Close Up Photos Of A Bull Moose In Velvet Eating Willows

/, Summit County, Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest, Utah/Close Up Photos Of A Bull Moose In Velvet Eating Willows

Head on bull Moose eating willows, Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest, Summit County, UtahHead on bull Moose eating willows – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Yesterday morning I went looking for birds in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest along the Mirror Lake Highway in Summit County. I found some great birds and I will share some of those later but today I wanted to share two photos of a Moose that I saw in the willows while photographing some wrens, the bull was so close that I felt my best option was to take portraits of it as it nibbled on and ate the willows.

I could have used my Nikon D810 with the 18-200mm VR lens attached to get full body shots but since most of the body of the Moose was hidden by willows I decided to take close ups. I was safe inside a mobile blind and had an effective range of 1050mm so why not take portraits? I don’t often have opportunities with Moose this close.

Most of the time there were willows in front of the Moose’s face but for a bit I had his face out in the open as he ate some of the willows. As soon as I saw this photo on my LCD screen I had to laugh because the head on look with willow leaves in his mouth looked funny to me and then to have the “beard”, “bell” or “dewlap” on his neck swinging to the side just made me giggle. Only bulls have the beard and no one is sure what purpose it serves.

Bull Moose in velvet nibbling on willows, Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest, Summit County, UtahBull Moose in velvet nibbling on willows – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I laughed again when I saw this photo on my camera LCD, the Moose was reaching to grab more willow leaves but was also keeping an eye on me in the mobile blind while his “beard” swung like the clapper of a bell.

The Moose later disappeared into the willows and all I could think of was that I wish I had been able to share the moose encounter with my Mom. We didn’t make it up to Mirror Lake Highway while she was here.

This Moose is in “velvet”, a hairy velvet textures sheath of skin that cover the antlers until the antlers reach full development and then the velvet is shed.

Life is good.



  1. Pepe Forte June 2, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    What a good-looking guy. Very interesting commentary. Thanks Mia.

  2. Deborah Flowers June 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Oh MY! How precious and adorable! I have never even SEEN a Moose.
    I was in ND once for a couple weeks and I went out every day to a location where the locals claimed they roamed freely and continually. I never saw one. I did however see my first Antelope there. So not a total loss.

  3. Elephants Child June 1, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Lucky, lucky you.
    And, as I said at Ron’s blog ‘Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day…’

  4. Margot Rawlins June 1, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    I loved the first photo, too. Made me smile. Not sure how often I find a bull moose as cute as this one.

  5. Jim Strohmer June 1, 2018 at 9:55 am


    Again you mentioned your blind. I has asked a while back what that was exactly and how you use it. We do quite a bit of outdoor photography and would like to now what you use and how it is most effective. Hope you would feel like sharing.

    • Mia McPherson June 1, 2018 at 10:03 am

      Jim, I answered you before but you may not have gone back and seen it, when I refer to mobile blind I am talking about using a vehicle as a mobile blind.

  6. Pat Ross June 1, 2018 at 9:37 am

    So beautiful!!!! Thank you for sharing!!
    You are a fantastic photographer and equally honorable biologist. Thank you for your posts
    Pat Ross

  7. Patty Chadwick June 1, 2018 at 8:15 am

    The reason bull moose (meese?) have beards is so you can tell males from females…They don’t wear pink or blue booties, like other ungulates, so how else could you tell them apart. This becomes particularly important duting the rutting season.

    • Mia McPherson June 1, 2018 at 9:07 am

      Thanks Patty, I needed that laugh.

  8. Marty K June 1, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Perhaps the females find the beard to be sexy.😉 His expression in your first shot is priceless! 😀

  9. penny corbett (great grandmother ne McPherson from Nova Scotia June 1, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Life is good. thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences and beautiful photographs

  10. Bob mcpherson June 1, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Lucky moose.

  11. Liz Cormack June 1, 2018 at 7:00 am

    How lucky for you to photograph a moose. I’m envious.

  12. David Sparks June 1, 2018 at 5:51 am

    I continue to learn from your blog entries. I have much to learn about wildlife in the western states … did not know about the “berd”, “bell”, “dewlap” or the “velvet.”

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