New Data On Deer Movement During Moon Phases

Larry S. from Illinois writes to ask about the lunar cycle and deer movements. “I’ve read several theories on the impacts, or lack of it, of the moon phase on buck movement. Is there any new data out there that may help to answer this age-old question?”

Dr. Dave Samuel

Good question Larry, and there is some new research out of North Carolina State University. They put GPS collars on 16 adult does, then analyzed movement rates in each of the four moon phases. Results showed that there was peak movement near dusk in all moon phases except the new moon when movement was highest in early morning. This is good information to know. 

We’ve heard many times that the full moon causes deer to move more at night. I’ve never believed that, and this research proves me right. Night-time movement was not affected by moon phase. But movements during mid-day were highest during the full moon. So much for the old hunter theory that deer don’t move during the day when there is a full moon.

To sum up, the moon phase does affect deer movement, but during all moon phases, the greatest period of deer movement is early morning and late evening.

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, manager of Guide Outdoors and Social Content at www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at tkachero@sportsmansguide.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for over 31 years.

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