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Moose or Elk? – How To Tell The Difference

Elk vs Moose
Courtesy of Colorado Parks & Wildlife

It’s easy to tell the difference between a moose and an elk right?  Well, believe it or not, almost every year hunters accidentally shoot moose, thinking they are shooting an elk.  According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife:  During the last few years more than a dozen moose have been killed during each season by hunters who thought they were shooting elk.

Hunters need to know the difference.  The fine can be more than $1,000 and you can lose your hunting privileges. There’s no excuse for mistaking these animals.They are vastly different in size, color, antler shape and habits.


  • A mature Shiras bull moose weighs 1,200 pounds–about twice as much as the average bull elk.
  • Moose are dark brown and appear almost black. Elk are light brown–a bull elk can be almost golden–with a pale yellow rump.
  • A moose has a very large, long and bulbous nose and a “bell” under the throat. An elk’s snout is much narrower and it has no “bell”.
  • A mature bull moose has broad, flat antlers, unlike the pointed antlers of an elk. But the antlers on some young bull moose have not flattened out yet, so hunters need to look over the entire animal before pulling the trigger.
  • Moose act very differently than elk when approached by humans. Typically, moose will not flee like elk at the sight of a hunter, which makes them easier to kill.  So if it sees you and doesn’t run, it’s probably a moose.

[Colorado Parks & Wildlife]

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