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Varmint hunting is the practice of hunting vermin, generally small mammals targeted as a means of pest control, rather than for food. Varminter may refer to a varmint hunter, or describe hunting equipment either specifically designed for, or suitable for varmint hunting, such as a varmint rifle. Varmint hunters may hunt to exterminate a nuisance animal from their own property, to collect a bounty offered by another landowner or the government, or for amusement.
Targets of varmint hunting
- predators, such as coyotes, wolves, foxes, raccoons, or feral dogs, which can kill farm animals
- rodents and lagomorphs, such as rats, prairie dogs, squirrels, groundhogs and rabbits, that can damage cropland or pastures or carry disease
- birds perceived as damaging to crops, including crows, as well passenger pigeons and Carolina parakeets, both of which were driven to extinction in part by pressure from indiscriminate hunting.
- invasive species, such as starlings, that are displacing desirable native species
Since varmint hunting is a form of pest control, and minimally regulated by law, the definition of what constitutes a varminter model tends to vary by regional pests. The definitive varmints are ground burrowing animals such as groundhogs and prairie dogs. These animals are small and difficult to approach closely, and hunting them requires a long range, highly accurate rifle. Because of this, models labeled Varminter will generally fit the following characteristics:
- high velocity, for a flat trajectory (see external ballistics)
- lightweight bullets, designed for minimum penetration (see terminal ballistics)
- extreme accuracy, for the ability to hit small targets at long range (see accurize)
- Bushmaster AR-15 based Varminter model; includes extended heavy barrel, adjustable trigger, and no iron sights (being designed for dedicated use with telescopic sights).
- Remington 700 SPS: Has a 26" heavy contour barrel with standard features that include a hinged floorplate magazine, sling swivel studs, and a drilled and tapped receiver.
- Ruger No. 1 Varminter single shot rifle; equipped with scope base and rings for telescopic sight, available in high velocity calibers with extended heavy barrels. While the trigger is factory set and locked, the trigger does include sear engagement and overtravel adjustment screws, which can be adjusted by a gunsmith.
- Savage Model 12 Varminter; includes adjustable trigger, and free floated extended heavy barrel, no iron sights, and a benchrest style stock.
- Sierra Varminter line of bullets; light weight, hollow point and soft point bullets designed for high velocities, minimal penetration, and maximum expansion needed for varmints.