Finding Moose in Yellowstone (or anywhere they live)

One of my intentions for this year is to add more wildlife photography to my portfolio. So, now that the first part of the website overhaul is done, it’s time to get out more with my camera. Many thanks to those of you who have already purchased prints from me – I look forward to sharing more soon! In this post, I want to share some of my field notes from a photo drive at the end of March that yielded an opportunity to practice wildlife photography.

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22 March 2020
Drive from Cody, WY to Pahaska Tepee and back
Overcast with temps ranging from the 30s to 40s

Heading up the North Fork, Mom and I wanted to see what all we could find. Elk and deer were out in Wapiti. A bit farther on, we found bison – those bulls that winter over on this side of the park each year. The old bison’s horns were wearing down, and he paid no mind to us. The younger one – full of piss and vinegar – had sharp points on his. And he kept his eye on our car. They weren’t far from Absaroka Lodge and often are found near there along with other wildlife.

We also spotted quite a few bighorn sheep, but no large rams to speak of. So we kept our eyes out for moose, bears, and wolves. No bears or wolves this time, but we did find moose. We passed a car parked with people watching the willows. Likely a moose there that we just couldn’t see.  Knowing that Pahaska Teepee was just a bit farther on, we went up there, turned around, and headed back.

As we approached the pullout, there was that shadowy shape with a distinctive curve in the willows. It was a moose. [This photo shows what you’re looking for when looking for moose in the willows. The leaf buds right now are packed with energy and a prime source of nutrition for this, the largest member of the deer family.]

We pulled off and waited. It wasn’t long before the moose started to peek out and make his way along the river’s edge of the willows. Those long legs are made just for this – walking in deep snow that supports the willows. It turned out to be a handsome bull that was just starting to show the nubs of what will grow into this year’s antlers.
As he walked along, he would occasionally pause to listen intently to something down across the road. Watching what animals notice can often show more animals to you. Had there been more time, we might have stayed a bit longer to see if whatever he was paying attention to would come into view. But the day was growing long, and it was time to take a few last shots and head back to town.


In another chapter of my life, I was an elementary school teacher. Getting kids more familiar with nature is close to my heart. If you’re bringing primary grade kids to Yellowstone, here are a few books to start getting them ready to watch for moose in the willows and help them get that distinctive shape into their minds. Even though willows will fill in with leaves soon, it’s that curve in the back you look for – a horizontal, dark curve that’s out of place with the rest of the vertical lines in the willows.


SnowMoon Photography

Be Outside • Take Notes



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