When you picture a moose, it’s likely sporting antlers—but the oversized headgear is a trademark of the species, not a permanent feature. In fact, moose shed their antlers each winter, and a drone recently captured rare footage of the phenomenon.
As CBC reports, Derek Burgoyne, a woods operations supervisor, spotted three moose while surveying trees in New Brunswick, Canada, earlier in January. After picking up the animals on his drone camera, he focused on one male who still had his antlers. Shortly after zooming in, Burgoyne captured the bull moose shaking snow off his body and shedding his antlers in the process.
Stumbling upon discarded antlers isn’t uncommon in moose territory, but few people get to witness the moment they fall off. “This is winning the lottery when it comes to wildlife photography for sure,” Burgoyne told CBC.
The annual shedding of the antlers, or paddles, is a gruesome process. Veins supply blood to the appendages, and when the velvety coating comes off in early fall they take on a gory appearance. By October, the paddles are shiny rather than fuzzy, and by late winter they’re gone altogether.
Though it looks dramatic, the shedding is believed to be painless. It may even be a relief considering a full-grown moose’s antlers can weigh up to 40 pounds. In the spring, a new pair starts to grow in and the cycle starts from the beginning.
Moose paddles are more than oversized weapons. While they’re sometimes used for fighting other males, they’re primarily there to impress females during mating season. After watching the video above, you can read more facts about moose here.