DOES MOON PHASE AFFECT DEER MOVEMENT?

There have been several theories proposed about how the moon affects deer movement. One revolves around moon position and suggests deer movement increases when the moon is directly overhead or underneath. These two periods, each of which occurs once each day, are termed major and minor peaks, respectively. And I know several hunters who strongly believe in it. Unfortunately, there’s not a shred of scientific evidence to support the notion. None.

Another theory offers that during the full moon, deer move more at night and less during the day. While it’s not pronounced, my personal observation from over 40 years of whitetail hunting and study has been that daytime deer activity does seem to decline during the full moon. To be more precise, I see less movement during typical peak periods of dawn and dusk. And while very subtle, I have also observed a slight increase in mid-day movement.

One of the more comprehensive research projects on the subject was conducted by Dr. Mickey Hellickson, former chief wildlife biologist at the King Ranch in South Texas. Hellickson used GPS-based transmitters and activity monitors to track the movements of collared deer from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m., from October through January over a two-year period, collecting more than 420,000 observations from 43 collared bucks. Results showed daily buck movements peaking at 7 – 9 a.m., 6 – 7 p.m. with a slight peak at midnight. Lowest hourly movements occurred from 5 – 6 a.m., 3 – 4 p.m. and 10 – 11 p.m. More importantly, this pattern was relatively consistent throughout the four-month range, regardless of moon phase, though overall movement increased during peak rut times.

Hellickson concluded: “Although the moon may influence buck movements in other ways, our data did not indicate any patterns relative to the effects of moon phase on buck movements.”

However, summarizing their results from a trail-camera study, fellow Texans Kroll and Koerth found, “The lowest amount of daytime activity occurs during the full moon, while the new moon has the greatest amount of daytime feeding.”

You can read the entire article here.   The moon calendar below can be used to help you determine when to hunt.