February 07, 2024
Question: Does the moon phase matter during the rut?
Answer 1: Yes, it does. When the moon is full, deer don’t move a lot in the daylight. I started hunting by the Moon Chart, and I’m a believer in it. (Gregory Stanton, Facebook)
Sometimes you have to follow the “science of your eyes” when it comes to hunting. The science may contradict what you are witnessing in the field, but you must follow your gut. If something is working for you and you’re objective about what is happening, then go with it. Confidence is everything.
Answer 2: No. When they’re rutting, they’re rutting. (Bill Travis Crites, Facebook)
Bill makes a great point here. The gestation period of whitetails is fixed at around 200 days. In northern latitudes, fawns must be born in early June to grow large enough to survive the winter. That puts the peak of the breeding activity in early to mid-November. In other words: It’s happening, regardless of the moon phase.
Answer 3: Every tracking-collar study I’ve read has proven the moon phases to have zero effect. (nomansland4404, Instagram)
This is where science clashes with perception. Many a deer hunter has cussed the full moon during November — even to the point of avoiding it when choosing hunt dates. Many outfitters also despise the full moon but avoid speculation, because they have to book clients every week in November — regardless of the moon. This goes back to the fact that the rut is on every year at the same time — give or take a few days — so all you can do is keep hunting.
Answer 4: I believe moon phase does play a roll, especially when paired with the warmer temperatures during that time. Last season, when it was a full moon through peak rut with 50-degree midday temperatures, there was a lot of activity at night on my cameras with bucks chasing and hitting scrapes. I watched two bucks come back to bed early morning and stay bedded until midday. Years when there wasn’t a full moon, there would be a lot more activity in the morning, and that would carry on into the midday hours. I think a buck prefers to do his chasing in the moonlight when it’s cooler, so in my experience, it 100% does play a roll. (__troy_lusk__, Instagram)
A lot of factors determine what could be called the “apparent” rut. Rest assured that breeding is taking place in November, but it is only apparent if it takes place in the daylight — when we are hunting. As mentioned, warm weather and a bright moon may cause a buck to move nocturnally, leaving bowhunters wondering why the deer aren’t rutting. Or, if the rutting action is taking place elsewhere, the moon gets the blame.
Answer 5: No. Multiple deer studies show that the amount of daylight is what triggers deer movements throughout the year. During the rut, bucks are on their feet 16 hours a day, no matter what. The reason people might stop seeing a specific buck during this timeframe is because their home range rapidly expands to find hot does. (Theeverydaybowhunter, Instagram)
Photoperiodism is a major biological trigger for most wildlife. It is also what triggers a doe to go into estrus in November. Every bowhunter will agree that if a hot doe is nearby, you’d better be ready for what happens next. All the more reason to make sure you’re in a tree or blind. You can cuss at the moon all you want, but the best advice is to hunt hard.