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Thread: Last Moose Outing of the Season

  1. #1

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    Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Went up into the park yesterday at daylight thirty. We had a beautiful morning, dry with thinly filtered light. Found the dominant bull in the valley and he had several more wanna-be bulls following him and his ladies. The smaller bulls are actually more challenging for photographers. Whereas the dominant bulls pretty much ignore you as an insignificant creature, the mid-level guys will come over and try to bully you around. I guess they get frustrated being pushed around by the larger bulls so when they find somebody smaller than them they take advantage. But who knows...

    I spotted the big dominant bull a mile or so up the valley but on the other side. He was with three or four cows and several smaller bulls trailing them a couple hundred yards back. By the time I crossed the valley the big guy and the gals had moved into a hemlock thicket. I staked out the area by setting up near a lone spruce tree in the open valley floor about 75m or so from the thicket. The bull could be heard grunting once in a while in the thicket. I ultimately spent the morning shooting the "groupies" as the big boy slept away the morning.

    On the way in, ran across this guy following a cow right alongside the trail. He has an unusually tall and narrow set of antlers. He was following the cow so once I got behind him there was no chance to get a frontal shot. This was pre-sunrise but some light showing up on the clouds.

    Last Moose Outing of the Season

    This was the first groupie to come by. This is the same little bull that harassed my wife and I a couple of weeks back when we were out hiking. He's looking back at a couple of more bulls that we'll get to in a bit.

    Last Moose Outing of the Season

    The sun was just hitting the valley floor opposite. This is the same guy as he passed by with a good look at the "bell" under his chin. Older bulls in Alaska typically don't have the pull portion of the bell because it gets frost bitten during severe winters and eventually falls off. So ironically the longer the bell, the younger the bull.

    Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Same moose again. Cropped to show the behavior licking his lips. They do this when excited, whether due to a cow, about to fight another bull, or as in this case presumably due to my presence.

    Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Here come a couple more of them feeding there way up the valley. In this particular location the best strategy with the moose is to stay in clear view of them. They are less nervous if they know exactly where you are. The down side is that if they feel spunky they know exactly where you are...

    Last Moose Outing of the Season

    In this shot you can see the channels in the top of the antlers where the veins ran when the velvet was still on them. This was shot full frame at 200mm. What's wrong in this shot? His ears are indicating that he's not a happy guy.

    Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Sure enough, here he comes. This is way too close! This is a vertical crop out of a full frame shot at 155mm, full frame sensor camera. Not to worry. I just stepped around my tree and he kept on about his business. It's not as bad as the photo looks. He was not charging at a run. Just walking purposefully directly towards me.

    Last Moose Outing of the Season

    See, here we are a few minutes later, all chummy. He tolerated me hanging out with him for an hour or so waiting to see if the big guy would come out to play. This was shot full frame at 300mm. He was even confident enough about his safety to lay flat down on his side and sleep for a while. But alas, this was the highlight of the day. Big boy didn't come out before it was time for me to go.

    Last Moose Outing of the Season
    Last edited by NorthernFocus; 6th October 2013 at 11:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Beautiful images as always... #4 is my favourite for the moment captured, gorgeous detail and background, followed very closely by #8.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Great shots Dan. I love the warm "magic hour" lighting in these images. It bring out the warmth of the dry grasses and works really well with the moose.

  4. #4
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Amazing shots Dan I am amazed you can get this close. The local moose are so intensely hunted that thy spook if they even see a human silhouette. Either that ,or they try to trample you if you are trying to drive them out of a hay storage area in winter

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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    I like all of them a lot except for the second and fourth shots that have foreground grass that is intensely out of focus and is between the camera and the animal. I appreciate how difficult it is to eliminate it, but that grass is a distraction for me that doesn't occur in the other compositions that render the grass sharply focused.

  6. #6
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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Hi Dan:
    Nice group. Last outing why? When do they start shedding antlers?

  7. #7

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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    Amazing shots Dan I am amazed you can get this close. The local moose are so intensely hunted that thy spook if they even see a human silhouette. Either that ,or they try to trample you if you are trying to drive them out of a hay storage area in winter
    Trevor, there is no hunting in this particular valley plus many of these moose spend the winter in suburban neighborhoods. Consequently they don't recognize people as a threat. On the other hand, as mentioned in my post, the lack of fear can also result in them being pretty aggressive towards humans. How they will react is unpredictable. But if one pays attention you can learn to read their body language pretty well. Combined with a little common sense one can navigate amongst them with far less risk than driving on busy highways.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaneohebud View Post
    Hi Dan:
    Nice group. Last outing why? When do they start shedding antlers?
    They will be shedding soon, Bud, but the main reason is that the rut is ending and they won't be as easy to find with any certainty. Plus they are solitary animals other than during rutting season.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    You have educated, informed and entertained us. That's a pretty good result.

    Wonderful images accompanied by helpful text. Great stuff, Dan.

  9. #9
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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Hello Dan, I have been meaning to comment of this series but for some reason got sidetracked. Getting busy here with the migratory birds arriving. Wonderful series, magnificent animals. I have gone back and viewed all that you have posted, amazed at how close you seem to be in your image of you capturing an image of the moose. It must be full of wonder living in Alaska.

  10. #10

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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Dan, Very informative thank you for taking the time.
    3, 4 for me showing the full body and its coloring plus the close up are really great. The lighting certainly was worth getting up for!
    Nancy

  11. #11

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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    I've really enjoyed this series of posts Dan. Thanks.

  12. #12
    GeorgeM's Avatar
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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Beautiful, informative stuff, Dan. My only time in Alaska was a two week work trip to Fairbanks. I spent most of my weekends at Denali. Beautiful country.

  13. #13
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Just catching up on some of your threads Dan. I have to say, this was one of the most enjoyable of yours for me personally. Loved the writing and photos. As Donald says, it is very informative and entertaining, as are all of your posts. I'm really impressed and inspired by your incredible amount of knowledge about the subjects you shoot. Incidentally, I just received a wildlife sounds audio cd yesterday and listened to the mammals...so now when you reference the moose sounds, I can relate

  14. #14

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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    MOOOtiful....

  15. #15

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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Amazing captures. Great job.

  16. #16

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    Re: Last Moose Outing of the Season

    Thanks for looking and commenting, everyone. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    ...I just received a wildlife sounds audio cd yesterday and listened to the mammals...so now when you reference the moose sounds, I can relate
    Glad you liked the post, Matt. Having knowledge of wildlife habitat and behavior improves one's odds when trying to shoot it whether with camera or otherwise. Speaking of the sounds, the old trick of whistling at the critter to get eye contact doesn't work on these guys. Maybe it works on moose in other areas but in this particular location they just ignore it. But if one imitates their grunting sound a bull will turn to see who is infringing on his turf.

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