Moonlight Madness: The Effect of the Moon on Whitetail Deer


deer moonIt seems like every year around this exact time I start seeing hundreds of posts about the moon. Yes, the moon. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it. And, of course, I have my opinion, too. So, I decided it was time to learn a little more about the subject. After all, the only thing I really had to go by was my own experience; I wanted to know what the experts had to say. Could they provide the answers to this one simple question, “DOES THE MOON HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE WHITETAIL RUT?”? And, maybe while researching this, I can also answer that other common question concerning the moon: “Does it affect whitetail movement?”.

Well, turns out the answer is, “NO”! That’s right, all of my research did not answer the question at all. Now, don’t get me wrong; I found endless amounts of research and information on the effects of moon on whitetail deer. But, I also found that the deer hunting community, including the experts, are very much divided on this subject. Though, the number of experts believing that the moon has an effect on the rut is definitely smaller.


Let’s start by discussing a few popular studies that have determined that the moon has no effect on the whitetail rut. First up is a biggie! What makes it so big, you ask? Well, it comes directly from the QDMA; yes, that’s the Quality Deer Management Association. This is a very well established group, and their opinion is highly valued. So, let’s take a look at what they found.


I believe the title of the article clearly states the QDMA’s opinion, No Link Between Moon Phase and Rut Peak. As I said, deer moonthe title pretty much says it all, but how did the QDMA come to this conclusion? It appears the decision was made through the study and analysis of other research. Two particular studies were looked at and mentioned in this article, with the main one being conducted by Rod Cumberland and New Brunswick DNR. The study was conducted between 1997 and 2005 and was based on fetal measurements; these measurements were then used to determine conception dates for each doe. Conception dates were then compared to moon phases, and the final conclusion of the study indicated that the majority of the does were bred during the same time frame each year, regardless of the moon phase or position.

The results of the second study mentioned by the QDMA had very similar results. In their conclusion, the QDMA states that they believe the moon has no effect on the rut, however it can have a slight impact on whitetail deer movement.


Just like the QDMA, Peter Fiduccia’s Moon Phase’s – Fact or Fiction, is based on other people’s research. However, it is also based on his own experiences and opinions. Fiduccia primarily looks at one study conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Forest Resources. This study was very similar to those listed by the QDMA, and therefore, had very similar results. While Fiduccia concludes that extreme outside factors can have an effect on the rut, he does not believe the moon is one of them.


Okay, how about looking at the other side of the coin. And, as I stated earlier, it was much harder to find supporters of the moon affecting the rut. So, I’m just going straight to the top with this one; yes, I’m talking about Charles Alsheimer!


If you are a deer hunter, then chances are you’ve heard of Mr. Alsheimer. He is well known for his work on this exact topic, not to deer moonmention his work in Deer & Deer Hunting magazine. Through research of his own, along with wildlife biologist Wayne Laroche, Alsheimer has brought into question as to whether or not the moon truly does have an impact on the rut.

At the time of this article, Assessing the Moon’s Impact on the Whitetail Rut by Charles Alsheimer, the research done by Alsheimer and Laroche was into its ninth year. The two men based their study on over 100 does using several different devices, including trail timers. Other data taken included air temperature, weather patterns, and moon phases. The data showed that the rut was stimulated by the second full moon after the autumnal equinox. And, if this is the case, the timing of the rut is subject to change every year. If you want to learn more about this, Alsheimer has put it all together in Hunting Whitetails by the Moon.


So, I wasn’t able to find a great deal of supporting evidence that the moon effects the whitetail rut. However, there is a lot of evidence that the moon does affect whitetail movement.

And, I want to start it out with a great article written by Adam Hays of North American Whitetail. In How Moon Positions Impact Whitetail Movement, Hays talks about the theory of the “red moon” and its impact on whitetail deer. This “red moon” is also known as the overhead/underfoot moon and is mentioned in numerous other articles, including Deer Hunting: 3 Ways the Pros Use the Moon to Kill Big Bucks, by Mark Kenyon.

The theory of the “red moon” has become very popular and many deer hunters are planning their vacations and hunting times deer moonaround it. And, where does all of this information coming from? A joint venture conducted by deer biologists from Auburn University, Louisiana State University, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and Norfolk Southern Railway concluded that there was a direct correlation between deer movement and the overhead and underfoot phases of the moon.

Alright, enough about the red moon for now! How about the full moon? Hunt it? Don’t hunt it? Well, here’s what I found. Again, there are those who love hunting it and those who hate it! So, I’m just going to show you one article that sums up full moon hunting perfectly. Mossy Oak’s, The Effect Moon Phase Has on Hunting Deer, shows evidence both for and against hunting the full moon.


deer moonOkay, so I’ve shown you expert support for and against using the moon to plan your next hunt. So, now, how do I feel about the moon? Well, simply put, I am a believer! I believe that the moon absolutely does affect deer movement. Am I convinced that it plays a role in the rut? Even though, I was unable to find a great deal of evidence, from my experience I do not believe that the rut is exactly the same time every year. I have seen the full rut occur in late October and in late November. Something has to be influencing these changes. Why not the moon?

I plan to continue educating myself. I have ordered Alsheimer’s , Hunting Whitetails by the Moon my 2016 Deer Hunter’s Moon Guide, and Jeff Murray’s Moonstruck.  I also plan to keep a journal of deer movement and the moon phase whenever I am out in my stand.

I would love to know what you think about this topic! Do you believe the moon effects the whitetail rut? How about deer movement in general? Please share your thoughts below or contact me at



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