Some hunters believe that a full moon is not ideal for hunting since deer spend the night grazing and rutting. Others say that the full moon's light might actually stimulate activity and get adult bucks going sooner in the evening. Either way, a full moon will not affect most deer-hunting practices.
Deer hunting is safe at any time of the year but certain activities may be done differently during certain times of the year. For example, it's best to avoid shooting deer during birthing or nesting seasons because you don't want to cause them harm. All wildlife has feelings just like people do; therefore, avoiding these situations will not hurt your efforts at harvesting meat.
Also, keep in mind that different species have different behaviors during different times of the year. Deer tend to roam more often than hide during winter, for example, so they're likely to be seen even if you don't hunt them. In summer, however, when food is more abundant in areas where deer live, they'll usually stay in one place all day long while eating. This means less activity for hunters, but also safer hunting because you aren't trying to shoot through brush or trees when there are no gaps between branches.
At any time of the year, use good judgment when out on the land.
Another belief holds that when the moon is full, deer move more at night and less during the day. While not overt, my own observation from over 40 years of whitetail hunting and research has been that daylight deer activity appears to decrease during the full moon. Whether this is because they are easier to see or because they are more likely to break camp is unclear but it may be another reason why some hunters find themselves on a full moon when there aren't any deer around.
A third theory claims that since deer use sound to communicate with each other, full moons can cause them to become quiet as others listen in. This would explain why many people say they have better luck on a full moon.
Hunters have used lunar cycles for tracking deer movements and using this information to take advantage of feeding and bedding behavior for centuries. Modern researchers have also studied how moonlight affects deer behavior; however, most studies have only examined daytime activity patterns. In fact, one study found that deer were less likely to move about during midday on days when the moon was full! It seems clear that more than just nighttime visibility is involved in determining where deer go during the day. The sun's position in relation to the earth directly impacts what time of day it is, so it's possible that solar radiation too may play a role in regulating daytime deer activity.
Does the Moon Phase Have an Impact on Deer Movement? Whether this is because they are more visible or because their food sources are more abundant remains to be seen.
During lunar eclipses, when the Earth's shadow falls on the moon, it blocks out part of the sunlight reaching it. Because green plants need light energy in order to live, they use this light energy for photosynthesis. As a result, fewer plants grow during a lunar eclipse, which could cause animals that eat plants to do the same. This would mean that there would be less food available for deer to eat, which might explain why I have never seen many deer during a lunar eclipse.
The connection between the moon and deer behavior has been reported by people throughout history. In fact, some hunters will travel long distances to hunt particular species of deer at certain times of the year. For example, someone who lives in Missouri might travel to South Dakota to hunt pronghorn because they know that these animals will move north during spring migration. They believe that if they go to where the deer are then better luck will find them.
Other factors likely play a role in how deer use their time during the night.
"The hunters I talk to want a rising or setting moon that corresponds with dawn or twilight," Kenyon added. They predict higher deer activity if the moon rises during the last hour of daylight or sets late in the morning. The most effective time to hunt deer is between 2 and 5 AM, when the temperature is lowest and the wind is calm.
Deer tend to be active after dark, so if you're going to shoot one of these beautiful creatures, now is as good a time as any. However, if it's daytime when you take your shot, chances are it won't be alone and more than likely someone will see you too.
During cold weather periods, such as early winter or late summer, deer become lethargic and less mobile, so they're easier to spot from a distance. If it's warm out, however, don't worry about seeing them from far away or even at all. They'll hide themselves among trees or other cover until it gets cooler outside again.
In general, deer are most active between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., so consider scheduling your trip for then. Be on the lookout for certain signs of life around your property though; animals other than deer may be visible which could affect your ability to find some secret spots used by deer to communicate.
Last year, the timing was ideal for bringing in an aggressive bull during Colorado's muzzleloader season—unless you believe that a full moon stops or delays the elk rut. There was no elk movement during the day. Each night, there is a beautiful, full moon. I wondered if perhaps this had something to do with it. I called up one of my sources: the Fort Collins Elk Herd Management Program.
"Yes," he said. "During the rut, you want to go after the older bulls because they're going to be more aggressive. A full moon can cause problems though because it makes noise when it gets dark out so be careful not to shoot at shadows."
I also spoke with a local guide who has been guiding hunters for nearly 40 years. He agreed that during the rut, you want to go after the older bulls because they're going to be more aggressive. A full moon can cause problems though because it makes noise when it gets dark out so be careful not to shoot at shadows.
He went on to say that while it isn't impossible to bring in an elk during other times of the year, it's much harder because they're usually hiding out from predators. During the rut, however, they're not only easier to find but will often come into open fields looking for mates.
Deer are crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active during the twilight hours of dusk and morning. This is the time when they go to their feeding places for the night or return to their beds to sleep during the day. They are always on the move in search of food and water.
Dawn and dusk are the same thing from a lunar perspective but from a terrestrial one they are two different times. On Earth, dusk starts when the sun drops below the horizon and ends when it rises again. During this time of low visibility, stars begin to come out and soon after, darkness gives way to light as daytime returns. Dawn is the first light of day and it begins when the moon comes over the horizon.
On Earth, the moon causes tides to rise and fall every 12 hours and 50 minutes. The high tide occurs when the moon is full; the low tide happens when the moon is empty. Tides are highest when the moon is new and lowest around midnight just before or after a full moon. A higher-than-average tide may cause flooding in low-lying areas while a lower-than-expected tide may leave dry land exposed when you expect to find it under water.
On Mars, the period of maximum tidal amplitude is reduced to about an hour because the Martian ocean is much shallower than its Earthly counterpart.