Effects of moon phases on animal activity

Effects of moon phases on animal activity

Up until this hunting season I never gave moon phases much consideration. I concentrated my efforts at first and last light; with luck, hope, prayer, superstition and Murphy’s Law falling somewhere in between - and mostly not in my favour.

However, this year I started paying attention to the “Hunt and Fish” table on my Garmin GPS that gives data on moon phases. The table groups days into three classes, called “predictions”: average, good, and excellent. It also gives the “best times” to hunt or fish; along with the “good times”, which obviously are not as good as the best times.

Think this is hocus-pocus? Check this out. I’ve been involved in three successful big game hunts this season. The first with my son on a fly-in trip north of the 50th parallel. Day five of our seven-day trip coincided with a full moon. My “Hunt and Fish” table on my GPS classed the day (September 23) as “Excellent”. It categorized the best time to hunt and fish from 1230-1430 hours. My son and I had hunted hard for five days so we decided to honour the recommendations of this hand-held electronic device. We also knew that a cold-weather system was moving in within the next 24-hours - and at present we were enjoying a blue-bird day. We hunted hard until 1445, then headed back to the cabin for a mid-day meal and stretch. My son Timothy shot his trophy bull at 1530 hours that day! (The moose apparently was operating on Central Standard Time.)

My next successful hunt was on October 30 when my good friend Peter and I harvested a cow moose at 1800 hours. The GPS predicted this as an average day, best times being 1906-2106. Again, the moose was an hour off - but as this was a fairly old animal, perhaps she wasn’t aware that daylight savings time wasn’t until next weekend. The moon phase on October 30 was last quarter.

My last successful hunt was on November 6, which was a new moon. I checked my GPS ahead of time and gave my son this report: The Garmin GPS (76Cx) predicts November 6 as an excellent day with best times between 1243-1443. I told him, “Forget about getting up at 5 a.m. - sleep in until 7 and then we’ll make our way out to our secret spot so that we’re set up an hour before prime time.”

And that we did. I was in my tree stand by 1130 and my son, Timothy, was in his pop-up blind about 400-yards away in an adjacent field. Tim, who is an excellent deer caller, had two fields covered from his vantage point, and I an alder-choked creek bed and a heavily used deer trail below me. I also had two very active buck scrapes visible from my stand, and a small grassy opening in the woods about 100 yards west of my position. Beyond that opening was a old cut-over that I had scouted in the past, and knew”
was a well-used bedding area for deer.

For the first hour-and-a-half our calling efforts were euchred by some fairly heavy winds. But just after 2:00 p.m. the wind let up nicely. I radioed my son and told him to start calling (on his doe-bleat call) every five- to ten-minutes as long as the wind remained calm. I sat patiently in my stand looking at my watch anxiously as I had to be back home for a dinner engagement. Then it happened. A sharp crack in the woods on the other side of the gully prompted me to stand up and look to the west. I checked my watch and noticed it was 1435 hours. With 25-minutes left to hunt, a nice 8-point buck came out into the grassy opening in the woods. I shouldered my Sako 30-06 and waited a second for the buck to stop momentarily and turn broadside. Twenty-minutes later I was tagging my buck and smiling from ear to ear. The GPS, once again, was right on the money. This time in the same time zone. The only thing the GPS couldn’t do was get me to my dinner engagement on time. So as I sat down at the banquet table with my wife and several of our friends I pointed to my watch and said, “I guess my watch is working on Central time!”

A note to hunters: The Ontario government is proposing a law that would require pop-up blinds to display a certain amount of blaze orange. While the law no doubt has been tabled for safety reasons, it may also pose risks to hunters and their equipment by those who are opposed to hunting. It may also lead to theft and mischief to pop-up blinds and other interferences. In my view pop-up blinds offer protection from the elements and concealment, and would be no different than posting under a large tree with overhanging branches. Whether you agree with me or not, now is your chance to post your views on this proposal by clicking onto the below web-site: www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTEw...