Just the other morning I was treated to quite a romance - a moosey romance. I've lived out here for over twenty years and I've heard their love-lorn calls and seen signs of the males scratching the velvet off their racks, but never have I had the opportunity to watch such an interaction. Frequently, on Facebook, there are pictures posted showing one species of animal getting along, if not 'loving' another species of animal. There are even more showing affection between couples or mother and offspring. Though I enjoy these pictures immensely, they are generally quite cute, watching the real thing play out takes the cake.
As I said before, I've heard them calling. A moose's voice is small for their size. They sound like a calf and quiet at that, but the sound carries oddly enough. The female will wail her call, sounding lonely and needy. As we were all learning this call in order to lure a moose in close to shoot, my young sons were the best, if you ask me. My oldest son even succeeded in luring a bull in to only feet away from where he hid. Sadly, he was not armed with anything big enough to take down a bull. Ever since then, I would tease him saying he was so good because he was love-lorn and lonely too.
The bull's call is more of a grunt, coming in a series of three or four at a time, most of the time. Using this call, the hunter might be able to lure another bull around. One bull is always interested in keeping his territory clear of other bulls so there is no competition for the ladies that might be there.
I've also heard the bulls fighting, something I've only seen in some videos once in a while. Though the fight is nothing like what we may all be most familiar with, big horn sheep squaring off and butting each other with tremendous force. Bull moose do this too but their clash carries on into something of an arm wrestling match before they back off and go at it again. I've heard of bulls actually becoming entangled and unable to disengage. Their only hope is to drop their racks before they starve to death. It's a toss up which comes first since bulls will go off their feed in order to woo the ladies. The sound of those fights, though, is astonishing. Picture if you will, a couple Herculean (or bigger) fighters going at each other, but instead of them wielding swords, they swing 2x6s at each other. The resounding whap sound echos through the trees like a gun shot.
What took place in my yard was diminutive compared to all that. There was no other bull to up the drama. There was only two young moose feeling the romance. It's difficult to determine a female's age, but the older a male gets, the bigger his rack gets. This young Romeo had a fairly small rack; I guess he's maybe three or four years old, but he was a really handsome dude. He was a rich chocolate brown with long white stockings. The Juliet, I haven't a clue, but the way she danced and played, she was no old mama. She was the more gray/brown color looking sun-bleached across her back. Both were healthy with good muscle and a generous layer of fat to see them through the winter.
Romeo might have been young enough to not quite know what to do, or maybe it's just early enough in the season that his urge wasn't strong enough, but they would rub noses and talk to each other, then she would dance away and he would find a bush to scratch his velvety antlers on. Sometimes he would test the air in her direction and she would dance again. She was being really quite coy, always coming back to him if he lagged behind. They rubbed noses frequently, and they talked openly, neither of them trying to attract any other attention beyond their little game. More than once Romeo would sidle up beside Juliet, but she would dance away, teasing terribly. Like most guys I know, Romeo would amble after her asking what he'd done wrong now. She'd giggle and come back around, offering a little nooky before dancing off again. The play went on for most of an hour here in my yard, but then they tootled off out of sight. Will this pair end up being the parents of a little kicker next spring? It's hard to tell. Seldom will such a young bull get his way with a lady.