Moose (Alces alces)

Moose Hunting Canada. Discover where to hunt Moose (Alces alces). Also, learn to identify it and study its' physical description, Range, Habitat, Diet, Food Strategy, Breeding Habits, and Status.

Provinces with Moose Hunting

Yukon Resident and Non-Resident
British Columbia Resident and Non-Resident
Alberta Resident and Non-Resident
Saskatchewan Resident Only
Manitoba Resident and Non-Resident
Ontario Resident and Non-Resident
Quebec Resident and Non-Resident
New Brunswick Resident and Non-Resident
Nova Scotia Resident Only
New Foundland - Labrador Resident and Non-Resident

Selecting a Calibre for Moose

Vital Shot Placement for Moose

Shot Placement to Vitals for Moose

Modified by: Canada-Hunts.ca

The moose is a large animal but my experience with this animal is that it hurts very quickly and if you let it go down. It will do so within 50 yards. The range that you will be hunting can vary according to the terrain and that too makes selection a tough choice.

Guys in my hunting groups use calibers from 7 mil Mag to 300 Mag. and a mass of 175 to 220 grains seems to be the popular choices.

Personally, and I know that I am an exception. I will use the 7 mil Mag or 30-06 when hunting clear cuts, open marshes or anywhere I expect to get a longer open shot. However, I will carry a 45-70 with a 325-grain bullet when hunting thick bush and anywhere I expect the bullet to have to plow through brush.

In a nutshell, I want my first shot to be ethical, and deadly. Wounding an animal is a sickening feeling, the stress and anxiety in tracking takes its toll. A clean shot with a good blood trail and quickly finding your downed game is exhilarating.

Learn where to place your shot and practice shooting with the hunting round(s) that you use.  

 Moose Hoof

 
 Moose Hoof

Front

  • 4.375" - 7.0" (11.1 - 17.8 cm) Long
  • 3.75" - 6.0" (9.5 - 15.2 cm) Wide

Rear

  • 4.125" - 6.5" (10.5 - 16.5 cm) Long
  • 3.5" - 4.625" (8.9 -11.7 cm) wide

Trail Width

  • 8.5" - 20" (21.6 - 50.8 cm) 
 Photo By: themoose.wikispaces.com  

 

Moose Scat

 Moose Scat

 Photo By: Clark - Flickr

Moose scat is shown to the left. A scat's look will be dependant upon what the moose is eating. If they are eating leaves and lily pads the scat will look a little sloppy. But when it looks like pellets (like this picture) they are eating twigs. Why is this important, well if they are eating twigs I would expect the moose to be on the ridges or sides of the ridges. If the scat is a sloppy paddy, I would tend to hunt the lowlands with marshes and ponds.

The color and look of the scat will also tell its age. If it is light in color like shown above. The scat is so old that I would not even consider it. However, if it is dark in color (dark chocolate brown). Then you need to look. If it does not look shiny then it is probably more than 24 hours old especially if there was a frost that morning. If it does look shiny, then it is probably today's, and you need to kick it open. The inside coloring will now give you a real hint. If it has a greenish/yellowish color it is less than 2 hours old and now you to put your hand over it (it didn't say in it) to feel for heat. If you feel heat. Your quarry is real close at hand.

 

Description of Moose (Aleces Aleces)

Moose Bulls Cows
Life Span 15-20 years
Shoulder Height  5 to 6.5 feet (1.5 to 2 meters)
Overall Length  nose to tail
Weight 794 to 1,323 pounds (360 to 600 kilograms) 595 to 882 pounds (270 to 400 kg)
Weight at Birth 25 to 35 pounds 
Antlers  Up to 6 ft across None
Hearing

Like all members of the deer family both sexes have direction and independantly moving ears that gives this mammal a sterio like ability to detect and decifer sounds. 

The Moose family is unique in that the antlers of the bulls can be used like a parabolic reflector to direct and increase the ability to detect noises at what is suggested by scientists to be around 17%.

Eyes

Moose are said to be color-blind, this writer has a problem with that statement as I have seen moose browse over ONLY the RED maple on numerous occasions.

They see well in low light.

Because of their eye position, they have a large blind spot directly in front of them and have to roll their eyes forward to see things there.

However, they can move both their eyes and ears independently of each other.  

Dental Formula  I 0/3, C 0/1, P 3/3, M 3/3 = 32.
Body Temperature 101= 102 °F 
Feet Ungulate
Can Travel 48 Kilometers per hours for short periods of time
Diet Herbivore
Sexual Maturity 16 months 16-28 months
Breeding Time late September to mid-October 
Gestation N/A 243 days
Birthing N/A Mid May to Early June 
# in Litter N/A 1-3 calves generally 2
Weaning 6 months
Communication

The Moose has a vast set of communication sklills.

Bulls produce "roar-bellows", "croaks", and "barking-like" sounds during agonistic and sexual encounters. Cows "moan", a directional "distance reducing" call that attracts bulls. Calves "moo-bawl." 

Postering and waving of antlers are used by Bulls during sexual encounters with cows as well as prior to confrontation with other bulls that may result in very aggressive battles. Aggressive enough that death of one of the combatants may occur.

Unlike other members of the deer family, the moose does not have metatarsal nor interdigital glands. Instead, they have small tarsal and lacrimal glands

Bulls during the rut use their hooves to flail out chunks of soil and then stretch over the disturbed area to urinate on it, creating a wallow in which both sexes roll. This is his Channel #5.


Moose Identification

Identification of Moose

Bull Photo By: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Big-Bull-Moose-Nature-Wildlife-Fur-Mammal-850391

Cow Photo By: Pixabay

Modified By: Canada-Hunts.ca

 

 

Range and Distribution of Moose

Moose Range Map of Canada

Moose Range Map of Canada
  • Original map of canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Modified By: Canada-Hunts.ca

Moose are found in Canadian forests from the Alaska boundary to the eastern tip of Newfoundland and Labrador. With an estimated population of 500 000 to 1 million moose in Canada, the distribution pattern for the moose has been in flux ever since the time when Europeans began to settle in Canada. They are found in many regions which had no moose in presettlement days. Once void of moose north-central Ontario and the southern part of British Columbia, now have moose populations. More recent of moose range expansion is along Quebec’s NorthShore, north of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The island of Newfoundland, which had never been occupied by moose, was "seeded" with a few pairs in the early 1900s and now has large populations. Moose are constantly spreading northwards through the sparse transition forest that extends to the open tundra.

With the exception of PEI, the artic, and Vancouver Island the moose range includes most of Canada. Through improved habitat and protection, the moose populations of North America expanded for most of the past century. But for unknown reasons, moose populations across Canada are reported to be declining rapidly. 

Population and Density of Moose

Province Moose Population Population Density Moose/KM2
Nunavut    
Northwest Territories 20,000 0.015
Yukon 70,000 0.14
British Columbia 170,000 0.18
Alberta 118,000 0.18
Saskatchewan 50,000 0.08
Manitoba 27,000 0.05
Ontario 86,000 0.09
Quebec 75,000

0.06

New Brunswick 29,000 0.41
Nova Scotia 1,000 0.02
Prince Edward Island  0
Newfoundland Labrador 115,000 1.32

Since the 1980s, however, moose populations have rebounded, thanks to regrowth of plentiful food sources, abandonment of farmland, better land management, cleanup of pollution, and natural dispersal from the Canadian Maritimes and Quebec. 

In an effort to develop a sport hunting industry to the island of Newfoundland, four moose were brought to the island in 1904. Because the moose lacks a natural predator on the island the moose population took off and is now an estimated 150,000. This writer is not surprised to learn that an attempt to introduce moose on AnticostiIsland in the Gulf of St. Lawrence failed. I base my supposition on the size of the deer herd that is present and known what the so-called brain worm can do.

In comparing the members of the deer family, the Moose with its 4 sub species, the Shiras, Eastern, Western, and Alaskan, the moose is the largest member. In looking at the moose family and in general terms the size of the moose (including antler size) increases as you go across Canada from east to west. An exception to this generalization is the Shiras moose (the smallest of the sub species) which has a range in the lower part of British Columbia and extends down into the States.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of Moose in Canada

 Bull Moose

 

Bull Moose

 Photo by: Pixabay

In the summer, the moose’s diet includes leaves, some upland plants, and water plants in great quantity where available. A large adult moose eats from 15 to 20 kg, green weight, of twigs each day in winter, and in summer eats from 25 to 30 kg of forage—twigs, leaves, shrubs, upland plants, and water plants. Moose have a great desire for the root bulb of the water lily and will forage, even dive, under the surface of the water in order to feed on lilies and other water plants.

In June and July, moose seek out salt licks that can found in low-lying areas of stagnant, mineral-rich water. These salt licks are required to provide additional nutrients in addition to the leaves and other lush plant growth that they are foraging on. The moose also has a tendency to visit willow-rich valleys or any other areas where good forage exists close to forest cover.

During the winter months, moose live almost solely on twigs and shrubs such as balsam fir, poplar, red osier dogwood, birch, willow, and red and striped maples. The winter time can be a period of hunger for moose. The will naturally restrict their food intake and limit their activity to conserve energy. However, when food becomes difficult to obtain, moose will moose will resort to stripping bark from trees like poplar and spruce.

Before the settlement of Canada started, the large supplies of fresh tender woody twigs that are developed through forest regrowth were provided by way of naturally occurring forest fires. Naturally occurring and man-made wildfires are now put out by man and that source of forest regrowth in now at an all time low. The argument for clear-cut logging is put forward as a replacement for natural wildfires and a new source of regrowth for the forest.

The moose can overpopulate and area of forest. This is especially true where predation is limited and hunting efforts are at a minimum. The moose population will increase to the point where browse becomes insufficient to support the yard and moose begin to starve, the luck ones will become malnourished, and susceptibility to predation and disease sets in. 

Breeding and Reproduction of Moose

 Cow on Left - Calf on Right

 Cow and Calf Moose

Photo By: john Payzant - Flickr

The fall rut is the time for the bulls to display their ability to mate and to attract mates through their impressive antler display (sometimes battles with other bulls occur), scrapes, and that sort of hypnotic swagger that they get into each September and October.

But like most other species on earth, the right to mate will go to the winner. But remember, it is always the cow that chooses her mate. That is why the competition is so fierce. The bull wants to be the only male in the vicinity of the cow so that it is he that will be her ONLY choice.

Despite the obvious difference in size, it is difficult for the untrained eye to determine the difference when separated and for that reason alone. It is not advisable to harvest a calf moose as it could be a cow (that you may not have a tag for). Other than the length and shape of their noses when separated this shot could turn out to be a bad call.

Females will give birth to one or two calves in the spring. The calves grow quickly and stay with their mothers until the cow is ready to mate again which is most likely the following fall. My experience in the wild has taught me that the calf by instinct hides and the cow will always be highly protective of its calf. That is why I will most almost always see the calf behind the cow and the cow in front. Most times it is the movement of the calf hiding that catches my eye. Even after harvesting a calf it is not uncommon for the cow to still try to protect its calf and try to run you off.

Status of Moose in Canada

When it comes to natural predators, Black Bears, Grizzly Bears and wolves are natures hunters of the moose. A grizzly bear can easily take down a moose of almost any sex and size. All three are opportunist hunters and come the spring will prey heavily on moose calves especially during the calfs first few weeks of life.  

 Moose Calf

Note how the calf is a light brown in comparison to the darker calf above which is several months older
 Calf Moose
 Photo By: Chris Train - Flickr

Throughout most of the wolf range in Canada, moose are the principal prey of wolves. Wolves kill many calves and take adult moose all year long. Hunting a healthy adult moose is a difficult and often dangerous business for wolves. The flailing hooves of a cornered moose frequently cause broken bones and even death, and only about one confrontation in 12 ends with the wolves successfully killing a moose. And in the case of a wolf pack vs. cow with a calf. The calf does not stand a chance. In the winter time, wolves usually hunt in packs by getting on top of the deep crusted snow, or on smooth ice. Here a wolf pack can easily bring down a moose by running up beside their quarry and rip the tender flanks until the moose is weakened from loss of blood.

Moose calves are occasionally taken by Wolverines and .where cougars coexist with moose populations. Cougars take a substantial number of moose calves and yearlings.

Winter ticks that can measure up to 15 mm in size can be a serious life-threatening problem for the moose in the winter. Infested moose become weakened by this blood sucking tick and moose trying to rid themselves of this parasite will rub their hides on trees. The moose will rub so much that it may cause large patches of skin to show and in turn leads to hypothermia and sometimes death of the moose. 

A serious thread to moose populations comes from the meningeal worm that is carried and transmitted by the white-tailed deer. Although it is not fatal to the deer, for the moose it attacks the meninges, or membranes, surrounding the brain and spinal cord of the moose thus causing death. This posses a question for biologist for what to do as the white-tailed deer continues to expand its range northward and deeper into the moose range.

Moose are an important economic resource in Canada. Moose hunting generates over $500 million in economic activity annually and provides large amounts of food for aboriginal and other rural people. Moose are a major element in the complex of wildlife attractions that draw visitors to parks and other wild lands to view and study nature.

In order to prevent starvation of moose, diseases in moose, and serious damage to vegetation, moose populations should be kept in check with the limiting factor being the availability of foraging vegetation. These overpopulated forest areas become a problem for forest management in that this over browsing activity of regenerating forest can damage future timber crops not to mention the loss of breeding habitat for songbirds.

References

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moose
  • http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/mammals/moose.html#sid14

Photo Credits - background

Moose – USFWS Mountain Prairie - Flickr

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