Mistaking moose for elk? According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, this happens a lot more than it should. Every year, officials respond to calls where hunters have accidentally targeted a moose thinking it’s an elk. It seems where the issues arise is when novice or inexperienced hunters see a young bull moose. Young bull moose have antlers that somewhat resemble a raghorn bull elk. Likewise, moose and elk use the same habitat and have similar habits.

Moose on average, have much larger bodies than elk and are typically a much darker color. CPW would like to remind hunters to study the bodies and know the differences in moose vs elk characteristics.

“Moose and elk. Sometimes they do look alike. but there really are some big differences that every hunter needs to be aware of. It’s necessary that the hunter, out in the field, can identify what that animal is first. Elk, their bodies are going to be reddish … lighter brown and their neck is going to be a darker chestnut brown. Whereas your moose, they’re going to appear black or dark brown.” – CPW spokesperson, Jason Clay

CPW acknowledges that accidents do happen. Sometimes lighting can affect the colors people see. Sometimes referring back to your hunter safety course can help. Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. If a mistake happens CPW asks that you call them immediately. Typically law enforcement is much more lenient to people who come forward and admit their mistakes. Likewise, the penalties for those who try and cover-up their illegal kill are much more severe. Readers looking for more information should visit CPW’s website.

“Any time you self-admit mistakes in advance … you’ll have a lot more leniency on you.” Jason Clay

So, what are your thoughts on hunters mistaking moose for elk? Do you think it really is a case of misidentifying an animal? Have you ever accidentally shot the wrong animal? Let us know in the comments

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