It seems like almost all of us have done it. You’re getting things ready to hit the woods in the morning. You head out to the garage, the truck, or you’re taking the dog out one more time before bed to be greeted by a hated enemy of the deer hunter, the full moon. You completely forgot during the week to check the upcoming moon phase and now you’re faced with a traditionally tough day of hunting.
Does a full moon have to be the death sentence of a day in the woods though? Now, I fully understand the controversy that question stirs up. Somewhere in this state someone may have been thrown out of a camp just for asking it but stay with me.
In case you don’t know why some deer hunters dread the full moon it’s because there is the belief that a full moon shines so much light the deer feed and interact at night because they can see better at a time when they are not so visible to hunters. Having gotten their feeding done, the deer then lay down during the daylight hours leaving hunters little to no chance at a shot.
It’s a theory that’s impossible to argue because it’s the opinion of hunters who have experienced it in the woods first hand. It’s also impossible to avoid the moon turning full at some point during hunting season and with other factors working against you (school, sports, someone who took the vacation days you wanted) sometimes you have no choice about when you can go.
Always remember the moon is not the only thing going on in the woods. The weather is still a huge factor for deer behavior. A cold front can still get them up on their feet. If it’s during the rut bucks won’t miss a chance to breed if they find a receptive doe day or night so that’s another motivating factor to move.
Also, don’t forget about the lunch rush. More and more you’ll hear about a dedicated hunter putting in the dark to dark shift that killed one of those hidden deer between 11:00am and 1:00pm. Why? Deer have been known to move later in the day during the full moon. Add that in with movement from other frustrated hunters heading back for a sandwich and sometimes you’re the success story of an accidental deer drive.
Finally look at where you’re hunting. What’s the property’s food availability? What’s the property’s deer density or population like? How much pressure from other hunters are the deer getting? Despite several scientific studies currently on deer behavior during a full moon using GPS mapping collars, no one has definitively stated deer will or will not move. Weather, pressure, rutting, and food availability will always play a role in what deer do.
So, before you put the camo away for a day of errands and sleeping in, evaluate the conditions and adjust your strategy. You only get so much time a year to hunt, go every chance you can.