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Maximizing Your Hunting Time With Trail Cameras

cameraOver the last five years, probably no other “gadget” has changed the way we scout more than the trail camera. For many of us, running trail cameras is a hobby in itself, bringing a whole new excitement to our deer hunting efforts. Much more than just something to pass time, however, running trail cameras can give you a unique insight into the patterns of deer on your hunting properties and really tip the odds in your favor for harvesting a mature whitetail. Let’s take a look at the features to look for when purchasing a trail camera, and how to get the maximum benefit from the camera once you have made your purchase.

As the popularity of these scouting tools has grown, so has the number of companies offering their own line of cameras. The features on these cameras cover such a wide spectrum that choosing the right one for you can be a daunting and sometimes confusing task. While this article isn’t meant to tell you WHICH camera to buy, it IS meant to help you sort through some of the most common differences among the various trail cameras to help you narrow down your search.

RESOLUTION
The resolution of a trail camera is a measure of the image size that the camera creates. So a 5.0 megapixal trail camera will give you a much larger image – and therefore more detail – than one with 3.0 megapixals. Which resolution you choose really depends on how important it is to have a large, crisp image. If you are only concerned with having a general idea of what deer are in the area and when they are traveling through, then about any resolution offered on today’s cameras will suffice. If you want a larger, more detailed image to print off for your friends, then you may want to shoot for something with at least 3.0 megapixels.

BATTERY TYPE & LIFE
In my mind, this is one of the most important considerations when choosing a trail camera, as it will have a huge effect on the cost of maintaining the camera. I have seen some “cheap” trail cameras that burn through six C-sized batteries in a week, and suddenly the “cheap” camera gets VERY expensive! Others claim to operate up to a year on eight AA batteries. So before you go buying a camera based on price alone, keep in mind the battery life, as it may be the most expensive choice you could make in the long run.

TRIGGER SPEED
Another important feature is the trigger speed of the camera, which is simply how long it takes the trail camera to shoot a picture once something has “triggered” the motion sensor. A faster trigger speed can be the difference between having a great shot of that trophy buck and just having a picture of a deer’s butt as it walks out of the frame. If you plan on placing your trail cameras over feeders or a mineral lick, then trigger speed will not be as much of an issue as it would if hung along a trail.

FLASH TYPE
This is almost a moot point, since most trail cameras today have gone to infrared flash. An infrared flash, as opposed to the incandescent flash found standard on most consumer cameras, is less likely to spook deer, uses less battery life, and is less likely to be detected by other humans (i.e. thieves!). While I’ve gotten plenty of pictures of big, mature whitetails with an incandescent flash trail camera, there is no doubt that some animals are spooked by the bright flash. If you can afford the infrared flash, the benefits certainly outweigh the small increase in cost.

OTHER FEATURES
While we have covered some of the most important features to consider when buying a new trail camera, there are many more options that could impact your decision. One of these options is the size of the unit. Size varies greatly amongst trail cameras, and some companies are now producing models that are as small as your hand. Other models go as far as being able to send the pictures it takes directly to your email or cell phone, so the only time you have to check them is when the batteries need replacing. How’s that for convenience?

Before you head out to buy your next trail camera, take a minute to think about how it will be used and what features are most important to you. This will make the task of narrowing down your choices much easier when you start the shopping process.

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MAXIMIZING TRAIL CAMERA USE
Once you have waded through all the details, made your decision and laid down your hard earned money on a trail camera, all that’s left is to hang that thing on a tree, right? Let’s take a look at some ways you can be sure you are using your camera to its potential this season and getting the most bang for your buck.

DRAW THEM IN
One of the easiest ways to maximize the effectiveness of your trail camera and insure that you see a good representation of what is in your hunting area is to use some type of attractant to lure the deer into camera range. Probably the most common attractant used across the country is shelled corn – it’s cheap, readily available, and the deer love it. For the purpose of getting trail camera pictures, there is no need to invest in an expensive feeder; just simply spread 100 pounds on the ground in an eight to ten-foot circle area where you want to hang your camera. For safety reasons, do not place the corn in large piles or in an area that holds moisture, as this can result in molding that can cause disease in both deer and turkey. Depending on deer density and other available food sources, this should get you five to ten days worth of pictures. Be patient, as it may take a few days for the deer to really key in on the corn and for you to start getting good pictures. Once they find it, though, it won’t last long!

Before you start dumping corn on your favorite hunting property, check your local game laws regarding baiting. If corn or other “feed” is prohibited, but would still like to attract deer to your camera location, then you may want to consider creating a mineral lick. You can buy one of the many commercial mixes available today, or simply create your own by mixing 50 lbs of trace mineral, 50 lbs of feed mix salt, and 10 lbs of dicalcium phosphate. Break the soil up with a shovel in the area where you want to create your lick and work your mix into the soil. Once the lick gets a good rain on it, it shouldn’t take long for the deer to find it and start paying regular visits.

KEEP IT MOBILE
Unless you are hunting a really small property, or you have the money to invest in lots of trail cameras, then you are going to need to move your cameras around to really get a good idea of what the deer are doing on your hunting property. Don’t get caught in the trap of leaving your camera in the same spot all season. This will not only limit your ability to pattern the deer, but it may keep you from discovering that trophy buck that could be hanging out on the other side of the property!

images40V5Z2FA2By experience, two weeks seems to be enough time to get a good representation of what deer are in the area, without your camera spending too much time in one location. You can always bring the camera back to the same spot at a later time, but the idea is to cover as much of your hunting area as possible.

KEEP GOOD RECORDS
Once you have moved your camera around your property and gotten plenty of pictures to look at, the real work has just begun. Now is the time to sort through the pictures, identifying as many unique animals as you can, analyzing what camera sites each deer is visiting and the times that they were there. This should start to give you an idea of the travel patterns on the property, as well as potential stand locations.

This season, make sure you use these tips to get the most out of your trail cameras, and the next picture you get of that monster buck may be the one with you behind him holding his antlers, OR, even that BIG bear 🙂

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Tinywood Home on Trailer with Built In Outdoor Hot Tub

Have you ever heard about a tiny house that is also a hot tub? Yes, the project can be made and it already exists, thanks to a small company based in Warwickshire, England. The architects thought about building a home that offer comfort, relaxation and entertainment at the same time, and built this amazing tiny home that comes with an attached hot tub.

hot-tub-tiny-home-on-wheels

The company is specialized in building tiny homes and merging utility with creativity.

The inside is fully equipped as you will find a small kitchen, lounge area, two bedrooms upstairs and a functional heating system.

So after taking a look, you can say that it is the most perfect small vacation house for you and your family. As tiny as it is, there is still plenty of space inside for a family with two kids.

The outside hot tub is just an extra feature that tops the awesomeness of this house.

hot-tub-tiny-home-on-wheels-7

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FIELD JUDGING MOOSE

Of all the living members of the deer family, moose have the greatest amount of antler material. They also show great variation in size, with the smallest racks coming from Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, and the largest from Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. A records book sized Shiras moose would not be even a desirable trophy in Alaska.

Moose, Alces alces, Canada, North America.
Although the widest spread antlers are sought in all categories for the records, strong development of antler palmation in both length and width is even more desirable. Many Shiras moose show only a single spike brow point on each antler, rather than a well-developed brow palm. This is undesirable since the length-of-palm is measured to a notch between brow points. The single spike brow dictates that the length of palm measurement must be ended at the edge of the main palm, obviously losing some potential that would have been fulfilled if the brow were palmate or even forked. High-scoring Canada or Alaska-Yukon moose have three or more brow points, on broad, well-developed brow palms that increase the length-of-palm measurement. This feature, along with broad main palms, markedly improves the score potential.

Although an Alaska-Yukon moose may have 15 or more points on each antler, not all projections count as points, especially if they are blunt in shape. One cannot accurately count the antler points on most trophy moose when the animal is in the field, so evaluation must generally be made on the basis of the amount of palm material present and the greatest spread.

moose-orig

Big trophy moose of all three classes tend to have the main palms lying flat to produce a wide spread, whereas smaller antlers are more apt to show cup-shaped palms and a narrow spread. The ear tips of a mature bull when laid flat are roughly 30 inches wide, with ears themselves being 9 – 10 inches. A bull with an extra ear length on either side would, then be approximately a bull with a 50 inch spread.

Even though moose can often be studied carefully in the field, and an experienced guide may make reasonable estimate of the greatest spread, it is very difficult to estimate the scores accurately at a distance. This is because the length, width, and symmetry of the palms are all hard to judge when seen from the side. A frontal view, with the animal’s head down and antlers nearly vertical, gives a much better chance for accurate evaluation, but may not be available under field conditions.

MOOSE_1

Typically, younger bulls will feature long and disguisable points, but with narrower spreads and shorter palms. As bulls age they tend to add in number of points that will be shorter and less recognizable having given way to wider and taller palms. As a rule, palm width and length pile up B&C points.

BREAKDOWN OF SCORING COMPONENTS – CANADA MOOSE

moose charrt

MAXIMUM VS. MINIMUM – A COMPARISON OF TWO RECORDS-BOOK CANADA MOOSE

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TOP – World’s Record Canada moose scoring 242 points

  • 15 x 16 point frame
  • Spread over 63 inches
  • Witdth of Palms averaging 22 inches
  • Length of Palms averaging nearly 45 inches

Bottom – Canada moose scoring 187-2/8 points

  • 11 x 11 point frame
  • Spread over 54 inches
  • Witdth of Palms averaging 12 inches
  • Length of Palms both over 36 inches

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Moose Rack – How It Grows

Moose are the largest living member of the deer family (Cervidae) and fittingly bear the largest set of antlers. Moose antlers are usually paired and shaped like the palm of a hand with outstretched fingers, thus the expression palmate.

After a male moose reaches one year of age he starts to grow antlers that increase in size (becoming more elaborate with more points and heavier) for each new set of antlers he grows until he reaches his prime. After a male (Bull) moose reaches his prime the antlers start to recede each year until the moose dies.

Mature Bull Moose Antlers

North American Moose Antlers have larger antlers than their European relatives. World record antlers consistently come from Alaska, where antler spreads of six feet have been recorded.

Every year the cycle is the same. In the spring antlers begin to grow from the skull covered with a tissue called “velvet”.

By September the growth has completed and the velvet dries and falls off. Moose will often aid the removal of the velvet by rubbing their antlers on trees and shrubs (on occasion they’ll eat the velvet too!). The continuous rubbing on trees, combined with the dried blood and dirt will give the Moose Antlers the brown color hunters are accustomed to seeing in the fall.

What is the purpose for Moose Antlers?

Antlers do not serve a useful purpose until the fall and during the mating season (called the Rut). Even during this period of time, which in British Columbia is typically the first two weeks of October only serve as a tool for intimidation.

You see Moose for the most part only have to show off their antlers to scare off the rivals – younger and weaker males. On occasion a mature bull moose will chance upon a moose of equal stature; where intimidation and posturing will not work they may then face off head to head and engage each others antlers.

There have been situations where these wrestling matches have led the moose antlers to become so entangled that they cannot separate and both moose die.

Broken and/or damaged antlers can lead to a long road to recovery for a moose. It would take more than a morningside recovery to heal the damage. Recovery in the wild is a long process. At morningside recovery, we take it one step at a time.

When do Moose loose their antlers?

Between January and March is when moose typically lose their antlers; younger moose keep their antlers until later in the winter and it is usually only two year old moose that may still adorn their antlers come March.

Two distinct types of moose antlers are the “palmate” or shovel-horn type characterized by broad up-reaching parallel palms, and the “cervina” or “pole-horn” type, having long tines or spike-like architectures. The palmated antlers are either fully palmated in shape or of a split –palm, 

An antler from a yearling male moose

(1) An antler of a yearling male usually has two or three points on each side. Some may have four or more points on each antler branch or a small palm.

Yearling moose are the most easily aged identified, they typically have two or three points on each side and are of the cervina type. These young moose have small circumference of main antler beam, few points and narrow spread.

An antler from a two and a half year old bull moose

(2) An antler from a two and a half year old bull moose. Note the increasing palm development into an upward and backward pointing component and the forward and downward pointing brow tines. 

Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose

(3) Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose. Note the two point or forked brow palm development and wide distance between the innermost points on the brow palm. 

Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose

(4) Antlers from a three and a half year old bull moose. Note the offensive architecture, forked brow palm and wide gap between opposing points. 

The antlers of a bull moose in its prime of life

(5) The antlers of a bull moose in its prime of life. Antlers are a butterfly or split-palm type. Note the palmate on the brow palm and the protective architecture afforded by the short distance between the innermost points of the brow palms covering the facial and eye areas. 

Antlers of older moose vary to such great extent that it is an impossible task to accurately identify an animal’s age.

Antlers of a ten and a half year old bull moose

(6) Antlers of a ten and a half year old bull moose. Note the changes in the brow palms. Palmate is beginning to regress and defensive structures are being changed to more offensive juvenile forked structures. 

Antlers of a senior bull moose

(7) Antlers of a senior bull moose. Note loss of points, regression of palmate and reversal of brow palm to the forked or two-point offensive structure typical of juvenile males. 

Antlers of a late senior bull moose

(8) Antlers of a late senior bull moose. Note the reduction in number of antler points, further regression of the palmate and accentuation of the juvenile offensive characteristics on the brow palm. 

Moose antlers will vary in size and rate of growth. Other than the yearling moose any attempt to judge a moose age is purely guesswork.

Until a bull moose reaches its prime at five-and-one-half years of age its eye guards will be of singular or two point (photos 1-4). As the moose age increases you can see a marked increase in the development of the palmate and the number of points. A moose in its prime (photo 5) shows distinctive butterfly-shaped antlers which signifies a moose is high ranking and breeding potential.

After the bull moose passes its prime the marked reversal of antler development shows. Photos 7 and 8 show the decline in the architecture of the moose antlers and therefore the social standing and breeding abilities also suffer.

Moose at very old ages of twelve and beyond will have moose antler development that may be described as grotesque or misshapen almost beyond recognition as typical moose antlers. No form of rehab or morningside recovery will aid in the reshaping or repair of the antlers.

Even though we are unable to determine a moose age by its antlers we are able to learn a considerable amount about the social structure and reproductive status of moose as they age.

If you are fortunate to shoot a moose (weapon or camera) with a trophy set of antlers, one thing is certain; the record head or picture mounted on your wall, is a bull with many years experience behind him.

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Our Best Moose Hunting Tips Will Increase YOUR Success…

 

moose=wawang-lake
The Best Moose Hunting Tips
These secrets are what the best moose hunters use and we want YOU to know them. Believe me if you do not know these tips, you are not seeing the most moose.

If you use these hunting tips not only you will see more moose, you will get closer to them and quite possibly harvest the moose of a lifetime.

Do you want to increase your chances of getting a moose this fall? I suggest you read about and put to practice these best tips for getting moose.

We see a lot of other hunters out in areas where we hunt moose, the majority seem to just drive around, hoping that by some chance they might see a moose within a reasonable distance of the road. Unbelievably, they do not even get out of their vehicles!

To increase your success rates you have to get out and look where the moose live… preferably away from human traffic.

We have to admit though (sheepishly); we have done some road hunting and taken a few moose this way too. Actually road hunting is a good way to get familiar with a new area. The point is, if you get out of your truck and get away from the roads and people you are going to see more moose.

For your information in many provinces it is illegal to hunt over bait (enhanced food).

Read on to find out how to apply some of our best moose hunting tips.

calling-moose-250Moose Hunting Tips Revealed

Simple Tips
Concentrate on one area.  Use the wind to your advantage, and use a wind indicator to detect the direction from which the air is flowing.

  • During the rut or breeding season, hunt near lakes and ponds.
  • Hunt for moose near food sources and water.
  • Hunt the fringe areas, away from where other hunters are, away from the roads and traffic.
  • Do not setup your camp on the edge of a likely hunting spot. Your noise and smells will chase any nearby moose away.
  • Study and learn about the difference between Core Areas and Home Range.
  • Learn to recognize the difference between fresh and old moose sign.
  • If you see or hear a moose just before or after dark, leave the area quietly and return early the next morning. The moose, if not spooked it will likely still be in the area.
  •  Preseason Scouting and Calling will definitely be to your advantage.

 

Seasons to Hunt

  • Hunt during the moose rut… whenever possible.
  • Hunt higher elevations during the early season.
  • Late season moose hunting requires you to go deeper into the forest away from the openings. Be sure to carry a GPS or at the very least a compass for to ensure your safe return.
  • Moose Hunting in November
  • Identify and learn to hunt the prime moose habitat.

Tools to Use
The Moose Hunting Tips eBook – The Ultimate Guide to Moose Hunting can help you. Quite simply it’s the largest collection of moose hunting tips and techniques available in one place.

We’ve run into more than one hunter over the years who mentioned the fact that they had to go to town for WiFi service to read up on hunting tips. Well no more.

Download them, print them out or install them onto your electronic device. That way you can have them with you even in the field.

The following are some great tips to observe:

  • Use a Moose Call and learn how to use a call. Then put moose calling to the test.
  • Use an old shoulder blade bone to rake trees (to imitate a bull moose thrashing a tree with his antlers).
  • Use a Montana Moose Decoy. The cow moose decoy can be used to get the attention of a bull moose. Especially useful when you need to stalk a bull out in the open or when you have an incoming bull. Get the bull moose concentrating on the decoy and not you the shooter.
  • Make use of a trail camera for moose hunting. 
  • Maximize your advantage by using elimination scents.
  • Carry 30 feet of rope in your pack. This can be used as an aid when field dressing. 

Hunting Clothing will make a Difference

  • Wear clothing that does not make any noise while you move.  Fleece or wool is best. Also check out the entire line of Sitka Hunting Clothes. We have switched because the patterns make you invisible!

Cow and Calf Moose Hunting Tips

  • Tip for hunting cow and calf moose, stay close to water sources. They use these areas for safety reasons. The biggest bulls will be attracted to these areas during the rut.
  • Learn how to mimic a calf moose in distress. Often, cow moose within hearing distance will come to investigate even when it is not her own calf.

Moose Hunting Safety

  • Drink clean water… be sure the water you drink is free of beaver fever.
  • Of course moose hunters always need to keep bear safety in mind while traveling in the woods.

Tell someone where you are hunting. Leave a map and time of expected return

rutmoosewawangBefore and After the Shot

When tracking moose learn to recognize the circling patterns.

  • Decide on the best shot placement for moose.
  • Field dress your moose right away. It is very important to cool the meat as soon as you can; this helps prevent spoilage and gamey flavors.

As a moose hunter, it doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an expert, we all strive for the same result. Get close enough to a moose (bull, cow or calf) and make the shot. If we know enough it’s easier to close the distance, what if we don’t? How can we get just a few more ideas on closing the gap?

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Need a Do-Over With Your Shot?

It’s rare for any hunter to walk away from a field or reflect on a hunt and not think about whether a shot could have been better.  Whether with a bow, crossbow or firearm, there are times when we hesitate. A little voice – instinct, caution, doubt? – throws up a hurdle.

ShotSimulator
Sometimes we adjust and avoid the hurdle. Other times we pull up short and don’t leap. We don’t take the shot.And, unfortunately, there are times when we know the hurdle is there but take the shot anyway. We’re confident in our abilities and that of our bow, crossbow or gun. Some might call that experience. Some might say it’s recklessness or unethical.

We probably all can look back and wrestle with at least one shot that might have been risky, even if things turned out well after taking it and the deer, bear or moose is on the ground.  Part of our duty as hunters is to strive to maximize our abilities with whatever weapon we use.

We practice, tune our bows, hit the range with our guns. We try to find the right combination of arrows and broad heads or the ammunition that works best with our rifles, muzzleloaders, handguns or shotguns.  One way to improve our knowledge and experience is with Deer & Deer Hunting’s “Shot Simulator” software.  If you’ve ever been curious about where your bullet, slug or arrow has entered a deer’s body and what happened, here’s how to find out.  The Shot Simulator software is designed to provide you with outstanding animation of a deer’s body and internal bones, muscles and organs.

imagesA15UZWSYWith the Shot Simulator, you can position the animated deer in numerous positions – how it was when you shot, or how you saw a buck or doe and didn’t shoot – and then learn which organs were hit.  Didn’t like what you saw? Position it differently and do it again. You can not only position the deer, but also your shot from a tree stand or ground level.  If you’re a stand hunter but only climb about 15 feet, you can see the difference in that height versus 25 feet or on the ground.  The animation allows you to move the deer around and then remove the hide, skin and bones to see what happened.  Then, you can punch in the trailing guide to find out what happens next.  Should you follow the game immediately?  Wait a while? Just for your knowledge, you could take the shots on the computer that you’d definitely pass up in real life and then see what would happen.

It’s an educational tool that could help you glean more knowledge and help make you a better hunter. Shot Simulator also is a great teaching tool for young hunters, too.  They’re curious about what happens and this is a great way to augment their in-field learning.

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Tracks in the Snow

moose-wawang-lakeTraditionally, moose have also been taken outside the rutting season, especially in the winter. At this time, moose tend to be scattered. If the snow is fresh and powdery, a hunter can move silently through the forest and thickets. But if the snow is drifted or develops a crust, every footstep makes a noise that alerts the moose. Making matters worse, even slight sounds carry over surprisingly long distances on windless days with temperatures far below zero—as often happens during the northern winter.

Moose have excellent hearing, so the best chance of approaching one in the winter is during storms when gale winds and gusts cover the sound of crunching snow. Luckily, temperatures tend to be warmer during storms, so although hunting in these conditions can be very uncomfortable, it’s not as life threatening as when the temperatures sink to minus thirty or colder.

When the snow is really deep—up to a moose’s belly—these animals have a very hard time moving around. Also if the snow is deep and crusted, the heavy-bodied moose will punch through the icy crust, cutting its legs as the animal walks, making travel extremely difficult.

If the crust is hard and strong enough, wolves can walk on top, giving them a lethal advantage over moose. Mired in the snow, a moose cannot escape by running away and has difficulty defending itself. Human hunters on snowshoes can also stay near the top of deep or crusted snow while the moose are forced to wallow slowly along. Under these conditions, a moose is virtually trapped in a small area of its feeding trails, making it extremely vulnerable.

When the snow is not so deep, moose can move far more quickly and easily. The practiced hunter knows that if moose tracks consistently lead in a single direction, the animal may be heading somewhere else and will be very hard to catch.

If a moose is feeding in one area its tracks will wander in multiple directions. This is good news for the hunter, because he may have a chance to get close to the animal. Now the difficulty is to find which tracks are the freshest and which direction they lead.

A hunter always wants to know how old the tracks are—how long ago did the moose make them? Would it be possible to catch up or is the animal long gone?

A track made within the hour is soft—as soft as the surrounding snow. The hunter riding on a dog sled or snow machine might simply drag his boot through the track. If the track is fresh, he feels almost nothing. If it’s older, he feels two distinct thumps as his boot hits both sides of the track.

In cold weather—especially if it’s far below zero—the inner walls of an animal’s track will recrystallize and develop a crust within a few hours. This starts first around the top and happens later at the bottom. If the track was made the night before it will be harder still. The colder the temperatures, the more quickly a crust forms on the inside of tracks.

A hunter on foot pushes his boot or a mittened hand down into the tracks, feeling the crust or testing how much pressure it takes to break through. The harder the crust, the older the track. In below zero weather, a track made two days ago or earlier will be very hard.

Another sign the hunter looks for is moose droppings. When they’re fresh, the color is dark brown and they’re soft. In freezing temperatures, the pellets quickly harden and turn lighter.

Other signs are willow branches that have been freshly broken by browsing moose, the white wood showing conspicuously against the darker background of the thicket. Often this is accompanied by a scramble of tracks and patches of gouged-out snow where the moose has pawed down looking for edible vegetation under the snow.

moose-wawang-lake (2)Moose rest or sleep in snow beds, often straight downwind from their tracks. They do this to catch a warning scent from any predator that is following their trail. At other times, a moose that hears a suspicious sound or spots something unusual will intentionally move downwind to test the scent. A moose can recognize the drifting smell of a wolf or human, even at a considerable distance.

When a hunter is following fresh moose tracks in the snow, he knows that the animal could have bedded downwind so it would pick up his scent. For this reason he leaves the trail at intervals, walks straight downwind, then makes a wide loop and heads back upwind—always watching the underbrush for the dark shape of his prey. Again and again, he makes these downwind loops and comes back upwind until he finds tracks leading to where the moose is bedded. If luck is with him and the moose never catches his scent, he may catch it unaware.

 

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