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Not as many sage rats this year?

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Just got back from our yearly sage rat hunt in the Lakeview area and there were far fewer rats this year. In two days I shot less than 150 rounds, it was that sparse. I take 1,000 rounds because in the past I have shot that much.

Anyone else experiencing less rats than normal?

Some details. LOTS of water. All the reservoirs are totally full and the streams in the area are flowing with lots of water. Our trip was beautiful weather, with day time temps in the 70s and very little wind. Ideal conditions for the rats to be out. Great beer drinking weather in camp at least.

It wasn't just the field I hunt either. We drove around trying to find some other fields and saw very few rats. I talked to one guy and he said the numbers were down last year and more so this year on his property. He blamed the water, but I'm not so sure.
 

SparksFly

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It sucks for the hunters but is good news for the farmers but I have noticed that there are fewer than usual when driving in the Maupin area. I usually hunt greydiggers in the Gorge near White Salmon though, lots of them around in that neck of the woods.
 
OP
O
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Two of the guys drove up to Hart Mtn to the hot springs. Said they saw one rabbit, and they got out walked the sage brush for a while looking for them.

They were looking for antelope too on the refuge and didn't see any. Ironically, there were 15 of them bedded in our sage rat field.

With hunting anything you never know how it will go down. I was fine with how it turned out...any time away from work and going camping with the guys is a great time.
 

WAYNO

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I drove to Pendleton yesterday. The Columbia River was chocolate brown. The Deschutes and John Day were chocolate brown. Central Oregon must've got a whole bunch of rain. In past years, when the fields are completely saturated, the rat numbers are low, but when they dry out, the rats reappear.
 
OP
O
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I drove to Pendleton yesterday. The Columbia River was chocolate brown. The Deschutes and John Day were chocolate brown. Central Oregon must've got a whole bunch of rain. In past years, when the fields are completely saturated, the rat numbers are low, but when they dry out, the rats reappear.
The property owner did indeed tell us that exact thing. The field was so wet we couldn't drive on it. I do hope you are right. NOAA report for Saturday, the day before I left, the area got 1/2 inch of rain on top of everything else they got.
 

284guy

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It’s mostly snow melt. Lots of water drowns rats. Many ranchers are poisoning them because shooters can’t kill enough. It was good shooting where we go.
 
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I was in the Crane area and we experienced the same thing. I imagine the ones hibernating in the tunnels of the fields that got flooded probably drowned? We did notice that some of the fields only had the little guys, someone most likely shot the big ones. I don’t think Hawk predation could take that many?
 

beavernation

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Just a bit up North of town ive been hammering them once a week. Got permission on a huge ranch with tons of irrigated alfalfa, higher ground so no flooding. Im trying to burn out a 17 HMR barrel as Im running the same Marlin 917VS that I bought in 2013. You wouldnt believe me if I told ya how many sage rats Ive killed in 6 seasons..........
2019-04-18 09.02.17.jpg
 
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Hunted Tumalo and the outskirts of prineville yesterday, not nearly as many as years past. Farmer told me that at this time last year he had killed over 300 just going down and getting the mail and back each day, this year he’s killed 5....
 
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Just a bit up North of town ive been hammering them once a week. Got permission on a huge ranch with tons of irrigated alfalfa, higher ground so no flooding. Im trying to burn out a 17 HMR barrel as Im running the same Marlin 917VS that I bought in 2013. You wouldnt believe me if I told ya how many sage rats Ive killed in 6 seasons..........View attachment 573692

What table is that? Is it steady enough for shooting larger calibers?
 

beavernation

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Thats an MTM High/Low shooting table. It would be plenty sturdy for anything ya wanna shoot. It's got stout legs, but it can be carried by an included sling with the top still attached. You can use it either sitting or standing. I am getting better at balancing a tactical rifle bag, bucket and the table over my shoulder. It makes a huge difference in my kill percentage. It's a good peice of kit IMHO......
2019-04-18 10.18.45.jpg
 
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Plenty of ground squirrels and whistlepigs over here. I don’t think I would be exaggerating saying there are hundreds of thousands out where we go.
 
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They are evolving (mutating), getting smarter, faster, stronger. I blame Hanford radiation, and climate change. Next year I expect them to be armed, wearing little ghillie suits, beware!!

armed prarie dogs - Bing images

what if prairie dogs became super intelligent but only the French knew??
 
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