Bull Moose Silhouette

July 20, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

A few days ago, I was fortunate to once again find one of the biggest bull moose in Grand Teton and Jackson Hole, known as "Hoback."

The mosquitoes were terrible as he was bedded down along the river in a wet area.  As it was just me and him, I sat down on this hot day (80F) to await Hoback getting up.

You see, moose in general don't like the heat, even less than I do.  Since moose are so well adapted to cold weather; their coat makes them 'too warm' when it gets above freezing in winter; they prefer to stay in the shade during the hot days of summer.  You'll find moose active mostly at dusk and dawn, and laying in the shade somewhere during the warmest times of the day.  It is believed that moose are at risk of overheating when the temps get above 60 F or 23 C!

As a result, Hoback was laying at the edge of a cottonwood forest surrounded by tall willows. Their hiding from the heat doesn't make them any easier to find by the way.  Since some of the moose in the Grand Teton area are not afraid of humans (no hunting moose in the National Park will do that), you can walk through the forest mere yards away from a bedded down moose behind the next bush and never realize he (or she) is there!

Here's my favorite shot from this session with Hoback.  He got up to eat willows for a few minutes before the sun set and I was able to photograph his silhouette highlighting his dewlap (bell) and growing, velvet-covered antlers.  Note his two drop tines this year.  He's almost fully grown with the mating season starting in under two months: antlers are the fastest growing tissue and they can grow an inch a day.  In another month or so he'll shed the velvet exposing the bone underneath.
 


Summer 2023
Scroll down for pictures of earlier years.


 


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Hoback in the fall of 2021 with one drop tine

 


Fall of 2021.  Note the broken tines after a fight with another bull during the mating season

 


Hoback in the fall of 2021 play sparring with a younger/smaller bull

 

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