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" How-To Series Of North American Big-Game Hunting "  

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Chapter 5. - Rifles, Cartridges & Optics

In This Chapter
- Requirements Of A Moose Rifle,
Choosing The Right Cartridge, Optics For Moose Hunting

Requirements Of A Moose Rifle

Any modern firearm will function well when moose hunting, however, due to the rigors, terrain and adverse weather encountered, choose a rifle that is well constructed, durable and preferably a bolt-action. Rifles for moose hunting do not require rapid firepower, light weight or compact size. What they do require is reliability, accuracy and a cartridge that will put down a massive 1,500 animal permanently and humanely.

It's a fact moose prefer wet conditions. The new synthetic stocks and stainless metal components offered in some rifles today is a moose hunter's dream. Moisture does not affect their point-of-aim and they are largely impervious to rust. Most of the well-known gun makers offer one or more models with these features. A beautifully figured wood stock is nicer to behold, but for the practical hunter, esthetics should be way down on your list of priorities.

If you are a one-gun hunter, go with a major manufacturers bolt-action model in a caliber suitable for large game. Make sure the fit is right for you -- you'll probably purchase it in a relatively potent caliber. Equip it with an appropriate scope and a functional sling. You'll receive many years of trouble-free service from this rig.

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Choosing The Right Cartridge

Never go moose hunting undergunned. The massive bulk of a bull requires a potent, heavy-caliber rifle and a large diameter, well-constructed bullet. Don't get caught up in the tales of trappers and natives who have been taking moose all their lives with a .30/30. They're able to pick their shots and get in close -- you may not always have that luxury. In the far North, your ammunition must be available at any small outlet. Most outfitters would be reluctant to allow you into camp if you showed up with anything less than a .30/06 caliber. Trophy moose are hard to come by; don't blow it with the wrong setup.

Most moose hunters are after a mixed bag of game. This often includes grizzly, sheep, elk and caribou. This wide variety of available game can dictate your choice of a rifle and cartridge. The sheer size of a moose would suggest the need for a cartridge of adequate power and a relatively large bullet diameter. The fact that trophy moose are also often shot at long range prescribes a cartridge of flat trajectory and high down-range energy. The ideal cartridges for deer would be a bit shy on the knock-down power necessary when used on an animal five or six times as large. As well, moose can absorb a lot of lead and have a remarkable tenacity for life. Our choices for availability, reliability and ability to do the job are in bold.

7 mm Remington Magnum   165 gr., 175 gr.
.30/06 Springfield   165 gr., 180 gr.
.300 Winchester Magnum   180 gr., 200 gr., 220 gr.
8 mm Remington Magnum   185 gr., 220 gr.
.338 Winchester Magnum   210 gr., 225 gr., 250 gr.
.375 H&H Magnum   270 gr., 300 gr.

For most moose hunting, especially when combined with hunting other species, the minimum rifle-cartridge combination should be the .30/06 or its equivilent.

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Optics For Moose Hunting

A well-constructed, medium-powered scope is your best choice. Not any model will do -- it must be able to handle magnum cartridges and have a superior ability to withstand the elements. Make this purchase with care and a lot of thought.

Carry and use binoculars. Moose blend into their natural habitat and more than one moose has been taken by a hunter that was able to pick out a flicking ear. One of the best accessories for locating moose is a small spotting scope. Not only will it save you many a step and a lot of disappointment, it also assists in appraising size and trophy potential.

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... on to Chapter 6 - Shot Placement

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