Dad’s ailing health allowed the family farm to become groundhog infested. A burgeoning hay crop gave the varmints total concealment. Then came the hay baler, transforming a forest of hay to a near putting green. It all added up to bad news for Mr. Woodchuck. Enter a Ruger Model 77 in .17 HMR, topped with a Zeiss scope; suddenly it was a very bad day for the creatures that feast on and burrow in the clover. Seven shots netted seven whistle pigs the first morning, and not one took a single step.

Groundhog Easton Hornady 011I grew up on that farm and spent many mornings and afternoons as a teenager with a handy .22 rifle, graduated to the .22 Magnum and today I absolutely love the .17 HMR. The V-Max bullet absolutely sizzles with a muzzle velocity of 2,550 fps and 1902 fps at 100 yards. It delivers the pinpoint accuracy, energy, and trajectory needed for lethal shots on varmints out to 200 yards, and is reasonably priced at less than $18 for 50 rounds.

Varmints aside, this round is a hoot to shoot. It launched the same year that the 17-year locusts emerged locally, and the round was so accurate that I shot a few locusts for kicks. Also, it’s an ideal option for new shooters. With virtually no felt recoil, youngsters quickly warm up to target practice, especially a few soda cans filled with water.For more details, check the Hornady website.

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.