Do Deer Really Study The Moon?

Much has been said about deer movement in regards to the various phases of the moon and I will offer my limited observations on this.  Now some may say….”Jeff…how can you comment on the moon having never been to the moon before?”  These observations come from the physical phenomena of being able to look UP.  Looking up, I have been able to notice when the moon is fully visible and what my hunting conditions have been like the next day or so.  Very scientific. 

Some researchers, such as Charles Alzheimer, have powerful data suggesting the full moon triggers rutting activity in deer.  From his research, some have concluded that the first full moon after the autumn equinox, the hunters moon (Oct. 23, 2010), triggers rutting activity, while the second full moon after the autumn equinox hovers around the time rutting activity peaks (Nov. 21 for 2010).  We have long known that day length is a primary trigger for changes in testosterone in deer, stimulating rutting behavior.  What we are not as clear on is how the moon may impact these changes.  One could argue it makes sense because wildlife tune into such constants that are consistent for thousands of years.  Maybe there is something to these sci-fi theories? 

Before you completely discount moon phases on animal behavior, keep in mind many law enforcement and medical facilities have documented strange behavioral abnormalities during nights with full moons.  Are we influenced by the moon?  The maternity ward at some hospitals would suggest so!

My own experience has told me that on full moon nights, morning deer movement will be subdued but mid day activity will be higher.   This may be because deer take advantage of moon lit nights and feed longer, therefor are not as active in the 6am – 10am range?  It would make sense that deer who have not been active since say…4am would need to get up and move around by noon or so the next day.    Regardless, I subscribe to the theory of hunting when you can, regardless of what the lunar tables and telescopes suggest.  One constant is for sure…you can’t shoot a deer if your not out there!”  I wonder what impact Saturn has on deer?

Get Em’ Out There


Phases of the moon - can they predict deer behavior?

Must be a full moon fight?


You Might Be a Deer Hunter….

Are you the real deal or just some TV watching couch potato deer hunting wanna-be who thinks camo is trendy? 

You know your a deer hunter if…

If you ever paid more for a rifle scope than you spouse’s wedding ring.

If you’re kneeling beside a 10 point buck…in your drivers license photo.

If your job has nothing to do with hunting but you have a picture of a deer on your business card.

If your personal license plate is BUCKGUY, DEERMAN, 10 POINT or some configuration.

If you own at least one pair of blaze orange boxers.

If you have no idea where the meat dept. of your local super market it.

If you think Fred Bear’s likeness should be carved into Mount Rushmore.

If you send your aunt Millie (who is the local president of the PETA chapter) a package of deer liver each Christmas…by third class mail.

If you wear blaze orange or camo to the office on casual Fridays.

If you leap to your feet when Bambi’s mom gets shot and yell “she had it coming!”

If your video library consists of Monster Bucks volumes I-V.

If your kids says Santa’s reindeer on up on the roof and you grab your gun or bow.

If your bumper sticker says “my kid shot a buck while your honor student was in school.”

If you think 4:30 a.m is a perfect time to get up.

If you take all your vacation and sick days during deer season.

If you send Christmas cards with pictures of deer on them to all your non-hunting friends (if you have any).

If you own eight coffee cups, six sets of cocktail glasses, a ball point pen, a pocket knife, thermometer, clock, 10 t-shirts, four pair of under shorts, 25 baseball caps, four belt buckles, a deck of playing cards, a waste basket and mouse pad all with pictures of deer on them.

Last but not least…If you name your first born “buck” even if it was a girl.

By Bruce Cochran

So the next time your confronted by that deer hunting braggart who likes to let the world know how serious he/she is about deer hunting….ask him/her if they have ever missed opening day of deer season.  When they smile with a sneer and say “well I missed the first four hours of opening day about 20 years ago due to open heart surgery”….laugh in his face as he is an imposter, a phony, a latte-sipping, volvo driving, FM radio-listening, quiche-eating civilian.  definitely not a real deer hunter like you and me.

So the next time  your confronted by that deer

Nebraska Pheasant Outlook

I have heard a lot of discussion lately on the outlook for pheasants in Nebraska this year.  Much of the state will be similar to last year with the hot spot likely in southwest Nebraska.  Several things are impacting our numbers right now.  First, the winter we survived was an unusually tough one with cold temps and prolonged deep snow.  That was hard for most wildlife to survive and undoubtedly had an impact on pheasants.  They can scratch through some snow but not several feet!  Second, we had a really cool and wet spring/early summer which likely did not help pheasant recruitment this year.  Such weather impacts insect populations and is not ideal for young chicks.

My suggestion is to understand these impacts and enjoy the season.  In areas of quality habitat, you will find birds and your dog will be thrilled.  In areas of poor habitat,  hunting may be more difficult.  The key in all this is having quality habitat for pheasants to survive weather outbreaks such as our last winter and spring.  The Commission and Pheasants Forever have been working with landowners for several years now to enhance pheasant habitat and the benefits of such efforts are starting to pay off.   More and more landowners are changing practices to benefit pheasants and we hope such efforts will continue. 

Don’t get discourage as the birds are out there.  Find good habitat and you will find roosters.  Enjoy each outing with friends and dogs and appreciate the birds that they bring to you.

Get Em’ Out There


What its all about!

Fall Turkey Hunting – We’re in the “good old days”

Turkeys in the early morning hours just after fly-down


 So you plan to start hunting fall turkey some day but just have not gotten around to it?  I can’t tell you how many times I have spent mornings with the birds while bowhunting for deer in my stand.  Those times I did not have my fall permit are regrettable as I could have added to the Rawlinson freezer and scored another awesome Nebraska turkey.  

It would be good advice for me to tell you to not venture out into  the deer woods this fall without a fall  turkey tag.  With bonus birds, increased populations across the state and don’t forget $5 youth tags, now is the perfect time to ease into a new hunting sport that will not require significant amounts of time to your schedule.  Your already out there…might as well take a turkey too!  Buy your turkey permits  today and be ready for your next outdoor adventure! 

Get Em’ Out There 


Outdoors-Woman By Choice

Dutch oven favorite session! Don't know what was in the pots but it was sure good!

Peering over the steering wheel of my truck, I could see not just one but several of them as they made their way toward the lodge.  They looked determined to accomplish and in remarkably good spirit.  There must have been nearly 100 of them.  They were all demanding the same thing…acceptance into a male dominated sport!  I could not be more impressed with the 2010 graduating class of the Nebraska Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program we recently held  at the State 4H Camp at the Bessey Division of the Halsey National Forest.  These gals were as determined as any guy to learn to hunt, fish, shoot, hike, kayak,  camp, learn outdoor survival techniques, cooking in the outdoors and so much more!  These women are not intimidated and refuse to let the best life has to offer pass them by simply because dad never took them hunting or such.  They have my utmost respect!

For those women looking for further opportunities in outdoor programs, we are offering a number of Beyond BOW programs that include kayaking, deer and turkey hunting, fishing, camping, and much more.  For more information go to and let the good life begin!

Get Em’ Out There


Hershy discusses the finer points of tree stand safety

Educator Christy Christiansen shows the ladies how important a fall restraint harness is when hunting from a tree stand

Where You Been?

I would  like to say that ever since the hunting seasons opened,  Hershy and I have been in the field but that just wouldn’t be completely true.  Sure we have had a few outings to the field (most recent was a grouse hunt while out west) but most of our September – October to  date has been working.   One such effort was our new Family Outdoor Adventure Camp. 

This new program found us at Camp Kateri with around 45 participants for a weekend of kayaking, fishing, camping and shooting sports.  We hosted the program to get more families to take the outdoor plunge and become outdoor families.  We had a great time and I think the families learned a lot.  It is really rewarding to watch kids shoot their first gun, bow or catch their first fish.  Getting Mom and Dad to participate is definitely a step toward making good stewards of our natural  resources!  We are definitely planning to  host this one again. 

Are they enjoying the outdoors or what?

Water mayhem?

The families really enjoyed learning how to shoot clays and many were interested in doing this more a family!

Get Em’ Out There


Win A Free Upland Bird Hunt

Nebraska was one of  only a few states to pioneer a new marketing effort designed to get us dads with kids of hunting age to take them out this fall.  The add campaign is pretty cool as was run in our latest version of NEBRASKAland along with multiple other publications, news paper, etc.  Let me know if you see it.  The campaign directs dads to where they can learn how easy it is in Nebraska to get kids into the field this fall.  They can also sign up to win one of several upland bird hunts in Nebraska thanks to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.  I highly encourage all hunters to look at the site, register and then take a youth hunting.  With the recent $5 youth deer and turkey tags available, along with quality youth only upland game seasons, it has never been easier to take your kids hunting!

Get Em’ Out There