I was watching our new little filly, Winnie when I was reminded of springtime’s past and erosion control at the ranch. Springtime in Colorado generally has us thinking of chasing turkeys. The problem is that season doesn’t start until April. Some may not know, but lion season is open until the end of March. Yet another problem. The quotas are not high, and there have come to be many people out hunting lions, so the units quotas on lions close quickly. Soooo. We are left with coyotes, Eurasian collared doves, or prairie dogs on the ranch between the big game and turkey hunting seasons. My particular memory as I watched our filly was of a “trophy” prairie dog a spring or two ago.
I reminisced as Winnie ran, bucked, and jumped in the south pasture. On the other end of the field were multiple dirt mounds. Then I worried about her getting near those mounds of dirt. I knew they were holes made by prairie dogs. If the little filly made her way over there, she may slip into one and twist a leg. That is when I thought of being in that pasture before doing a small amount of erosion control.
The pesky little varmints can destroy a beautiful pasture in no time and are nearly impossible to eliminate. Being a huntress, I like to hone my stalking and marksman skills and be gone with the select few that show themselves.
A spring or two ago I had a record day with the largest prairie dog I’ve ever seen. It is my “trophy” from the south pasture. I know the sizes of these mammals can vary, but the ones on our ranch generally range from 6 to 10 inches long. On that day I saw a very large animal, and out of the corner of my eye, I thought it might be a marmot. We have never had a problem or even seen a marmot at our ranch. I took a better look and realized it was another prairie dog. I stalked around the perimeter of the pasture so I could get a better angle on the large rodent. When I got in range and had a good angle, I awaited the possible plague-carrying rodent.
Then I saw a bit of tan pop up. I was ready, but I waited. The tan disappeared. I was patient. Then it came. The entire field destroying animals arose. I steadied myself as it gave me a good angle. I honed in on it and pulled the trigger. BAM! It was over, just like that. All that waiting and then I had myself a “trophy.” I walked over to look at it, and most generally do not touch these animals. They are known to be carriers of fleas, plagues, and other diseases. I saw how large this one was and could not resist picking it up and taking a picture. It was the largest we had ever seen at the ranch. It was a “trophy”! No, it won’t be going on the wall, and it won’t be mounted, but we will remember it as one of the biggest taken yet each time we see the dirt mounds in the south pasture!
Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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