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Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
The researchers looked at temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, moon phase, and more
BY JESSICA DIXON , JORGE SANTIAGO-BLAY | PUBLISHED MAY 11, 2022 1:08 PM
Pennsylvania whitetail buck.

One of the bucks captured in the camera study. Jessica Dixon
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Editor’s note: The two authors decided to put some long-held beliefs about deer movement to the test after hearing their friend, who is a lifelong hunter, talk about how deer react to weather. Both authors are scientists and conducted a field experiment using their expertise, trail cameras, and weather data. Below you can read an overview of their study and their findings, which we think will be interesting to every deer hunter in America, even if it’s not necessarily applicable to your corner of whitetail country.
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There have been a few studies conducted on the alleged effects of meteorological and astronomical events on deer movement, but the vast majority of them have been conducted in the southern United States. We used four Victure Mini Gamer Cameras, placed around a two-acre property in the rural village of Effort, Pennsylvania. The study was conducted in a community setting where there is a local estimated population of about 20 deer. There are vast areas of forest and state game lands approximately two miles (3.2 kilometers) away. The cameras were not baited and placed in areas where game trails were present and deer scat was commonly seen. Two of the cameras were placed near occupied homes and two were placed in heavily forested areas. The image below shows the four areas captured by the game cameras.
Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
The views from the four study cameras. Jessica Dixon
The cameras collected images of deer movement for 12 months (February 18, 2020 to February 19, 2021). Meteorological conditions, such as temperature, wind, barometric pressure, and precipitation were retrieved from Weather Undergrounds data from the nearest airport, Lehigh Valley International Airport. Astronomical data, such as the percent of the moon illuminated was retrieved from NASA’s Horizon data base. For the purpose of this study, only the percent of the moon illuminated was used and does not factor in waxing and waning conditions.

We analyzed each weather variable individually. One of the many myths surrounding deer hunting is that deer do not move during days with warmer temperatures. Our analyses support this myth. We found that two peaks of preferred temperatures seen below.
Deer movement vs temperature.
Temperature, in ºC, vs relative number of deer in the study. Jessica Dixon
The first peak is found around colder temperatures (0-10ºC, or 32-50ºF) which corresponds to mostly fall and winter months. The second peak was during milder temperatures (about 20ºC, or 68ºF) and corresponds to summer months (Figure 3A). We also analyzed the movement in relationship to the rut and fawning. We found that the peak of movement at 50ºF (10ºC, or the second peak) coincided with fawning time (below).
Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
Temperature (in ºC) versus relative number of total deer for all season’s individual and the relative total number of deer. Jessica Dixon
Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
All temperature data and the data from May 15 to July 15, which is fawning time. Also temperature data from October to November (represented by gray triangles), which is the time of rut. Jessica Dixon
The next weather variable we analyzed was barometric pressure. We found that deer were most likely to move at a barometric pressure of approximately 1001.36 millibars (approximately 29.57 inches of mercury) which is just below average pressure (below).

Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
Relative number of deer vs. barometric pressure. Jessica Dixon
We also analyzed whether deer were affected by changing barometric pressure. We found that deer were more likely to move at lower pressure changes, and contrary to some myths, it did not matter if pressure was increasing or decreasing. The graphical analysis can be seen below.
Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
Relative number of total deer vs barometric pressure change. Jessica Dixon
Our study found that as wind speeds increase, deer movement decreases. Deer were more likely to move during calm conditions. They would move at wind speeds from 3.1 – 6.2 mph (5-10 km/h) but as wind speeds increased from there, deer movement decreased (see below).
Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
Relative number of total deer vs wind speed. Jessica Dixon
Another hunting myth is that rain can function as sound camouflage for deer, and therefore deer are more likely to move with a light rain. However, our study did not support this myth and, instead, found that deer are most likely to move when there is no rain. They seem to stop moving when there is rainfall (below).

Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
Relative number of total deer vs precipitation. Jessica Dixon
It seems that one of the most prevalent myths surrounding deer movement is the moon phase. There have been many studies that did not find a correlation between the phase of the moon and deer movement. Our study, however, found that deer movement increased at a new moon (little to no moonlight) and a full moon (the most moonlight) (below, chart A). One concern of this study was that a full moon occurred twice during the rut. To ensure this was not influencing the movement peak we saw at the full moon, we analyzed deer captures and the moon phases of movement during fawning and the rut (below, chart B). However, the graphical analyses do not show the rut having an important impact on the number of instances captured on the full or new moon.
Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
Graphical analyses of the moon phase versus total number of deer. Jessica Dixon
Two Researchers Ran an Experiment to Test Hunters’ Beliefs on Deer Movement, Weather, and Moon Phase. Here’s What They Found
Graphical analyses of the moon phase versus total number of deer, subdivided by major reproductive events, such as fawning and the rut. Jessica Dixon
Our study supported the hunting myths that deer prefer to move during mild temperatures, at slightly under normal barometric pressure, as well as during new and full moon. Our study did not support that deer were more likely to move with increasing precipitation or wind. We must emphasize that this study took place in the northeast and may not apply to other regions of the USA. Also, we do not know why deer seem to move more during some astronomical conditions. If you want a copy of our full study, please email us or read about it here.
Jessica Dixon

Jessica Dixon
Jessica Dixon grew up in Louisiana and currently lives in Pennsylvania, where she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family. She completed her MS in Environmental Science from Johns Hopkins University in 2021.























































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Máistir an pointe hocht.
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So, if barometric pressure isn't going to hit 29.57 inches of mercury, I might as well stay home.... :D

To me, that's most interesting graph of the lot...

When Barometric pressure is around 1000-1010 millibars, deer seem to get really active.

I've always wondered why on some days, hunting, driving around, etc... You tend to sometimes just see deer everywhere you look. Maybe it's because the barometric pressure is right at that sweet spot. :D
 

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Why would any average American do a study and release their data in Metric units? Always believed deer are moving someplace just not always my location. I've seen a lot of deer on days and conditions and moon charts where I'm not supposed to. Rut also plays a factor.
 

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Máistir an pointe hocht.
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Why would any average American do a study and release their data in Metric units? Always believed deer are moving someplace just not always my location. I've seen a lot of deer on days and conditions and moon charts where I'm not supposed to. Rut also plays a factor.
While I 100% agree with what you are saying... I think those of us who are avid deer hunters, tend to look for deer while driving through the country side.

And, I think we've all experienced those days, where even in the middle of the day, you are seeing deer in just about every place you look that are likely spots to see deer. The next 10 days you might drive the same route, and not see a deer. So, there has to be some sort of environmental trigger that is causing them to all be on there feet at a certain time like that.
 

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Why would any average American do a study and release their data in Metric units? Always believed deer are moving someplace just not always my location. I've seen a lot of deer on days and conditions and moon charts where I'm not supposed to. Rut also plays a factor.
Pretty much.Until they can study the amount of distance and the certain area they are using for that day an why,then it’s just a guessing game
 

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Under appreciated
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Quite a few times last year I just looked at the moon in order to tell when to hunt.

One time I was all packed up and headed to the stand, got halfway there and realized I hadn’t checked the moon phase. I was standing there in the dark bewildered as to my next move. To relieve me of the agony of trying to decide what to do, I just went back to the house and didn’t hunt at all the next 2 days.

That‘ll teach me to ignore moon phases
 

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Máistir an pointe hocht.
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Quite a few times last year I just looked at the moon in order to tell when to hunt.

One time I was all packed up and headed to the stand, got halfway there and realized I hadn’t checked the moon phase. I was standing there in the dark bewildered as to my next move. To relieve me of the agony of trying to decide what to do, I just went back to the house and didn’t hunt at all the next 2 days.

That‘ll teach me to ignore moon phases
Do you prefer a waxing or waning gibbous moon? Or maybe you are a crescent sorta guy? 🌘🌒🌗🌓
 
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I almost killed one from my recliner once. Got up to look out the window and there was a buck with a doe in the beans below my house. Got my gun and quietly went to the porch and got a good look and decided he wasn't big enough. Back to the recliner.
 

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Good info to keep tucked away in the brain somewhere, but like most other hunters, I don't get to pick and choose the kind of days I hunt. I take PTO 6 mos in advance to go hunting...it is what it is!
 

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I prefer when the moon is almost a crescent,the temp is exactly 28 degrees in the morning an only getting to 40 tops as day goes on,29.6 on the pressure,and wind speed has to be 6mph.Other requirements for me to get out of bed is I can’t be too hungover and had to get at least 8 hours of sleep.
 

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Do you prefer a waxing or waning gibbous moon? Or maybe you are a crescent sorta guy? 🌘🌒🌗🌓
Well now, that is the question. I really dont want to get into the mechanics of it but I will just agree with @20' here and say that inpeeferbutilizingbthe moon charts is complicated business, should be left only to qualified stargazer/hunters.
If only they would make electronic calls legal, I would blast Moondance by Van Morrison all the way to the stand… sort of a audio-moonly scent drag if you will.
 
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Ive never really gone by any of the moon phases, or really any other thing they say. I have 5 cameras out on my property. All on locations of frequently traveled areas. Has worked well the past few years! shot a 10, 8 and 14 point! Id say if you want to go hunting, GO, if you dont dont...
 
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