Outfitters aren’t just bombarded with requests to hunt the peak of the rut, they get frequent requests to hunt the full moon. Turns out, that’s pointless. North Carolina State University graduate research assistant Marcus Lashley examined a number of moon-related research projects conducted in Alabama, Tennessee and Maryland, as well as his own research conducted on whitetail does in North Carolina, to determine if lunar cycles had any influence on deer activity. It is likely the most comprehensive examination of the moon and its effect on whitetails ever conducted.
“I had 250,000 locations from more than 100 deer from these studies and compared them to the moon phases at the time the data was gathered,” he says. “I found no significant relationship at all. I looked at the periods of three weeks before and three weeks after the peak rut periods and found no consistent trends when I compared buck activity to moon phases. The rut takes place about the same time every year.”
Lashley even compared deer activity to solunar tables, which use the sun’s location and moon’s phases and location to predict the best times to be in the woods.
“You could throw a dart at a dartboard and have the same chances of seeing a deer as if you went by the solunar tables. What I found was that across the board, peak movement times were in the mornings and evenings, with evening activity a little higher than morning activity,” he says. “Moon phase had no noticeable effect on deer activity.”