Are you the kind of buck hunter who believes that the full moon absolutely destroys your chances of shooting a good deer?
During the 2011 deer season, the moon will be full on November 12 and December 10, while the New Moon (the dark of the moon) will be Nov. 25 and Dec. 24. This means the days with the least amount of moonlight will occur Nov. 21 through Nov. 29 and Dec. 20 through Dec. 29. In contrast, the brightest nights with the most moonlight will occur Nov. 2 through Nov. 17, and Dec. 2 through Dec. 17.
My own experiences with the moon phase thing have left me something of a skeptic that bright, moonlit nights adversely affect my hunting. I have had some of my best luck on days when the moon was quite bright. In fact, I shot my largest buck ever—a perfect 10 that nets 181 2/8 Pope & Young points—on an afternoon when the moon was as bright as can be. Conversely, I have had some crummy days when the moon was dark.
Already this season I’ve had good success when the moon was dark, arrowing a 140 buck in Wyoming on an 85-degree September afternoon when the moon was nearly dark. On October 2, I shot a mule deer buck in South Dakota with a muzzleloader when the moon was just moving into its first quarter phase.
Like most, I cannot always pick and choose my hunting dates according to the moon phase, and so I go when I can. Thankfully that is a lot, and I am able to hunt several different states and regions each fall, so my observations are not made in a fish bowl. Since my time is limited, my “moon phase strategy” is essentially to go hunting when I can, and stay on stand as much as possible during the various phases of the rut. This maximizes my chances, regardless of the moon phase.
What do you think? Do you have any hard data to back up your feelings on whether or not the bright moon wrecks, or helps, your hunting? Drop me a note here so I can share your experiences with others.