Moose are a very coveted animal when it comes to Montana ranches wildlife. In fact, a Montana ranch that has more than just a passing Moose is very rare and coveted. Moose is the largest member of the deer family. They have a very distinctive nose that makes them look to be a far distant cousin. Their antlers, also called paddles, can spread up to 6 feet wide. The paddles are used in art and chandeliers and are very coveted. They also have a very distinctive flap of skin underneath their throat called a bell.
They live the longest out of the deer family. A moose life span ranges from 15-20 years. Their shoulder height can be up to 6’6” and the males can weigh up to 1800 lbs although the subspecies in Montana called Shiraz weighs up to 1000 lbs. There are a total of 4 subspecies of moose. Com moose will have one to two calves and the calves will weigh @ 30 lbs each. Calves can quickly outrun predators and will stay with mom up to 18 months.
Moose will eat up to 73 lbs/day in the summer and up to 34 lbs/day in winter and a moose’s stomach can hold 100 lbs of food in stomach. Their stomach needs cool temperatures to best digest their woody diet. Moose prefer to browse on taller grasses and shrubs. During the winter moose will eat shrubs and pinecones but are also not above scraping through snow for food. During the summer they tend to feed on aquatic plants.
Moose have a number of interesting traits that help them survive and prosper in the Montana wilds. Their hooves are uniquely designed to act as snowshoes to support their weight in both snow and marshes. They are incredible swimmers that can swim up to 6 mph and for as long as 2 hours if necessary. They also can close their nostrils which allows them to submerge under water. They can do this for up to 30 seconds. This is also handy for them to be able to graze on under water plants. Their eyes can move independently although they are very near sighted.
Moose can be very dangerous animals. Especially during rut or mating season. Since they can run ups to 35 mph(which is faster than any human)over short distances and can trot steadily @ 20 mph there are several suggestions if you have an encounter. They snort when agitated and it is meant as a warning of you are pissing me off! Back out quickly! Never look them in the eyes, take an aggressive posture or stomp your feet. All of these things are looked at as challenging or threatening them and are not what you want to do. As a side note, bear spray is very effective on them. I had a friend put a moose to her knees once. It allowed him and his dog to get the heck out of the area. One thing about using bear spray. Only do it if necessary since it is thought that there can be permanent damage to the moose’s lungs.
During mating season or rut, bulls will bellow loudly to attract mates. This happens during September and October. Bulls are solitary but may come together to fight with their antlers if fighting over a cow. In fact, the sexes pretty much ignore each other except during breeding season. Once they mate, they go back to ignoring each other.
Bull moose antlers are shed every year and grow back starting in the spring. When they regrow the antlers are covered with velvet and are vascularized for blood flow. They grow very quickly since they need to be shed of the velvet and hardened for rut. A bull moose antlers can weigh up to 60 lbs. It is like carrying a small child on your head 24 hours a day. Once the growing ends they rub the velvet off in a gory mess against trees and brush.
Moose have very few successful predators if they are adults and healthy. Most of the predators such as wolves and bears only prey on the young, sick or old. Which is a good thing since the population has been in a dangerous decline over the last decade. The Montana population decline has been so significant that a study has been started. It will take several years to get feedback on a cause.
Moose are such unique creatures and people that travel to see Montana ranches wildlife view it as a special trip if they can see a moose. This is why if you have a Montana ranch that has a population of moose it is a special ranch. There will be many Montana ranches that have the opportunity to have a sighting or a pass through of a lone moose. I will say this, if you have Montana ranches wildlife viewing and you have a population of moose then you probably also have an abundance of other wildlife.
If you enjoyed reading about Montana Ranches Wildlife Moose Tracks, you might enjoy reading Montana Ranches Wildlife-Elk Facts or Montana Ranches Wildlife Meet the Pronghorn. There is also Hunting Land for Sale in Montana for those that think they might consider purchasing some land in Montana. You can also subscribe to the blog so you will get the latest posts sent to you or check out and Like the Venture West Ranches Facebook page where we post great Montana ranching pics and info.
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Buzz Tatom is a Partner at Venture West Ranches. He moved to Montana 5 years ago and still owns the 5T ranch in Texas. He has a BBA from Texas Tech and an MBA from SMU. He is involved in a number of business ventures and built his Printing/Marketing firm 10 fold over 24 years before selling in 2011. He also enjoys teaching part time at MSU in business and mentoring students.