website statistics

2011 TRO Hunting Trip

Home Up


Hunting with Trophy Ridge Outfitters (TRO)

June 20 - 23, 2011

Copyright 2011, Christopher Long - use of pictures and content by explicit permission only


Yet another great hunt this year in Carlile, Wyoming with Ralph and Lenora Dampman of Trophy Ridge Outfitters! This year I was again accompanied by my youngest daughter Jean. The weather was interesting, with a big system moving through during the first day of shooting. Winds were variable, with gusts up to 35 MPH at times. The shooting ranged from a couple hundred yards out to about 1100 yards, and all ranges in between. We shot a BAT 6 Dasher, a 223 AI, and a BAT 6.5-284 for long range, as well as a Rock River Arms AR-15 for some shorter range action. On this trip, Jean wanted to make a 1000+ yard shot so she could get the VHA 1000 yard Downrange Club certificate, and she wanted to beat her personal best of 652 yards with the AR-15.

As usual, the TRO accommodations were outstanding, and Ralph had scoped out some excellent dog towns for our shooting pleasure.


There was a very large storm system moving West to East during our drive out I90, causing some rain and high winds at times:

Once we arrived at TRO, we took advantage of having a few hours before the evening meal to visit the Devil's Tower National Monument just a few miles away. This has become a favorite part of our trip to TRO, as the monument has some of the most striking scenery you can find anywhere. We particularly enjoy walking around the Tower and looking at the unusual rocks, climbers, and other wildlife.

A very healthy and happy Black Tailed Prairie Dog in the large town just as you enter the Monument proper: (Yes, they are protected!)

A view of the Tower from the 1.3 mile circumferential hiking path:

A view of the Black Hills from the base of the Tower:


With the big storm system moving through the day before, the ground was very wet, and it was not prudent for us to drive our SUV out into the dog town. Ralph lent us his Rhino ATV, and Jean and I went about 1 mile east from the TRO lodge to the beautiful dog town located at Devil's Tower Junction, just south of Highway 14. We have shot this town before a few times, and it is one of our favorites. We packed the Rock River AR15 and the Ruger 10/22, ammo, some food, a shooting mat, and the usual Leica Geovid range-finding binoculars and other shooting accessories into the Rhino. We had shots out to over 800 yards, but the ground was so wet that spotting the shots at that extended range was difficult as there was no dust from the ground strike visible most of the time. So, most of our shooting was done at 500 yards or less.

Here Jean is scoping out possible targets, looking to the South. The Rhino is a great little vehicle for this sort of activity:

Another view to the North. There were dogs all around us:

This is looking to the Northeast. You can just see the top of the Tower in the very center of the picture:

We shot quite a few dogs that day, and didn't get rained on much at all. We were able to move around the large town very easily, accessing a number of different parts of the town.


The storm had passed during the night, leaving us with a beautiful day. The temperature was about 70, and windy, with gusts up to about 30 MPH. We set up shooting the canyon at a ranch outside of Oshoto, WY. This is the same location where I made a 1330 yard hit in 2007. There were, again, large numbers of dogs ranging from 200 yards to over 1500 yards, but the wind made the long shots essentially impossible. We limited our shooting to ranges below about 800 yards.

Having worked up a very accurate load using RL-15 under a 75 grains AMax bullet for the 223AI, there was some curiosity on how it would fare at ranges past the 600 yard testing done in Seattle. (Load: 26.5 grains RL-15, 75 grain Hornady AMax, seated to 1.975" case base to ogive, fireformed LC brass, Winchester small rifle primer, 3010 FPS 20 shot average over an Oehler 35P chronograph, ES 36, SD 9 FPS - CAUTION - May not be safe in your rifle!) The results were excellent, with no noticeable elevation variations past 600 yards, and extremely good terminal performance. The 75 grains AMax bullets seem to perform as well as the VMax types, even at extended ranges. Though marketed as a "target" bullet, these appear to have a thin jacket, which combined with the polymer tip, makes them an excellent varmint bullet. The results on the dogs were often spectacular, with near complete disintegration of the target at the shorter ranges, and frequent long "hang time" dog launches at 600+ yards.

Here is the 223AI on the bench. Note the new rear bag riser block. During last years trip we were getting annoyed with having to reposition the rear bag after a few shots, as the recoil would often shift the bag position slightly, making it difficult to get off a quick follow-up shot. This new riser uses a stack of three pieces of 3/4" plywood covered with non-slip RV shelf liner, and a shop made aluminum clamp bracket. It can be easily and quickly positioned for the correct location relative to the front rest, and does not budge even with the heaviest recoiling of rifles. Definitely an upgrade to the shooting system.

Here is the same setup with the BAT 6 Dasher. This year, we were finally able to procure some of the excellent 105 grain Hornady AMax bullets, after nearly a year of complete unavailability. Like the 22 caliber AMax, this bullet also has spectacular terminal performance, without giving up much in terms of ballistic coefficient over the 105 Berger VLDs that we normally use for F-Class competition. (Load: 33.0 grains RL-15, 105 grain Hornady AMax, seated to 1.728" case base to ogive, fireformed Lapua brass, CCI 450 small rifle magnum primer, 3063 FPS 20 shot average over an Oehler 35P chronograph, ES 20, SD 7 FPS - CAUTION - May not be safe in your rifle!)

We worked this town from this one location all day, making lots of hits. We saw many vultures, osprey, magpies, and even some hawks snacking on the carrion that we were producing.


This was a new dog town for us, located on the North edge of the Keyhole Reservoir. The shooting here was spectacular. The wind had settled down to well under 15 MPH, coming almost directly in our face, and was very steady, making longer shots possible. There were more dogs than we could count, at ranges from 580 to about 1100 yards. We were on a slight slope located to the east of the town, giving us excellent visibility down into the town. The grass was not too high, making the dogs easy to spot when they were off the mounds. This is a view to the northwest, with Jean setting up the AR-15, and the 223AI on the bench:

Given the excellent conditions, coupled with the large number of available targets, it didn't take Jean long to connect with the BAT 6.5-284 at 1017 yards:

Almost immediately after making the VHA 1000 yard club, Jean made a fantastic shot with the AR-15 at a dog 787 yards distant, a new personal best for her. This was from the prone position using a Harris bipod. The 55 grain VMax was almost out of gas at this range, and didn't expand as much as it usually does at the shorter ranges, but the hit was clean and the dog went down for the count:

The Rock River AR-15 is a superbly accurate rifle, and the best part is the ability to get in a rapid follow-up shot if you misjudge the elevation or windage on your first try at a target. Even at these extended ranges, we were making about a 30  percent hit rate. Here is Jean showing off the big bag of 223 brass she was working on filling up during this trip. She was having a great day, and so was I, making multiple 1000 to 1100 yard hits with the 6.5-284, and innumerable hits with the 223AI at shorter ranges. This location is now my favorite of all the places that Ralph has set us up to shoot. I am looking forward to shooting it again next year.


This day dawned with about the same weather as the day before, but the wind had picked up a bit, running about 20 MPH, with temperatures in the low 80s. We were guided to a dog town that we had shot last year, and where we had seen a very large badger digging for his lunch. This year, the grass was quite high due to the large amount of moisture received during the spring, making it very hard to see the dogs unless they were on a mound or standing up while in the grass. There were a very large number of dos about, but you had to be patient until they showed themselves. Ranges were from about 50 to 500 yards. Here is a view of the town to the northeast, showing the grass obscuring most of the mounds:

This is a view looking back at the shooting position from about 100 yards out. It is very easy to see how high the grass was:

Even with the high grass, we had a lot of fun, with the 223AI being the primary rifle used. It was a hoot to walk about with the Ruger 10/22, plinking at dogs that would pop up in the grass. Here is Jean scoping out a potential target:

The best part of the day was when we spotted a large badger at the edge of the town. It may have been the same badger that we spotted last year. Jean was doing a walk-about, and came within about 25 yards of it before she heard it growl. Needless to say, she immediately backed away and let it be. Given the number of dogs about, there is no doubt that this is one well fed badger.


Another excellent trip with TRO! New places, lots of dogs, lots of shooting variety, and even the weather cooperated nicely. Jean made the 1000 yard club, and set a new personal best with the AR-15. Coupled with the excellent accommodations and great food, this is a place you can't beat for some fantastic shooting fun. I'm ready for next years trip!

If you want a great experience, give Ralph and Lenora a call:

Copyright 2011, Christopher Long - use of pictures and content by explicit permission only

Home Up