Moose are widespread throughout the majority of the boreal regions of North America and were a very important food species for many cultures. Slavey, Sahtu or Hare harvested moose in lowland or riverine regions [28, 116]. Moose were found in boreal forests inhabited by the Woodland Cree and Chipewyan, and also in the mountainous zone of the Yukon First Nations and the interior regions of Alaska [66, 67]. In the Beaver First Nation region, moose are found in the timber regions near streams, and for the Tahltan region in the willow region of the Teslin River, along the Tuya River headwaters, and the Taku River tributaries [20, 128]; for the Chipewyan in wooded areas of the Mackenzie River district [123, 130]. Moose are plentiful in the thick woods of northern areas of the Anishnabeg (Anishinabek) Ojibway, the Plains Ojibwa (Bungi) Turtle Mountain Band (Chippewa), Assiniboine, Rapid Indians, Blackfeet, and the Cree [104, 107]. In Gwich’in regions, moose occur in specific regions along the upper Porcupine River, especially at its junction with Johnson Creek, along the swamps and lakes north of the Porcupine River, below Old Crow Village and east of the lower Bluefish River . In the Tsimshian region, moose occur near the Skeena River area in autumn. In the Nuiqsut region, during June - September moose travel north along the upper Colville and Itqiliq rivers [127, 145]. In the Shuswap region of British Columbia, “moose were found only in the extreme northeast hunting grounds” . Moose were reported to be abundant in the Saskatchewan River delta of the Red Earth Cree of Saskatchewan and other northern areas [68, 139]. Moose are found in the forests near the Western Abenaki, Montagnais-Naskapi (Innu) and south and west of the Saguenay River and in the Lake St. John region [87, 88]. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, moose were located in the foothills and prairies east of the Rockies, where they were hunted by Sekani . In the Alaska Plateau area, moose are mainly hunted by Tanana and other Athapaskan peoples at lower elevations and in valley lowlands where young vegetation is plentiful [39, 41].
Moose are usually hunted in late summer and early fall (rutting time), and/or late winter and early spring [4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 16, 17, 19-25, 27, 35, 37, 38, 41, 42, 44, 45, 51-55, 59, 62, 71, 79, 82, 84, 91, 105, 107, 108, 110, 116, 121-123, 127, 133, 137-141, 144, 145, 147].
Many cultures are reported to travel, sometimes long distances, to hunt moose [6, 12, 16, 17, 19, 25, 35, 38, 42, 52, 54, 55, 127, 133, 134, 137, 139, 145]. Travel by boat and camping in hunting areas is common [10, 27, 35, 38, 52, 54, 55, 127, 133, 139]. The Dogrib typically harvest moose while participating in other activities such as trapping; however, specific moose hunting expeditions can be organized . Women may accompany men during the hunt in order to skin and slice the meat . The Mi’kmaq, who hunt moose in winter, are reported to move seasonally from the coast when winter arrives to specific hunting districts, migrating primarily inland to the lakes and forests to hunt moose, often with family hunting groups of ten to fifteen people .
The Algonquian and Iroquoian were reported to hunt moose on hunting territories owned by each family or band. The Kootenay and Tlingit hunt on expeditions with family units or the entire community (men, women and children) [12, 19, 134, 148].
Moose can be hunted by individual hunters, in small teams of two or three, or in big groups [6-8, 12, 22, 27, 51, 94, 116, 130, 133, 137]. The Malecite are reported to drive moose into rivers, presumably using drive hunting, a technique that involves several people .
Moose hunting has typically been a male endeavour, although among the Chipewyan, both men and women participate, and at times, Mistissini Cree women also hunt moose [6, 7, 22, 25, 27, 71, 84, 116, 124, 133, 145]. Every Kootenay man, woman and child is reported to have participated in the moose hunt .
Snares, moose calls, semicircular tracking, corrals, clubs, spears, bows and arrows, knives, in later times guns, or a combination of these methods and tools have been reported to be used to hunt moose [24, 30, 36, 41, 44, 90, 102, 105, 123, 146, 148]. Generally, moose hunting methods are adapted to moose behaviour as moose do not congregate in large numbers. During warm months, they are usually solitary. However, during winter period of deep snow accumulation, moose may congregate in suitable forage sites . Since moose tend to stay in one region at some times of the year, each feeding within a home range of one to two square miles, they can be stalked and slaughtered by a solo hunter . Moose hunting on foot and/or canoe can be divided into two categories based on the hunting method utilized, either extensive or intensive. In the extensive method, hunters cover a huge region to increase the likelihood of encountering moose. Hunters use their accumulated knowledge of the animal’s habitat when deciding where and when to hunt (e.g. moose usually visit lakes and swamps in the summer to consume water plants and to evade insects; they also swim across water in summer, particularly in narrows between island and mainland) . When a moose on shore or in the water is identified, it is shot with a rifle. If a moose is in the water, it may be coerced onto shore before killing, as it is difficult to pull the large animal from the water. The intensive moose hunting method involves targeting smaller areas and particular moose using semicircular tracking, taking advantage of the moose habit of slightly doubling back on the trail in order to get wind of any predator following it [7, 121]. To circumvent the moose catching his scent, the hunter trailing the moose track is on its leeward side . When the moose track reverses, it shows that the moose had paused to rest, and the hunter cautiously approaches to slaughter it. With this method, it is easier to hunt in very windy conditions and when the trees are rustling so the moose cannot hear the hunter approaching . The actions of a bull moose are different from that of a cow with a calf, in that a bull moose moves quickly and deliberately, sometimes running long distances through the bush before resting. A cow moose with a calf does not traverse such a huge area, but remains in a comparatively restricted area, usually for a few days. As a result, one of the key strategies for intensive hunting of a cow moose with a calf is to set an ambush in the cow moose’s feeding area .
Semicircular tracking has been performed by the Chipewyan, Slavey, Sahtu, Hare, Yukon Flats and Peel River Kutchin (Gwich’in), Montagnais of the St. Lawrence River, Athapaskan, Cree of Hudson Bay, Ojibwa Plains Turtle Mountain Band, Mistissini Cree, James Bay Cree, Dogrib, Upper Liard Kaska and Dease River Kaska, Han, Beaver and Tanaina [7, 15, 20, 25, 27, 38, 71, 84, 94, 116, 121, 130, 133, 135, 138, 140]. Semicircular tracking can be done by a single hunter or by a team of two . Once tracked, the moose was typically killed with bow and arrow, spear, and in later years, gun [7, 15, 25, 27, 38, 71, 130, 133, 140]. Slavey and Han are reported to slaughter with bow and arrow, aiming behind the shoulder of the animal. . Dogs are also used to track moose .
Up until the late 1800s, bows and arrows were used by the Sahtu to hunt moose. The bow was made of dry-willow and sinew, while the arrow was made of hard spruce with the head made of caribou bone, moose bone or loon’s beak. In recent times, moose were shot with rifles .
Snares or natural obstacles are reported to be commonly used to hunt moose. The Chalkyitsik Kutchin, Peel River Kutchin, Yukon Flats Kutchin, Chipewyan, Fort Nelson Slavey, Slavey, Shuswap, Tutchone, Tsimshian, Ahtna, Han, Mountain Indians, Kaska, Dogrib, Abitibi, and Kootenay used snares or natural obstacles to trap moose [6, 7, 12, 25, 30, 31, 36, 38, 44, 46, 84, 95, 102, 116, 123, 126, 133, 145]. The Tutchone are known to have hunted moose with snares located along trails or in holes or circular corrals ; a snare 3 or 4 feet wide could be attached to a large tree on one side, and to two support snares connected to a smaller tree . The Kutchin hunted moose with snares by lakes where moose licked salt piles or ate grass . Snares could be positioned between fences made of willows on moose trails or runs, and the moose driven into natural holding areas such as ravines .
The Kootenay are reported to have used drive hunting to kill moose. A specific area was located where the moose could be steered to, such as an area flanked by two mountains or hills, and at times, a barrier that they had created between the mountains. Men drove the moose towards the barrier, and women, children and elderly men positioned themselves to drive the moose into the enclosed space where it was slaughtered. . The Abitibi are also reported to have used drive hunting. A group of men drove the moose into a pen made of poles forced into the ground, where it was easier to kill . The Mistissini Cree are reported to drive moose many miles before it was slaughtered so that the carcass would be in a convenient location for later transportation . The Dease River Kaska also used human surrounds when catching moose: a circle of men drive the moose towards areas where snares are placed. The Tselona Kaska set snares in the summer, and at times, a line of men move forward at the same time to drive a moose toward a sequence of snares .
The Ingalik, Waswanipi, Slavey, Chipewyan, Malecite, Cree, Yukon and Northwest Territories First Nations, Athapaskan of the Alaskan Plateau, Mistissini Cree, Koyukon/Tanana River Peoples, Hare and Chalkyitsik Kutchin of Alaska practice water or river hunting [6, 8, 27, 31, 39, 42, 71, 91, 95, 105, 122, 139]. In many regions in summer, to escape the mosquitos, moose will feed in lakes, marshes, rivers and open sandbars [6, 39, 105, 122, 139]. They can be killed when swimming or browsing [42, 91].
The Chalkyitsik Kutchin of Alaska hunt moose in rivers in the fall. The hunt entails a great deal of travel and preparation at the village before heading to moose country, which is several days’ boat, ride up the Black River. Often, the owner of a boat and motor decides when he would like to go moose hunting and through word of mouth and discussion with family and close friends, interested parties approach the hunter for his itinerary and ask if they could accompany him. The plans for departure are made several days in advance, but are always weather-dependent. The gear carried by each individual is usually a rifle for shooting moose, a shotgun to kill ducks encountered along the ride, a moose scapula to attract the male moose, a sharpener file for axes and knives, sleeping bag, ground cloth and matches and a food box consisting of utensils, a teapot or kettle, and food. Communal equipment consists of sundry items including a tent, candles, lantern, tarps, axes and perhaps an extra outboard engine. Because boat travel is cold even when the climate is warm, hunters often wear winter clothes including wool or cotton pants, long underclothing, heavy socks, flannel or wool shirt, waterproof leather or rubber boots, a warm cloth jacket and a heavy cloth parka, which is typically a winter jacket. At dusk or dawn, coveralls or heavy cloth pants can also be worn .
Deep snow facilitates hunting moose, because hunters wearing snowshoes and/or travelling by dog sled can cover more ground with less effort. The Athapaskan First Nations and the Montagnais of the St. Lawrence River found moose was easier to track when the deep snows of late winter arrived, and they slaughtered it with spears [15, 140]. In earlier times, in very dry conditions, Peel River Kutchin, Kaska and Fort Nelson hunters removed their moccasins so as to make less noise when tracking moose .
On snowshoes and/or by dogsled, the Chipewyan hunter uses the intensive hunting method (semicircular tracking) and the “running-down” strategy (tiring out the moose in deep snow). This strategy relies on the hunter’s endurance and strength as well as the snow conditions. The best condition for this method is spring snow: the ice on the top layer injures the moose’s legs as it walks [121, 122]. In winter, the Chipewyan also hunt moose without their snowshoes. The hunter removed his snowshoes, and other times, his leggings as well, and stalked the moose, usually during heavy wind so that the moose would not hear him or catch his scent. In spring, when the snow is heavily crusted, the Chipewyan drive the moose into snowdrifts to be slaughtered .
In the Dogrib region, during winter, moose are slowed because their mass causes them to break through the snow; thus, snow hunters could pursue and overtake the moose on snowshoes . After heavy snowfall, Beaver hunters on snowshoes pursue a moose much easier, and the eastern Algonquian easily pursue the moose in the deep snow [10, 20].
The Waswanipi are able to hunt moose more easily when there is early, intense, continual snow cover . They easily hunt moose in January in deep snowfall by searching for moose signs and then tracking them on snowshoes. Also, a light wind is preferred because it masks low sounds made by the hunter. The moose tires because of the deep snow and often pauses to rest. Late March and early April are also good because the sun melts the top of the snow, which then freezes during cold nights, causing an icy slab to form. The moose crashes through this crust and scrapes its legs against the edges of the ice holes. Dogs assist the hunter by cornering the moose or forming semicircles around it . The West Main Cree hunt moose by running them down in soft snow and the Montagnais of the St. Lawrence River find moose easier to track when the deep snows of late winter arrive [15, 144].
Yukon and Northwest Territories First Nations hunters are reported to remove part of their clothes, which typically smelled of wood smoke, even in winter, and also try not to make any sound when hunting moose . For the Chalkyitsik Kutchin and the Tanana of Alaska winter hunting involves hunting in the hills and flats because at this time moose move back into the hills and flats. The first snowfall after freeze up is a good time to go north to the Porcupine River or south to some large meadows to look for groups of moose. The moose tend to remain in groups of three to five at least until mid-winter .
Fall is also a preferred time to hunt moose because this is moose mating season. Moose make unique sounds during this season and hunters can mimic them. The male moose is typically lured by imitating the sound of a female moose (cow), or by imitating the sound of a male moose (bull) [6, 7, 9, 16, 20, 27, 53, 71, 84, 90, 93, 102, 105, 107, 108, 133, 139, 140, 146]. In fact, in the Micmac (Mi’kmaq) language, the month of September is called “moose calling” . Some cultures such as the Beaver and the Kaska would rub a big bone, such as a dry shoulder blade or antler, against a tree, imitating a male moose, which causes a surrounding male moose to challenge the supposed intruder in his territory. Others use rolled birch bark to imitate the bawling sound of the moose mating call to entice the opposite sex [20, 84, 105].
The Western Abenaki also hunted moose using moose calls, the Interior Salish have used hollowed-out bones to make moose calls to lure moose, and the Dease River Kaska hunters used a birch bark horn to call moose or rubbed a moose scapula “against a tree” to lure moose [53, 84, 90]. Sahtu Hare used a dry shoulder blade from a moose to lure moose, and “in season”, the Tselona Kaska used a dried moose scapula to call moose [27, 84].
The Fort Nelson Slave are reported to make a moose call by rubbing a moose antler or shoulder blade across a tree, making the animal think that there was another animal in the area, or they would use a true call, in which the hunter called through a rolled-up portion of birch bark to imitate a bull . The Micmac also used a roll of birch bark to imitate a moose call to lure the moose within shooting reach . The Shuswap hunt moose by luring them by blowing with the hollow part of cow parsnip (or Indian celery, Heracleum maximum) and the Red Earth Cree of Saskatchewan called moose to within shooting range using birch bark cones [6, 7, 46, 102, 105, 107, 108, 139, 140, 146].
Many First Nations butcher the moose at the slaughter site, though others butcher it when they return to camp [6, 7, 27, 38, 62, 71, 124, 133, 137, 139, 145].
The Mistissini Cree hunter is reported to skin and butcher the moose at the slaughter site and usually return to camp with a few tokens of the slaughter in his hunting bag. In the winter, the hunter would bury the flesh and hide it in the snow or, in mild weather, with spruce branches to protect it from scavengers. Sometimes it was necessary to make a cache out of logs, or for one hunter to remain at the slaughter site in order to protect the meat from scavengers. The tokens returned to camp, came from the abdominal cavity, the heart and lower intestine, and two types of fat, called wiis (the thin layer of fat located around the rib cage), and wiikw (the thick white fat around the internal organs), in particular the kidneys. Any fetuses found were placed with a morsel of wiikw fat in their mouths during butchering, and then carried back as tokens. At times, the lower legs were also brought back as tokens because they contained another highly prized kind of fat called wiin, which is found enclosed by specific leg bones. This type of fat was eaten as a delicacy, and was the focus of the most important feast among the neighbouring Naskapi. When the men returned to camp, the women unpacked the hunting bag, the tokens were displayed for everyone to admire and a meal was prepared from these tokens later that same day. The fetuses were not always consumed at this meal, but they were skinned and butchered as if they were full-sized animals. Sometimes, the fetus meat was dried on rafters over the stove, and then boiled and consumed, with everyone at the meal receiving a piece. The day after the hunter’s return, every able-bodied individual helps to carry the moose meat back to camp and it is displayed in the hunter’s home. The head was always placed facing the door (so that the animal may see how the hunter went out when he left to go hunting). The raw meat was shared with the whole community, with the muscle meat portioned equally among all families. If one family was running short, another private distribution occurred for this family .
If more than one moose were slaughtered, it was not usually possible to dress and carry the entire carcass to camp that day, but the viscera and organs were removed. In winter, the carcass would be topped with snow and spruce saplings. During other seasons, only spruce saplings were placed on the carcass. The hunter would then return to camp and announce his success by exhibiting the heart, liver, and part of the meat and then he would give some of the meat to every family in the camp. Only a bit of the liver was consumed because it was deemed “strong” food. The men and boys in the return trip each butchered their own portion of the moose and it was skinned and butchered with knives and axes. The blood was not consumed, because it was deemed too “strong”, but could be given to dogs. The meat was carried back on sleds and/or toboggans in the winter or by canoe .
When the Sahtu slaughtered a moose, the hunter sliced off the ears and threw them into a tree for spiritual purposes. The hunter then skinned the moose, butchered it and carried home the intestines and skin. If it were winter, the meat would be placed in snow so that it would not freeze until returning the next day. If the hunter feared predators, he would cache it on a high rack of wood .
The Peel River Kutchin hunter would cache the meat, usually by hanging it in a tree. If there were great need for food, the hunter would carry some of the flesh back to the camp. If he had a family, he would inform all people that he had slaughtered a moose and then gave some meat to a respected hunter, normally a member of his wife’s clan or his own. If the hunter was not married, he informed his father about his success and his father made a commendation speech in honor of his son in front of the people. Later, the father distributed the meat freely .
The Fort Nelson First Nation hunter returned to camp with a bit of the meat, announced the kill, and his wife distributed it to friends. A party of people, which could also include the hunter, went to collect the rest of the game, following trails left by the hunter. The carcass was packed in rawhide packsacks, or if going by horse, wrapped in tarpaulins. Once back at the village, the moose was distributed to each member of the community. If traveling on water, the hunter and his hunting companions packed home the moose themselves, typically by boat. If traveling on land, he still relied on others to aid him to pack home the meat .
After taking some flesh for his immediate needs, the Han hunter cached the remainder of the meat in a tree after skinning it. He went back to his village and presented the moose to a respected man in the opposite clan. This man retrieved or sent for the meat, and the meat was prepared for a feast for everyone . When the Tanana slaughtered a moose, it was normally eaten on the spot, although a good hunter killed more than he needed at the moment, and dried the excess meat .
Many Waswanipi Cree cached the meat they had hunted in the winter to add variation to their summer diet . The Tagish and Han cached the dried meat in convenient spots where younger men could retrieve in winter for supplies or the families moved to these caches . The Slavey cached their moose meat as moose meat was vital for winter survival [37, 89].
The Gitksan (Gitxsan) and Wet’suwet’en hunted moose in fall and winter because the meat was better at this time and it was easier to preserve, and there was a greater need for the meat . The Chalkyitsik Kutchin of Alaska concentrated their moose hunt in the last two weeks of September because it was the easiest time to kill moose, and because moose killed during this time could be preserved without drying. Also, during this time, moose bulls were less cautious. They slaughtered barren cows or two-year-old bulls in autumn, and larger bulls prior to the rut. In the winter, they slaughtered adult cows, preferentially those lacking a calf, and in late winter, they slaughtered young bulls . The early part of mating season was prime time for the Yukon Flats Kutchin to hunt bulls because they were very fat in this season .
Moose meat is sweet and soft, and is considered very good meat, but if not well fed or if the animal suffers a violent struggle before dying, the meat is hardly edible . Moose meat is highly prized. The Algonquian and Iroquoian considered moose their beef . Aside from caribou meat, the Hare craved moose meat the most; if they had not eaten moose or caribou meat for three or more days, they felt their stomachs were not “satisfied” . In addition to using the meat for human consumption, the Red Earth Cree of Saskatchewan used it to feed their dogs .
Many cultures boiled or roasted the flesh for instant consumption [6, 9, 14, 71, 101, 104, 110, 145]. Moose meat, could be sliced and boiled in kettles, or boiled in shallow pans with vegetables and thick sauce. Slivers of moose meat can be fried and the grease used to make gravy with added flour. The flesh could be roasted, primarily outdoors. The brisket, hindquarters and shoulder are considered delicacies [6, 9]. The meat can be boiled to make a soup and stock . To cook meat at the kill site, the Micmac made a large impromptu cooking vessel by slicing part of a tree trunk, and hollowing the interior with fire and large jagged bones or stones. When the vessel was complete, it was loaded with moose flesh and water, and hot stones in the vessel helped to boil the meat. A bark ladle or the hand could dip the broth. The fresh meat could be roasted on skewers or straight on the coals [9, 14]. Moose meat was served on bark plates . The Tanana used the moose skin or moose stomach as a boiling vessel by making a pit, lining it with the moose skin or moose stomach, which was pegged into the ground and added water, hot stones and the moose meat. The Assiniboine, Rapid Indians, Blackfeet, and the Cree boiled or roasted the meat in bark kettles using hot stones, and they roasted it skewered on a sharpened stick anchored in the ground angled near a fire .
Moose meat is typically preserved by drying, salting, smoking or, at times, freezing [6, 7, 12, 15, 18, 19, 25, 27, 70, 71, 84, 86, 101, 110, 117, 121, 126, 133, 135, 137-139, 145, 149]. The Chalkyitsik Kutchin of Alaska are reported to cut the meat into slivers ¼ inch thick by 2 to 3 inches wide by 12 to 24 inches long and hung them inside a domed drying rack to dry, often with a smudge to quicken the drying process and repel insects . After drying, moose meat can be pounded and combined with cranberries and fat to make pemmican . The Montagnais smoke-dry the flesh by slicing it from the bones, pounding it to extract the juice, slashing the meat to get it thin enough for the smoke to infiltrate, and extending it on sticks over a fire; the dried meat is collapsed for storage . Pemmican can also be made by grinding the dried flesh with bone marrow grease . The Upper Liard Kaska also made pemmican. The Kaska are known to dry moose meat, pound it, and mix it with fresh berries on a sheet of babiche. After adding melted grease, the pemmican can be stored in untanned groundhog skins or in a casing made of cleaned intestines” . The tenderloin is considered a choice cut of meat and the Kutchin dried, pounded, and mixed it with marrow, and perhaps berries, to serve at potlatches .
In summer, the Sahtu slice the flesh and sun-dry it, or dry it in a tent over a wood stove, and then smoke it to form dried meat that can be pounded to make pemmican . In winter, the flesh froze rapidly, self-preserving it. With the introduction of freezers in home, moose flesh is frozen in summer for later use. The Tsimshian preserve the flesh by hanging meat slivers to dry and then smoke: these were consumed dry or boiled for a few minutes to soften. Today, the flesh is preserved by salting, freezing, jarring or canning .
The Tutchone make pemmican, pounding it with a hammer until it reaches a flour-like consistency. Moose fat could be cut into tiny pieces fried, and stirred into the crushed dried moose meat with added salt for pemmican .
The Cree and Kaska cut the meat into thin strips for drying in the sun and/or over a slow fire. It was then boiled for consumption or made into pemmican with berries and melted moose fat or lard . Pemmican could be stored in marmot or woodchuck hide or a casing of cleaned moose intestine . Pemmican is also reported to be a popular preparation for the Chipewyan, Han, Tagish, Tutchone, Montagnais, Kootenay, Mi’kmaq, Penobscot and Nuxalk. In recent times, meat stored in home freezers has reduced the extent of pemmican preparation [12, 14, 18, 101, 110, 117, 121, 135, 139, 149].
Uses of bones
Moose bones have been important for preparing marrow, oil/lard and broth [6, 7, 9, 14, 17-19, 25, 27, 33, 44, 68, 70, 71, 75, 78, 82, 84, 110, 111, 113, 117, 126, 133, 137-139, 150, 151]. Moose bones are prepared similarly by many cultures, including Tanana, Cree, Chipewyan, Metis, Sahtu, and Gwich’in [6, 7, 18, 19, 44, 78, 82, 110, 139, 150]. The Dogrib consumed the marrow, obtaining it by cracking the bones into small pieces, and boiling to render lard and marrow . The Mistissini Cree cracked the leg bones and vertebrae to remove the marrow, which was typically eaten immediately; the cracked leg bones were used for soup – the bones could be boiled several times to be consumed as soup or “tea” . A special food called muuskamii, which is a soup made by boiling cracked moose’ long bones was reported to be consumed cold, typically between meals. Muuskamii was prepared boiled and cooled with clean snow. It was portioned first to the eldest male, then to other men in the family, and finally to women. When initially prepared, a spoonful offering was placed in the stove .
The Kutchin made oil from moose byproducts by cutting fat from around the heart and kidneys, the lower back, the intestinal region, the front of the stomach, and the marrow. The fat was heated to make an oil, which was stored in visceral sacs such as stomach sacs or sacs consisting of an inside-out intestine. Small intestine fat was conserved and used for soup . The Vanta Kutchin made oil from bones and then placed it in a separate vessel, often the insides of a caribou stomach; this is reported to keep well for two or three years [7, 111].
The Algonquian, Iroquoian and Slavey used extracted oil from the bones  to seal their birch bark food storage containers: the hot grease was poured above food in the birch vessels, forming a wax-like substance [133, 151].
In addition to being a delicacy, oil/grease from moose bones is reported to serve as a medicinal by the Mi’kmaq and Cree. It was also used for feeding dogs by the Dogrib [9, 14, 25, 27, 110, 138].
The Tanana, Champagne and Aishihik, Gwich’in and Tlingit are reported to highly appreciate the moose broth [68, 70, 75, 113, 117].
The bones were also reported to be used to make utensils, such as knife handles, spoons and bowls. Tools for hunting and fishing equipment, such as arrowheads and fish hooks were also made [9, 17, 27, 33, 84, 120, 123, 126].
Uses of other parts
All parts of the moose have been used by Indigenous Peoples in the sense of conservation and prevention of waste. Reports of use include the nose, tongue, head, organs, stomach, heart, genitalia, intestines and other entrails [6, 119, 139].
Moose nose is considered a delicacy by many cultures [13, 76, 82, 110, 120, 123, 150]. The Tutchone are reported to consider moose nose a delicacy and prepare it by placing the nose on a fire, allowing the hair to be singed off before taking it off the fire, removing any remaining hair, cooling it and slicing it into six to eight pieces. These pieces are boiled for about an hour, removed from the boiling water and salted to complete the dish. The Tutchone also make a special dish called moose headcheese by skinning the moose leaving the eyes intact, placing the head in a roasting pan, and roasting covered for about four hours at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While roasting, the head is basted with water every hour. Once done, the head is removed, skinned to the skull, the meat cut in tiny pieces and the eyes removed. The meat is then placed in a large pan, covered with the juices from the roasting pan and cooled to form moose headcheese. They also made moose liver and blood soup by cutting liver into tiny pieces, adding four cups of moose blood, and boiling the mixture. Small pieces of dried moose fat were fried in grease, and added to the liver and blood with some water .
The Gwich’in are reported to eat the ears, fat, lungs, eyes, nose, tongue, kidney, heart, the cartilage surrounding the esophagus and the liver. They consider moose nose, boiled or broiled a delicacy, and considered moose eyes an even greater delicacy, especially among the children. They highly favor the kidneys and these were typically the hunter’s reward. . The Mistissini Cree are reported to eat the fetus, ribs, kidney and intestines, and considered the fetus a delicacy, usually reserving it for the elders [71, 137]. They cooked the ribs and kidneys on a spit and smoked the intestines on skewers over an open fire .
The Hare are reported to relish moose mammary glands when the female is lactating in summer. . Other moose parts reported for particular cultures are: Mi’kmaq eating small intestine , Kaska and Cree eating antlers and antler velvet [18, 84], Han eating moose feet , Gwich’in eating roasted head . The Kaska drank moose milk, and blood was a particularly effective medicine to recover from extreme hunger .
Moose stomach and hardened skin are reported to be used for cooking vessels (with hot rocks) and storage containers for food. [34, 44, 84, 110, 117]. The Upper Tanana usually used a birch bark container to boil moose meat, but if there was no container present, for example on the hunting trail, they used the moose skin or moose stomach as a boiling vessel. When using the moose skin or stomach as a vessel, they made a pit, lined it with the moose skin or moose stomach, which was pegged into the ground and added water, hot stones and the moose meat. Sometimes, they steamed pieces of moose meat in the moose stomach container over a small fire [110, 120]. Moose hide is reported as having been used for making canoes by several [25, 28, 30, 52, 133].
Many cultures shared moose meat [6, 7, 12, 18, 22, 25, 27, 29, 71, 84, 110, 117, 133, 137], and it was an item of trade for the Nuxalk . Sharing continues to be an important cultural value, and moose meat was often used as a gift. Among the Sahtu Hare, if the moose hunt was very successful, moose was shared with all. The Mistissini Cree hunter gave some of the heart, liver and some of the token meat to every family in the camp . After the remaining carcass was returned to camp, the hunter shared the raw meat with the whole community, with the muscle meat portioned equally among all the families, and if one family was running short, another private distribution occurred for this family . After a productive moose hunt, the Sahtu hunter distributed moose among all the members of the same camp or presented some to his relatives as a gift. In earlier times, the meat was given to his hunting companion or a fellow camper distributed it among the households in the camp .
Beliefs and taboos
There are various ideologies and rituals associated with moose that are summarized from the ethnographic literature here. Before moose hunting, the Kootenay participated in a religious ceremony consisting of singing, dancing and chanting to ensure a successful hunt and the Malecite set up powwows in locations where moose had been unsuccessfully hunted in order to ensure better success on the next hunt [8, 12]. To obtain optimum weather for hunting moose in winter (stormy weather with deep snow), the Cree performed rituals such as shaking a rattle and tambour and singing to the Great Spirit and the Manito of the Winds, placing sweet smelling herbs on a tiny fire for the Manito, and smoking and singing to him for a wind . Among the Beaver, moose hunter success was ascribed to supernatural power or the supposed inclination of the moose toward the hunter . The Kaska believed that if a woman saw the hunter’s moose scapula the hunter could lose his ability to hunt. As a result, during the moose-calling season, a Kaska man never brought his moose scapula into the camp in case a woman inadvertently looked at it . The Peel River Kutchin utilized scapulimancy (divination using a moose scapula) to aid them in hunting . The Ahtna believed that for three days after the slaughter, the moose flesh and hides were still connected with their spirits and that if babies touched them during this period, the babies would become sick. They never carried the meat and hide through the door of the house, only through the smoke hole, and in latter times, the window . The Algonquian and Iroquoian did not allow dog and menstruating women to touch discarded moose bones and they kept discarded bones away from the fire, and the Ahtna burned moose bones and never let dogs eat the bones [19, 44]. It was taboo for the Hare to discard moose bones in rivers, but they were allowed to throw them in lakes or woods . It was taboo for Dogrib boys or girls to eat moose head because they believed that if they did so, the children would suffer headaches as adults . They also believed that if a girl ate a moose head, her hair would turn prematurely white. Children were also not supposed to eat moose fetuses or udders and it was taboo for anyone (child or adult) to eat moose brain; if he did so, he would never be able to slaughter moose again . The Mistissini Cree carefully displayed moose antlers at the campsite, hanging them on a stump near camp soon after its slaughter, or at times, not until the next spring, and the Montagnais hung the antlers with the skull attached on a tree out of respect for the moose [71, 137, 152]. The Mistissini Cree placed them near the shore, always facing the east or southeast, no matter the direction of the water . There is inconsistency as to whether Sahtu Hare women were allowed to kill moose. One informant said women were successful moose hunters, while another said it was taboo for women to slaughter moose . Prior to moose feasts, the Malecite hung the moose on a scaffold in a gigantic wigwam . The moose is featured in Algonquin legends and is commonly featured in Micmac tales [151, 153].
Moose is an important component of feasts by many First Nations, including the Malecite, Han, Gwich’in, Dogrib, Hare, Cree and Kootenay [7, 8, 12, 25, 27, 38, 112, 137]. Among the Gwich’in it is reported that the person who killed the moose was not the organizer of the moose feast. Rather, if the hunter was a member of one clan (e.g. the Crow), he would give the meat to a man of a different clan (e.g. the Wolf) whom he knew wanted to give a feast, for example to celebrate the birth of his child. The moose was butchered near the feast giver’s home with the help of several men and women, stoves were placed outside, and the flesh was cooked in large kettles with the feast giver’s firewood. The feast would occur in the evening at the community hall, where a table was placed in the center and people encircled the table on benches. The moose meat along with other food was equally distributed to everyone present, with some reserved for those who were absent. The moose meat was shared among all members of the community in a ceremonial mode, and the amount of shares was proportional to the amount of individuals living in a household . As noted earlier, the Kootenay are reported as one of the few cultures in which the entire community- men, women and children- went on a moose hunting expedition. After the moose was slaughtered, the women and children used jagged rocks to skin the moose and prepared its flesh and pelt, and they all feasted on the moose until all the families had had their fill .
Conservation and ecological change
Most indigenous cultures are reported to practice conservation practices while hunting moose [19, 59, 62, 97, 107, 116, 122]. The Waswanipi Cree believed that keeping a limit to the hunt was their responsibility. They practiced conservation by rotating hunting territory, with the premise being that by not exploiting a given hunting region each year, the hunters gave the moose population a chance to grow. Some habitually rotated their land use, others let their land “rest” intermittently, and some observed rotation by sectioning their land into subsections so that each section could be used in turn . Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples are reported to undertake a constant game census on their hunting territory to identify the number and location of moose. They would section the territory into four parcels, and hunt one section each year so that the moose population in other sections could be replenished. At times, they reserved a fifth section in the middle of the territory, where they hunted only in times of enormous need. The Cree noted frequency of moose signs, twin birth rates and age and sex ratios to monitor moose counts and used this knowledge to practice conservation by instituting hunting restraints [97, 107].
Ecological change can result in increase or decrease in moose populations. Forest fires, transitional forests, changing presence of deciduous plants upon which moose thrive, changing density of other large mammals (e.g. North American elk) in regions, Hydro projects creating dams that disturb shore lines, climate change, and human population density have all been reported to affect numbers moose in habitat areas [21, 27, 35, 36, 48, 56, 62, 97, 106, 114, 116, 125, 128, 135, 139, 144, 154].
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Moose are tall, long-legged, and hump-shouldered with big ears and an enlarged overhanging snout. Despite their somewhat odd and gangly appearance, they are impressive when encountered in the wild. Adult moose typically weigh 462 kg, but the largest individuals exceed 700 kg and 2 m tall at the shoulder. Moose are largest in Alaska-Yukon, smallest in the northern US Rocky Mountains states, and of intermediate size in the rest of their range across the mixed and boreal forests of Canada and the northern U.S. Bulls are notably bigger than females (cows). Adult male antlers develop into large flat palms with tines projecting from the front, and shorter, rounder points projecting from the sides and back. Antlers can be nearly 2 m wide and weigh up to 25 kg. Moose have a distinctive skin flap extending down from their throat, called a bell or dewlap, which is much larger in males.
Moose lives in a wide range of habitats consisting of boreal forest, mixed forest, large delta floodplains, tundra and subalpine shrub, and stream valleys. They are most abundant in habitats with abundant new vegetation growth, including areas recovering from recent forest fires or other forms of disturbance. Moose are browsers that consume vast quantities of leaves, bark, and twigs from shrubs and trees, typically from willow, aspen, and birch. They also eat grasses and aquatic plants in summer, when they are commonly found near lakes, streams, ponds, marshes, and swamps. In winter, moose avoid deep and hard snow by traveling less and by using habitats with more over-story cover. Some moose are resident and use the same home range year-round, but some moose are migratory and use separate winter and summer ranges. Migratory moose tend to have strong fidelity to their seasonal home ranges and will return to the same location year after year. Wolves, grizzly bears, and black bears are the principal predators of moose, but tend to target young or weak animals and are less of a threat to prime-age individuals.
Cows first breed between one and two years of age and are receptive to bulls once a year during the autumn rut. Calves are light brown and are born in spring and weaned in late summer. Cows give birth to a single calf, or occasionally twins. Cows with calves are less likely to associate with other moose, but become more social towards the autumn rut. Bulls sometimes associate with each other in summer, but with cows only around the rut. In most moose populations, rutting bulls wander in search of solitary, receptive females, with both sexes vocalizing and relying on scent to locate each other. However, some tundra moose populations have a more communal mating system with bulls occupying individual mating areas and scent marking actively and multiple females attracted to a given bull mating area. Moose can live as long as 20 years in the wild and females tend to live longer than males.
There are an estimated one million moose in North America. Populations are thought to be stable on a continent-wide basis, but trends vary widely from region to region in relation to forest fires, forestry, harvest intensity, predation, and disease.