I can’t remember an opening day of archery season when the moon wasn’t somewhere around full. And although most hunters believe that the full moon makes for bad hunting, a recent informal study found that the moon had little or nothing to do with deer movement.
There’s nothing like walking to your spot at 4 am totally lit up by the full moon. (So much for being stealth.) And while you’re casting a moon shadow wherever you go, you can’t help but think about your warm sleeping bag and why you even woke up. Furthermore, the deer probably fed all night long anyway right? Nope!
While it does make it a bit more challenging to sneak up to your spot without being seen, the deer didn’t feed all night long and they will continue their normal pattern regardless of what the moon does. In the informal study conducted at Bent Creek Lodge and published at MossyOak.com, the researchers found that temperature plays the most significant part in deer movement.
When I look back at the last few years, I recall the full moons and lousy opening days. But I also remember that it was hotter than heck (it always is in mid August). I never considered the temperature playing such a big role in activity. Besides, fishing drops off when the moon is full. Why wouldn’t it be the same with deer?
But any experienced deer hunter will tell you that the best time to hunt is when a cold front moves through. The deer get invigorated and naturally move around. Heck, I feel the same way when we get a break from the summer heat. All of a sudden I have a ton of energy. When it’s hot, I feel like “a man dragging himself through a bad dream,” as Edward Abby would say.
This is the first year in a decade that I decided to skip opening day of archery season and it wasn’t because of the big moon. It was because it’s super hot and muggy and I know from experience that nothing’s gonna be walking around in this muck, including me.
So the bottom line in the great “moon myth” is that if it’s hot, it’s going to be less productive whether or not it’s bright outside. That’s why a lot of game is killed when the weather starts to change or when a sudden cold front moves in. Just remember that as soon as the humidity rises, so does scent so it’s important to consider wind and scent control.
It’s kind of a double-edge sword; when it’s dry and hot, deer can’t smell you as well but don’t move much. Then it gets cold and damp, the deer appear but they can smell us ten times better. Nature is one of the dark humor comedians I know. I guess that’s what keeps us coming back!