Moose rutting behavior and vocalization. A hunter’s guide to getting in close. Part 2 -Pre-Rut.
The pre-rut stage begins when bull moose begin to lose their velvet around August 31 and continues until approximately September 27. During the pre-rut stage bull moose will be at their peak fitness level, their fully developed antlers ready for battle. Bulls will rub their antlers on brush and trees to strengthen their neck muscles in readiness for the rutting battle that will soon ensue with rival males. Bulls are eating all they can at this stage of the rut, but they will soon stop consuming large amounts of aquatic vegetation, red osier dogwood, box alder, poplar, maple, and birch.
Bulls who were summer companions will now start to spar and assert their dominance over less aggressive or younger bulls. Both bulls and cows start to ramp up there vocalizations during this period, with bulls grunting aggressively at rivals and cows protesting loudly to the advances of amorous bulls and their premature courting. The cow calls you hear are not as inviting as what will come later, but are more aggressive and almost angry in nature. This is due to the fact that the cows are close to the readiness of their very small window of ovulation, but they still will not tolerate close contact from the bulls.
The cow’s loud calls of protest benefit her in a couple of ways. The loud calls prevent any premature mating from excited bulls when the time is not yet right to produce the next generation of moose. And secondly, not only do the loud calls by the cows fend off the advances of bulls that are close by; they also attract more bull suitors, or at least point out her location to bulls that are not in the immediate area.
Hunters can use the aforementioned behavior of the cows in several ways to harvest monster bull moose. In the morning pay close attention and listen for cows bellowing. The cow call during the pre-rut is a whiny, angry, “get away from me” type of call. She is telling the bulls that she is not ready, stay back. You can imitate this loud whiny call to bring in amorous bulls from great distances. Don’t be shy about belting it out there when calling, and vary the pitch up and down to get the “angry” effect. The call duration should be approximately 15 seconds to one minute long. Repeat the call every 5-10 minutes for three or four sets, wait about 30 minutes and start over again. Immediately after making the whiny cow calls, give out a series of light bull grunts to imitate a young bull that is excited but is being shut down.
This type of calling during the pre-rut will work best in the morning and late evening. Once a bull responds with grunts you can grunt back at him to keep him coming in, but keep your grunts short, low in pitch and not too aggressive. You do not want to sound like a too big or dominant a bull this early in the rut. It is better to imitate a smaller bull which is bothering a cow. This will encourage other bulls to come to the cow’s aid and run off the youngster.
The simple techniques described above are very affective during the pre-rut and will get you in close to the big boys. In part three of this series on moose hunting in Canada we will discuss the main moose rut and a variety of calls and techniques that can be used to stir up even more awesome action.
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- Moose rutting behavior and vocalization. A hunter’s guide to getting in close. Part 1.
- Moose rutting behavior and vocalization. A hunter’s guide to getting in close. Part 2 – Pre-Rut.
- Moose rutting behavior and vocalization. A hunter’s guide to getting in close. Part 3 – Main Rut.
- Moose rutting behavior and vocalization. A hunter’s guide to getting in close. Part 4 – Post-Rut.