Hunting the Whistlepig
Airgun hunting for one of the largest North American pest species is a challange. Unlike hunting them
at 200 - 300 yards with a centerfire, the airgunner needs to work his way inside 50 -75 yards and
achieve perfect shot placement to anchor this member of the marmot family. In this article, Jim
Chapman will present his experience and views on hunting ground hogs in the midwest.
These animals are found all over North America in one form or another; groundhogs, woodchucks,
rockchucks are members of the marmot clan. They are a large rodent that can cause a fairly substantial
degree of damage in farmlands, undermining roads, buildings, and damaging crops. In agricultural areas or
family gardens, the animal will destroy great quantities of forage and vegetables, and its burrows are also
dangerous to both horses and cattle. There is a definite need for control of the woodchuck in such places.
The woodchuck has a coat of silver gray and brown with underparts of a lighter hue. The head is dark
brown and the feet are so brown as to be nearly black. His chunky body is carried on squat, sturdy legs.
The animal has small economic value because of the low quality of its furs. However they are very wary
and a lot of fun to hunt, creeping inside of 50 yards to get a clean shot is quite a challange, especially if
they have experienced any hunting pressure.
I typically do my woodchuck shooting in
the border areas where fields and woods
meet, if there is a strip of grass seperating
them all the better.Other area that have
proven productive are along railway right
of ways, and in the lawns and fields
around industrial areas.
While you can see these animals out at
any time of the day, I've found that it is
hard to beat a sunny fall day at five or six
in the afternoon. In some areas large
numbers of whistle pigs can be found
creeping along grazing, while keeping a
sharp eye (and ear) out for danger.
Groundhogs can move quickly over short
distances, but can't sustain the burst of
speed for very long. For this reason it is
unusual that they will move too far away
from their system of burrows. One time
this does not hold up is when the young
are being driven from the den by the
mother, the young hogs can sometimes be
found wandering in search of a new home.
When you find a burrow, search the area
and you'll likely find his escape hatch.
I have found a number of guns that are
suitable for groundhog shooting; I like a
.22 or larger caliber, finding that out of a
high power pcp they have both the
terminal performance and flat shooting
accuracy that allows pinpoint delivery of
The three most productive guns I used this
season were the .22 Prairie Falcon, .50
Career Dragonslayer, and the .22 vanix
AR6. Between the three I managed to bag
close to thirty whistlepigs in a dozen
outings. The shared charcteristic of these
guns is that they were all tack driving
Second to accuracy (within reason) is
power. The Falcon and the AR 6 generate
over thirty fpe, and the Dragonslayer
around 150 fpe, but if you are reasonable
with range selection you don't really need
more than twenty fpe. Certainly a less
powerful gun can be effective, but the
shooters margin of error is greatly reduced.
For my style of shooting, I find a 3-9x
variable scope the right optic for
The Defence Industry XP pellets proved very effective, very accurate with great down range enery
retention. The target above is a five shot group at fifty yard which can be easily covered by a dime.
This groundhog was dropped with ahead shot at 80 yards. He roled over stone dead.
I hit this guy at 50 yard as he poked his head up for a quick look around Typically I let them move
away from the burrow so I can reclaim them after the hit. But I missed this guy the first time by a hair,
and he didn't want to come back out.
The two on the right were hit one after the other as they popped up for a look around. Sometimes they
can be wary and other a bit stupid. This is especially when the young start moving about.
Guns and Pellets