Spending a winter's day in a cabin can be quite picturesque. You know: close to nature, warm fire, falling snow, cocoa in hand, moose vigorously shaking off their 20-pound antlers …

This rare moment was witnessed back in November by the Eberhart family in Wyoming. When a moose came shuffling past their cabin window, one quick-thinking family member grabbed a camera and started recording – but no one expected what came next. 

“The moose shook his head and his paddle fell off right in front of us,” Kim Eberhart told National Geographic. While some have expressed concern that the moose was in pain, University of Alberta biologist Bill Samuel explains that what we’re seeing is totally natural. Moose shed their antlers each year, and according to Samuel, doing so can actually bring relief.

“Bulls will occasionally try to speed up completion of the process by knocking the old antlers against trees to shed them," he explains.

The cycle begins in spring, when the antlers, covered in a fuzzy tissue known as “velvet”, begin to grow. The velvet sheds, and by fall (that's autumn for those of you outside the US), the bony paddles are in full swing – literally – as the males brandish them in jousting matches over breeding rights.

As soon as the mating season (or rut) ends, the heavy antlers serve no purpose, so they drop off to make room for the next year of growth. After all, there’s no use carting around your weapons after battle!


Top header image: Gabe Lawrence, Flickr