The Harvest Moon Shines Brightly Tonight

To many people it’s just another full moon…but to those folks who keep a keen eye on the outdoors scene tonight’s moon is known as the Harvest Moon.   By definition, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox (which occurred September 23rd).   In reality, the Harvest Moon traditionally kicks off a century’s old cultural tradition that celebrates the important season of harvesting and gathering the crops just prior to the winter season.   The bright moon is significant because in folklore it gave the farmers just a bit extra light during the season to work on harvesting their crops.

In the sportsman’s world the next full moon is aptly named the Hunter’s Moon.   To read more about this moon see my previous post back in September ‘04.

What’s really important to the sportsman is not so much what the moon is named, but at what time during the month the various cycles appear.   Quite honestly when the moon rises tonight it will be so bright that a sportsman can walk around in the woods without the aid of any artificial light.   In sort of a mystical way, nature is providing this natural bright light because as the days get shorter…the race is on to prepare for some drastic changes to the season.

Hunters and fishermen have long believed that the moon plays an important role in their successful endeavors.   I’ve been in the calendar publishing business for nearly 18 years now and can attest to just how many sportsmen must have their new solunar table calendar for the upcoming year or you would think their existence would somehow be incomplete.   Seriously, there are a growing number of sportsmen who act as if they live by these tables.   Some of the theory for how these charts work can be garnered by reading here and here…but what it all boils down to is a very confusing science as viewed by the typical sportsman.   Perhaps that is why using the charts is so important because someone else has figured it all out.

Unfortunately, like most other sportsmen, I don’t have the luxury of hunting or fishing guided solely by the solunar table.   Oh, sure, it’s great when a day I have off happens to coincide with a great day to be on the lake or in the woods…but for the most part I must live my sporting life not based on a solunar schedule…but rather, on a personal schedule.   Perhaps that’s why I have never grown too serious about using the charts.

Quite honestly I feel a good day to be out hunting or fishing is any day you have the time to be outdoors.   Seriously.   Do you think if the solunar table tells you it stinks to go hunting or fishing the deer will sit tight all day and not move?   I doubt it.   Certainly I’m not disputing the fact that nature is perhaps influenced by the moon and the sun events…but this is only one factor out of many, many more that are perhaps more important.   Consider the weather.   If it’s been unseasonably warm in the fall and suddenly a cold snap arrives…do you think the deer activity will suddenly pick up?   Of course it will…and the tables won’t accurately predict this.

Magic8ballWhen it comes to predicting future hunting or fishing success you might as well consult a Magic 8 Ball.   My guess is the laws of probability will likely have the information garnered from this child’s toy to be nearly as accurate as reading the charts.   Besides, while you are at the toy store picking up a Magic 8 Ball you might as well purchase a Rubik’s Cube to keep you busy in the deer stand, just in case I am wrong.

Seriously, when it comes to the moon and correlating it to our hunting activities in the fall, especially deer hunting during the rut, my personal belief is that it has very little influence.   If you were to ask a room full of hunters what their theory or belief is on the moon as it relates to hunting…you would likely hear as many possible explanations as there are hunters in that room.   There’s simply no definitive explanation that will be correct most of the time.

Indeed, the moon has long held a very romantic and often legendary importance to mankind for various reasons.   Yet, my personal belief when it comes to being a sportsman remains that hunting or fishing on the “correct day” does not overcome poor technique.   If you genuinely know what you are doing in the woods or on the waters success should not totally evade you no matter what the solunar table might tell you.   No doubt about it the moon is significant to all life on earth, I think that has been fairly well substantiated in science.   But let’s be realistic here…is a so-called poor moon phase going to keep the typical sportsman from buying a deer license because work and solunar schedules don’t seemingly allow for a good hunt.   I think not.

My point in all of this is don’t get too hung up on solunar theory and practice.   It can be fun and entertaining to know what the charts say for any given day, but for most sportsmen that knowledge does little good in actual practice.   Indeed, observing the moon and the stars can be a strong fascination for sportsmen as they sit in the duck blind waiting for the sun to rise over the horizon.   Yet, don’t overlook the many other factors that may be far more important to predicting your future success.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.