If you only had one word to describe the sounds that moose make, it would be melodramatic. They’re the lonely crybabies of the deer world. And it’s because of their solitary nature that moose need to make vocalizations in the first place. During the rut, both male and female moose call to find each other from miles away with long drawn out bellows and moans. If you’re a hunter, this is good news because you can use moose calls to bring in a bull. So, what sound does a moose make? Here are all the key vocalizations and how to use them when your hunting for moose.
What Sound Does a Moose Make?
Moose make different sounds for different reasons. All moose, male and female, make a common high-pitched noise that sounds like creaky door hinge in a can of molasses—Eerughhh. Other than that, the sounds that moose make can be broken down into male and female calls. Males make bellows, roars, and grunts during the rut, and females make a long moan when they’re in heat to attract a bull. Some researchers think the moose’s palmated antlers are shaped the way they are to better hear female moose calls from a miles away.
- Why Moose Make Calls
- Male Moose Sounds
- Female Moose Sounds
- Other Sounds That Moose Make
- How to Use Moose Calls For Hunting
Why Do Moose Make Calls
Moose are more solitary than other type of deer, and they typically live in thick, timbered areas. They call to each other to communicate during the rut and to alert each other of danger from predators.
Because moose are so spread apart, vocalizations are a very important part of mating season. Bull moose will grunt and bellow to find female moose to mate with. Female moose in heat will also call with a moaning sound to let males know where they are. If a cow is with a less-mature bull she doesn’t want to mate with, she’ll make a longer moaning call with a high-pitched sound at the end. During the rut, bulls will also grunt as they get closer to female moose.
Like other deer species, calves and cows will communicate with each other, too. When a calf is hungry or unhappy, it will make high-pitched sounds that some think sound like a human. Cow moose will mew and make soft calls to calves when they are content. On the flip side, cows will make loud guttural growling sounds when they feel a predator is nearby.
Male Moose Sounds
Male Moose calls can be broken down into grunts, roars, and bellows. The bellow can be heard from miles away. Bulls will bellow when searching for a mate during the rut. It sounds a bit like an air raid siren revving up.
Bulls roar when trying to ward off another bull. They make the sound by filling air sacs on either side of their necks and forcing the air out through their nostrils. It’s an aggressive sound that’s similar to bear and lion roars—the universal call in the wild that says, I’m a big animal, and I do big things when I’m angry.
The grunt sounds like the grunts of someone lifting a heavy object who doesn’t really want to be lifting a heavy object. To use a Yiddish term, they sound a bit kvetchy. Bulls use it when they’re close to a cow and want to mate. To hear a bull grunt, you’ll have to be pretty close, too.
Female Moose Sounds
Female moose make two main sounds during the rut, a moan and what many refer to as the “long call.” They’ll also communicate with other cows and calves when content and when facing a perceived threat.
A cow moan sounds like the moan of a gout-ridden man stubbing his toe while trying to swallow a handful of marshmallows. It’s a agonized, muffled, almost exhausted-sounding moan that falls off at the end. Cows use it when they’re in heat to attract nearby bulls, and the bulls looking for a mate think it sounds pretty good.
The long call sounds a bit more nasally and high-pitched. It’s the sound a cow will make when being pestered by younger inexperienced bulls. You’ll hear this earlier in the season before the big bulls show up and kick the little bulls’ asses. It’s more drawn out than the moan and sounds like the world’s largest mosquito buzzing around your ear.
A threatened cow (or bull) will make a growling sound that sounds like a growling dog. Cows will use this call when they loose track of a calf, too.
Anyone who’s been moose hunting knows that moose don’t only make noise with their mouths and nostrils. Bulls will knock and rattle their antlers on nearby brush during the rut as an act of dominance—to show the strength and size of their antlers. The sound of big antlers hitting branches tells moose with smaller antlers to back off.
How to Use Moose Calls For Hunting
Hunters can mimic a number of moose calls to entice a bull out of thick cover during the rut. Most often, these calls can be made using only your mouth and a cone to amplify the sound. Traditionally, hunters have made cones from the birch bark found in boreal forests where moose live. More modern cones are made from plastic, leather, or fiberglass. Some hunters also make calls out of coffee cans, shoe laces, and duct tape to mimic a number of moose sounds.
Moose hunters will start calling with their cones with loud, drawn-out calls and wait to hear a bull moose bellow in return. In the early season, hunters usually start out with the common Eerugh or the female long call to entice a bull. Mature bulls hearing a female being pestered by a younger bull will come in to push the young bull away and take the female. As the bull gets closer, a caller will soften and shorten calls will less frequency to seal the deal.
Later in the season, you can also use the Eerugh and the more drawn-out moan of a female moose in heat. As a bull comes closer, you’ll want to ditch the cone and soften your moans. Listen for a bull grunt in return and slow down the frequency of your calls more as he gets closer. If he hangs up, you can use a scapula (the shoulder-blade bone of a killed or found-dead moose, cleaned up and used to imitate a moose antler) to signal that there’s a smaller bull near the cow and it wouldn’t be hard to get rid of him. If you can hear a bull knocking his antlers in dull ticks against trees, you’ll know he’s coming toward you.
The biggest trick to calling a moose is patience. After giving your first calls, you’ll want to post up for about an hour. Moose come from miles away to find other moose and you don’t want to leave before they get there.
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