For the record, I am absolutely in favor of taking females when the population density calls for it and I harbor no ill will against, or pass judgement on any hunter who opts to take a cow where it's legal to do so.
What I find curious is the somewhat common rationalization by hunters who have taken a cow or stated they would or might take one, using the term dry cow. This, I assume, is either a means of lessening their personal sense of guilt over taking a female, or an attempt to deflect any potential criticism from other hunters who hold the view that only bulls are acceptable quarry.
I contend that truly dry cows, by virtue of age or some medical anomally are rare. True infertility amongst female ungulates in the wild is almost non-existant--maybe one in 100,000 individuals. Given that cow moose are sexually mature at 1.5 years old and typically bred for the first time at 2.5 years old, and remain fertile until age 12 or so it's statistically unlikely that any cow moose taken by a hunter was beyond her ability to produce calves. Cows too old to breed do exist and qualify as dry, but cows are fertile almost up to the ends of their lives and menopausal cows make up less than 5% of the total female population because they don't survive long after that age.
Now it's entirely possible that an otherwise healthy cow might not get bred for some reason, or during periods of nutritional stress will sometimes experience fetal reabsorbtion but as discussed in earlier threads the most common reason for a cow being without a calf in the fall is the naturally high calf mortality rate. Most cows are bred and give birth and about half of all calves die before seeing their first snowflake.
I guess my real question to every hunter who has ever claimed a dry cow or a dry doe is how do you know? Are you a biologist? Did you collect her reproductive organs and turn them in for analysis? Did you have her teeth wear-aged?
I'm not saying hunters don't legitimately take dry cows, but most dry cows are old cows and most old cows are skinny and most guys who hunt for meat aren't interested in taking skinny animals. They want "sleek", fat and healthy, and rightly so, but that usually means a younger animal. A breeding age animal.
So if you see a lone cow in September odds are she gave birth in May and her calf or calves did not survive. If you have an antlerless tag and no hang-ups about killing girls, go ahead put one in her boiler room and enjoy your moose burgers without a twinge of guilt. Just don't call her a dry cow.