For long-range moose hunting, the 28 Nosler is an emerging cartridge with a loyal and growing following.
The 28 Nosler
The 28 Nosler is a very recent caliber, with just a six-year history since its creation in 2015. The 28 is confusing for some hunters since the 28 gauge shotgun comes to mind when you first hear of this round.
Don’t be confused. The 28 gauge shotgun is a very small shell, the 28 Nosler, actually a .284 inch diameter bullet when loaded with a 168-grain bullet is anything but small.
For moose a larger caliber is necessary, but you don’t have to pack a .338 Win Mag into the wilderness after the largest member of the deer family.
Approved by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAMMI) on January 19, 2015, it was the second cartridge designed by Nosler and it was an immediate hit.
Effective Range of the 28 Nosler
The 28 Nosler has excellent long-range ballistics delivering their standard 168-grain bullet at speeds up to 3228 fps. The 28 Nosler shoots flat at 400 yards, a rarity in any weapon, much less one on a 7mm platform.
It drops seven feet by 800 yards, but still maintains the punch of 1018 pounds (the ethical standard for big game is 1000 pounds) at 100 yards. The 28 Nosler has a maximum range of a mile.
Spend Some Time at the Range
Before you head out to the wilderness and attempt a half-mile shot on a moose, you’ll need to spend a lot of time at the range, a very long distance range if you want to have an accurate, kill shot on an animal as large a moose.
Styles of Moose Hunting With a 28 Nosler
Moose hunting is a very different practice than hunting its distant relatives the whitetail, mule deer and elk. Even the habitat is different for this largest member of the deer family.
Moose don’t run the ridges like mule deer, they’re not panicky and flighty like whitetails and you won’t encounter a herd of them like you will with elk.
Great Lakes Moose Hunting
Moose hunters in the Great Lakes don’t require a long-distance round like the 28 Nosler due to the heavy cover, swampy terrain and concealment moose habitat has in states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Rocky Mountain Moose Hunting
Rocky Mountain moose hunters in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and Montana will encounter an occasional long-range shot on a moose.
But moose tend to flourish along mountain streams, around high altitude lakes, and in recent years they’ve moved to agricultural areas adjacent to national forests after pressure from artificially re-introduced wolves have driven them from their native habitat to areas where wolves are still considered a predator and can be shot.
Like elk or deer that you can attract with a call or a set of rattling antlers, you can do the same with moose. A proven method is to find a recent set of moose tracks in a muddy area and use the “Daniel Boone” method of following these tracks. They will eventually lead you to a moose.
A few years ago I was hunting elk using this method above the loop road on South Pass in Western Wyoming. I spotted a couple of nice bull elk along a creek early in the day. I moved to where they had been feeding and found their tracks leading up a ridge to the south.
I followed a pair of large tracks from the mud of the creek bed, up the ridge and caught occasional signs of their direction with faint imprints in the sandy soil on top of the ridge.
I should have known better when the tracks led to a swampy pond filled with lily pads. The pond was about a five-acre body of water and the tracks followed the shoreline.
Sensing I was close, I started to move slowly, then began to crawl on my hands and knees the final 50 yards to a vantage point above the pond.
As I peered over the edge there were indeed a pair of large bulls, a couple of the biggest moose I’d ever seen. They looked back over their shoulders at me as I stood up, then casually walked into deep cover.
That’s the style of moose hunting you’ll find in most of Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana. A 28 Nosler would have made short work of either of these bulls at just 125 yards.
Moose Hunting in the Wide Open West
The 28 Nosler comes into its own in wider, dryer areas, such as Western Montana and Northern Idaho.
Hunters find a good spot in the rocks high above a stream, with game trails going in many directions and sit. They glass the area thoroughly, sometimes for hours, sometimes all day.
Moose have incredible hearing and a fantastic sense of smell. Their eyesight isn’t as good as ours, but it doesn’t need to be in the place they call home.
Stalking a moose in broken, open country, with ridges of trees, sagebrush, and large shrubs can get you an animal if you stumble on some tracks and carefully follow them, but the moose has the advantage here.
They’ll hear or smell you long before you spot them with this method.
A good pair of binoculars, or a clear, high-powered spotting scope, with a well-sighted 28 Nosler will fill more moose tags for you along the Montana/Idaho border than any other method.
It requires patience, you might not spot a bull for a couple of days. You might see a small group of cows and calves with no bull in sight, but he’ll be around. Just wait for your chance.
Alaskan Moose Hunting
This style of hunting is even more prevalent with the gigantic moose you can encounter in Alaska.
Alaskan moose inhabit the same habitat as the moose in Wyoming and Colorado, preferring wet areas of shallow ponds, and small lakes where they can feed easily on aquatic plants, but they also flourish in the wide-open expanse of Alaska’s vast wilderness, wandering open faces on mountain ranges and mixing in with the brush along their many rivers.
The majority of big game taken in American are killed with a shot of less than 200 yards, moose are no exception. Careful stalking, quiet approaches, and concealment more than compensate for miracle, long-range shots.
But, and it’s a valid caveat, when you have a trophy in your spotting scope, you won’t reach it with most standard caliber hunting rifles. A 28 Nosler can reach out and hit a target at extreme distances.
When that target is an 800-pound bull moose, it’s worth the effort to be properly equipped to take a quality shot at distances up to half a mile.
Most hunters would never try a shot of that distance, but if you’ve put the time in on the range, sighted your rifle carefully, and know-how to accurately read distance and adjust for the wind, you have a better chance than most to bring home a moose.
The Nosler 28 might be a new cartridge, but the reviews so far have been spectacular. It is, and will likely remain a favorite of hunters and long-distance target shooters.