Alces alces gigas (Alaska-Yukon Moose), Alces alces americana (Canadian Moose), and Alces alces shirasi (Shiras Moose)

The moose is the largest game animal in the Western Hemisphere. It is also the largest of the deer family. There are three distinct classifications of moose with the Labrador Moose being a possible fourth.

Moose are large, with the biggest bulls weighing just short of a ton. They have huge bodies perched on stilt-like legs giving the appearance of awkwardness. This is misleading because even though their movements appear herky-jerky they are quit agile and fast. Anyone who has watched a large bull, easily jump a cattle fence would agree. A large Alaska-Yukon bull can stand 7 and a half feet at the shoulder. The Canadian Moose is about 15% smaller and the Shiras Moose of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana will stand 6 foot at the shoulder and weigh over 1000 pounds. Moose are powerful animals that can bulldoze through thick vegetation when they choose. A bull moose’s antlers can measure more than 6 feet across. Moose tracks can be distinguished from cattle on the same range due to their characteristic heart shape. Moose droppings tend to be drier and lighter colored than elk or deer and have an acorn-like appearance.

Hunting moose takes on a logistical aspect as no other North American game quite does. Hunting is only the beginning as cleaning, skinning, quartering, and packing a moose is a job for only the dedicated and those who are stout of back Moose are not particularly difficult to find as they will regularly make their appearances at dawn and dusk. The Alaskan-Yukon Moose does exhibit a somewhat higher excitement level than do their cousins the Canadian and Shiras Moose owing probably to the fact that they are more intensively hunted in Alaska. Any cartridge that is used to take elk will work satisfactorily on the smaller Shiras Moose, with the 7mm Magnums and larger the best for the Canadian Moose. For the Alaska-Yukon Moose many have been taken with a 30-06, but during the rut a big bull in Alaska is the nearest thing to being bullet proof you will see this side of Africa. For insurance the 375 H&H; has been popular for many years.

One note is applicable here. It may seem obvious but when hunting moose it is best to try to take your game when they are not in the water. The job of gutting and hauling the meat is compounded many times if you have to do it in or under the water. Situations may arise where you do not have a choice, but for the most part it should and can be avoided.

Whitetail Deer

The whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is the most widely distributed and most plentiful big game animal in North America. It lives in the broadest spectrum of habitat. Physically it is the most varied in size. A whitetail buck in the Florida Keys may only weigh 70 pounds and stand 24 inches at the shoulder. A big buck in Saskatchewan may weigh 300 pounds and stand 42 inches at the shoulder. The heaviest whitetail on record weighed 425 pounds. They vary in color from area to area. They also vary with the season. Whitetails shed twice a year. In the spring they are reddish-brown and in the fall they get their winter coat which can vary from bluish to brownish-gray.

Whitetail deer do not have the range of travel of the mule deer. They are more furtive and prefer areas where the cover is closer. When food is available they may stay within less than a square mile area. They travel to and from feeding areas to bedding areas following trails with which they are well familiarized. The bucks live apart from the does, except during breeding season.

Hunting the whitetail in most regions involves intense scouting and preparation. The whitetail may be the most difficult big game animal in North American to hunt and it requires a special kind of hunter to be successful. The hunter must identify the bedding areas, the feeding areas, and the trails that the deer are using to travel between them. Usually several good spots are identified and stands, either on the ground, or in the trees are prepared. These must be well camouflaged and should consider the prevailing wind. As they are generally in heavy cover they must also have shooting lanes cut and trails prepared and marked to and from the stand. These generally have to be usable in the dark. All this must be done without alerting the deer. It is not a simple, or easy task. Stand hunting requires patience, discipline, and mental toughness. The hunter needs to bring enough clothes and gear to be comfortable while sitting for hours in cold and often wet conditions. But he must not bring too much as it is difficult to move into the stand quietly when he has on too many clothes and is carrying too much gear. Experienced stand hunters develop a strict list of the items that they need and have found works for them.

In some southern states an offshoot of traditional close cover stand hunting has developed. Beanfield hunting, as this is called, involves setting up stands at the edge of large open fields. The deer forage into these fields at dawn and dusk. The hunters make long shots across the fields. The rifles used for this hunting tend to be small to mid caliber with overbore cases giving exceptional velocity and flat trajectories. As the distances can be predetermined, phenomenal accuracy can be achieved. Bullets with streamlined profiles and high ballistic coefficients are what is call for with this kind of shooting.

Mule Deer

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) live in the mountains, prairies, and deserts of the western U.S. and Canada. They like the open spaces more than their cousin the whitetail. It is larger bodied and carries generally larger antlers. A full grown buck can stand 42 inches at the shoulder and almost 6 and a half feet long. An average adult male will weigh from 175 to 250 pounds. with big bucks weighing 350 to 400 pounds. The blacktail deer is a relative and bears the same scientific name. It is smaller and inhabits the Pacific coastal forests. The mule deer gets it’s name from it’s exceptionally large ears, which are 8 to 9 inches long and can be 6 inches wide. The mule deer’s tail is round and has white hairs on top down to the 2-inch black tip.

The mule deer is distributed throughout the western United States and Canada. They travel between winter and summer ranges but do not range as far as elk. Their range is generally more in a vertical pattern, varying elevations with the season. The big bucks tend to be loners and will find isolated locations to spend the summer and early fall. Quite often a big, old “mossy back” can be found in a back canyon perched among the rocks or trees in a spot that gives hive a grand view of the likely approaches. When bedded in the shade and motionless these old trophies can be virtually impossible to spot. Hunting these bucks requires knowledge, patience and a good spotting scope. Scouting may indicate which slopes the old buck will be holding up on. By positioning the spotting scope to get the best view of these slopes and waiting until the buck gets up to get a drink you can locate him. You then have to get yourself into range. Quite often this involves a cross canyon shot and long range. It can be nearly impossible to sneak up on one of these fellows.

Open country long range cartridges are generally what is needed for mule deer. Cartridges like the 243 Winchester, the 25-06, 270 Winchester, and the 7mm Remington Magnum are all good choices. Shots across distances of 300, 400 and even 500 yards are not uncommon and are makeable. You have to have a rifle that you are confident with and you have to know the ballistics in case the range requires a holdover. In these cases it is imperative that you get the absolute best rested position that you can. Take your time and do it right. Mule deer are not difficult to put down with well placed shots to the chest. An old 30 plus inch mule deer buck can be one of the finest, and rarest of trophies.

.243 Winchester: An Effective Choice for Mule Deer Hunting

If you’re looking for a reliable and versatile rifle for mule deer hunting, the .243 Winchester is an excellent choice. This popular cartridge has been a favorite among hunters for decades, known for its flat trajectory, manageable recoil, and accuracy at long ranges.

The .243 Winchester was originally designed as a varmint cartridge, but it quickly gained popularity among hunters for its effectiveness on deer-sized game. With a bullet weight range of 55-105 grains, the .243 Winchester can take down mule deer with ease, making it a top choice for hunters who want a lightweight and maneuverable rifle that can handle a variety of hunting situations.

Whether you’re hunting in open fields, dense forests, or mountainous terrain, the .243 Winchester is a reliable and versatile option that can help you take down mule deer with accuracy and precision. With its flat trajectory and manageable recoil, this cartridge is easy to shoot and provides excellent performance at long ranges. So if you’re looking for a rifle that can handle any hunting situation, the .243 Winchester is definitely worth considering.

Why Choose .243 Winchester for Mule Deer Hunting?

If you’re looking for a reliable and versatile rifle for mule deer hunting, the .243 Winchester is a great choice. Here are a few reasons why:

First, the .243 Winchester is a highly accurate cartridge that can take down mule deer with ease. Its flat trajectory and minimal recoil make it easy to shoot accurately at long ranges, which is essential for hunting mule deer in open country.

Second, the .243 Winchester is a relatively light and compact cartridge, which makes it easy to carry on long hunts. This is especially important if you plan on hiking into remote areas to find mule deer.

Third, the .243 Winchester is a very versatile cartridge that can be used for a variety of other hunting applications as well. It’s suitable for hunting small game, varmints, and predators, as well as larger game like elk and black bear.

Finally, the .243 Winchester is a very popular cartridge, which means that ammunition is widely available and relatively affordable. This is important if you plan on doing a lot of hunting and need to stock up on ammunition.

In short, if you’re looking for a reliable and versatile rifle for mule deer hunting, the .243 Winchester is definitely worth considering. Its accuracy, portability, versatility, and availability make it a great choice for hunters of all skill levels.

Understanding the .243 Winchester Cartridge

The .243 Winchester cartridge was introduced in 1955 and has since become a favorite among hunters and target shooters alike. It is a necked-down version of the .308 Winchester cartridge, which means it has a smaller bullet diameter. The .243 Winchester cartridge typically fires a 55-105 grain bullet at a velocity of 2,800-3,400 feet per second, depending on the load.

The .243 Winchester cartridge is known for its flat trajectory, which means the bullet travels in a relatively straight line over long distances. This makes it easier to hit targets at longer ranges, which is especially important when hunting mule deer in open terrain. Additionally, the .243 Winchester cartridge has relatively low recoil, which makes it easier to shoot accurately and quickly.

When choosing a bullet for mule deer hunting, it’s important to select one that will deliver sufficient energy to take down the animal quickly and humanely. A bullet with a weight of at least 90 grains and a muzzle velocity of at least 2,800 feet per second is recommended for mule deer hunting with a .243 Winchester cartridge. Some popular bullet options include the Nosler Ballistic Tip, Hornady InterLock, and Winchester Power-Point.

Effective Range of .243 Winchester for Mule Deer Hunting

If you’re considering using a .243 Winchester for mule deer hunting, one of the most important factors to consider is the effective range of this cartridge. The effective range of a cartridge is the distance at which it can deliver enough energy to take down the game humanely.

The effective range of the .243 Winchester for mule deer hunting is typically around 300-400 yards, but this can vary depending on a number of factors such as the bullet weight, muzzle velocity, and wind conditions.

When using a .243 Winchester for mule deer hunting, it’s important to be aware of the limitations of the cartridge. While it’s capable of taking down a mule deer at longer ranges, it’s important to be confident in your shooting abilities and to take the time to make an accurate shot.

It’s also important to choose the right bullet weight and type for the job. A heavier bullet will typically have more energy and will be more effective at longer ranges, while a lighter bullet will have less recoil and may be easier to shoot accurately. Some popular bullet weights for mule deer hunting with a .243 Winchester include 85 grains, 95 grains, and 100 grains.

Picking the Right Scope for .243 Winchester

When it comes to hunting Mule Deer with a .243 Winchester, picking the right scope is essential. According to Optics Junkies, a good scope can make all the difference in terms of accuracy and precision, especially when shooting at longer ranges. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a scope for your .243 Winchester:

  • Magnification: The magnification you choose will depend on the distance you plan on shooting. For Mule Deer hunting, a scope with a magnification of 4-12x is recommended. This will allow you to see the deer clearly at longer distances.
  • Reticle: A reticle with crosshairs is the most common type and works well for most hunting situations. However, some hunters prefer a more specialized reticle, such as a BDC (bullet drop compensator) reticle, which can help compensate for bullet drop at longer ranges.
  • Objective Lens: The size of the objective lens will affect the amount of light that enters the scope. For Mule Deer hunting, an objective lens of 40-50mm is recommended.
  • Eye Relief: Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and your eye when the scope is at full magnification. A good eye relief is important to prevent injury from recoil. Look for a scope with an eye relief of at least 3 inches.

When it comes to brands, there are many good options to choose from. Some popular brands for hunting scopes include Vortex, Leupold, and NightForce. Make sure to do your research and read reviews before making a purchase.

Overall, picking the right scope for your .243 Winchester is crucial for a successful Mule Deer hunt. Consider the factors above and choose a scope that fits your needs and budget.

Tips for Successful Mule Deer Hunting with .243 Winchester

If you’re planning to go mule deer hunting with a .243 Winchester, there are some tips you should keep in mind to increase your chances of success. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Choose the right bullet: One of the most important factors in hunting success is choosing the right bullet. For mule deer, you’ll want a bullet that is heavy enough to deliver sufficient energy to take down the animal, but not so heavy that it will cause excessive damage to the meat. Look for a bullet in the 90-100 grain range.
  • Practice your shot placement: Shot placement is critical when hunting mule deer. You’ll want to aim for the heart and lungs, which will ensure a quick and humane kill. Spend plenty of time at the range practicing your marksmanship, and make sure you’re comfortable shooting from a variety of positions and distances.
  • Consider your hunting strategy: There are a variety of hunting strategies that can be effective for mule deer, depending on the time of year, terrain, and other factors. Some hunters prefer to stalk their prey, while others prefer to set up in a blind or tree stand. Consider your own strengths and preferences, and plan your strategy accordingly.
  • Be patient: Mule deer can be elusive, and it may take some time before you have an opportunity for a shot. Be patient, and don’t rush your shot if the animal is not in a good position. Remember, it’s better to wait for a good shot than to take a risky shot and wound the animal.
  • Be prepared for the conditions: Mule deer hunting can take place in a variety of weather conditions, from hot and dry to cold and wet. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing and gear to stay comfortable and safe, and be prepared for changes in weather.


Cervus canadensis (Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt) Cervus nannodes (Tule). Wapiti (Indian name)

Big, tough, wily, and elusive are also words used to describe elk. Some of the most impressive antlers in North America belong to the bull elk. Enduring images remain of high mountain meadows in the fall, a dusting of snow on the ground, the high pitched, shrill whistle of a bull elk bugling, followed by the grunts and then the roar identifying the caller as a full fledged mature herd bull. Once you have experienced this it is a life long memory and most likely the beginning of a quest to experience it, again. Hunters make extraordinary expenditures of time, energy, and money pursuing elk.

Bull elk will stand five feet at the shoulder and may be up to eight feet long. They will weigh 600- 800 pounds with large bulls weighing over 1000 lbs. Cows will weigh about 25% less. Some large cows will rival medium sized bulls in weight. Roosevelt elk are larger bodied and weigh more, but their antlers tend to be smaller. Smallest bodied of all is the Tule elk of California..

Elk tend to have large ranges. During the year they travel from the high meadows where the winds and temperature help keep the flies at bay, to the lower elevations of their winter ranges when the snow falls. These distances can be over one hundred miles. It is not unusual for elk to travel miles from their daylight haunts to a watering and grazing area for the night. Then they go back up the mountain the next morning. They may not do this every day, but they will develop a pattern of movement that is repeated during the summer and fall. When hunting elk, the ability to predict their movements is very helpful. Scouting elk during the spring, summer and fall is an invaluable way to learn how and when elk are moving in an area. It is best to scout elk in a manner that does not alert them to your presence because when alerted they may leave an area and change their patterns. This is the one aspect of elk hunting that is different from most other game.

From mid September to early October the bulls are in the rut and are with the cows. The big bulls will compete to be the breeding bulls. That may be as the master of a large herd or to break off a few cows for themselves. For about three weeks they will spend all of their energy herding and pursuing cows, warding off other bulls, bugling and eating and drinking the minimum. This is when a big bull is individually least aware of his surroundings and the most easily approached or lured into an ambush, except, (and this is a big except), that he has cows around him. These cows are aware, are on alert and are difficult to get around. When bugling or hunting big bulls during the rut it is most likely the cows that will detect you and it is they you should spend most of your time concerning yourself with. During mid-October and early November the bulls leave the cows and become secluded. This is when they are the hardest to find. In late November, the bulls gather in small herds and are feeding voraciously, trying to makeup for the valuable weight they lost during the rut. This is when you can find small herds of bulls. Sometimes you can find a number of big mature bulls spending the late fall feeding, together.

The three senses that elk use to detect danger are smell, sound, and sight, in that order. If you are visually detected, elk have to almost always see you moving to be alerted. If you simply hold still, whether for a few seconds or many minutes, the elk that detected you will eventually lose interest. If you move while their heads are still up, then they will probably leave. Just stand there motionless, even though the elk is looking right at you, and they will soon drop their heads and continue feeding or walking. If they are looking at you they are not sure what you are. If they are going to flee they will turn their heads to the side, raise their noses, hesitate for a couple of seconds, and then leave. If the cows give out a resonant, deep, dog-like bark they are sounding a warning to you. It means “stay away”, but they are still not sure what you are. When elk hear you, they will usually go on alert at the first sound and leave on the second or third. They will always get the most spooked by non-natural sounds such as zippers and nylon scraping on vegetation.. If they smell you, they are gone. Of the three senses, smell is the one that elk have the least doubt about. If your scent is detected it is most unlikely that you will get into a good position. The closer you get to elk the more likely a swirling wind will bring your scent to their noses, except when the wind is blowing very strong in one direction or when it is raining. There is one other time, and this is when there is no wind at all. This actually occurs very, very seldom, and when it does it does not last long. Bowhunters, who have to work in close, go to extreme efforts to eliminate and cover their scents. Even with these efforts they still have to consider the wind, because elk have very sensitive noses. You do not have to exert yourself very much to generate a detectable odor.

On the North American continent elk may be the game animals that are the most often to be not taken cleanly. They are tough to put down if you allow them to get their adrenaline pumping. It is important to put your first shot in the right place. Before the hunting season, practice shooting with the rifle you are going to use. In fact, practice, practice, practice. Practice shooting from different positions, not just from the bench at the range. Off hand you should be able to hit a pie plate, or a quart oil can, five out of five times at 100 yards. You should be able to hit that pie plate five out of five times from a rested position at three hundred yards. Practice shooting repeating shots without taking the rifle from your shoulder. Remember these are the best conditions you will probably encounter. When hunting, you will most likely be tired and/or winded, have obstructions in your field of view, and be shooting from a less than ideal rest. Seeing a big bull in range, in season, can start your heart racing. Keeping calm and staying controlled will be important. If the elk detect you, your chances of getting a better shot decrease dramatically with time. Carry a rifle that you can shoot well. Carry a rifle chambered for the largest cartridge that you can shoot well. Accuracy is the most important factor in lethality, but it is not the only one. Bigger bullets, constructed properly, will give you an edge. On the other hand, do not carry a rifle chambered for a large cartridge that you cannot shoot well, due either to recoil sensitivity or lack of familiarity. Elk are tough, and when wounded they can go a long ways. Not by coincidence this is almost never in the direction of the horses or the truck. Make your first shot count and always be prepared to follow it up. Just as a word of caution, never shoot a big bull elk, during the rut, in the neck. The tissues are swelled and he might as well be armor plated. The best shot is behind the shoulder on a broadside view, into the near shoulder on a quartering approach and through the chest, into the far shoulder on a quartering away view. If you are zeroed more than two inches high at one hundred yards and the elk is closer than 100 yards, aim a few inches low ( That is inches not feet). If you are shooting at extreme uphill or downhill angles( greater than 30 degrees), and the game is closer than 200 yards, again, aim a few inches low. Calm yourself, take one or two deep breaths, take one more and let it part of the way out, using the release of air to bring the crosshairs onto the target, then hold your breathing. If your point of aim stays within the chest cavity you can take the shot. Squeeze, the trigger. Do not pull. If your point of aim is wondering outside the chest cavity, do not take the shot. In the latter case improve your position and/or your control before taking the shot. The best place from which to pack the elk is right there. If everything goes well you will now get to experience from several hours to several days of hard work that will also be remembered and talked about for many years. Take care of your meat and good luck.