Moon Phase Effect on Big Game Activity

Whether you’re hunting for elk, moose, deer or other big game, if you are unaware of the moon phase effects you might be setting yourself up for failure. All hunters know that big game animals are more active during a full moon, but what about the other phases of the moon?

Deer and other big game animals frequently move in and out of cover during the low light conditions of sunrise and dusk to go out for food. Hunters are always looking for ways to outsmart big game animals and factors that may influence their routines.

While we all know what a full moon is, you should also be aware of the other phases of the moon as well. A new moon is essential dark, a first quarter moon allows the right half to be illuminated from the sun and the third quarter moon has the left half illuminated by the sun.

The moon affects tidal variations and many other areas of our lives. During a period of a full moon, deer and other big game animals move more during the night and less frequently during the day. This includes less movement around dawn and dusk, periods that typically have higher activity around them.

A study done by researchers at the South Texas King Ranch found that a new moon has the greatest effect on daytime feeding. The results of the study are as follows:

Phase Activity
New Moon 33.7%
First Quarter 26.1%
Full Moon 19.9%
Last Quarter 33.5%

Big game hunters that want to maximize their opportunities should focus their efforts on new moon and last quarter phases. Dawn and dusk are still the best time for big game hunting so even if you aren’t able to plan your hunt around the phases of the moon, you still have a better chance to see an animal.

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