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on Dec 27, 2019 in Wildlife Photography

What Happened to Those Canoes?

AK Bull Moose
captured by D2H / 400f2.8AFS

“What happened to those canoes?” If you’re looking at a bull moose with no antlers, it looks like a cow moose and this time of year, that’s what you’ll see. You can tell it’s a bull without its antlers because you will see the buttons, base of the antler (like in the above photo). If you want that bull moose shot in deep snow with its canoes, you gotta be in the right place in late fall, early winter where there is snow and the bull moose still have their antlers. They shed them during late fall/early winter to get rid of that extra weight so they don’t have to fight them and the deep snow. Moose, deer, elk have antlers and shed them (they are called sheds) and Bighorn Sheep, Mtn Goat, Bison have horns because they don’t shed them.

AK Bull Moose
captured by D5 / 180-400VR

In the late fall, the Bull Moose needs those big racks, or canoes, to better hear with. While they do use them in “battle” (the clashing a sound that’s important to the cows) their primary use is to act as a giant radar dish. If you watch the bull moose, their ears are constantly pivoting around, independently listening for the moans of cows (and predators I’m sure). They use this info to help gather up their fall harem. Once the fall rut is over with, they shed all that of weight making it much easier to travel through deep forests and river bottoms covered in snow. It is actually really pretty cool biology especially when you are fortunate enough to watch it unfold before your eyes!

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