Bob Humphrey is the Biology & Deer Behavior field editor for Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine and holds similar titles with other major hunting publications.
He currently lives in Maine with his wife and two children. For more information about Bob, visit his website at www.bobhumphrey.com.
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What does our Buckmasters biologist think of sun/moon charts for predicting deer activity? That’s the topic of this week’s Ask the Biologist question. What do you think? Do you pay attention to game activity charts?
QUESTION: Do solunar tables really work? — Jim M.
ANSWER: Marcus Lashley, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, conducted an experiment to determine whether deer movement rates are influenced by solunar activity. He and his associates tracked the movement of 16 adult female deer fitted with GPS collars, recording locations at 2.5-hour intervals.
They then compared the results from over 22,000 GPS fixes and found that, in general, solunar predictions were accurate about 25 percent of the time, within a three-hour window. In other words, they found no statistically significant correlation between deer movements and solunar activity.
Like other, similar studies, Lashley found that deer movements are largely crepuscular (dawn and dusk), regardless of moon phase or position.
However, he did observe some minor trends that might be worth noting. Peak movement occurred near dusk in all phases except the new moon, when movement rate peaked near dawn and lasted a little longer into the early morning.
There was little effect during the first quarter, but mid-morning movement rates were highest during the non-quarter periods. Although still relatively low, mid-day movement tended to be greatest during the full moon.
Late afternoon activity peaked during the last quarter. Dawn and dusk are still the best times to hunt, but if you’re going to stay a little later, or arrive a little earlier on stand, there are certain periods when it might be slightly more advantageous, all other things being equal.