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Moose Guns: How Much Is Enough?

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July 01, 2008
Moose Guns: How Much Is Enough? - 14

Moose
I was just writing up an account of a moose hunt I did last fall in Newfoundland and was recalling a conversation I had with one of the hunters in camp who had traveled from New York to go for his first bull.

We were getting ready to check our zeros at the makeshift range outside of camp and as he uncased his rifle, a Browning A-Bolt in 7mm Rem. Mag., he was genuinely concerned that he was undergunned. Seems his buddies back home had told him a .338 Win. Mag. as the “minimum” for moose.

That’s nonsense, of course.

Yes, a moose is a large animal but any deer caliber—starting with the 6.5s—shooting a bullet designed for deep penetration is plenty of gun.

I shot my bull with a .338 Federal—not a .338 Win. Mag. by any stretch—and both my shots (with 185-grain Barnes Triple Shocks) completely passed through the bull’s chest. A hard-kicking magnum would have added nothing to the proceedings.

Our outfitter confessed that of the more than 70 moose he’s shot over his lifetime more than half fell to his .30-30, which is about as far as you can get in a big-game chambering from the .338 Win. Mag.

And, not to beat a dead bull here, our Scandinavian sporting brethren kill a godawful number of moose each year with their beloved 6.5x55 Swede. The moose don’t seem to know that those bullets aren’t supposed to turn their lights out.

—John Snow

Comments (14)

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from Heather Bablitz wrote 25 weeks 4 days ago

There is an interesting correlation between the number of moose that a hunter has shot, and the size of rifle that they think they need to kill a moose. Hunters that don't hunt moose very often think they need cannons. Of hunters I know that regularly hunt moose most use fairly moderate cartridges, some do use bigger magnums, non claim that the big magnums are at all necessary. I've killed 5 moose with the .270 Win and have seen others taken with calibers in that range, I cant recall ever having to track one further than 30-40 yards, several died where they stood, and there were quite a few one shot kills.

IMO moose are simply to big for the delivered energy of most of the more common cartridges to reliably play a major roll in killing them. One is simply poking a hole in their vitals and a smaller cartridge will accomplish this about as good as a larger one. Couple this with the fact that a moose's adrenaline delivery system seems to be far more sluggish than even a deer, and a presumably low tollerence to pain which seems to make them fairly prone to bedding down quickly when wounded, unless bumped, and it becomes pretty obvious that you don't need a cannon to kill a moose.

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from Taylor Pommier wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

i just killed my first moose on the 18th of october i used my 30-06 with 150 grain barnes triple shocks that i handloaded myself. the moose dropped in its tracks and the shot was from 200 yards. im 16 years old

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from Big Game Boy wrote 5 years 5 weeks ago

Like everyone else has said, shot placement.

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from DWGriffin wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

At how many yards did you shoot the moose? That plays a role in the bullet pass through, as well as the excellent bullets used.

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from John Snow wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

The bull was about 75 yards from me, broadside, for both shots. He was facing to my left on the first shot, spun around, and was going the other way for the second.

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from Gerald Keller wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

I have taken two moose in Newfoundland.One with a 280 Ackley using 140gr. Barnes Triple-shocks,Two shots complete pass throughs both shoulders.Secondone with a 338-06,185gr. Triple-shocks.Neither moose took more than two or three steps.Both were shot at about 110-120 yards.Put a good bullet in the right place and any size animal will succumb.

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from Tom wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

I killed several moose back in the late 60's & early 70's when I was stationed in AK. I used a 7mm Mag with 175gr Barnes, 358 Win, 375 H&H, 45LC and a 308. Ranges were from 20yds to 300 yds. Only 1 took 2 rounds. They are not hard to kill. Just put a good bullet in the right place and they will go down.

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from Jim Andrews wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

I killed two moose in Alaska with my trusty old 264 Winchester Mag. The first was at about 350 yards and the other at about 300 yards. Both died with only one shot.

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from Edward Amey wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

All the moose that I have shot have been with a 30.06. I use Winchester Super X 180 gr. Silver Tip shells. The one I got this past fall was at 270 yds and did not go far. The most important thing is, shot placement.

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from alberta hunter wrote 5 years 40 weeks ago

I have hunted moose for several decades with everything from a 30-30 to 300wm and with many different hunters. I have seen several dropped moose get up and take off from inexperienced hunters who were not ready to shoot again. Moose up here are huge and I almost lost one years back on a northern bush hunt. after a long,often on knees search in dense bush I found it and the 30-06 bullets were deadon but still inside the chest. I get ridiculed for the big gun but the few lost animals over the years that fed coyotes still bother me so now when there is no snow I only use 300wm as I know it will do the job and leave a good blood trail.

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from tom wrote 5 years 40 weeks ago

Moose are funny in that you can kill an 1600 pound bull with less gun than most people would use to kill a 700 pound bull elk. I cannot account for the disparity, because this definitely bucks the trend of "big animal, big gun" that tends to hold true throughout big game hunting. However, I'm sure glad it's true because with all the hiking, brush busting and slogging through wet terrain, the last thing I want is the additional weight of a massive gun!

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from Marvin wrote 5 years 40 weeks ago

.223, .222, .22-250, .243, .270, .30/06 are all capable calibers for taking moose, shot placement is the key. I've taken and seen it taken with above rifles, and plenty of them. But something about my .300wm that I like when taking moose the past 8 years is that they drop dead in their tracks with minimum movement afterwards which makes for better eating.

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from JBUG308 wrote 5 years 40 weeks ago

Aren't the moose in Sweden actually a smaller species than over here in North America?

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from David Ansell wrote 5 years 39 weeks ago

When I hunted moose a couple times in Ontario back in the '70s, my Cree and Ojibway indian guides thought I was ridiculously over-gunned with a .270. The had killed countless moose with their .30-30s but -- and you might not believe this-- they told me most of the moose they had killed were taken with a .22 long rifle while they worked their traplines. They said they would empty the weapon into the moose's lungs, then wait for him to go lay down and die-- which they said he always did. Claimed they never lost one!

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Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from JBUG308 wrote 5 years 40 weeks ago

Aren't the moose in Sweden actually a smaller species than over here in North America?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from David Ansell wrote 5 years 39 weeks ago

When I hunted moose a couple times in Ontario back in the '70s, my Cree and Ojibway indian guides thought I was ridiculously over-gunned with a .270. The had killed countless moose with their .30-30s but -- and you might not believe this-- they told me most of the moose they had killed were taken with a .22 long rifle while they worked their traplines. They said they would empty the weapon into the moose's lungs, then wait for him to go lay down and die-- which they said he always did. Claimed they never lost one!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Marvin wrote 5 years 40 weeks ago

.223, .222, .22-250, .243, .270, .30/06 are all capable calibers for taking moose, shot placement is the key. I've taken and seen it taken with above rifles, and plenty of them. But something about my .300wm that I like when taking moose the past 8 years is that they drop dead in their tracks with minimum movement afterwards which makes for better eating.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom wrote 5 years 40 weeks ago

Moose are funny in that you can kill an 1600 pound bull with less gun than most people would use to kill a 700 pound bull elk. I cannot account for the disparity, because this definitely bucks the trend of "big animal, big gun" that tends to hold true throughout big game hunting. However, I'm sure glad it's true because with all the hiking, brush busting and slogging through wet terrain, the last thing I want is the additional weight of a massive gun!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from alberta hunter wrote 5 years 40 weeks ago

I have hunted moose for several decades with everything from a 30-30 to 300wm and with many different hunters. I have seen several dropped moose get up and take off from inexperienced hunters who were not ready to shoot again. Moose up here are huge and I almost lost one years back on a northern bush hunt. after a long,often on knees search in dense bush I found it and the 30-06 bullets were deadon but still inside the chest. I get ridiculed for the big gun but the few lost animals over the years that fed coyotes still bother me so now when there is no snow I only use 300wm as I know it will do the job and leave a good blood trail.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Edward Amey wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

All the moose that I have shot have been with a 30.06. I use Winchester Super X 180 gr. Silver Tip shells. The one I got this past fall was at 270 yds and did not go far. The most important thing is, shot placement.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim Andrews wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

I killed two moose in Alaska with my trusty old 264 Winchester Mag. The first was at about 350 yards and the other at about 300 yards. Both died with only one shot.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

I killed several moose back in the late 60's & early 70's when I was stationed in AK. I used a 7mm Mag with 175gr Barnes, 358 Win, 375 H&H, 45LC and a 308. Ranges were from 20yds to 300 yds. Only 1 took 2 rounds. They are not hard to kill. Just put a good bullet in the right place and they will go down.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gerald Keller wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

I have taken two moose in Newfoundland.One with a 280 Ackley using 140gr. Barnes Triple-shocks,Two shots complete pass throughs both shoulders.Secondone with a 338-06,185gr. Triple-shocks.Neither moose took more than two or three steps.Both were shot at about 110-120 yards.Put a good bullet in the right place and any size animal will succumb.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from John Snow wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

The bull was about 75 yards from me, broadside, for both shots. He was facing to my left on the first shot, spun around, and was going the other way for the second.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DWGriffin wrote 5 years 41 weeks ago

At how many yards did you shoot the moose? That plays a role in the bullet pass through, as well as the excellent bullets used.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Game Boy wrote 5 years 5 weeks ago

Like everyone else has said, shot placement.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Taylor Pommier wrote 4 years 25 weeks ago

i just killed my first moose on the 18th of october i used my 30-06 with 150 grain barnes triple shocks that i handloaded myself. the moose dropped in its tracks and the shot was from 200 yards. im 16 years old

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Heather Bablitz wrote 25 weeks 4 days ago

There is an interesting correlation between the number of moose that a hunter has shot, and the size of rifle that they think they need to kill a moose. Hunters that don't hunt moose very often think they need cannons. Of hunters I know that regularly hunt moose most use fairly moderate cartridges, some do use bigger magnums, non claim that the big magnums are at all necessary. I've killed 5 moose with the .270 Win and have seen others taken with calibers in that range, I cant recall ever having to track one further than 30-40 yards, several died where they stood, and there were quite a few one shot kills.

IMO moose are simply to big for the delivered energy of most of the more common cartridges to reliably play a major roll in killing them. One is simply poking a hole in their vitals and a smaller cartridge will accomplish this about as good as a larger one. Couple this with the fact that a moose's adrenaline delivery system seems to be far more sluggish than even a deer, and a presumably low tollerence to pain which seems to make them fairly prone to bedding down quickly when wounded, unless bumped, and it becomes pretty obvious that you don't need a cannon to kill a moose.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)