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Boreal Community Media

Photo of the week with local photographer Paul Sundberg: Bull moose calling

Sep 18, 2023 09:29AM ● By Content Editor

Main image: Boreal Community Media 

By Paul Sundberg - Boreal Community Media - September 18, 2023

 Photo used with permission by Paul Sundberg 

Fall has arrived. It is a time when the days get cooler, the colors brighter and the morning air has a crisp fresh feel to it. Autumn provides so many awesome outdoor adventures that even when you are retired it is hard to experience them all. 

This week I had the pleasure of spending two mornings in the Superior National Forest calling moose. Moose calling is one of my favorite fall activities. I only get photos about once every ten to twelve times I go out but the anticipation of what can happen at any given moment is almost as enjoyable as getting a moose to respond. 

On our first attempt for the year, we got a moose to answer our call. We hiked into an old logging cut in the Superior National Forest before sunrise. After about twenty minutes of calling, we hear what sounds like antlers hitting branches in the distance. Then the bull responds with several grunts. Our excitement builds as each time his grunts are getting closer and closer. The next thing I see is the huge brightly colored antlers moving through the trees. As he gets to the opening he stops partially blocked by some shrubs. 

The hair is standing up on his back, his ears are moving, his head is swaying back and forth, his eyes are bulging. This huge bull is definitely in rut and is looking for what he thinks is a new cow that just moved into the neighborhood. I call by using my mouth to make the sound of a love sick cow moose. Making the cow sound is safer than the grunt of another bull as you want the moose to come in looking for love not a fight. Especially one the size of this bull. A fiberglass megaphone shaped tube put up to your mouth increases the sound so it can be heard up to a mile under the right conditions.

Between several calls and snapping photos I just can’t get the bull to come any closer. He either picked up our scent or heard us. Moose can’t see very well but their hearing and sense of smell are amazing. Their ears are 60 times larger than ours for gathering sound and the antlers also play a role in channeling sound to their ears. In studies that have been done antlers can increase their hearing by 19%. 

I am sure he was hearing every sound we were making while taking photos. He was probably even hearing my heart beating in my chest. 

After given us the opportunity of photographing him for a few minutes he silently turns and heads back the way he came. We called a while longer but never heard or saw him again. He wasn’t going to be fooled twice.

 To see more of Paul's photos, visit his website here. 

To learn more about Paul, read our exclusive 'Meet Your Cook County Neighbor' interview with him here.