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Editorial-Opinion November 2018

Of moons and rutting bucks...

Steve Burch | November 7, 2018

I bring you good tidings of excellent news. Lunar news. I’m a believer that the moon matters if you hunt and fish. The new moon, that is to say, the dark of the moon, will occur this month on Nov. 7.

The three-quarter moon occurred on Halloween. And each night after Halloween, there has been less and less of a night light available to illuminate the sky and our deer woods.

I have a theory. The peak of the rut over the majority of Georgia occurs during the first half of this month. That means that during the peak of the rut this year, deer movement at night will not be so easy and convenient as it is during those years when the full moon is shining down, lighting the woods like noon for deer that have excellent night vision to begin with.

Whether that’s a factor or not, I’ve noticed better rut activity during the daytime when there’s a new moon. Peak times in the Astro Tables will be the middle of the day, around noon. More deer movement during shooting hours—we hunters get a little extra edge, a little extra chance to catch that old monster making a mistake. And as tough and wily as a mature buck can be, I need all the help I can get.

Past this for-sure-fact that the new moon is on Nov. 7, I also have a theory. I believe the three days ahead of the new moon are special. On my calendar, I have penciled in Nov. 4-6 as prime deer hunting days. That is a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday is election day, at least for those of you who haven’t voted early.

There are other keys to making any deer day special. For instance, if the temperature is lower than average, that helps. If the humidity is lower than average, that helps. If there is more sunshine than normal, that helps, too.

These conditions are quite common on the backside of a cold front that pushes rain through the state and then blows away the clouds with a stiff cold wind and a clear blue sky. That first cold, still morning after a front blows through is a double prime day. That is stay-in-the-stand-all-day time for me during the peak of the rut.

Sometimes you get a day like that when the dawn is as still as the north star and nothing is moving. On such mornings you can hear a twig snap at 100 yards. I love those mornings; I feel so connected to the woods and the world. But those special mornings are rare.

As commonly, those mornings after a front pushes through, the wind is blowing the trees around enough to strip off leaves and cover the sound of a chainsaw. Many people don’t like to hunt those days. My father didn’t; he said the wind made him feel lonely. Those wind-blown days are not my favorite either, but I hunt them just as hard.

My experience has been that bucks in rut are generally oblivious to such distractions. Further, I do believe that does tend to be more skittish during high-wind events. So when bucks are prodding does, and does are already skittish, my theory is that all deer end up covering more ground on those days. And the more ground they cover, the better my odds of success become. On such days, I like to hunt areas where I can see a long way. Apart from the obvious benefit of covering more area, such a stand gives greater opportunity to actually get a shot at deer that may be moving pretty rapidly on such days. It simply takes them longer to move out of my killing area, once they have entered it.

Since I mentioned that Tuesday is election day, I thought I would say a word about Amendment 1. About the best thing I can say about it is that I am supporting it. While it is called an Amendment, it reads more like a suggestion. I don’t expect much from it. But it’s not a new tax on stuff we buy, so there’s no cost to sportsmen. And who knows, if we watch the money and stay attentive, maybe it will help with some WMA stuff, maybe a new duck hole or some dove fields?

Back to the woods… A couple of times each season there will come a day when the air is still and cool, the clouds are heavy and low, and they shed an intermittent mist, enough to make everything wet and quiet. The light is always low on those days. I have never quite understood why, but deer move all day. Maybe they just feel good on days like that?

I remember when we used to play football on such days. We could run forever and never get hot, yet we weren’t cold either. It was just a good day to be active outside.

Maybe it’s like that for deer, too.

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