Derek Burgoyne was in New Brunswick, Canada, using a drone for his job as a forestry surveyor, when he spotted something surprising in the viewfinder: a trio of moose. He zoomed in to get a better look at the bull moose, which had moved a little way off from the others.
Then, just as the drone hovered overhead, the moose shook his head, then his whole body. Almost simultaneously, both antlers popped off with the force of the motion, landing in the snow as the bull bolted off into the forest. Burgoyne landed the drone, then retraced the moose’s steps to get a better look at the dropped antlers. He then shared his video, which captured the rare moment of the antler shed itself.
“This is like the lottery when it comes to wildlife photography,” Burgoyne said in an interview with the Guardian. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Like deer and many other species of hoofed mammals, moose grow an impressive set of antlers each year, primarily to attract mates (though occasionally they do spar with other males). When the breeding season is over, bull moose naturally shed their antlers as a way to conserve energy and improve their mobility in dense forests during spring and summer.
Recovering dropped antlers or “shed hunting” has become a popular hobby among many North Americans, Burgoyne included. Since moose generally drop their antlers in mid-winter, now is prime time for shed hunters. If you live in the Northern U.S. or Canada, consider planning a winter hike or weekend camping trip sometime this month. While you’re out, be sure to keep an eye on the forest floor. You never know what you might find.