Photographing Moose in Fall
Autumn is the most exciting and dynamic time of the year to photograph moose. During this season moose change from being relatively solitary in nature to more social and gregarious. Of course, the main reason for this somewhat drastic behavior change is due to the "rut", or Fall mating season. This is the time of the year when all moose capable of breeding go through hormonal shifts. The bulls lose their velvet antler covering and now display their large and boney rack underneath. Behaviors such as fighting and sparring for dominance between males can be observed, as well as the mating rituals between bulls and cows. A bull moose can be cranky, unpredictable, and will charge if the photographer does not keep a safe distance away. Moose require lots of space! Photography at this time of the year is fast and furious, exciting, and intense! Add all this to a backdrop of New England Fall foliage colors, and viola!
Here is a wonderful example of a "lip curl", or flehmen behavior a bull exhibits in response to the scent of a receptive cow. The bull smells the air for the proper scent that indicates this cows' readiness for mating. Not a real flattering pose for the bull!
One rainy afternoon I stumbled upon this handsome young bull resting in the woods. Fortunately for me, he was calm and tolerated my presence. The forest floor was soggy from the rain which helped quiet my footsteps. He even dozed off a couple of times while I photographed him! I was amazed at how beautiful his antlers looked soaking wet - the rain brought out the saturated brown and orange colors of the antlers, while making them appear shiny. In this case, I used my tripod mounted umbrella to keep my camera gear dry. As I recall, exposures were in the 1/8th second range - much to slow to handhold, even with image stabilized lenses. Even though it was raining with raw temperatures and most photographers wouldn't even be out photographing in this weather, I hung in there and I'm glad I did!
Written exclusively for Mooseworld by Mark Picard. Copyright © 2007 by Mark Picard. Used with permission.
... on to Winter
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