Letter Re: Phases of the Moon and Deer Hunting

Ungulates (cattle, deer, antelopes, camels, deer, goats, pigs, sheep, as so forth) daily routines are keyed to the moon. People’s routines are keyed to the Sun. The moon cycles each 28 days, the sun in 30 or so days.

Each day, the sun is always somewhere near high noon, i.e. 50% past sun-up, at 12:00 sun time (duh). However, the moon can be at ‘high noon’ in moon time at any given hour, i.e. at 9:00 a.m./3:00 p.m., etc.—because the moon has a shorter cycle.

Recent satellite telemetry studies on collared white tail does and bucks across North America established hard scientific proof of deer movement. Each morning, deer will move from low ground to the highest grounds and hide during daylight in the highest and densest locations. Each night fall, the deer will move to the lowest and most open areas. That is an established scientific fact, as gleaned from the telemetry studies. The scientists surmise the basis for such movements is that deer see exceptionally well at night, i.e. they enjoy a visual edge over the predators on the dark nights. However, during day time hours, both predator and prey see equally well; therefore, deer hide in the dense stuff in daylight. Additionally, deer have a keen sense of smell and because warm air rises, at day break deer go high and hide, thus accomplishing concealment and the ability to sniff out on the rising thermals any potential predatory threats.

Now, because deer are ungulates, i.e. cud chewers, they must chew their cud ‘X’ number of hours a day or they die. Most of this is done while bedded down (not sleeping though). They cannot chew their cud while in transit though. The telemetry studies confirmed that for 18 hours a day, deer are bedded down, i.e. the net sum of the time the deer are either up high on the ridges during daylight or in the open flats down low at night.

The telemetry studies established also that the deer ‘feed’ actively, i.e. their breakfast time/dinner time/ lunch time, when the mood is directly over head (i.e. when it is high noon in moon time) or when the moon is directly underfoot, (i.e. midnight in moon time).

This ‘active feed time’ is only about two hours each day, i.e. they fill their bellies twice daily and chew their cud the rest of the time, allowing of course the time it takes them to move to and from feeding areas and the time they actually ‘sleep’. Unlike people though, deer snooze about 3-4 hours, chew their cud at regular intervals when awake, take time to travel at daylight to higher ground, and take time to travel to lower ground at dark—-depending on the ‘moon-time’, the deer will ‘actively feed’ along their given travel routes.

Interestingly, and keeping the theory and scientific fact in mind, with a ‘full moon’, deer move less at daylight and stay in dense cover, especially when it is at night or the early a.m. hours. So to all who hunt with gun/camera, knowing the forces of nature that dictate animal travel patterns, one can surmise when and where animals, both predator and prey, can be found. Yes, predators’ travel patterns can be determined by tracking ‘their’ dinner plates as they move around the landscape!

There is an excellent book that goes through all of the above, titled Moon Struck; Hunting Strategies That Revolve Around the Moon, by Jim Murray. BassProShops sells this book. Tell your hunting buddies about this and they will thank you beyond words! It is the ultimate resource for tracking the moon phases for the very short interval of deer season. Thanks! – Matt B.