On January 12th, 2023, Derek Burgoyne flew his drone over the snowy woods near near Juniper, New Brunswick in Canada. He was looking for moose to follow and film, a years-long hobby, and happened upon three bedded in the snow. One still had both antlers.
“I clicked record, luckily. He jumped up out of his bed and he run over but one trail and shook himself, and both antlers fell off while I was recording [with] my drone… I feel very fortunate to have this once-in-a-lifetime moment and record this extremely rare footage!!”
Though we might not see it happen much, bull moose shed their antlers every winter after mating season. New antlers—bone covered in a velvety skin—regrow throughout the spring and summer, sometimes spanning more than six feet from tip to tip when they mature. The velvet layer eventually sheds and, via National Geographic, the antler bone hardens.
Shed antlers are a part of a healthy forest ecosystem, providing calcium, phosphorus, and protein for foraging animals. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explains that “these nutrients are important for all types of animal growth, not just big strong antlers.”
“Rodents in particular love shed antlers – mice, squirrels and porcupines will gnaw on antlers for their nutrients and to wear down their ever growing teeth. Even bears, foxes, opossums and otters have been known to eat antlers. Because antler sheds are important for healthy habitat, antler shed hunting is illegal in many places. If you buy antler products make sure they are legally sourced.”
Canadian provinces and territories still allow “shed hunting,” and since Burgoyne has collected shed antlers since he was a kid, witnessing the event via drone was especially exciting. Via The Guardian:
“’I enjoy being in the woods. It’s great exercise and it’s fun tracking the moose through the winter and looking for their sheds in the spring. Each one you find feels like the first one. It never gets old,’ he said, admitting his collection is rapidly outpacing available space in his house.”
“Until recently, Burgoyne’s best find had been from the region’s largest bull – a 33-point leviathan that remains the biggest moose Burgoyne has ever seen.
“But on that January day, after the moose he was watching darted off, Burgoyne scrambled as fast as he could through deep snow to recover the shed – and his first ever matching pair of antlers.
“The newest antlers are 17 points and measure 45 inches across. ‘Nice bull. Beautiful,’ he says in the video as he examines his latest find. ‘They don’t get fresher than this.’”
Watch these hand-picked videos next on TKSST:
• How Do Reindeer and Elk Get Their Astounding Antlers?
• What’s the difference between horns and antlers?
• One year on a forest trail in Northern Minnesota
• A Moose Name Madeline: Symbiosis with a beaver
Thanks, Rob Worman.
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