View Full Version : Moose and caribou with the same load?

walt maslen
April 10, 2009, 01:22 PM
Moose and caribou with the same load?

wrestle with the problem of seeing moose when I am hunting caribou and seeing moose when I am hunting bou! The question of bullet choice is a constant question all of the time! I do not want to shoot a caribou with a large grained bullet as I find that there is way to much damage and the bullet drops like a rock at 250+ yards.

3 years ago I was beginning a hike up a mountain to a large bench that had a group of 200+ caribou in the Noatak NP around the Aggie River area. I was packing my .270 with 130 grain bullets as I find them to really do the job on caribou and can reach out over 400 yards if needed and up 400yds+ is normal. I always carry a pocket full of 160 grain just incase I bump into a nice moose along the way.

About 20 mins. Into this hike I spotted a very nice bull moose taking a nap in some timber about 350 yards out and made the decision to for go the nice caribou we had spotted earlier and kill the day with this moose. I was shooting down hill at about a 20 degree angle and squeezed off a nice shot just behind the shoulder of this guy. The Big Boy lurched and moved about 20 yards into the timber and lay down. Cool! Time for a cup of coffee and a sandwich and give him time to bleed out right!!

I moved in on him after a 15 min rest and this guy bolted straight towards the Noatak River at Jessie Owens speed. Crap! I caught up to him at the river and he was about 20 yards from shore doing the back stroke like Michael Phelps but a boat passing by scared him back towards shore. The last thing I wanted is for this guy to get back into the willow so 2 shots in the neck at 40 yards and mongo was face down in knee-deep water.

Well the story was about bullet choice right? Me being the excited hunter forgot to drop the 130 grain and replace them with the 160’s and as we are pealing the hide back I find shot #1. Well placed and it entered just where I wanted it to but it hit a rib, traveled up towards the spine, lodged in the subcutaneous fat and did almost no damage. Hell this bull would of lived for sure if this was the only shot!

I know that I would have done the needed damage with a 160 grain bullet but the 130 just did not carry enough energy to get past the ribs! I use this example every year in my Physical Science class when we are learning about Inertia! The model 700 is a great gun and if the bullet had slid through the ribs rather than hitting one square on I would have been fine.

The moral of this story is chose the correct bullet for the job at hand and the rest is up to you. Most importantly is shot placement. A well-placed shot will get the job done for sure.

Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
Kotz, Ak

April 10, 2009, 01:37 PM
If I was in your position, I would probably only carry the 160's, and accept any additional meat damage on the caribou. I can't tell the difference on a mule deer with my 30-06 using 150's or 180's with a pump house hit.

Actually, what I settled on was 165's for my -06, so it is sighted in and will handle anything I need it to do.

How do you adjust for the different weights on the fly during a hunt? That would make me nuts.

April 10, 2009, 02:06 PM
If I was in your position, I would probably only carry the 160's, and accept any additional meat damage on the caribou. I can't tell the difference on a mule deer with my 30-06 using 150's or 180's with a pump house hit.

Exactly what I'd do as well, but I'd probably just stick with a 150 grain Nosler Partition in the .270 Win. When I only hunted with the .270 that is what I did when I started chasing elk. Now I pretty much just stick to the 130 grain Sierra GK as they shoot the best and when I go for elk I take a bigger rifle not that I'd hesitate to use my .270 again.

April 10, 2009, 02:51 PM
First of all, I've found meat damage to be more dependant on a bullet's construction than it's weight.

For an example, I get less meat damage on deer from my 7mm mag than I usually get from same brand/type bullets from my .243 Win. The .243 bullets aren't designed to penetrate as much as the 7mm bullets are, I suppose.

So, given decent bullet construction, I seriously doubt that you'll get more meat damage from the 160 grain bullets. With the lower velocity of the heavier bullets from the same cartridge, you'll likely get less.

Additionally, you might have seen similar results with an equal hit from the 160 grain bullets. Strange things happen to bullets at times, and I've seen some freaky things happen. Without making the same shot with a 160 grain bullet, we'll never know for sure. Worse, you'd have likely failed to compansate for the different POI of the heavier slug, and made a worse hit.

That said, I've shot completely through a few buffalo using well constructed 145 grain bullets from that same 7mm mag. I feel confidant that the same load would shoot through a moose, given proper bullet placement.

And yet I've seen a broadside 80 lb coues deer completely stop a 175 grain bullet from a 7mm Rem Mag because of more fragile bullet construction causing what I consider bullet failure, even though the deer was recovered. Nary a bone was hit, yet that bullet failed to exit that broadside deer. It would have been sad to hit a moose with that particular bullet and load, would it not?

Pick your subject from the above, because all are valid, and each could result in a lengthy discussion. All I've said has been my own experiences, yet they're still limited by what I myself have seen. Trying to decide on a bullet based on what you BELIEVE will happen can give frustrating results.


April 10, 2009, 04:52 PM
Is the meat damage that bad on a lung-shot caribou with the 160 grain?

April 10, 2009, 08:43 PM
i'm going to second the notion of more about bullet design than weight. on top of that all things being equal the heavier bullet should penetrate deeper and not create as explosive/high shock effect as the smaller bullet, due to less velocity. so if anything i'd worry more about the caribou having not enough damage due to a more sturdy constructed bullet. whereas it would work nicely on the moose.

perfect example is on white tail deer if one was to use a 220 grain corelockt bullet in say a 30-06 the damage will be significantly less than if one was to use the same bullet in 150 grain.

Either way i'm sure there is a load out there that can handle both well enough. sorry dont have a suggestion though :o

April 10, 2009, 09:17 PM
I do not believe that the 160 grain bullets will cause more meat damage in Caribou, unless it is of "softer" construction than the 130's. It should actually cause less destruction. I would personally load a good controlled expansion 140-150 grain bullet and use on both. I have killed caribou with 5.56 SS109 62 gr FMJ that basically punched a small hole right through them. Not ideal, but caribou are usually in terrain where they can be found if they dont drop on the spot. My point is, go with a deep penetrating bullet that will work on moose, and it will do the job on bou. It may not be the ideal caribou load, but should do the job.

April 10, 2009, 10:15 PM
I would use the 150 gr. bullets for the .270 for moose and caribou. I don't like 130gr. 270 bullets period.

April 11, 2009, 10:38 AM
I've never had the chance to shoot a moose, but my long time friend has lived in Alaska foor a long time and has. his standard moose load ia a handloaded 150 gr Swift Sirrocco in 7mm-08. Biggest one so far 60 inch plus. All one shot kills. It's the bullet construction for sure.

Evan Thomas
April 11, 2009, 05:00 PM
Walt, since you're in Kotzebue, you might also just talk to some of the local people about what they use... There are a lot of subsistence hunters around there who probably have just one rifle, and will take either moose or caribou, whichever they happen to see first, when they're out hunting (even if they do think 'bou is tastier :))... Folks who depend on hunting as a source of food are likely to know what works. And they do like to talk hunting... a few years back I was in Noatak village after canoeing the river, and just about everyone I met asked "Did you see any caribou? Where? How many?" When it came to small talk, the weather wasn't even close. :D

April 11, 2009, 05:23 PM
Walt, since you're in Kotzebue, you might also just talk to some of the local people about what they use..

From what I gathered while in Alaska, .338 win mags are pretty popular. So are 30-06's.


April 11, 2009, 11:36 PM
I am a big believer in using one bullet per rifle. I figure out what I am going to hunt with that particular gun and decide on bullet type for it. For example, my .300 WSM exclusively gets a 180 grain bullet. My '06 gets a 150 grain. Of course each was fed various types to find an acceptable level of accuracy.

I agree with the fellow that said try a 150 grain and stick with that. I also don't see why you can't find a bullet that will be effective on both animals. Of course you are also going to have to give and take a little but I think you can locate a do all round for your rifle and hunting style.

April 12, 2009, 01:32 AM
I'd get a good solid moose bullet. If the bou is hit right it should kill em' quick and not hurt much meat. Look to the guys on Kodiak huntin little blacktail w/big bear loads for an even more extreme example. How's life in Kotzebue? never been there myself, have buddies that've worked there though.

April 12, 2009, 02:50 AM
From what I gathered while in Alaska, .338 win mags are pretty popular. So are 30-06's.

Magnums are popular with urban hunters, but not bushkins. The heaviest caliber you'll mostly find out in the villages is .30-06.

It's very likely that the majority of natives aren't using anything much heavier than .243 in that country. Down here on the AKPEN it's the .270.

walt maslen
April 12, 2009, 01:44 PM
Hi Guys:

I have lived in Kotz for almost 10 years and I know lots of locals. The average local guy uses a boat and shoots them in the water crossing the river. A .22 works fine. I like the spot and stalk method which is seen as “White Man” hunting and foolish by most here because it is not efficient, but I just cant shoot them swimming the river. It’s cool to be boating and see 2-300 animals swimming the river! It’s like a geographic moment! I have taken lots of really big bou and some really nice moose as well.

NW Alaska is truly a gem for guys like us who likes to hunt and fish! I have fishing stories and photos that would make you cry! We catch Char, Dolly, Pike and Sheefish up here that are just huge!

I am switching over or adding a .243 next year and I am excited to give it a try, it for my son who went on his first bou hunt last fall at age 10. He is ready and it will be fun.

Thanks for the input!

Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
Kotzebue, AK
33 miles north of the Arctic Circle
your best bet in trip planning, rafts and camp rentals!

April 12, 2009, 02:17 PM
I forget where I heard it,But someone in India gave some advice"When hunting rabbits in India,be prepared to meet a Tiger"

I am wondering what the bear situation is in Kotzebue.

But that's just me.

Jack O'Conner
April 14, 2009, 04:01 PM
The 130 grain is quite lethal for deer sized animals. But the 150's have thicker jackets and much longer profiles for deep penetration. A guy at our gun club went to S. Africa for gemsbok and assortment of plains game. He took his trusty 270 and 140 gr Premium ammo. He told us that his 270 toppled game both large and medium sized with same authority.

That being said, I've never owned a 270 but have witnessed first hand what it does to mulies and 'lopes.


walt maslen
April 14, 2009, 08:15 PM
We have lots of bears up here. Many moose claf never gets off of the tundra because a griz has stalked the mom. We encourage you guys to take a few while your up here. I have run into many over the years.The think you need to understand about Kotz is it is nothing like the south central part of the state, very few people and we all pack guns all of the time. Sooo bears learn early to stay away from camps because we shoot them and the law is on our side.

I dropped 2 huge caribou a few years back and my partner and I could only get the quarters of one packed back to my boat by dark. We came back the next morning to find a fresh scrape pile, still soft filled with guts and hide. A super cub flew over and it was a neighbor. Back in Kotz he informed me that about .25 miles from where we were cutting up bou were a sow and 2 cubs sleeping!!! Kind of cool but it still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up!


April 15, 2009, 11:24 AM
I would sugest nosler 140 gr. partitions.

April 15, 2009, 12:09 PM
When I was up there, I carried Sierra 180 SPBT in the 06. I did load up some 220 Barnes for Barren Ground Grizzleys, but loaded with them only not hunting something else.

I took a lot of carabou and all but my first moose with that load and was very satisfied with its performance. (I took my first moose with the 32-20, 80 gr HP at 1400 fps. Only because we were hunting Spruce Hen and that was what I had. Neck shot behind the ear at 80 paces. Took the moose for a friend who hadn't had meat in the house for 2 weeks.)

Shot placement and bullet construction detirmines flesh destruction more than bullet weight. Bullet weight will affect penetration more than anyting else.


April 28, 2009, 02:49 AM
Not likely I can make it up,though it would be fun.

I guess what I was getting at was I think a .270 would be a dandy caribou rifle but I might hunt with a .338 or a .375,myself because I might not be hunting bear,but one might hunt me.

May 12, 2009, 12:30 AM
Hey folks,Hello from Texas :)...Wasn't sure to post a new thread, but after reading the great responses, I hope to find an answer about something. I was invited to a moose hunt with my hunting buddies to Alaska.Naturally I am very excited, since I've never hunted moose. I have the new Marlin XL7 bolt action in .270 Winchester. If you haven't tried this gun,please do ! the trigger is slick as glass and adjustable(Marlin's version of the accu-trigger),pillar bedded,and has a fluted bolt,along with a recessed crown muzzle. I have taken large feral hogs ( 400+ lbs.) with a hand loaded 130 grain Hornady SST.Along with a white tail deer during last hunting season.I was reading ballistics and velocity tables and think a 160 grain Barnes X with the proper load of Winchester Supreme 480 would do the trick on large Moose out to about 200 yards?... Any input? I Really do not want to go out and buy a 300 Win Mag,since this may be a once in a life time hunt. I've used .270 caliber for pretty much all my hunting life.Good all around caliber,and hand loads can be adjusted accordingly. I have heard that the Swedes have used the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser round for Elk and Moose (I have a tack driving M38 open sighted), for eon's,I think it may be a tad low on the "moose" spectrum....any input would be appreciated. Thanks:)

May 12, 2009, 01:48 AM
Lotsa meese drop dead in front of .270s up here. You don't need a 160 grain bullet in it either. Most folks run 140s or 150s. If you're using a Barnes it'll whistle right through broadsides.

As with anything else, it's all about placement.

May 12, 2009, 06:36 AM

Welcome to the forum! You should be fine with the .270 Win for moose in AK. I'm a little worried about your bullet choice though. That is a big heavy and very long bullet the Barnes 160 grain X bullet. The 160 grain X-Bullet might be to long to fit in your rifle without taking up a lot of powder room in the cartridge. Make sure you check your magazine length and measure that bullet to see if you will loose any powder capacity.

From everything I've read on several of these forums is that the Barnes bullets are an excellent choice but they like to be pushed very fast. If they don't hit with enough velocity they may not expand reliably or not at all. They usually recommend to step down two sizes of bullets from the one you would normally use. So if you were going to shoot a Nosler Partition in the 150-160 grain range in Barnes you would use the 130-140 weight range.

I've never used the Barnes bullets so take that FWIW. I've never been let down by the Nosler Partition bullet. They shoot very accurately out of my .270 Win so I've never felt the need to change what works.