As summer nears its end, bull moose in Wyoming sport impressive antlers covered in dense velvet.
Photographer Timothy Mayo captured this bull in the Gros Ventre River area in Grand Teton National Park on a recent smoky morning. The area, he said, provides the best opportunity for observing the immense bulls — which can weigh more than 800 pounds — this time of year.
Within weeks, he said, bulls like this one will begin shedding the velvet, which shrinks and dries each fall due to fluctuating hormones, by scraping their antlers against branches. That ushers in the rut and mating season, a captivating time to watch the creatures, Mayo said.
Along with being the state’s largest big game animal (wild bison are designated as “wildlife” while grizzly bears fall under “trophy game”), the moose’s lanky frame, palmate antlers and bulbous muzzle make the species a wonder to spot. But as the Wyoming Game and Fish points out, the moose is also the least social ungulate in Wyoming. And it is known to charge at threats like humans.
Wisely, Mayo shoots the animals with a long lens.