Hunting Around the Full Moon and The Pre-Rut

Full Moon During Deer SeasonSneaking along a field edge my watch read 5:01 am yet the light protruding from the near full moon created no need for my Black Diamond Headlamp.  Each season hunters dread the period approaching and during the full moon.  Any hunter having spent time in the woods around this time will know deer movement drops faster than a boulder in water.  While this is a frustrating period of time, every hunter wonders what to do during the full moon.  Recently veteran outdoor writer of over 40 years from New York, Oak Duke, shared some of his knowledge from his lifetime of whitetail deer hunting on hunting around the full moon. 

“Bow Season always seems we are playing catch up with these deer,” says Duke. “ Because there is so much light, the light it represses sex hormones and creates more of the hormone melatonin which pushes them further into night time activity.”  Duke reports that in his 50 plus years of whitetail hunting, the period of times right before and during the full moon, he sees less activity in the morning and evening hunts, the times which we all traditionally hunt. “I see most of the activity in the height of the day, when we all have to be at work or in the dead of night,” says Duke.  “If you have the time to hunt during the mid day hours there is a good chance you will see deer.   During the full moon phase, I use this time to scout.  I really love making mock scrapes and getting my trail cameras over them.  With limited activity during the full moon I will save my energy and really spend time fine tuning my locations,” says Duke.

But all is not lost just because the moon cycle skews deer movement.  Understanding how whitetails react to the changing moon cycle is important.“As the full moon begins to wane, this is my favorite time to hunt, the last quarter of the moon,” says Duke. “As the light begins to even out the production of hormones we begin to see more daylight activity.  Communication among deer at scrapes heats up and the hunters who can key in on these will increase their odds of success.”    Now as the darker moon phase begins, the deer feel the impeding rush of breeding hormones.  Bucks are not the only ones working scrapes.  The does will go in and work the over hanging branch.  This is the equivalent   of kissing,” says Duke. “By mouthing the branch, they are timing each other for the  miracle of the rut by setting their internal clocks.”   Key elements during the retreating of the moon phases are grunt calls and doe bleats.  “Right now, they are curious,” says Duke. Grunting and bleat cans right now are extremely effective.  The bucks know the the rut is coming.  After an entire summer in bachelor groups they are trying to distance themselves from each other.  Many guys report that they are seeing bucks chasing does, what they are really seeing is the bucks chasing each other.  “I use my grunt calls and bleat cans frequently,” says Duke.  Use their curiosity to your advantage.

Jason Reid


Last Updated: November 17th, 2013

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