About Muskox and Hunting
Scientific Name: Ovidos Moschatos
Muskox appearance and characteristics
The animal’s curved horns and shaggy coat are their most distinctive characters. Though a Muskox may look like an ox by its name and appearance, their big curved horns and thick head make them look similar to those of a ram. Genetically, Muskox are genetically 20% goat and 80% sheep. Muskox may look slow and stupid, but they are surprisingly agile, fast, and climb like sheep and goats. Muskoxen have excellent eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell.
The coat vary in light to dark brown and black with different shades of gray. The qiviut fur is eight times warmer than wool ordinary from sheep, and sold expensively for winter clothes. Together with a thick fur and the heavy bone structure, they can weigh as much as 1000 pounds in Greenland, where as in Canada average weight is only 600 pound. The main reason for the big difference is the feeding conditions.
Population and conservation
A lot of big old Muskox trophy bulls move around by themselves. The overlap of older mature Muskox Trophy Bulls fighting for females during the rut each year, sometimes has a deadly outcome. Before the rut, one herd is normally a dozen animals, but after the rut a complete herd can have three dozen animals - in remote areas in numbers reminding us of the Bison back in time. They don’t follow any territorial boundaries, and mostly live in Greenland around the Arctic region.
In the early 1960s, a number of Muskoxen where moved from Northeast of Greenland to Kangerlussuaq on the west coast. Presently estimated, the population is more or less 22,000 animals.
A Muskox cow normally has one calf each year, but with the excellent feeding conditions in this area they sometimes get two calves. The population has increased, and the game management plan in this area protects them from dwindling in too high numbers.
Predators and Muskox hunting
Polar bears mostly stay away avoiding the deadly horns. Muskoxen are not aggressive animals, but when under attack, they herd up with the young Muskoxen inside, and bulls and cows are facing outward. Their defensive stand works very effectively for any predator coming near. A mature herd bull is programmed to protect and defend its herd. When a bowhunter unexpected appears at 25-yard range, the herd is relying on the bull confidently taking full charge, mostly standing their ground at first. From long distance they can tell if you are an actual thread, and will mostly flee.
Humans are the top predator of the Muskox, and needed to prevent overpopulation. Meat hunting is going on in areas with easy access by boat and ATV from Kangerlussuaq, and trophy hunts in these areas has an average low trophy quality. If you want a quality, Muskox and Caribou hunt in remote areas, helicopter charters are extremely expensive in Greenland.
Diet and Life Span
Muskoxen are purely herbivore. They eat grass, moss, lichens, and roots. In winter, their hooves come in handy in digging through the snow to find something green. During the summer, they like eating willows and flowers.
The bulls have a lifespan of 11-13 years, cows can get up to 25 years. Female Muskoxen carry their calves for 8 months and rarely produce twins, but can only have one calf in one year or two.
Muskoxen don’t migrate, but will spread out into other feeding grounds when the population increases. They mainly use their got hooves to dig food in winter, and their feet size makes them bad swimmers, but like goats excellent climbers.