December 17 was the peak of the full moon this month. I snapped the above photo around 7:30 a.m. on that day. The moon was sinking, and a few minutes after I took the picture, it disappeared behind the horizon. I was up most of the previous night because that spotlight in the sky was shining through my bedroom window. The yard was lit up like it was high noon. Imagine what that means to wildlife navigating after sunset.
The afternoon before, I’d hunted a familiar blind off the river. I had been hoping the big 8-point I’d seen in the same area on December 15, from a mile away through a spotting scope, would revisit that blind. Four other bucks showed up between 3:30 and 5:45, all familiar faces with broken racks, but no sign of the old 8-point with the big brow tines.
When I checked the trail camera, I found that the same four bucks had made random midday visits, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., during the previous two days. Those are the first midday pictures I’ve caught in a month.
I have no doubt that a full moon can wreck a hunter’s chances at a mature buck. With all that light during the wee hours, bucks move after shooting hours and then lay up under a bush during the daylight hours. A lot of times, they get up and move some at midday, but few hunters are out there to see that.
In the past, I’ve taken some mature bucks on the peak of the full moon. I’ve always followed the school of thought that the best time to hunt is any time you can go! While I would not purposely plan an out-of-state trip to hunt deer during the peak of the full moon, when hunting close to home I just go when I can. All of the three bucks I can remember shooting within one to two days of the full moon were shot during the last 30 minutes of shooting light. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but that has been my history.
This week, temperatures at the top of Texas are expected to be close to 70 degrees. Combine that with lethargic post-rut bucks and a full moon ,and odds seem dim at killing a big boy. Buck movement next week, if we get colder temperatures, should be more predictable in daylight as the moon begins dimming. But you’ll never know unless you are out there.