Folklore has many tales about the mystery of the moon, and one of the most common folk characters is the werewolf. While werewolves aren’t real, research has shown that the light and pull of the moon have real effects on the behavior of organisms on earth.
If you’re a first-time hunter who isn’t sure what time of day you’re most likely to bag a Texas whitetail deer, the moon may point you in the right direction.
Experimenting With the Idea
In 1926, a man named John Alden Knight wanted to achieve a better understanding of why wildlife was more or less active at certain times of day.1 The method he developed is called a “solunar table,” which uses the lunar phases and the time of sunsets and sunrises to predict when wildlife is most active. A typical solunar table includes several other data points to predict wildlife activity, including:
- Sun data (rise and set times)
- Day length
- Moon data (rise, set, overhead and underfoot times)
- Moon phase2
Worth a Shot
In a 2016 study, a solunar table was relatively accurate at predicting the peak activity times of whitetail bucks, but not those of other types of deer. Unfortunately, the table developed by Knight in 1926 is often inaccurate overall. This may be because it doesn’t account for weather changes that influence the amount of moonlight available each night.
Despite their inaccuracies, many hunters still use solunar tables in hope that they will pay off in the end and lead to a successful hunt.
The Moon at Work
Marine animals are particularly responsive to tides and moonlight levels from phase to phase. Studies of fiddler crabs have shown that even when held under a light in a lab far away from the ocean, the crabs are most active at times when the tide would be out.3 The 24-hour circadian clock found in most animals is thought to help them anticipate tide movements, which can give them a competitive advantage against predators.
Ernest Naylor, emeritus professor and author of the book “Moonstruck: How lunar cycles affect life,” says that land animals’ behaviors are influenced by the moon whether they are near ocean tides or not. Naylor believes this confirms that tides both directly and indirectly affect animals.4
Additionally, a 2011 study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that in the days following a full moon, African lions are more likely to attack and kill humans.5 Scientists believe the expanded time between sunset and moonrise in the days following a full moon are the catalyst for this phenomenon.
Other Variables to Consider
Aside from the behavior of the moon, these additional variables can affect your hunt:
- Time of year – Animal activity changes according to time of year. Aim to hunt closer to the “rut” period when activity increases significantly.
- Time of day – Dawn and dusk are the most active times for whitetail deer. Consult a solunar table as a reference point.
- Temperature – Certain animals prefer certain temperatures. Whitetail deer enjoy colder weather.
- Barometric pressure – Keep in mind different animals’ sensitivities to their environments. Whitetail deer will bed, feed and move according to barometric and atmospheric conditions.
- Weather conditions – Animals understand the dangers of bad weather and will seek shelter during harsh conditions. Check the weather ahead of your planned hunt to ensure weather conditions are optimal.
- Wind – A deer’s smelling ability is 10,000 times stronger than that of a human. Evaluate wind direction and strength before determining the best location and time for you to begin your hunt.6
Test the Theory for Yourself at The JL Bar Ranch & Resort in Sonora, TX
Want to experience the power of the moon for yourself? Spanning 13,000 acres on the western edge of Texas Hill Country, The JL Bar Ranch & Resort is the perfect place to test out this hunting theory. We offer a sanctuary for lovers of the hunt, with plenty of access to the great outdoors and luxurious accommodations.
Book yourself a hunting getaway at The JL Bar Ranch & Resort by calling (855) 414-3337 or visiting us online today.