Contrary to popular belief, the moon phase does not have an affect on the whitetail rut, according to a new scientific study.
For years, there’s been a belief among hunters that the moon’s phase affects how and when whitetail deer are most actively breeding during the rut. Knowing that info can help you plan for the best time to hunt.
But before you break out your solunar table to figure all that out, consider this: the moon’s phase has no noticeable affect on the rut.
That’s what New Brunswick biologist Rod Cumberland discovered in his study of how the moon phase affects deer breeding. To derive his conclusion, Cumberland dissected a study that spanned from 1997 to 2005, in which biologists with the New Brunswick DNR collected biological data from reported deer road-kills.
As part of that nine-year study, scientists used fetal measurements from pregnant does that were killed determine the exact times when they were conceived. Cumberland used that information to draw his conclusion about how the moon affects rut. In short, the moon doesn’t make a noticeable difference.
This chart, created by Quality Deer Management Association, illustrates Cumberland’s findings.
Cumberland found that the average conception date for each year of the study fell within a seven-day period. For eight of the nine years studied, the majority of does mated during Nov. 26-29 (The last two weeks of November and the first week of December are peak rut times.)
Keep in mind, the average conception dates pictured in the chart above are not the times when deer move or chase the most, nor do they reflect the times that have the best weather to hunt. Deer movement can be affected by the moon phase and other factors like weather and food supply, but these factors don’t impact when deer breed the most. The chart shows that deer are creatures of habit, sticking to a consistent and brief peak mating period each year.
So what can you learn from all this? When you’re planning to hunt during, use the peak breeding times instead of the moon phase to determine the best time.