check the tire) and from there on, its slip and slide.  I think my wife beat me to the first shots fired when we hit dog town.

As usual, it was a great trip.  An offer was extended to hunt on Jim’s ranch again next Fall for pheasants and believe me, we’re in!

I didn’t get much chance to comment on the GEC 15’s as they came through.  There’s still plenty of the Bail and Chain in stock.   And the Red and Black clip blades literally flew out the door.

Once the pictures of the 152118 Bail & Chain were released I started getting reservation cancellations.  It’s the highest rate of cancellations I’ve seen on a GEC so far.

It seems that most of the feedback I got was regarding the 18″ chain.  Most folks, I think, were of the mind the Bail and Chain would be a 3-4″ ‘key fob’ type of arrangement instead of an actual ‘vest’ style chain.  A couple thought the price differential between the Bail & Chain and NON was out of line.  I have to admit, it’s probably not the most convenient or practical way to carry.

I will give you a tip.  There’s a simple modification that can  be made to the keeper that does make it a bit more usable.  If you use a Dremel tool with a cutting blade, you can cut a slot through the keeper wide enough to allow you to slip it over a belt loop  resulting in a pretty practical setup.

In a few more weeks the 44’s will be coming through.  It looks good from the preliminary drawings.  I think its a pretty close representation of the Schatt & Morgan Gunstock and the Trestle Pine Gunflint.


Prairie Dog Shoot – No Knives Part 1

As a kid growing up back in the early to mid 50’s a buddy and I used to spend many days in the summer shooting our .22 caliber rifles at all sorts of challenging targets.  Striped gophers, golf balls, blocks of wood floating down the crick in our backyard.  It wasn’t unusual to go through a brick of 500 rounds on a good weekend.

That joy of shooting and the challenge of hitting a small targets at long distances really bit me when I got into shooting steel silhouette targets 25 years later.  We had 4 sizes of targets set up at 25, 50 75 and 100 yds for .22 competition.  You had to take down all five targets at each range with your rifle or pistol within a set time period and it was truly a challenge.  It really honed your skills.

Over the years, I transitioned to shooting hi-power rifles at longer ranges.  I’ve owned (and own) everything from 220 Swifts, to 45/70’s and most calibers in between.  Kind of surprised me recently to realize I have loading dies for almost 40 different calibers.

Living in Minnesota, I’ve hunted deer in our north woods and as you might expect, most deer are taken up here under 100 yards.  In fact, if the truth be known, most probably under 75 yards.  You just don’t have the wide open spaces for taking the long shots which in the case of a lot of shooters isn’t a bad thing!

I still enjoy shooting but have given up hunting.  The challenge of trying to put all my shots into the smallest area possible is kind of like playing golf.  It’s one of those sports no one ever perfects.  All you can do is keep challenging yourself to get better.

Last week I got the chance to put those years of target shooting into play on live targets in Western North Dakota.  Through a friend of my wife’s, my nephew Mike and I got an invitation to shoot prairie dogs on her parents ranch west of Dickinson, ND.

Their ranch is located on the edge of the “Badlands” which is one of the most incredibly rugged, forbidding, gorgeous landscapes East of the Rockies.  About 4 miles from the ranch  we hunted on, you hit the edge of the rolling hills, come over a small rise and are met with this….

Beginning of the Badlands

Just a mile or so in, the scenery changes dramatically.  This kind of terrain stretches from North Dakota into South Dakota and is absolutely mesmerizing to drive through.

But back to the ‘target’ of our trip.

These cute little critters might be fun to watch and observe, but to ranchers they’re anything but.  On the ranch we hunted we saw hundreds of acres of pastureland that was no longer fit for grazing.  The prairie dogs will clear the grass around their den and ‘graze’ on the remaining grass.  Living in groups that can cover up to a 100 acres, the effects can be devastating particularly in times of drought like they’re currently experiencing.

Prairie Dog Den
Prairie Dog Town

Now that  you kind of understand where we were and what drew us there, I’ve got to get back to work to get caught up.  When I get a bit more time, I’ll share a few more pix and let you know how the hunt went.