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Weather or moon phase have no effect?!
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Mike Ukrainetz 07-Dec-21
Phil Magistro 07-Dec-21
Phil Magistro 07-Dec-21
APauls 07-Dec-21
Novembermadman 07-Dec-21
12yards 07-Dec-21
JSW 07-Dec-21
JL 07-Dec-21
Grey Ghost 07-Dec-21
Bowaddict 07-Dec-21
Supernaut 07-Dec-21
Rocky D 07-Dec-21
Bowaddict 07-Dec-21
Bowaddict 07-Dec-21
Cazador 07-Dec-21
Will 07-Dec-21
Bowaddict 07-Dec-21
Hancock West 07-Dec-21
Scoot 07-Dec-21
Grey Ghost 07-Dec-21
APauls 07-Dec-21
Rocky D 07-Dec-21
Bowfreak 07-Dec-21
Huntiam 07-Dec-21
scentman 07-Dec-21
Michael 07-Dec-21
12yards 08-Dec-21
Shuteye 08-Dec-21
Hancock West 08-Dec-21
WV Mountaineer 08-Dec-21
Buffalo1 08-Dec-21
spike78 08-Dec-21
Corax_latrans 08-Dec-21
07-Dec-21

Mike Ukrainetz's Link
I just read this in a Bowhunter magazine article: “Study after study has been consistent: Data has not indicated any significant pattern to the effects of moon phase or weather parameters on buck or doe movements. Various studies have also subdivided this data to daytime versus nighttime movements during the hunting season. The result was still the same: The weather and moon had no significant effect on deer movements during either the day or night.”

Now does any hunter really believe that weather, most of all, doesn’t have an effect on deer movement?! Or even moon phase? I can simply drive around at first light after a full moon night and see very few deer out in the fields and then do it after a dark moon night and the difference in deer numbers is drastic. Never mind a cold day compared to a warm day. Am I missing something here? Or are all these scientific studies flawed somehow?

07-Dec-21

Phil Magistro's Link
Penn State has done extensive research on radio-collared deer. They have a blog with all types of interesting information. Here is one of the articles on moon phase.

07-Dec-21

Phil Magistro's Link
And here is a blog post about weather...

From: APauls
07-Dec-21
To be honest I have tried to find days that are better than others cold fronts etc, and somehow it just never rings true. for whatever reason some days just seem better than others, but when I analyze it I have a hard time finding a pattern.

This fall, as I was tied up at home with baby, I remember a number of times texting friends, like "Oh big storm coming tonight is the night" or right after a storm, and after checking in with a number of hunters it never really rang true. It was killing me to be at home during the season so I was working the phones like a madman to hear anything hunting. Just never happened. The night I shot my huge buck this year was a bluebird, beautiful October day. And he came out to feed way early. No reason whatsoever to do that. First deer out in the winter wheat. As much as I have believed it over the years because of what I've read it has never translated in the field for me.

07-Dec-21
Hunt when you can hunt. I would never base my hunt around the moon phase but I would definitely make sure not to miss a day to hunt if a cold front is moving in or just gone through.

From: 12yards
07-Dec-21
I agree it is all very confusing and what makes hunting so enjoyable and unpredictable. Last year I saw deer almost evey time I sat in a tree. This year, with supposedly the same number of deer around, I rarely saw deer and when I did it was far fewer. Seemed most camera activity was nocturnal. What caused it? No idea. Acorns or lack thereof? Moon? Crops? Drought? I stunk more? The mysteries of it all are part of the fascination.

From: JSW
07-Dec-21
I've tried to tie increased activity to the condition of the moon and after 40+ years I still can't make a connection. I agree with that part of the study.

As far as weather is concerned I tend to disagree with them. Generally, these studies show that deer move about the same regardless of temps. This may be true but I think you see more daytime movement when cold. They still might move as much when hot but it is more nocturnal.

I hunted whitetails for 32 days this year and the more I hunt the more I realize I still have a lot to learn.

From: JL
07-Dec-21
IMO weather does affect movement. Dealing with that now in northern MI. High winds and blowing snow...nothing moving.

I know from checking my trailcams that on certain days there will be a lot of deer activity. You can see that trend by the amount of activity on each cam on that day. For example, I just looked in my vid library and Oct 26 had a fair amount of buck movement across several cams. Take it for what it's worth....

07-Dec-21
12 yards,

In my area of KS/MO I agree with seeing less daytime movement this year, and I attributed it to a really unseasonably warm weather pattern we have been in. I guess I might be wrong.

In 2011 I sat in a ground blind over a 4 acre milo/bean plot as a predicted snowstorm started 2 hours before last shooting light. 40 deer piled in and ate all of the milo heads off over two nights. The food was readily available above the 8" of snow. Maybe weather doesn't affect patterns most of the time, but 30 years of bowhunting I think it does enough to have upped my odds at times.

From: Grey Ghost
07-Dec-21
Mike,

I'm with you, I think those studies are a bunch of nonsense. When you actually live in deer country and observe their habits every day for years it becomes obvious how moon and weather conditions change their patterns.

Matt

From: Bowaddict
07-Dec-21
As it pertains to wind, growing up in Michigan the wind did tend to subdue movement (except during rut). But western whitetail could care less! If they didn’t move on windy days, they wouldn’t be eating much out here. I’ve killed some of my bigger deer on windy days, and I’ve killed my biggest on a 80 degree day 3 hours before dark first of November. There is a lot we still don’t know, and yes that’s what makes chasing them so much fun!

From: Supernaut
07-Dec-21
Interesting reads Phil, thanks for posting those links.

Hunting time for me is limited due to work and family stuff and that's life. I just hunt whenever I can regardless of weather or moon phase, etc. I know one absolute truth; if I'm in the woods I have a chance, if I'm not in the woods I have zero chance.

From: Rocky D
07-Dec-21
Give me a high pressure system and the moon hanging high in the sky is a great time to be in the woods.

I don’t need a study to tell me that!

From: Bowaddict
07-Dec-21
I put much less(no) emphasis on moon phase because I’ve never been able to figure any kind of pattern. The moons position in sky and gravitational influence on deer is interesting, but jury is still out. Weather I think is biggest influence on daytime movement. I would never set my hunt vacations based on moon phase, I’ve had great and bad experiences with all!

From: Bowaddict
07-Dec-21
I put much less(no) emphasis on moon phase because I’ve never been able to figure any kind of pattern. The moons position in sky and gravitational influence on deer is interesting, but jury is still out. Weather I think is biggest influence on daytime movement. I would never set my hunt vacations based on moon phase, I’ve had great and bad experiences with all!

From: Cazador
07-Dec-21
You guys don’t just check wind? Pick a stand and see what happens? Could be a bit more advanced than that, but that’s the extent of it in basic terms no?Sooner or later something good normally happens, Or not!

From: Will
07-Dec-21
I think it's a bit of "truth to both". With increasing use of GPS tracking of deer over long periods, what "we" as hunters think is true can be seen sometimes to not be true, or perhaps, not to be as strong as we believe.

For example, we recall the time we hunted before or after a storm and saw a ton of deer or shot a big buck, and our brain locks in "that condition is primo". It's possible no one in a 20 mile radius but you saw much action - you had a good day, theirs was not.

We remember the extremes and often not the averages... And the research is looking at averages, often.

That said, at some point one of those Penn State papers noted next to no difference in buck or doe movement in rain if it was drizzle/mist or a steady rain, but heavy rain lead to little movement at all. Similar with snow as I recall. I'm going on memory so I'm not recalling it precisely.

Point being, if you read a paper and the average is X, there were high's and lows that contributed to the average. When you are looking for a one off "exception" of an event (you in the same space as a wild animal you aim to shoot), maybe the averages aren't as meaningful as the exceptions.

It's interesting stuff. I'm sure not "skipping" a hunt because the moon says it will stink though, when you can go, you go...

From: Bowaddict
07-Dec-21
^^^well put! I work Monday-Friday sometimes weekends. I hunt when I can and set pre-rut vacations and just hunt! Moon and weather be dammed! If I head out for weekend trip I definitely try to get it after a front in October though!

From: Hancock West
07-Dec-21
I'll take a new moon over full moon any day of the season. Our daytime sightings are always down just before, during and after the full moon.

From: Scoot
07-Dec-21
A huge percentage of people believe their anecdotal evidence is more valid than the empirical evidence provided by studies like this. When their observations match the findings, they report how good the research is. When they don't match they beat on the science and say it's a bunch of hog wash.

Even scientists sometimes will focus on how their own research is flawed when it doesn't support their proposed model, rather than follow the findings.

Humans are human and flawed in their logic and conclusions. Research is imperfect, but when done well its a lot better than anecdotal evidence. When done poorly it's pretty worthless.

As said above- hunt when you can hunt. For those who claim to have it all figured out, you should also have them fill you in on when the fish will bite and what makes a woman tick too.

From: Grey Ghost
07-Dec-21
Will,

I live on a timber covered bluff that overlooks a grassland valley and a creek bottom. I don't need a GPS to track the deer movements in my neighborhood because I can literally watch them every day from my back porch. Here are some of the patterns I've observed:

The deer mostly feed in the lower grasslands, at night. As daylight approaches they move up closer to my bluff before bedding down. On days that aren't too windy, too cold, or too hot, they will often bed in deep cuts that spider down from my bluff. On cold, windy, or extremely hot days, they move further up into the timber around my house for cover and/or shade. On dark moon nights in the fall their morning movement is later, often bedding down around 8-9am On bright moon nights, they move earlier, and are often bedded by sun up or shortly after. During the nastiest snow storms, they usually won't leave the cover of my bluff until the storm subsides. Sometimes that can be a few days in which they vary from their usual patterns.

I can usually predict where my deer will be at almost any day depending on the above parameters. Of course, when the rut kicks in, those patterns often go out the window, especially buck movement. The does will usually go about their business as usual unless they are hot and being dogged around by a horny buck, or three.

These are Mule deer around my place, so perhaps whitetails are a bit different, but I doubt it. If anything, I think whitetails are more predictable than mulies, based on my experiences of hunting both species for years.

Matt

From: APauls
07-Dec-21
Once it gets really cold, especially post rut, movement becomes like they say later in the article. That I see ALL the time. Temps were -25 last two days and I saw no deer on the way to work. They are waiting for warmer weather to hit the fields. But that becomes easily predictable as when temps get this cold it is a calorie in vs calorie out equation. It's survival mode now, and they don't mess around with that.

From: Rocky D
07-Dec-21
Give me a high pressure system and the moon hanging high in the sky is a great time to be in the woods.

I don’t need a study to tell me that!

From: Bowfreak
07-Dec-21
Seriously? Weather doesn't impact deer movement?

Experts don't know everything. They just found out that mule deer and antelope migrate in Wyoming and locals had known it for years.

From: Huntiam
07-Dec-21
If it’s daylight and you see the moon better go climb a tree their moving!

From: scentman
07-Dec-21
When a heavy front is coming in, where it may dictate if the critters can get groceries for a 48 hr period, you can almost walk up to them as their heads are buried gathering food for the storm.

Full moon... next morning they are all resting from the nite light being on all evening.

I may have mentioned before... a full moon on a Friday or Saturday evening is a bartender's worst nightmare. scentman

From: Michael
07-Dec-21
Weather most certainly affects deer movement.

November 7th in SE Nebraska. Sunny and breezy with a high in the mid 70’s lows in the 50’s. The 7th is one of the best calendar days I have had over the years. I seen a buck that day but it was at last light.

The next morning lows were in the 40’s and the wind switched from SW to NNE The forecasted highs we’re going to be 10 degrees cooler which we’re still 5 degrees above the average. I seen 12 different bucks that morning alone and 13 for the day.

Same pinch point. Just 2 different stands for 2 different winds.

I agree with everyone. We hunt when we can hunt. But if I am on an out of state hunt I am looking for those handful of better weather days to get my opportunity and then it’s on me to make it happen.

From: 12yards
08-Dec-21
The first time I sat this year in mid September was a full moon sit. We always read that there was more mid-day movement during a full moon. With rain the night before, we didn't get to our hunting spot till almost 10 am. Was in my stand around 1015, shot a plump young doe at 1025. So yes, full moon means more mid-day movement. Proof is in the pudding! LOL. Lucky as heck actually!

From: Shuteye
08-Dec-21
Hunt when you can. Two times I have climbed a tree with a climbing stand as a hurricane was ending. When I was younger I would hunt in the rain or snow. Both times as the storm was ending, lots of deer came out of the thicket into the clover patch I was watching. Put an arrow through a fat doe both times. On both occasions I saw more deer in a brief period of time than I had seen before. Also note that strong wind will tear up one of those tree umbrellas.

From: Hancock West
08-Dec-21
So, you're telling me deer movement is the same for a 20degree day with 8mph compared to an 85degress day with 35mph gusts?

08-Dec-21
Hunt when I can. But, always better hunting away from the full moon and the first morning of rising barometric pressure.

I’ve never had a lot of luck with falling pressure. Temps haven’t been an issue either as long as it’s not so unseasonably warm it affects everything. I just have better hunts when the moon isn’t full or close to it and, high pressure moves in after a stint of low pressure. Not having one or both Will not keep me out of the woods. But, having both sure makes my woods time more eventful.

From: Buffalo1
08-Dec-21
My favorite WT deer hunting is on 1/4 moons; Antelope any moon and Africa dark moon.

This is all based on experience, talking with other hunters and outfitters who live with the animals daily.

From: spike78
08-Dec-21
I don’t know about moon phase but I can tell my experience hunting overcast cold days are always garbage. I don’t even see squirrels but if it’s a sunny day I see all kinds of animals. I know it sounds crazy but I’m finding it time and time again.

08-Dec-21
I have a Fishing app on my phone; it predicts periods of high activity just like the old F&S Solunar tables, coinciding with high/low tide and new/full moon.

Seems as accurate as anything else, but it’d be pretty ridiculous to assume that Only One Thing is the One Thing that matters.

I will say that I have generally found it to be pretty near correct for fishing purposes, and it makes sense that that kind of a rhythm would persist throughout an evolutionary time scale…

So it makes sense to me, but maybe I am just allowing myself to indulge in a little confirmation bias.

JMO… Get out whenever you can; stay out for as long as you can; have as much fun out there as you possibly can… Because a day spent indoors working is a day in the field that you will never get back…

When I have a minute, I will go up and read those articles… It seems to me that putting GPS collars on otherwise undisturbed animals would provide a massive and (as nearly as possible) unbiased data set.

And with that said, I have hunted out here in the suburbs enough to notice that the animals seem to time their movements around things like the school bus schedule, our commute times, etc. They know our patterns better than we know theirs… That’s for sure!

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