When it comes to killing big bucks, I'm a firm believer in the moon phase. And while rut hunting is always good, this year the moon phases have aligned to give us even better evening hunting during the pre- and post-rut periods and the best possible morning and midday hunts during the peak of the rut.
Whenever I am in doubt about high-traffic times for animals, I look to the sky and try to find the moon. My experience is that animals move heavily when the moon is first coming up and also during the last hours before it dips below the horizon.
A very good example of this is a few days prior to the full moon. On those days, the moon will be popping above the horizon well before dark, and I can guarantee you deer movement will be heavy on those days. Then, once the moon phase is at full, it starts rising later and later after shooting hours, which is why
evening hunts during a full moon can be frustrating.
This year, there are two full moon phases that will fall within the traditional rutting period — the first occurs on Oct. 27, and the second on Nov. 25. This means that the days leading up to the full moon will be dynamite in both months for evening hunts. The October full moon aligns perfectly with the days when the big bucks typically make their first daylight appearances to check fields for the area's first estrous doe.
Here in the Midwest, I typically start seeing mature bucks the last three days of October, but with this year's moon phase, I predict some great bucks will fall from Oct. 24-26.
Then, a month later when the moon is coming up well before dark in November, the timing is excellent for the time of the rut when bucks really start to cruise and venture into new territories in search of the few remaining receptive does that have not yet been bred. Nov. 22-24 could produce some excellent evening hunting.
On the flip side of the full moon phase is the dark of the moon, which is ideal for the rut because it reduces nighttime rutting activity when bowhunters are out of the woods. This year, the last quarter of the moon starts Nov. 3, with the New Moon falling on Nov. 11. This is perfect timing for bowhunters, who should see some great morning hunts during the peak of the rut.
For full article, and additional tips for the bowhunter, pick up a copy of the November/December issue of Petersen's Bowhunting.