The most stimulating time of year may be over for humans, but for moose it's just getting started. September and October are mating season, which can mean bulls locking horns and occasionally chasing cows through urban neighborhoods.
Want to check out the sounds, sights and smells of this fall spectacle? Here are some spots in the Anchorage area.
Glen Alps is your best bet. From the parking area, take a quarter-mile trail to the viewing platform that looks down on the Anchorage Bowl. Turn around and look the other way, and you could see many moose in open areas across the valley. Bring your binoculars or a spotting scope.
A closer view may be available on the Powerline Trail or the Middle Fork Loop Trail (check the trail map posted at the parking lot). Bull moose can sometimes be seen along the trails within a couple of miles of the parking lot.
"More often than not, bulls will just materialize out of the alders and try to determine if you are another bull looking for a fight or a cow looking for a mate," Anchorage area biologist Rick Sinnott of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said. "They could be anywhere from 20 yards to 100 yards away. Twenty yards is too close, so give them some more distance."
You may also hear sounds of the rut. Bulls make a low-pitched, grunting noise, while cows emit a long, quavering moan, which is mainly a warning sound for a bull to keep his distance if she's not interested. Bulls also rub and thrash their antlers in bushes to remove the skin (or velvet) and to attract other moose.
And then there's the smell. Bulls will paw a rutting pit in the dirt a few inches deep and a foot or two wide. They'll urinate in it and splash the scent on their head, their antlers and on the dewlap (or bell) that hangs below their neck. It's full of capillaries that warm and disperse the urinary pheromones, which work somewhat like an incense burner.
The strong, musky odor, which Sinnott says reminds him of cat urine, will attract other moose. It also helps synchronize ovulation of cows so they come into heat about the same time.
Kincaid Park is another good prospect for seeing moose in rut.
The rut will last until early to mid-October. That's about the time Fish and Game gets calls from people worried about a bull lying on its side in their yard, panting.
"He's been chasing stuff around for the last three weeks, and he just can't do it anymore," Sinnott said.
The results of the rut can be ugly. A bull can lose an eye or, if he's gored, die from an internal injury. Also, bulls may get their antlers locked, be unable to unlock them and simply starve to death together. That happened last year on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.
Of course, the other result of the rut is calves, usually born in late May to early June.
ANIMALS GALORE: For more on wildlife viewing in Alaska, go to www.wildlifeviewing.alaska.gov.