The Age Old Question: Does the Moon Impact the Start of the Rut?
It's a topic of conversation that has no doubt resulted in many depleted bottles of whiskey and maybe a few strained friendships. I myself have sworn for years by the moon phase to help gauge the start of the whitetail rut and deer movement for potential hunting success.
When a recent hunt was filled with more deer movement than my moon phase prowess should have predicted, I did a little searching and came across a very interesting piece of research I was surprised I had not come across sooner. To be honest I was pretty stuck on my moon phase beliefs and had no desire to try and prove myself wrong. Lesson learned!
Combined research conducted by New Brunswick DNR, as well as Researchers from the University of Georgia, compiled biological data of over 3,000 does from all over the country. The biological data included fecal measurements to allow researches to age the fetus and determine the precise date of conception. Using data from these studies, the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) was able to create the following graphic showing that the average conception date and range of the rut tend to fall during the same time of year regardless of moon phase.
All things considered, there are some observed differences in actual deer movement during the day based on moon phase. Deer still move primarily at dawn and dusk, however the observed fluctuations might be worth noting if you're trying to time when to head into the stand to bag that target buck this year. The moon won't however, help you determine the rut. Check out the video below from the QDMA that discusses this topic a little more and provides some good advice on how to consider moon phases for deer movement.
For me personally, I'll be focusing on the weeks of the year that my hunting area has seen increased breeding activity in recent years to gauge the rut. Additionally, I'll be paying attention to cold fronts and dropping barometric pressure, which is another topic and article all of its own. Most importantly, I'll just be getting in the woods as much as possible because you can't kill a deer researching the rut on your computer at home.
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