While looking for a cow elk in the Moody area, the rattling of antlers brought me to a halt

Living the Wild Life

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All photos courtesy Bill Schiess | EastIdahoNews.com

The rattling of antlers brought me to a halt as I started looking for a cow elk in the Moody area east of Rexburg. In a small ravine, three bull moose were facing each other, sparring and pushing each other around while a cow was bedded down, not paying too much attention to the three bullies.

The youngest bull challenged the largest in what appeared to be a serious confrontation, but that battle did not last long as the youngster abandoned the fight and disappeared into the thick quaking aspen. As the large bull moose watched the yearling disappear, he got a butt-load of sharp, long tined antlers in his back-side. Then he got raked in his side as he tried to defend himself from a serious smaller contender for his place as king of the mountain.

The battle continued for about half an hour with several timeouts and a snack break before the larger bull was able to gain control and bellowed a victory response. Both bulls looked my way as if to say “How did you like that show?” before heading toward the cow.

A few days later, after a small snow storm, I found a single cow in the same area – alone, and not in a good mood. Further down the canyon, I found another cow with a calf enjoying the sun in the new fallen snow. There were other tracks as the moose appeared to be moved lower down near the farmland bordering the higher summer habitat. With a little snow and a once-hot female not willing to entertain them, the bulls had disappeared.

Ten days before, while hunting deer with a son-in-law and a grandson in the Fogg Butte area in Island Park, we watched two young bulls double dating two larger cows. The bulls were very excited, running around and jumping over sagebrush as they appeared giddy about the whole affair. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game had reminded us of the deer not paying attention to traffic as they chased does; maybe they should also remind us of the moose also.

With the Thanksgiving weekend snows; deer, elk and moose will start leaving the high ridges in Island Park and Moody area in large numbers. Traditionally, moose will migrate between the Sand Creek Road and the Red Road taking up residence near the Sand Creek ponds and near the sand dunes. In early December, the moose can be observed along the Sand Creek and the White Sands roads.

The Moody herd of moose will migrate into Moody Canyon and along the South Fork of the Snake River with some finding themselves in trouble by ending up in Ririe, Rigby and Rexburg.

Homeowners, wherever they live in wintering moose areas, may find themselves face to face with some of these wayward moose.

“One morning I went out to do my chores and came face to face with a cow moose who charged me,” said Jim Davis of Teton Valley. “I had a walking stick in my hand and hit it hard across the nose and it left.”

So as these huge animals migrate, enjoy them at a distance as they may be the most dangerous animals in southeastern Idaho. When their ears are laid back and the hair on their neck stands up, it is time to take cover.