Moose Monday

Photograph of a moose in Colorado
Shiras bull moose moving through a field in Northern Colorado..

It’s Moose Monday!

Taken in July of 2017, this particular moose seems to like the area where this photo was taken. I’ve seen him around several years in a row. Notice the mutant antler. I think their antlers grow back each year with the same basic configuration they had in previous years. The true test of this theory is to compare dewlaps, that flap of furry skin that hangs from their neck. If the mutation of the antler and the dewlap matches, it’s a good guess that it could be the same moose from an earlier outing or year.

I’m heading back to Red Feathers this coming weekend to scout a few new areas. As with every May, the weather is seldom good in Northern Colorado. Rain, snow, wind, thunder, lightning. It’s trips like this upcoming one that make the Moose Creek Cafe in Walden my favorite watering hole and grub stop. Granola bars on a dirt road in the rain doesn’t cut it.

Hunting moose is not for wimps.

 

Setting The Record Straight

A recent television news story about some guy in Frisco, Colorado harassing a moose that strolled into town. Moose strolling into town is pretty common in Frisco. Idiot humans are fairly common too.

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/05/06/man-caught-close-moose/

This guy is pretty dumb. Harassing a moose is a stupid thing to do. They can weigh up to 1,200 lbs and those hooves will crack your skull wide open.

What irritates me is when the Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokespeople spout stupid things in television interviews.

Contrary to what this CPW spokesman says, and I know this for a fact.

Moose are not territorial.
Moose are not aggressive.

Moose are, however, short tempered.

Moose are very dangerous once irritated.

Humans are territorial.
Humans are aggressive.

Get your facts straight. Spouting crap doesn’t educate anyone.

I once heard a CPW spokeswoman state “If it wasn’t for hunters, we wouldn’t have wildlife”

There are some really fine folks at CPW, but when the people they put in front of a camera don’t know what they are talking about, it makes them look bad and it gives these beautiful wild creatures a bad reputation that isn’t deserved.

The Road Moose Travel

photograph of a moose next to a mountain dirt road
The Road Moose Travel

The 2018 moose photography season is off to a good start.

My first morning of hunting for moose after opening my cabin and I didn’t have to go far to ring the bell.

I was on my first cup of coffee when I headed out the door to scout the area around the village and to my surprise the moose were present in force less than a mile from my place.

I wasn’t prepared either. I normally configure the camera and have it sitting on the front seat of the truck. Well, it was on the front seat; however, I had not yet bothered to take the lens cap off and set the exposure for the early morning light. Driving down the pot-holed road from my cabin, my attention this early in the day, was limited to keeping my too full cup of java from sloshing around and burning me when it spilled. I slowed down long enough to get control and to my surprise there was a moose already in view. Moving rapidly across an open field, I knew where she was headed.

Another 30 seconds of driving and I had reached Dead Man road. An area where the moose funnel out of the Laramie Mountains and into the more open woodlands around Red Feathers.

Of course, seeing the moose and getting a good photo of a moose are two different things.

I stalked out a position along Dead Man road and waited for this young bull to come to me. When he poked his head from the budding willows, I was ready for him.

Dead Man. The road moose travel.

This Year’s Moose Photography Kit

Moose photography by Gary Gray
Moose in Red Feather Lakes

I spent my day assembling my camera gear for the start of moose photography season. Here’s what I’ll be shooting with this summer.

Nikon D810 Full frame DSLR

Nikon D750 Full frame DSLR

Nikon D7200 Crop body DSLR (my teleconverter)

Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6 VR

Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 VR

Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VR

Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 prime

Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 prime

External flash, spare memory chips, adapters, laptop, cleaning kits, flashlight, tools and other misc stuff to fill the pockets in the pack. The whole thing weighs less than 40 lbs.

I’ve retired the Nikon D800 this year.

This three body, five lens kit will get it done. All in one pack with room to spare. None of this gear costs a fortune and the image quality will be excellent.

I’ll probably start with the 200-500mm on the D810. I’m not inclined to upgrade it to the D850 yet and the fact that it’s still on back-order some 6 months after being released sorta sealed the deal for this year. I’ll wait a couple of years and pick one up used at a much cheaper price.

Why no D500?

Don’t need it. The image quality of the D7200 is superior and 10 frames per second isn’t needed for large ungulates. I won’t be upgrading the D7200 for a D7500 either as the D7200 has the best image quality of any crop sensor body ever made and specs out roughly identical to the full frame Canon EOS 5D Mk III.

I’ve never been someone who rushes out to buy the latest greatest camera. I shot with the Canon EOS 1Ds MK II for 8 years. My Canon 7D fired over 100,000 shots and is still to this day the camera that has made me the most money with wildlife photography. So all these latest/greatest bodies are very nice, but the truth is, you can pick up most of what’s in my kit used and save a fortune

Your mileage may vary.

 

It’s A Way Of Life

A Large Shiras bull moose in Northern Colorado
A large Shiras bull moose in Northern Colorado

It’s that time of year.

The moose are moving to lower elevations in search for food. The cows are birthing their calves. The antlers are beginning to grow again.

This time each year I begin my moose photography season by opening up my cabin in Northern Colorado. We normally get a dozen or so moose in the area early in the season so hunting them down early is a top priority.

In the mountains above 9,000 feet, the lakes are still frozen and many will remain that way until early July. The bulls and the cows are not together right now, but will begin associating as the weather and forage improves.

At the end of September, the bulls will start shedding velvet and the rut is on.

I live each year in anticipation of getting out with my family, friends and clients. It’s a way of life.

That’s A Different Story

Bull moose in a lake. Northern Colorado
Bull Moose – Northern Colorado

I suppose I’m a traditional type of person in that I find emotional comfort in certain traditions.

For internet purposes, I practice the tradition of “Moose Monday.”

I’m not quite certain of the origins of “Moose Monday” as it’s been observed by quite a few people I associate with. I’m I the reason? I don’t think so, but I may have contributed to the delinquency of others.

The Moose Collective. I think the first guy other than me who I recall using the phrase was Matt Dirkson and he too appears to have this insatiable appetite for photographing wild moose but we aren’t alone. Birds of a feather so to speak, it was inevitable that we collide and join a growing a photographic tradition of naming specific photographic themes for days of the week. Some days are better than others, literally.

Still, no one person gets credit for anything organizational in a collective. It’s more symbiotic than organized. We have “Moose Mommas” in the group too, so it isn’t a guy thing, I know that much.

These things aren’t just limited to Moose either. Us moose people in the collective are sort of a sub-collective. There are many sub-collectives in photography and we all appear to be traditional people from what I can see. Many of us are obcessed with our traditional ways, so we find our collectives and carry on.

To add to the confusions, I’ve picked up a nick-name as well.”The Moose Whisperer.” I’m not certain of the origin of that name, as I’ve heard it used many times over the years describing me but that’s a different story.

 

Rainy Moose Monday

Moose Photography in Colorado
Shiras Moose Cow – Northern Colorado

It is raining here in Denver this morning so I abandoned any thought of going to the tree in the lake. The weather should be improving this week.

Opportunities will improve.

Here’s a moose photo for Moose Monday. Taken on July 15th, 2015 during one of my scouting trips in North Park.  Canon EOS 7D 1/800, f/8, ISO 1000, 300mm.