Wayward Moose

Yesterday, it was cold (-18C, 0F) and a skiff of snow had fallen overnight. The light wind was out of the east, so I headed to an area that hunts well with that wind. Of course, at that temperature, windchill can be a factor, so I dressed accordingly.

As before I was amazed by the lack of tracks, of any description. The snow had fallen early enough to record whatever game activity had been happening in the early morning before sunup. But I was finding nothing, even in an area where I had seen deer in the previous week. I persevered and hunted into and across the wind.

Then, I heard footsteps. The old snow under the new had been making a lot of noise, so I immediately grunted like a moose to help allay any concern. I heard a couple of more steps that were hard to pinpoint direction wise. Then I saw movement to my right. A dark object about 100 metres ahead appeared to be nibbling on a branch–moose! Now, we already had our freezer full of moose meat from the early season up north, so I had no tag for a moose and less interest in taking one, but at least it was game, and my still hunting technique had got me close.

Then I heard more movement from my left. I couldn’t tell whether it was deer or another moose, so I decided to use my grunt tube and perhaps entice a white-tail buck to come give me a look, if that was what it was. I heard nothing after that. But now the moose was approaching me. I scoped it and determined it was either a small cow (1.5 to 2 years old) or a calf (calves at this time of the year can be quite large). As it got closer I decided to move on realizing the moose would eventually catch my wind and be gone. Instead, the moose kept on coming. I raised my arms and talked to the moose to let it know it was in a dangerous situation, me being a human predator. It didn’t seem interested in what I had to say.

cow mooseIt finally got downwind of me and starting running. Great, I thought, I won’t see it again. Wrong, it turned around and ran around me to get in my way. Now, I was becoming worried. Then I remembered my camera and decided to take advantage of the situation and take a picture.

Every time I tried to move ahead on my planned walk, she stayed ahead. I decided this was no good and retreated to another trail. She did not follow. The rest of my hunt was uneventful. I saw no more game or most important, no more tracks.

What was the moose doing? I’m not sure. I am pretty sure it was probably a young cow. It’s rump is proportionally a little too big for a calf and its face is not foreshortened like that of a calf. If it was a cow, it may have been trying to prevent me from approaching her calf, who may have made the other movement noises I had heard earlier.

One thing I am fairly sure about, using a moose grunt to cover your movements in noisy bush is a good strategy to follow.

So, what’s wrong with that?



About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I wrote a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine, and have published articles for several other magazines.
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