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What Does Moon Overhead and Underfoot Mean?

Most people who talk about hunting also talk about the moon and how it affects game. There are plenty of theories and ideas about how the moon’s location can affect deer and other wildlife. But what does “moon overhead and underfoot” mean? 

Moon overhead and underfoot means that the moon is either straight up (overhead) or straight down (underfoot). These terms are heavily used in the hunting world to determine the activity of deer, as they tend to be more active when the moon is in these locations in the sky.

Let’s discuss this a little more and discuss the possible connections between moon location and deer activity.

A Deer at Night Standing in Front of the Moon

Why Are Moon Overhead and Underfoot Relevant for Hunting?

Moon overhead and underfoot is relevant for hunting because It is widely believed that deer are more active when the overhead and underfoot times are close to sunrise and sunset. Though many studies have been done regarding this theory, they are not currently backed by studies. 

One of the first and most known writers regarding this topic is the late Jeff Murray, who studied for years how deer moved according to the phase and position of the moon and based on this information.

Based on his observations, he recommended a specific time to hunt in each area, known as red days. Red days are when the moon is overhead or underfoot during prime hunting periods, during the first or last hour of light early or late in the day.

While there is only one man’s experience backing this information, it is popular among hunters everywhere. Many people swear by his work. In fact, it is difficult to deny the existence of some sort of moon position and deer activity correlation.

Overhead and underfoot are terms that are based on where the moon is located. 

Many people believe this has a link to when deer are most active. For example, a common belief is that the overhead and underfoot of the moon should take place as close to sunrise and sunset as possible for optimal deer activity. 

There haven’t been many studies done that support this idea because there can be so many other factors like the: 

  • Time of year 
  • Location 
  • Weather 

However, it is so popular among the hunting community that it is worth considering. 

What Is It Called When the Moon Is Directly Overhead?

When the moon is directly overhead, it is called the zenith. The word zenith refers to something being directly overhead, but when it comes to astrology, it is more complicated. 

Some people do not like the term zenith in relation to astrology because it is usually about individual experience. The moon will never be directly over your head, and someone else’s at the same time. 

So, there can never be a universal zenith for the moon in a traditional sense. 

However, astrology does not follow this strict definition. The true definition of zenith in terms of lunar activity is about the earth. The zenith of the moon is when it is directly overhead of the earth, not the individual. 

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What Moon Phase Do Deer Move Best?

Deer silhouette in a mountain landscape with a crescent moon in the sky

While there is no moon phase that deer move best, they tend to move less in the daytime during a full moon. There is no scientific evidence showing that any moon phase is better for deer movement. Other than that knowledge, we don’t have any evidence that the moon phases affect deer activity.

There is currently no correlation between moon phases and deer activity, except for the full moon. 

Though hunters swear by their own ideas that the moon phases affect, the scientific evidence backing any of those claims is lacking. So, the best moon phase for hunting really depends on your own experience. 

A full moon tends to decrease activity for deer during the day. So, you know that if you go hunting on a day of a full moon, deer will be more scarce. 

Otherwise, there is no correlation between moon phases and deer activity. 

Jeff Murray mentioned the possible connection between deer activity and moon positions, which is the most information that we have regarding the moon and how deer act. He drew comparisons between when the moon overhead and underfoot coincided with sunrise and sunset. 

Murray’s experiment showed that there was a correlation between deer activity and days when the overhead and underfoot of the moon was within an hour of sunrise and sunset. This correlation may not have the backing of any scientific studies, but many hunters swear by it. 

So, while the phase of the moon doesn’t make a difference, the position seems to. 

What Is the Rutting Moon?

The rutting moon is the second full moon after the autumn equinox. It can fall between late October and late November, and it is believed that the rutting moon affects when deer mate. Rutting is the time when deer prepare for and mate with each other. 

This is the time when bucks are the most vulnerable because they are focused on mating with does. 

Because they are so distracted, bucks tend to be easier to hunt and even hit by a car at this time. This makes rutting a perfect time to hunt as their guard is down. 

The rutting moon generally marks the beginning of the rut and lets hunters know that deer are most vulnerable. During the rutting moon and sometime after, it is believed that deer will be more active and less aware of your presence due to the strong urge to mate. 

The rutting moon is believed to greatly increase mating activity. In fact, the rutting moon is said to combine with the rutting season to make this day the strongest of the year for deer activity. 

Many hunters wait for the rutting moon to hunt to give them better results, but this is still a theory that hunters have developed over the years. There is still no direct correlation between moon phases and deer activity, but rutting certainly leads to more activity.

Should You Deer Hunt During a Full Moon?

A deer at night with the full moon behind

You should hunt deer during a full moon, but hunting during the day is not a good idea. According to some studies, during the full moon, deer move more at night and less during the day. It is believed that they do this because of increased visibility, but we don’t know the real reason for sure.

Because deer move more at night during a full moon, their activity decreases during the day. So, it is not a good idea to hunt deer during the daytime when the moon is full. Hunting at night during a full moon is a different story. 

If you like to hunt at night and your area allows it, then hunting during a full moon would be a great time to do it. Not only does the full moon provide plenty of light, but the increased deer activity will help you be more effective. 

Light is important for nighttime hunters because many states have laws against using night vision and thermal imaging. 

So having a full moon can be highly beneficial when you have to hunt by the naked eye. Hunting on a full moon is not bad for those hunting at night, but hunting during the day may be a lot more difficult. 

Final Thoughts

Moon overhead and underfoot can be confusing terms for those who don’t closely follow hunting or astrology, but their definitions are easy to understand no matter your experience. It is often said that the closer the overhead and underfoot of the moon come to sunrise and sunset, the more there will be deer activity. 

There are many theories regarding the moon and deer activity, but not much correlation is found. There is still a lot of work to do to understand deer behavior and the moon.

Thanks for reading!

For more, check out What Can Deer Smell? (How To Avoid Detection).