The Waning and Waxing Moon

solunar tables
"Moon" (CC BY 2.0) by bobfamiliar

I have said it before: just when I think there can be no new concept related to moon phases and deer movement, someone enlightens me.

What Georgia hunter Chad Day is specifically interested in: is there a moon phase where mostly big nocturnal bucks move during daylight? After a decade of research using data gathered from his and others trail cameras the answer might surprise you enough to set your hunting vacation by it.

I did a Google search to find some interesting things about the moon: The only time Earth’s shadow can fall on the moon is at full moon, during a lunar eclipse. There is a shadow on a crescent moon, but it’s the moon’s own shadow. … Because the waxing crescent moon is nearly on a line with the Earth and sun, its illuminated hemisphere – or day side – is facing mostly away from us.

A waxing moon, the one of significance in the study, is seen one day to several days after new moon. It’s always seen in the evening, and it’s always seen in the west. On these days, the moon rises one hour to several hours behind the sun and follows the sun across the sky during the day. Look closely and you will see the waxing moon chasing the sun. When the sun sets, and the sky darkens, the moon pops into view in the western sky.

Some people think a visible moon in the west after sunset is a rising moon. But it’s not; it’s a setting moon. All objects in our sky rise in the east and set in the west, due to Earth’s spin under the sky. When you see a waxing crescent, you know the Earth, moon and sun are located nearly on a line in space. If they were more precisely on a line, as they are at new moon, we wouldn’t see the moon. The moon would travel across the sky during the day, lost in the sun’s glare. Thus, the crescent in the west after sunset appears to wax, or grow fatter each evening.

Day said, “A waxing moon overhead in the evening coincides with the movement of mature bucks.” I have read and experienced seeing more deer when the moon is up well before the sun goes down, but Day takes it a step further.

Precisely, this researcher advises to hunt in the middle of the day on the three days of the moon’s first quarter when the moon is overhead at 5 pm, our time, while it is still waxing. Movement, as you might guess, is more pronounced during a cold front.

This makes me wonder, if the moon is up during most of the day then, the nights, without moon light, would be much darker; more so with clouds and thus, cutting down on the deer’s vision.

The big boys will move during daylight 3.75 times more likely during this three-day period. That is when you want to be on stand from daylight until dark. If I’m correct October 24, 25, and 26; November 23 (Thanksgiving) 24, and 25; December 23, 24, 25 are the days he pinpoints. Four days after the first quarter he notices another, smaller spike.

I buy into the October and December dates more than the November. In Indiana, 70 percent of the harvested deer are taken during the opening weekend of deer gun season November 11 and 12. Were it not for the Hoosier hunting pressure, Day’s theory might well hold true.

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Rick Bramwell
Rick L. Bramwell is 72 years old and began writing for the Anderson Herald Bulletin in 1972. He likes to hunt small game, deer, turkey and morel mushrooms. Bramwell’s 174-7/8 typical whitetail is the largest ever taken in Madison County. He used to compete in Red Man and BASS Federation tournaments, but is now content to fish ponds and small lakes for bass and panfish. For most of 43 years Bramwell has coached Baseball and softball. He has three grown children and resides in Madison County, near Pendleton.

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