Ask The Deer Tracker

Posted on July 8, 2014


July Column


Editor’s note:  Anyone wishing to send a question for future Ask The Deer Tracker posts can e-mail it to,



Q. – Always wanted an expert opinion on moon phase and hunting whitetails in Maine. I have hunted there 30 years and taken good bucks in just about all conditions and moon phase. I was just curious of your point of view.

                                                                                                                    – J. C. Cherry Hill,   NJ


A . – As I would tell anyone, the best time to hunt whitetails is whenever you can, wherever you can and as often as you can. However, I am keenly aware that most folks only have a certain amount of precious vacation time that they can devote to chasing deer, and are looking for the best odds for buck movement.

I can tell you that I have never followed or adhered to specifically hunting only certain moon phases. This should not be misunderstood to minimize the importance of hunting around the second full moon following the autumn equinox. That’s an important moon that triggers does to enter estrus. I have found that most moon phase charts available are very complicated and unsubstantiated. Although we as hunters look for definitive patterns of wildlife, they march to the beat of their own drum and behave without regard to what the percentages say. Dr. James Kroll has studied deer extensively and makes a very valid point with regard to deer movement, writing:

Great Mistakes 12-2-3-Edit

Does moon position change availability of food? Do deer use moon position or geomagnetic cues to move to and from their beds and feeding areas? It is preposterous to believe moon position has anything to do with deer movement.”

Kroll also provides insight into the one period that seems to be the worst time for deer movement:

Another interesting point is the lowest observed rutting activity in every geographic region occurred during the first quarter of the moon, no matter the race or year examined. Again, this may be influenced by higher melatonin production during the new moon; thereby inhibiting breeding for several days. When we couple this with what we learned about deer movements, the first quarter does not seem to be a very good time to be hunting!”


Q. – Knowing you have been hunting with a Remington pump carbine with a Williams receiver peep sight, I wanted your insight on the disadvantages and advantages of using a scope vs. this peep sight. I purchased a pump model 7600 3 years ago and combined it with a scope. Two bucks fell, but this year I jumped a big one, but it took me too much time to see the deer and try to get him in my scope, and I never got a shot. I replay it in my head and I almost feel as though I would have had a shot if not had a scope on my gun. Thoughts? I appreciate it and your time.                                                          – R. P. Oakland, ME


A. – From my very first deer rifle going forward I have used an iron peep site. It was what my dad started me with at the age of ten and it became second nature to me when aiming a rifle. Although I still use one on my turkey shotgun, I have replaced my beloved Williams sights with scopes due to deteriorating eye sight. It was out of necessity rather than convenience that this transformation occurred. Prior to making the switch I did a lot of research as to what would be the best scope for my 760’s and my style of hunting that often requires quick shots at rapidly disappearing bucks. I chose Leupold’s 2 x 7 shotgun/muzzleloader scope coupled with their low-rise mounts. When I bring the stock to my cheek I have immediate target acquisition, and clarity as if I were looking through one of my long lenses while photographing. I believe the switch was seamless to me due to my photography career, however, I’m still not sure I’m completely comfortable, or ever will be carrying my rifle topped with a scope.


I would encourage you to either become very intimate with your new set-up or switch back to a peep site. Confidence plays a huge role psychologically in how we react in tense situations.


 Q. – How often does a fawn feed each day, how much liquid is consumed with each feeding and is this normal milk?                    P.H. – Hanover, PA


A. – The nursing bout includes much more than just a feeding session. With each interaction between mother and baby several important functions occur. During the first three weeks of a fawn’s life, the most critical in its survival, a fawn is completely dependent on its mother for all of its nutrition. The milk the fawn receives the first couple of days – known as colostrum – is a thick, sticky, yellow mixture containing antibodies against disease. This formula initially has an 11-12 percent fat content that helps stimulate a fawns weight gain. After three weeks the fat content is reduced to roughly 8 percent, but even with this reduction it still contains 2 percent more fat than the average milk from a dairy cow.


A doe will usually nurse her fawn about 4-to-6 times during a twenty-four hour period. With each feeding a fawn will consume about four ounces of milk. Most adult does will produce roughly 2 quarts of milk per day. In the beginning, it is probable to believe a doe will nurse her fawn more frequently due largely from discomfort caused by a swollen udder rather than motherly instinct. A fawn will not completely drain the udder during a feeding and therefore it quickly fills up again prompting the need for the doe to feed her offspring. As the fawn grows and its appetite increases, more of the milk is consumed at each feeding creating a longer time span between each subsequent feeding.

While nursing, the doe busily licks and grooms her baby, which keeps the youngster clean and odorless, free of parasites and stimulates defecation. With each successive nursing session, the social bond between mother and child continues to strengthen.


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