Idaho Turkey Hunter Shoots Charging Cow Moose in Self-Defense

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A turkey hunter in Idaho had a close call with a cow moose on Friday, when the cow charged him to protect its young. Acting in self-defense, the hunter shot the charging moose after it knocked him to the ground. The hunter was not seriously injured in the incident, which took place a few miles south of Blackfoot, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. 

The agency explains in a press release that the unidentified man was hunting turkeys on BLM land bordering the Snake River when he “inadvertently startled” a cow moose with twin calves. The cow charged him immediately.

“The hunter fired two warning shots at the ground in front of the moose as it charged him,” IDFG spokesperson Jennifer Jackson tells Outdoor Life. “But the huge animal continued its charge toward the man. The cow knocked the hunter to the ground, so he fired a third shot hitting the animal at close range. The moose then turned and ran away, allowing the hunter to escape.”

Jackson says the hunter was using “shotgun bird shot” but she did not specify the gauge or type of turkey loads he was presumably using — only that he shot the moose at point-blank range. “The moose was literally standing right over the hunter when he fired his third shot,” she says. 

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After leaving the area, the hunter reported the incident to IDFG. He told officials he was “bruised up” but never sought medical attention for his injuries. The hunter also noted that as he was walking away, he saw the same cow moose bedded nearby. He then watched as the moose stood up to graze while its two calves nursed as if nothing had ever happened.

Jackson says the cow’s condition is unknown, and that wildlife officers have not tried searching for the family of moose. She adds that it’s a good sign the cow was still able to nurse its calves.

“It’s a tricky proposition with moose in spring,” Jackson explains. “We want to keep our distance because she has calves and we don’t want to stress her, and perhaps orphan her young.”

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Jackson says encounters between moose and people happen every spring in Idaho, and most of these incidents involve cows with newborn calves. The same can be said for moose in other states, and a recent incident when a cow with two calves killed a photographer in Alaska is a reminder of how aggressive these critters can be. With these dangers in mind, Jackson recommends that people carry bear spray and know how to use it when spending time outdoors.

“Wild animals don’t need to have sharp teeth and claws to be formidable animals that can be dangerous,” Jackson says. “Moose are a joy to observe, but they are not cute and cuddly. They are wild, and in spring are more defensive and [they] present a different level of danger that people should know about.”

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