Moose in Winter at Kananaskis
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Scott Stoness
Registered: Sep 11, 2006
Total Posts: 9868
Country: Canada

I went out yesterday looking for wildlife after failing to find light for my landscape pictures. Unfortunately, the snow was coming down when I found a pair of moose. I thought it would be a good opportunity to test the ability of my new 600 F4 v2. Long , long shot, through the trees in the heavy snow.

Anyway the end point is that the lens performed well but the snow performed better and the pictures are marginal, so I will tell the story that went with the pictures to make up for the low quality pictures.


My understanding of moose is that they are mostly solitary creatures except for i) when they are mating or trying to mate, ii) when they are raising their young, and iii) when they group up for protection in the winter. Usually in the deep of winter, they are really hard to find because they don't move around much to conserve energy and the snow gets thick. I have struggled to find them after early November when they are groupded up.

I was driving down the gravel road (Smith Dorain between Canmore and Kananaskis Lakes) and thought I saw some moose in an avalanche chute at a distance. I pulled over and got the 7d, 1.4x, and 600 together with a monopod.

The female moose was in the opening and I watched her for awhile. It became apparent that she is in trouble. She is heavily favoring one of her front legs and limping.

I watched for a while and then saw the bull moose behind a tree. After a time she went toward the bull moose and nuzzled him and they limped off into the forest (30 minutes).

This is not an exciting story unless you put it in perspective. The cow is likely to die within weeks unless her leg improves. If a wolf finds them she will not be able to defend herself because they defend with their front legs. In addition, as the snow gets deeper she needs her front feet to dig through the snow. So highly likely she will not make it for more than a month. I doubt he is seeing her as a prospective mate at this time of the season.

The male moose seemed to be escorting her. The bull is fully capable of protecting himself from wolves and they are likely not to try to approach him. He is about 8 years old and really healthy looking. But since the rut is over I am surprised that he does not just leave her behind.


So maybe this is the winter gathering behaviour that I have been looking for. Or maybe it is just a late attempt at mating for the bull.

In any event, nature is tough and I expect to have the opportunity to take pictures of wolves near this spot or the grizzly family that is just waiting to hibernate about 5km away.

Comments and feedback is appreciated. Scott



Harry.C
Registered: Sep 17, 2012
Total Posts: 393
Country: Canada

Lovely images and interesting situation Scott. I hope you have lots of opportunity to return to the area and follow-up on the female.

Cheers,
Harry C



Tim Kuhn
Registered: Nov 29, 2006
Total Posts: 45042
Country: United States

the lens performed well but the snow performed better I like the dry humor there Scott

Fascinating story and unfortunately I do believe she may not make it.

I really like the first two, as a matter of fact I think 2 is a super shot. There is a bit too much snow in the last two but they do tell a story and if I was there I would have taken them

It must have been a wonderful experience to sit and observe this scene. Time well spent

Tim



KCollett
Registered: Jul 02, 2010
Total Posts: 23373
Country: Canada

Good set, and interesting story. Thanks Scott.



CDaescher
Registered: Jul 19, 2011
Total Posts: 10935
Country: Netherlands

Great shots and interesting story. Thanks for sharing, Scott.
# 2 is my pick.
Chris



louie champan
Registered: Oct 18, 2011
Total Posts: 1298
Country: United States

Super set of images, well done.



Scott Stoness
Registered: Sep 11, 2006
Total Posts: 9868
Country: Canada

Harry.C: I am usually in this spot every 2nd weekend. Its about an hour from my house. Glad you liked the story. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott


Tim Kuhn: It was more like wet humor I think you are right that only the 2nd makes it as a picture that could stand by itself. He was a big healthy bull. Glad you like the story. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott


KCollett: Glad you like the story. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott


CDaescher: Glad you like 2. He is a good looking moose. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott


louie champan: Glad you like the story and images. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott



PaulCal
Registered: Dec 08, 2006
Total Posts: 2792
Country: Canada

I am really liking these, especially the second one and given the ISO 5000, its remarkable.
What a majestic animal.

Paul



moosehead222
Registered: Oct 20, 2012
Total Posts: 158
Country: United States

excellent without the description but the story adds so much. Thanks



dalite
Registered: Aug 13, 2005
Total Posts: 3265
Country: United States

Nice shots and narrative, Scott. From your past posts of visit to Kananaskis i thought that was quite a far distance southwest from Calgary, but upon checking the map I now note that Canmore and Kananaskis is more toward Banff.

Nature works, sometimes in ways we don't like to admit.



Scott Stoness
Registered: Sep 11, 2006
Total Posts: 9868
Country: Canada

PaulCal: 7d at 5000 iso is impressive. I can hardly wait for the 7dii. Glad you like the moose. They are majestic. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott


moosehead222: Sometimes when the pictures are weak, it helps to add the story For me wildlife photography is as much about being there as getting the picture. Glad you like them. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott


dalite: The gates of Kananaskis are about 30 minutes from my house and the moose area is about 60 minutes. As you note, it is more west than southwest. Nature is tough. I am glad to be human. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott



morris
Registered: May 22, 2002
Total Posts: 37018
Country: United States

I love the second and the third is real nice to Scott

Morris



Scott Stoness
Registered: Sep 11, 2006
Total Posts: 9868
Country: Canada

Morris: The 3rd has some emotional appeal - too bad the snow was so thick at that moment. Glad you like them. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott



kmunroe
Registered: Feb 02, 2010
Total Posts: 29607
Country: Canada

a sweet set Scott .. #2 is my favorite



Scott Stoness
Registered: Sep 11, 2006
Total Posts: 9868
Country: Canada

Kmuroe: Glad you like 2. Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. Scott



Bliz
Registered: Sep 10, 2011
Total Posts: 158
Country: United States

Both animals are bulls.



Bliz
Registered: Sep 10, 2011
Total Posts: 158
Country: United States

Note the dark face, large-ish dewlap and most notably the scab where the antler has shed. Nice snowy shots Scott but I wouldnt write him off just yet, I've seen moose I never thought had a chance return the following Fall...tough critters.



Charlie Shugart
Registered: Feb 06, 2007
Total Posts: 28515
Country: United States

Wonderful images, Scott.
And also very enjoyable information accompanying it.
We tend to assume that wild animals act only by instinct, and because moose aren't herding animals, the males only associate with females because of the mating instinct.
This scenario reminds me of a long-standing suspicion of mine: large mammals are smart, and these two probably know each other, so... do moose ever become "friends?"
I hesitate to say no.
Charlie



waldr_p
Registered: Apr 18, 2008
Total Posts: 6163
Country: United Kingdom

I'm really liking these shots Scott - especially considering the conidtions you were faced with. These are really atmospheric and illustrate the intensity of the elements these animals have to face.

Sad that one of these two fine animals is injured but I'm sure the wolves will be glad of anything that comes their way!

Paul.



eyelaser
Registered: Oct 29, 2005
Total Posts: 19725
Country: United States

Scott...the background story is super. Love learning stuff from people who really know things. The photos are substantially better than you let on with the 2nd being really excellent. The others are more than just fine and really do help with your narrative.
Eric



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