Aspen Moose

March 13, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

The short period of peak fall foliage is a hectic time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The week or so when the aspen trees turn golden (before shedding the leaves) are pretty much a mad dash to find an animal to photograph in said aspen trees.

Now where is the wildlife???

Some of the moose who had been so reliable during preceding weeks, were suddenly a no-show.  

Hours of searching and hiking was getting me nowhere ... until a friend told me one morning that he had seen small black dots moving earlier that morning on a nearby hillside which was covered with aspen forests.  Could these small dots turn out to be moose?

Problem was that the closest road didn't get all that close to the hillside: checking out the black dots (who were no longer in sight) still meant about a 45 minute hike through rough sage brush and ditches, just to reach the bottom of the hill.  And then, who knows where the small dots had moved to in the hours since the sighting?

So, off we went.  Since we were looking at a few hours of hiking, I opted to leave my big prime lens in the car and I packed my trusty 70-200mm f/2.8 lens: lightweight but plenty of zoom to bridge the required 25 yards of distance between myself and a moose.  And, very importantly, very light-sensitive as moose don't like to get up to have their picture taken until the sun sets.

When we reached the bottom of the hillside, no moose were to be found.  The few of us spread out and started going up the hill.  Suddenly, a loud cracking noise in one of the patches of aspen forest.  Moose!

This big bull was laying in a thick forest of aspen with three cow moose nearby.  How he got in there with that big set of antlers on his head, we'll never know.  We got lucky and were able to spend several hours with these moose as they went through their mating behaviors.  It was well after dark and close to freezing when we got back to our cars that evening: tired, cold but oh so satisfied.

The big bull guarding his three cows.
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Look at the thick aspen forest behind him: how did he get in or out of there??


Smelling the cow to find out if she's ready for mating.


Smelling the cow is typically followed by the Flehmen response.


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