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Q: Which lunar phase produces the best opportunity for hunting deer? Thanks, Bo

A: #1 Bo:

It has been widely discussed and agreed that animals move and feed best at dusk and dawn. The theory is that animals will be most influenced by the moon and the sun when each is closest to the earth. When all three are in closest proximity usually occurs during the peak moon phases of new moon (no moon) and full moon. The trick is to calculate when all three will be in closest proximity to each other at the peak movement and feeding times (dusk and dawn) and concentrate your hunting on those days.

John Alden Knight took what he knew from the almanac, lunar and solar rise and set times, and some folk lore and developed the solunar tables back in 1936. They are the same tables published in our very own Woods N Water mothly.

Essentially, the theory boils down to the fact that most animals are primarily composed of water bone and tissue; water being the key ingredient. Since water is susceptible to gravitational pull, the body is influenced by those solar and lunar forces exacting themselves on the body. Combining that gravitational urge along with traditional feeding times of dusk and dawn and calculating the peak of each period is how the solunar tables work. In that case, the half hour to hour on either side of the peak provides the best window of opportunity to see movement during any given moon and sun phase. Further, since there are also intervals of time when the moon and sun are at right angles to our global positions, those comprise the minor feed times. Urges to feed will not be as strong, but activity will be increased none the less.

Having said all that, there are also factors such as temperature, wind, precipitation, and mating cycles that determine when a deer, especially a mature buck, is most likely to be caught out in the open. Typically, the shorter the day, the more likely deer are to move during day light hours in order to maximize movement during periods of warmth and conserve energy when it's cold. However, when it's hot and days are longest, deer will move more at night for the same reasons. The effect of inclement weather will cause deer to hole up and stay bedded as well.

It has been documented by Dr. James Kroll and other deer scientist that deer movement increases dramatically when temperatures fall below 57 degrees. For best results, you want to hunt on cool to cold days near the new or full moon phases and maximize your time in the woods. A deer can move any time for any reason. But more deer will move at those peak times when all external influences coincide. So your best times to hunt are during the full or new moon, when the peak moon phase is closest to dusk or dawn, on days that are colder than 57 degrees, with little to no inclement weather, as the rut approaches peak seeking periods. Now all you need is a full time job as a deer biologist or hunting guide to ensure you're around when they big ones get up and move.

Best of luck and hope this answered your question.

Chuck Echenique

A: #2 The phases of the moon most productive for deer hunting are the quarter moons. Native Americans have known for centuries that the best hunting is when the moon is high in the sky. Deer will be feeding best at dawn (Waning Quarter) and dusk (Waxing Quarter) while the moon is up.

Toby Benoit


DK Flatwoods Pro-Staff

A: #3 To be perfectly frank with you I have never paid a whole lot of attention to the moon phase as it relates to my hunting. There have been books written on the subject, websites dedicated to it and charts that are readily available in many publications. Woods N Water even has a "best times" chart in every issue. I subscribe to the "hunt when you can get away" theory and that hunting often and smart will fill more tags than a lunar table ever will.

There are many that feel that game activity will be higher when the moon is either underfoot or overhead. When those times coincide with normal hunting hours (first couple of hours in the AM, last couple in the PM) the likelihood of even greater activity exists.......in theory.

I know some hardcore fisherman who swear by the moon due to its relationship to the tides. Different story all together in my opinion, you asked about deer didn't you.

In my experience there is no substitute for seat time. What I mean by that is the more you can be in the woods the greater the chances are that you will eventually be there on the "right" day. I haven't kept records of what moon phases were in when I experinced success over the past 30 years so I can't rightly say if I have taken more deer on certain moon phases or not?

Here's my take:

A) Hunt when you can be there, if the moon is "wrong", oh well it is better to be in the woods than at home in my opinion.

B) Try to spend as much time as possible in the woods during the rut. This is when things get really exciting and I don't think the bucks care about the moon.

C) See A and B.

How's that for skirting the issue? :)

Paul A. Kish