Contributors to this thread:
Preferred dates or rut?
Planning an elk hunt to West Central Montana for 2019 and trying to get dates figured out but our preferred timeframe for activity line up perfectly with a full moon in 2019.
Our preferred dates would put us there Sept 11-21 based on previous years animal activity, but the full moon occurs on Sept 14 and it always seems that night time activity is high and daytime is less several days before and after the full moon. Better dates for the moon and dark nights standpoint look like they would be Sept 19-29 but worried that’s getting too late.
Curious what others would do, or if the night time activity thing is all in my head. We could do either, or any other combination of 10 or so days in that timeframe? Thanks!
Congrats for being the FIRST of about 758 topics about which dates to hunt in sept 2019. Early = less pressure and more bulls on the hunt for cows. Later = more hunters, more bugles, more herded up elk. Take your pick!
First off, thanks! I guess as the self appointed post critic, anyone else that asks I guess you can just direct them to this post! Just to be clear Im guessing it’s warmer earlier and colder later too?!
To the question however...?
2019 is off to a touchy start. I'll say that I prefer early ... since I can scout a lot, I should know roughly where they are without bugles ... and early fits my hunting style. And I've dealt with herded-up bulls enough that I don't want more frustration. I don't think the moon should determine your hunt dates. Its importance is perhaps not zero, but I don't think it would drive a decision like that.
Badlander, yes, higher temps and more bugs. Later you could be in for an early snow storm as well.
I always like the 10-25 . Full moon or not !!
I don't know your elevation, but be aware snow can come early. In 2013, I hunted there later with some local insight that the bulls can still be cranking into Oct. (They probably are!) But be prepared. This pic was taken 9/23 at 9K. (And it went downhill from there)
Pick 10 days and go hunt.
You'll either be right or wrong, but at least you'll be elk hunting.
Worry about something else.
^^^^That. Nothing can be predicted this far out regardless of when you decide to go, including the weather. As HUNT stated, moon phase is the last thing to concern yourself with.
Thanks to all who have commented so far. I realize that there are many unpredictable things between now and then. However, generally rutting dates and the moon are reasonably predictable.
So, no one else has seen a marked difference in daytime activity when it’s a full moon? Or, do you feel that those peak days are just that good that you wouldn’t miss them regardless?
Sorry for such a controversial topic this early in the year. Some of us need to plan vacation days a ways out, so we pick around what we know about and roll the dice with the rest.
Here is a link for you to enter the - zip code - month - year - and it will tell you when the best times to hunt are.
See link - good luck
In good hunting areas I have not noticed any difference in full moon or not. In scrub areas one tends to look for reasons why the hunting sucks; the moon is an easy target.
cnelk - thanks for your contribution! Have a great day, sorry I offended you with my question.
Im not offended at all. What you're asking is probably considered the Holy Grail of elk hunting.
Plus, when you you ask a question you better be prepared for the answer
I have absolutely NO idea how that photo showed up!
I have absolutely NO idea how that photo showed up!
The only controversy that's being created is by you. If you want to worry about moon phase, have a ball. As WB pointed out, moon phase is a cop-out for those that are unsuccessful. Period. It's a convenient excuse for tag soup. You asked for advice and some very successful proven elk killers have done just that. Apparently, you're the one that's offended by that advice.
You say that moon phases are predictable. True, but those of us that have been killing elk for a hell of a lot of years say don't worry about moon phase. As far as rutting dates being predictable, apparently you have that figured out too. I've seen bulls going nuts on the first of Sept, and I've seen a bachelor herd of bulls chumming around like high school buddies at the end of the second week. I've heard bulls sounding off like crazy the first of the month, then go silent as a church mouse for the rest of the season. I've heard it quiet as heck the first three weeks, then they light up the last week...and everything in-between. So much for predictability.
You ask for advice, then get your panties in an uproar because the answers aren't what you wanted to hear. Apparently you want someone to tell you to be in "x" drainage, at "x" time, on "x" date and you'll have bulls screaming as they rush in begging to be shot. Have a great hunt.
Just go ahead and hunt the whole season. That eliminates one whole decision from the hunt. You can focus on other key questions like broadhead selection and arrow weight.
Since you asked about the full moon, I thought you might enjoy this moon phase exercise I did back in 2014.
I went thru this with another guy who ran my numbers.
Me and my buddies have taken 22 elk [archery] in the past 10 years
16 harvests were in a moon phase of 50% visibility OR LESS [some were new moon, 1st quarter, etc] 6 harvests were in a moon phase of 90% visibility OR MORE [very near or at full moon]and quick research shows 3-4 days on either side of the full moon date have > 90% or more. Shall we say 7 days are 90% or more visibility? And approx 14 days have < 50%
Category Observed Expected # Expected
1 <50% 16 11 50.000%
2 >90% 6 6 27.273%
3 50-90% 0 5 22.727%
Chi squared equals 7.273 with 2 degrees of freedom. The two-tailed P value equals 0.0263
According to the analysis we did better than expected when the moon was dark, about what you would expect near a full moon, and less than you'd expect (zero) when the moon was out but not bright. It shows some evidence that it's better hunting during darker moon, but I wouldn't schedule a hunt around it.
Good luck - Have a great hunt
Wyobullshooter - wow. Sorry man, I didn’t ask anyone for a drainage or GPS coordinates. No, I’m no elk expert, sorry. Yes, I am aware that weather can effect the rut. I am aware that pressure can effect elk being vocal, or being there at all.
If the answer was, “i’ve never noticed the full moon having an effect” that’s cool, that’s what I asked.
Instead I’ve received:
1) insults about the question being dumb, and “worry about something else” 2) comments about pressure and herded animals - appreciated, but not the question I had asked 3) a link to a game activity table - wow thanks 4) personal insults now that I’m looking for someone to lead me to an elk 5) a few guys saying don’t worry about it (which is the question I asked originally)
If that’s all great advice from guys who have killed a lot of bulls, i’ll just keep plugging along on my own just fine.
I wasn’t looking for any specific answer that I wanted, I wanted advice on whether you let the full moon falling on the dates one would most “expect” to see the best activity change plans and even in your insulting condescending post you answered the question, so thank you.
I’m just not sure why a few had to be so rude about it? Really a game activity table?
Like I said early. I hunt Montana ever year for the last 20. If you gave me one day a year it would be the 15th give me two 18 th would be next. Opening day is always a good bet if you know where they live or can scout and glass for a day before season! Good luck!
As a newer elk hunter, I remember worrying about which dates would give me the best odds. Now that I’m a little older, I think that every day in September has its own unique value, with each one being equal. Earlier is warmer, bulls are on the prowl. Later is colder, bulls are usually with cows. Each scenario presents a great opportunity. Pick the best time for you, and your family, and go kill an elk. I truly do not believe that the moon plays any factor at all, as the elk will still continue to be elk regardless.
There are some certified elk killing machines posting on this thread. I'm not one of them. However, all of them have said the same thing. And, one of them has even given you his preferred dates. Good luck with your hunt and God Bless
Cnelk, have you ever broken down your observations to times you’ve seen elk moving and/or time of harvest relative to the moon?
Also have you explored the moon over head over foot theory? This has more to do with feeding.
See link - Original thread from 5 years ago this month. We discuss time of day and other useless data :)
I agree with what has been said. Firstly, that moon phase has less to do with anything as timing. Timing has no date attached, meaning, if you are there when it's on fire, you're timing was perfect, if not you can blame it on a whole host of things, but in reality, they are just darn unpredictable, and so is the rut. I hunted what I consider some of the best dates this year with a LE tag in pocket, and had a heck of a time as nothing was talking at all. I hate hunting when it is snowing or raining for a week, so personally, I would rather wait until I can get a good idea of the weather patterns, although that doesn't work for a 9-5er trying to get vaca time. Good luck.
So much about how bulls behave from late August into October just can't be nailed down. I have seen hot weather make elk nocturnal with a bugle or two then nothing until the next night then a year late on those dates the next year are crazy with daytime activity of bulls on the move screaming every few minutes. I grew up in the Midwest and whitetail deer in agricultural zones were also highly unpredictable. People would talk about the moon, temperatures, etc, but rut activity simply was erratic year to year, moon phase to moon phase, etc.
If you are hunting for 7 -10 days in September then that is about as much as you can do to increase your odds of a nice elk adventure. I hunt private land out West from time to time and wait for the phone call to say head over as the good bulls are showing up. I get a plane ticket and am hunting in a couple of days. That is what works for me.
If conditions are right the elk will move regardless of the moon phase. If conditions are wrong it won`t matter what moon phase it is.
If you got in your old lady`s shorts only once a year would you care what the moon phase was....lol. Like others have said.....GO HUNT. Don`t over think it....you`re already planting the seeds for failure. Be positive and optimistic and make it happen. If the chips are down.....grind harder.
Moon phase doesn't matter to the local guys who hunt all season long. If they don't see elk one week, big deal you go the next or the next. This isn't always possible for someone living 1500miles away who has one week a year. Moon phase may not mean everything but you can be damned sure i'll be checking it before I schedule my hunt, drive 1500 miles, waste 7-10days of vacation and money. And don't apologize to anyone for asking these questions.
I drive great distances every year to hunt elk. Never once have I looked to see what cycle the moon was on a what date. Just like when I plan my whitetail trips during there rut.
The dates are the number one deciding factor. Me myself I like the the 7th through the 21st. No mater what phase of the moon.
How does Labor Day figure into your plans? The holiday weekend brings out families camping and target shooting and weekend archery hunters. The elk have not heard calling yet and may be more prone to answering but may also keep quiet til the holiday traffic lessens. Our LQ area last fall had lots of talk early, then quite after the middle of the month. Mt bikers made hunting early a pain though.
Cnelk, are you on rockslide under same handle?
"I drive great distances every year to hunt elk. Never once have I looked to see what cycle the moon was on a what date. Just like when I plan my whitetail trips during there rut. The dates are the number one deciding factor. Me myself I like the the 7th through the 21st. No mater what phase of the moon."
Took the words right out of my mouth.