What sparks the moose rut?
(Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada)
I've also been told it's the temperature drop that sparks the moose rut and then I have others telling me it's the time of year and the temperature doesn't matter. Any info you might have would be greatly appreciated thanks.
P.S. As a fairly new moose hunter I love this site, it's very helpful.
Mike, thanks for your question.
As I understand what sparks the moose rut, it is all biological. It does not matter what the current air temperature is, the estrus will start and the bulls will rut and tend their cows.
I know a lot of hunters believe that the rut is triggered by a cold snap, or frost. What if we did not get any cold weather? Would the moose not breed in that year? Or if the cold came two months late... would calves be born in the summer which would ensure they could not survive!
Moose are extremely affected by heat stress, and will seek the thicker areas of the forest to escape it. Studies have show the the adverse effects from heat will cause moose to reduce their movements to stay cool.
Francis Edward Schwab said in his paper Moose Habitat Selection
"The hypothesis that moose require forest cover to protect them from heat stress was much more successful at predicting moose habitat associations..."
The rut happens at the same time every year, it just may not be so obvious to the average person. If warm temperature prevail during the estrus season, the moose will move at the coolest times of the day... before sunrise and after sunset.
As a moose hunter or photographer, if you indeed want to find moose during these heat waves, be prepared to work harder than when it is cold.
Not only will the moose restrict their movements they likely will not be as vocal.
I have hunted during these warm weather spells and can say from my experience that you will find the bulls tending cows.
Hunting guides only have certain seasons they hunt. Their customers are often booked as early as January, and they cannot predict the weather any better than you or I. But rest assured, the moose rut is happening and they are successful because the guides know to go deeper into the cool forest to find game.
In short, what sparks the moose rut... the season, not the weather.
"The Moose Man"