How the moon phases affect deer movement

As hunters, we’re always trying to optimize our time in the stand so that we can increase our chances of success. One topic of conversation every season is what the moon is doing and how that potentially impacts deer movement. In this article we’ll break down what exactly the different phases of the moon are and why the timing of the moon phases should play into your game plan this fall.

Weather and how it’s changing is still the most important factor to consider. We’ve talked about keying in on those cold fronts, and focusing our efforts around those big drops in temperature. We’ve also talked about barometric pressure, and why that’s an important index to monitor. To learn more about barometric pressure - check out our post on how barometric pressure affects deer movement.

This article focuses in on the moon and its impact on deer movement. Moon phases are important to watch because they can influence the timing of when deer are up on their feet, which can lead to more encounters if you’re timing your hunts correctly. However, before jumping into the how to use the moon phases to your hunting advantage, let’s get a basic understanding of what the moon phases are.

What are the moon phases

Just as a refresher from way back when, the moon cycles through phases because it orbits the Earth, causing the illuminated portion we see up in the sky to change. It takes about four weeks for the moon to orbit the Earth once. During this time the moon’s position is constantly changing relative to the Earth and the Sun - giving us the various moon phases.

The different phases of the moon can be seen in the diagram below. Each phase cycles through in a counterclockwise fashion around the Earth starting with the new moon.

deer hunting moon phases

How to hunt the different moon phases

Mark Drury, of Drury Outdoors, has spoken a lot about the impact the moon can have on deer, and according to him his favorite time to hunt each month is the 7 days before and after the full moon. We’ll cover what phases those are below, but he goes on to share that “if you’ve got the right weather and you’ve got a full moon, chances are you’re going to see a lot of deer on their feet.”

A Rising Moon

A rising moon happens when the moon cycle is leading up to a full moon. This occurs during the waxing gibbous phase of the moon. You know you have a rising moon when you see the moon rising in the afternoon between 1:00 and 5:00 PM. When you’re in this phase, you want to be sure to be hunting the afternoons because that’s when you can expect to see the most daylight deer movement. As the moon rises later and later in the days leading up to the full moon, the deer activity will generally follow that same pattern and start later each day.

Using a rising moon to your advantage can also be a great tactic in the late season. With the cold weather and a rising moon, you’ll have a better chance of catching a buck cruising post lunch during those daylight hours.

A Falling Moon

This period happens after the rising moon phase and is about 4 to 5 days after the full moon has cycled through. During this time of the month you’ll see the moon setting in the mornings, and as a result you’ll typically see the best daylight deer activity in the AM. It’s during a falling moon period that you’ll want to be up in your best morning stands for the first 2 to 3 hours of daylight to catch more deer on their feet.

In wrapping up on how to hunt the various moon phases, both a rising and a falling moon can have an impact on when deer are up moving around. It’s important to monitor what the moon is doing throughout the season so that you know when to time your sits accordingly. Remember, it’s about hunting smarter not harder.

How to monitor the moon

There are a variety of tools out there to help you monitor the current moon phase, and any modern weather website or weather app will provide information related to the various moon phases. However, we do have a favorite…

The Quiver Hunting App was designed to provide hunters with hunting specific weather information. Within Quiver you can see the current moon phase across your various hunting spots along with other important weather details such as current weather, sunrise and sunset times, wind speed and direction along with barometric pressure. Check out Quiver by downloading it for free from iTunes.

deer hunting moon phases

Wrap Up

In closing, we all know hunting mature whitetails is a chess match, and we always need to be looking for ways to stack the odds in our favor. Although the moon phase is not the ultimate determinant of deer movement, it’s an important factor to consider when choosing what part of the day to climb into your stand, so that you can increase your chances of success this hunting season. #huntsmarter

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