WILDLIFE -- The bodies of bull moose have been preparing all year for this season.
After dropping their antlers during winter or spring, they've been sprouting new sets from their heads. A big bull's antlers involve some of the most rapidly developing tissue on any mammal, developing into racks of 20, 30 or 40 pounds in a few months.
In September, the growing's done. The blood supply has faded away. The antlers are curing and the bulls are rubbing off the outer "velvet" skin to polish antlers hard and shiny as bone.
Look at me, ladies, they say as they present their racks and beefed up bodies to the male competition for breeding rights.
The annual fall mating season is on.
Buck Domitrovich of Cheney documented the transition in the past month with photos of a bull moose at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. The photo above was made this weekend showing a bull with antlers that have likely thrashed a lot of saplings to become velvet-free.
The next photo in the gallery shows what Domitrovich says is likely to be the same bull photographed nearly a month ago when its antlers were still developing.
"This time he is ready for the rut," Domitrovich said.