There’s a lot of debate amongst hunters about which animal is better: elk or moose? Elk hunters mistakenly hunt upon moose instead of elk even after using the because they get confused in Elk vs. Moose.
Another reason for the confusion between the elk and moose is that the ‘elk’ name is used commonly in North America for red deer, another species of deer. In some places, such as in Sweden, the same name is used for both species.
We’ve also reviewed elk hunting binoculars so you never miss your target again.
Well, Elk and moose both are species of deer. Also, they have certain similar attributes and are often confused in between. Elk and Moose can be hunted for meat, but knowing which one to hunt is necessary.
In this ultimate guide to hunting the two animals, we take a look at the key differences between them. So, which one should you be targeting on your next hunt? Keep reading to find out!
Elk vs. Moose
Elk is a species of deer primarily found in some parts of Asia and North America. It is also known as Cervus Canadensis and Wapiti. DNA studies found four extant subspecies of elk in North America, including Roosevelt, Manitoban, rocky mountain elk, and tule. Four species from Asia are Alashan wapiti, Tianshan wapiti, Manchurian wapiti, and Altai wapiti.
Just like all other species of deer, they eat all kinds of plants and vegetation found in forests. Elks are huge and heightened and have thin legs and small tails.
Moose – What is Moose?
Moose is a species of deer that is the heaviest and large of all. They are found in forests of North America and northern areas of many countries, including Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, Alaska, England, and New York state.
Moreover, moose have beautiful curved hand-shaped antlers, which they shed in winter and grow again. Each antler can weigh as much as 40 pounds. Moose can move around in the water and eat from over the ground or under the water. Most species of deer live together in groups, but moose usually like to live alone.
Elk vs. Moose – Comparison
- Female Height = 1.5m
- Male Height = 1.3m
- Female Weight = Up to 710 pounds
- Male Weight = Up to 730 pounds
- Mating Season = Late August till September
- Female Height = 1.4m
- Male Height = 2.1m
- Female Weight =Up to 800 pounds
- Male Weight =Up to 1300 pounds
- Mating Season = Early September – Mid October
Elk and moose are huge and heavy species of deer. They have similar body shapes with a bit of variation in skin color. Furthermore, Elk and Moose have long antlers that are covered by a layer of skin containing blood vessels for protection.
There is a little difference in the color of both elk and moose, but this variation is also found in the subspecies of elk. The skin color of elk ranges from dark brown to tan color, which changes from season to season. In contrast, the skin color of moose is an either dark brown, black or dark reddish color.
We will look at the similarities and differences of both species in their size, diet, social behavior, antlers, and life span.
1. Size and Weight of Elk and Moose
The enormous animals, elk and moose weigh more than 700 pounds up to 1100 pounds. However, a male moose weighs even more than up to 1300 pounds, while female moose can weigh 800 pounds. On the other hand, adult female elk weigh only 500 to 600 pounds.
Moose are larger than elk if compared with a height of 5 to 7 feet. In contrast, an elk has a height ranging from 4 to 5 feet only. From head to tail, elk and moose can be 3 meters long.
Moose attain their full height and weight at the age of 4 to 6 years. On the other hand, an elk develops its full size at seven years. The size and weight of both species also depend on their racial, nutritional, or individual factors.
2. Diet of Elk and Moose
Elk and Moose both are herbivores and eat grass and vegetation. They move around during the day to search for food. But moose mostly like to eat tree leaves, weeds, or plants growing under the water.
Meanwhile, elk graze in the forests and commonly eat grass or plants. They are called grazers who wander around to find something to eat only and not to find what they like. They are not selective in plants for their diet.
However, elk brought up on farms for their meat are given a proper diet similar to the food they get in forests, including corn, grains, and alfalfa. That is why elk meat tastes different from those hunted in the wilds.
3. Social Behaviour – Elk vs Moose
Although moose like to live alone in solitary young moose or calves, they live with their mother until they can take care of themselves. Their mother protects them from danger, searches for food, and teaches them to move around cautiously.
Moose primarily move around and eat during the daytime and sleep during the night in their individual spots. The mating season of moose begins in September. At that time, they are close with other moose and attract the opposite gender. Otherwise, they stay alone all the time.
Contrarily, elk bugle to attract their mates. Moreover, elk form herds and live together. These groups divide into two, with all males in one and females in the other. One herd can consist of above 200 elk. All the members move around together and inform each other when they sense any danger.
Antlers are bones covered with a layer called velvet for protection. This layer contains blood vessels for the flow of nutrients towards them to grow. As soon as the antlers reach their full size, they fall.
The shape of moose antlers is curved hand-shaped and somewhat similar to a spade. Their antlers grow in the spring season and shed them in winters. Female moose don’t grow antlers while males use them as a weapon against other male moose in a fight.
Elk also grow their antlers in the spring season and sheds them in winters from December to January. Their antlers grow about 1 inch every day. The antlers weigh 40 pounds.
5. Lifespan – Elk vs Moose
The lifespan of elk is 10 to 12 years. However, they might live up to 15 to 20 years. They are grown enough to mate just after 16 months. As compared to elk, moose live longer for 15 to 25 years. They get ready to mate 18 months after birth.
What do Elk eat?
Just like all other species of deer, they eat all kinds of plants and vegetation found in forests.
What are the subspecies of Elk?
DNA studies found four extant subspecies of elk in North America, including Roosevelt, Manitoban, rocky mountain elk, and tule.
What is Elk?
Elk is a species of deer primarily found in some parts of Asia and North America. It is also known as Cervus Canadensis and Wapiti.
What do Moose eat?
Moose mostly like to eat tree leaves, weeds, or plants growing under the water.
What are Antlers?
Antlers are bones covered with a layer called velvet for protection. This layer contains blood vessels for the flow of nutrients for them to grow. As soon as the antlers reach their full size, they fall.
Which is bigger an elk or a moose?
Moose are typically larger than elk. Adult male moose can weigh up to 1,000 pounds, while adult male elk weigh around 500-600 pounds. Female moose and elk are about the same size, typically weighing in at around 350-450 pounds.
Which is more aggressive elk or moose?
Elk are much more aggressive than moose. They occasionally attack humans and have even been known to kill dogs. Moose are usually shy creatures that will only attack if provoked.
Wrapping Up – Elk vs Moose
There are various similarities and distinctions between elk and moose. However, they differ in size, color, diet, social behavior, and lifespan. Knowing these differences, you can easily differentiate them.
Additional Common Questions
How can you differentiate between an elk and a moose?
While both elk and moose are majestic creatures, there are some key differences that make them easy to tell apart, if you know what to look for. Moose are generally darker in color than elk, with their coats typically appearing almost black, while elk have a more reddish hue to their fur, including the distinctive lighter rump patch. Their facial features also set them apart, with moose having a considerably broader, more bulbous nose in comparison to the tapered, pointy nose of an elk.
Speaking from personal wildlife watching experience, one of the most striking differences comes down to their antlers. Moose antlers are wide and flat, creating an imposing display that can span up to six feet across. Elk antlers, on the other hand, are more classic in their deer-like alignment, growing upwards and branching into a number of pointed tines rather than spreading out in a flat array like those of a moose.
Adding to my professional background as a wildlife guide, over the years, I have found that observing, comparing and understanding the uniqueness of antlers can be both a fascinating and rewarding excursion to understanding these incredible creatures better.
How can you distinguish between elk and moose tracks in the snow?
Being able to identify animal tracks in the snow can give you an incredible window into the unseen wildlife around you. Both elk and moose share a hoofed track that initially might appear very similar. However, by carefully measuring the size of the track, you can quite reliably find out which one passed by. Moose tracks tend to be significantly larger, usually measuring anywhere from 5 to 6 inches long. On the other hand, elk tracks are normally smaller, typically leaving around 4-inch imprints in the snow.
In my experience, having tromped through many snowy wilderness trails, this difference in track size has been the most definitive indicator of whether an elk or a moose was the passerby. Next time you spot some ungulate tracks in the snow, try getting your hands (or a ruler) dirty – it’s a fun exercise in animal detective work!
Who would likely be the victor in a duel between an elk and a moose?
While it’s unpleasant to consider, in the wild, conflicts between animals can sometimes be a reality. If a moose were to go head-to-head with an elk, the odds would heavily favor the moose. Despite the elk’s formidable antlers and agility, the moose’s muscular build, larger size, and sturdy hoofed legs can deliver powerful blows sufficient to crush bones and damage vital organs, effectively ending the combat in its favor.
Reflecting on my many years of studying and observing wildlife, the hard truth is that hierarchy and survival often come down to brute strength and size in the world of ungulates. The moose, as one of the largest species within the deer family, is a true testament to this rule.
How can you identify different species of moose?
Distinguishing different species of moose is a more subtle task that largely comes down to antler shape. Male moose antlers are broad, flat and can have a wingspan of up to six feet from tip to tip. Interestingly, unlike any other deer species, both male and female caribou can grow antlers which have a beautiful “C” shape when viewed in profile.
Looking back at my career as a wildlife biologist, I have been endlessly amazed by the nuanced diversity in antler shapes and patterns. It really is a testament to the rich variety within the deer family and a fun puzzle for anyone interested in wildlife identification.