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Moose

Chapter 4. - The Rut & The Art Of Calling

In This Chapter
- The Amorous Bull, The Artificial Call

The Amorous Bull

an aggressive bull during the rutDuring the first part of September, the rutting season begins. The rut generally starts about the time leaves turn color and may last from a month to six weeks. Both sexes become extremely active, travelling far more than at any other time of year. The bull shakes off his easy going ways and starts to roam outside his home territory. Instead of being a lethargic, detached creature, he is suddenly deranged by the urge to reproduce.

Prior to the rut the velvet is rubbed from their antlers, turning them into gleaming weapons. Once the rut has begun, this animal becomes stately and arrogant -- with a very short temper. Anything, including hunters, that gets in his way is fair game.

A sexually active bull will travel far and wide in search of cows. Where normally he would quietly retire, he now becomes a beast with a mission; crashing through timber grunting challenges to all. He may fight, but it will invariably be with a bull of similar stature. A young bull often hangs around a more mature bull who has already collected a cow. He'll keep his distance and will run off if seriously challenged. The transformation that takes place during the rut is a big help to hunters -- it keeps bull's on the move and lowers their usual guard.

evenly matched bulls, eye-to-eyeBull moose are content to stay with one cow at a time. Unlike breeding elk, which collect a harem, bull moose locate a receptive cow, stay with her a few days then move on. Bulls will service as many willing cows as they can find. By the end of the rut he is spent, thin, and bedraggled. He has fed very little in the last 4 to 6 weeks and now must start to diligently feed. Fat must be put on for the winter ahead.

Both sexes are excessively vocal during this cycle in their year. The sawing wail of the cow and the deep, croaking grunt of the bull indicate the seriousness of their intentions. What the hunter attempts to do is imitate these sounds.

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The Artificial Call

During the rut, moose are hunted by artificial calling. The most common form is comparable to bugling for elk. A horn constructed of birch bark, a commercial call or even something as simple as the cupped hands are generally used to imitate the bawling call of the cow or the grunt of a bull. Even a large plastic bottle (1 gallon or more) with the top cut off and a 3 foot long shoelace placed hanging through a small hole drilled in the bottom works well. The shoelace is wetted and slowly pulled through the fingers. With practice, this call has a reasonable resemblance to a cow's rasping call. Whatever method you choose can be effective if done right.

two different types of moose callsGood areas for calling are just inside the edges of brush or timber around lake shores and from low, timbered areas leading toward meadows and bogs. Locate a wallow if you can. This is mud dug up by the front hoofs of a rutting bull to a depth of up to half-a-foot and can be several feet in diameter. The bull urinates in it, then wallows in the reeking mess. Sit hunched down in a concealed stand and grunt or bawl with the instrument you're using. Wait a few minutes and try again. Try for an authentic sound that would be irresistible to any bull within hearing distance.

Another form of calling is to dump a hatful of water into a lake at late evening. At a slow dribble, this noise approximates the sound of a cow urinating -- a noise that a rut-crazed bull cannot resist. On a calm day this sound will carry far. With this form of calling, the inexperienced "caller" is probably as accomplished as the veteran. We bring up this method of calling to point out that even unconventional calls can bring in an interested bull.

a calling bullThroughout moose range, calling works relatively well during the rut. To learn the proper sounds of rutting moose, invest in a commercial recording. Spend the time necessary to practice and perfect this "art" form. Few moose hunters are naturally adept at calling and if not done right, you may arouse suspicion rather than eagerness in a listening bull.

The majority of moose hunters are guided. If you fall in this category, it's likely best to leave the calling to an experienced guide. Your guide will know the time, the probable places, and the circumstances under which calling will work. Done right, there is no bigger thrill than a love-sick bull charging in to your waiting rifle.

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... on to Chapter 5 - Rifles, Cartridges & Optics

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