How to Identify Moose Calves, Yearlings and Cows

Moose-hunting season is upon us! Are you ready for a successful hunt? Even for highly experienced hunters, it can be difficult to tell the difference between moose calves, yearlings and cows; however, it’s a vital skill for optimal hunting success. Here’s our handy guide:

Facial features

Calves, which are defined as one year old or less, will have a short, triangular-shaped face and a shorter, stouter head. They will also have a small nose and short ears. Adult moose have a longer, rectangular face, a bulbous nose, longer ears and a bell, which is a beard-like flap of skin under the throat, covered in hair.

Body shape

Calves have square-shaped bodies with sharply pointed shoulder humps. Yearlings and adults are more rectangular-shaped, and adults have the most defined musculature.


Calves and females do not have antlers. A male yearling may have short, non-palmated antlers that can be hidden behind the ears. Adult males have large, horizontal antlers with a flat and wide palm-like portion that has sharp tines extending from the edges.

Body color

Body color is not a reliable indicator on its own, but calves have reddish-gray fur on their back and hump, yearlings have greyish or brownish fur and fully-grown males have fur that’s almost black.

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