Along the Natchez Trace

Friday, May 29, 2015

Moose... again....

I was asked how often I see bull moose....

Well, that's not an easy question to answer.  It depends...  

Right now the male moose are just starting to grow their antlers.  They shed those massive antlers every year and grow new ones starting in the spring.  Mature moose will grow much bigger and sturdier antlers than young guys.  

I took this photo here at the refuge a few years ago...  on August 29th.
This big guy has a pretty nice set of antlers...  and the "velvet" has mostly been scraped off.

So, if I'm seeing a moose in the distance, sometimes in early summer I don't really see the antlers unless I'm using binoculars.  And if I can't see antlers, I sure can't see anything else to indicate if it's male or female :-)

I keep records of what I see and when I see it while here.  The big things, like moose, deer, bear, and the things I don't see as often like porcupine, otters and the like.  Last year I saw more cows (female moose) than bulls.  One factor that might contribute is that Maine has a hunting season and moose are prime targets....  especially those with a nice big rack.  Also, last year the ticks caused a high mortality rate in the moose population (both sexes).  

Definitely not scientific, but I'm thinking most of the cows have calves this time of year and they'll hang around an area for a longer period of time before moving on.  The bulls aren't looking out for anyone else and disappear into the woods pretty fast when they feel threatened.  

I took this photo around 5:00 this morning...
I didn't see any calves with this female...  she just stood and stared at me as I watched her.

When bears come out of their den after a winter hibernation, their fur coats are glossy, shiny and look beautiful.  The poor moose spend the winter wearing their thick fur coats, and come spring, as they start to shed, they look mangy, moth-eaten and not very pretty.  Add to that, the males are starting to sprout their antlers.  Sometimes they just don't look like the magnificent creatures that they really are.

My records indicate that I'll see more moose (of both sexes) in June.  July, wildlife sightings of all kinds will drop off.  Probably the combination of the heat and the bugs (flies are a real pest to moose) make them head for cooler areas deep in the woods.  By August the antlers will be nearly full-grown.  The calves will be tall and gangly....  their reddish-brown coats will be darker and more like an adults.

So... the answer to the question...  right now I am seeing the same young bull moose everyday.  I don't know how many different cows I see, but usually spot one at least once during each day.  The big, more mature bull I've seen only twice.  We've been here one week and the weather has been all over the board...  rain, snow, sunny, cloudy, windy...  you name it.  The bug population already requires us to wear nets and other means of protection.  All factors in how much wildlife I see.

Well, another factor in my wildlife count is how much time I'm outside and where I'm at.  

I do know one thing...  I try to snap pictures of everything I see out there...  so no matter if it's male, female, moose or bear, it's likely to turn up in one of my blogs later.

That's All For Today!


  1. Gotta love watching the wildlife and we do enjoy your pictures.

  2. Thanks for sharing your wonderful life and the pictures of the flora and fauna that you have taken. Really enjoy your blog postings.

  3. Keep up your reports. I enjoy reading about the wildlife you do see, only I don't need a net!

  4. Thanks for answering my question. Very interesting observations.

  5. So now tell us, how do you tell them apart and mentally keep track of them, sighting to sighting?

  6. I love your photos - you often see things the rest of us don't. I'm just not in the areas to see even deer, usually, so it's great to see them through your posts. That large bull moose from a few years ago is just gorgeous, isn't he? I saw moose along the road in Alaska back in the 80's. They just stood there in the tall grasses alongside the road and watched us watching them. It was pretty exciting just to see them. :)