UTVS + AR15 + Prairie dogs = maximum fun


That is the Yamaha Viking SE Tactical. It’s a UTV, which I learned this week stands for “Utility task vehicle.” Other phrases for this class of vehicle are “side-by-side” referencing that the drive and passenger sit…side by side. The class of vehicle has evolved from a farm/working vehicle into a capable off-roader, ready to handle all kinds of terrain. I spent two days in Yamaha’s Viking UTV, the tactical version above and the six seat version below.


Generally speaking, it’s not legal to operate a UTV on a paved road. That wasn’t a problem for us, because we used the Yamaha vehicles to bump around the back country on single-track trails. Doing this turned into a game of prairie dog whackamole. We’d drive down a track, spot some dogs, blast one or two from the vehicles, then bail and set up more stable shooting positions and then really do some work. The Vikings handled all the terrain we threw at them with no issues. Everything from deep sand to thigh high water (it was thigh high on me, so probably ankle high on a normal sized person), muddy fields, no problems.

What’s the perfect companion for a tactical off-road vehicle? A Modern Sporting Rifle, of course.


I spent the most productive days of the trip with a Smith & Wesson M&P15 MOE wearing a Bushnell AR223. With up to 9x magnification, you could see and shoot dogs up to 300 yards, and contrary to what the internet may have told you, a 16 inch AR is capable of reaching out that far with accuracy. Despite how most people train, an AR is not a big, long, shoulder fired pistol and can be shot past 25 or even 50 yards.

But back to the gun itself: the MOE rifle ran just fine in the desert, despite being coated in a fine layer of dust and bouncing around next to my leg in the Viking. The scope held zero despite some rough treatment, and the prairie dogs? Well, the prairie dogs died.

If you’ve never been prairie dog hunting, it’s fun like nothing else. It’s not even really hunting, it’s more like target practice on extremely reactive targets. But that’s what makes it fun. Prairie dogs are wretched vermin: they carry the actual black plague, cattle break their legs in prairie dog holes, they destroy crops and generally just the worst sorts of things. So when you blast one with a Hornady V-Max and watch it’s body come apart, you don’t feel bad.


In fact, you should feel pretty good. You’re doing a public service, killing zombies. I saw a prairie dog that been shot multiple times with a .22 trying to drag itself towards the rat car, probably to attempt to bite us and turn us into zombies. I’ve also seen prairie dogs eat their own dead.

Of course, the real moral of the story is that hunting prairie dogs is a hell of a lot of a lot of fun. Blasting when you put ARs and badass UTVs in the mix, it turns into the most fun I’ve had with a gun in my hands since I learned how to shoot.


  1. I wished they’d call them something other than prairie dogs, like field rats or whack-a-moles. The sound of shooting anything “dog related ” just doesn’t sit well (unless you’re a cop).

  2. out here in ohio we don’t have prairie dogs, but we have woodchucks. Quite a lot larger than a prairie dog, but a good high speed bullet out of a 22-250 or 308 can turn them inside out. I know some farmers who will pay $10 per hide just to save their cattle and crops. Max fun shooting and getting paid for it to boot!

    Though most prairie dogs have fleas, few fleas are infected, and most public health officials believe the chance of humans contracting plague from prairie dog fleas is very low. Apparently, prairie dog fleas do not like human hosts, preferring instead to bite other animal species. The black-tailed prairie dog is unlikely to contribute to the spread of plague in the U. S. because plague kills nearly all infected prairie dogs within a very short period of time.
    Cattle will break their legs in the holes” They do not. Cattle and horses do watch where they are walking or running. It is a possibility it could happen in certain areas if they cattle are being worked, i.e. at the gates or at a concentrated area. Out in the field, cattle and prairie dogs can and do co-exist safely.
    Prairie dogs carry lots of diseases” They do not. The main concern of the public is sylvatic plague (bubonic plague). This disease is carried by certain types of fleas that feed on prairie dogs. Prairie dogs do not have a sophisticated immune system and do not technically carry any disease – only the fleas! They can and do get the plague, but if they get it within several days they will come down with symptoms and die. They will die in their burrows far away from the public.

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