Tips from Your Hunting Store: Stalking the Continent’s Largest Land Mammal during the Rut
If you’re after the best moose hunting experience, every hunting store and lover of archery in Ottawa and the valley will tell you the same thing: “Hunt the rut.” But if you’re new to hunting, then you may be wondering: what exactly is the rut, and how do you hunt during it?
In hunting terminology, a “rut” is the mating season of antlered game. Because both the bulls (males) and the cows (females) undergo hormonal changes as part of the natural process of instinctually propagating their species, their behaviour will be very different—and so will the process of the hunt. The moose rut is in early autumn—typically the beginning of October, although factors like climate and location can affect this—and this is both the easiest time to track a bull moose, and the most exhilarating way to hunt one. This is because a bull moose will have let his guard down in his own hunt for a mate. You can urge him to come to you, and come closer to the largest land mammal in North America than you ever thought possible. But you need the right techniques.
You can purchase a moose call at just about any hunting store, but using it to attract a bull is about a good deal more than just making noises and hoping they’ll work. You need to familiarize yourself with where the bull has set up his territory during the rut, and where he tends to travel. You also need to know which call to use and when—a bull call, or a cow call. A cow call is effective in drawing in a moose looking for a mate, but in the early days of the rut, a bull won’t be as concerned with finding a cow yet. By using a bull call, you can pique his interest by creating the impression that a challenger is trying to encroach his territory.
Another sound-based technique Ottawa’s archery enthusiasts use to draw in a bull moose is antler rattling: using antlers (either real or synthetic—the latter available in many hunting stores) to create a sound similar to two bulls fighting. A bull who hears this may be tempted by curiosity and the prospect of a potential mate he can swoop in and claim for himself. A good antler rattling requires a good rhythm, so learn to make it sound natural—this might be a good time to watch nature documentaries about antlered animals fighting.
Yes, you read that correctly. If you don’t mind getting a little wet (and very smelly), you can use the urine of a cow moose to your advantage. A moose has a very keen sense of smell—if he’s downwind of you, he’ll smell you coming before you even knew he was there, and you may never see him again. You can use the cow’s urine not only to cover up your scent, but to draw a bull in to find his potential mate.
You’re now one step closer to hunting a bull moose during the rut. So go out there, stock up, scout the territory, find a good way to practice your shooting or archery in Ottawa, and you’ll be hunting in no time.