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Lunar phases and the Rut?

Old 08-27-2007, 03:42 PM
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Default Lunar phases and the Rut?

Just wondering. . .we know that when the moon is out we may see less animal movement, more feeding in the dark,than with no moon but do lunar phases have any effect on the rut. Or does temp and time of season act as the primary driver? . . .

Any thoughts?

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Old 08-28-2007, 04:59 AM
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Default RE: Lunar phases and the Rut?

The full moon most definately has an effect on rutting elk. Since elk are starting to put on their winter coats the coolness of night allows them more time to rut without over heating. This gives them a short time during new moon time frames to be able to see competitors coming. But put in to works the full moon and they have the entire time the moon is up to rut. Even though an elks nocturnal vision is good, the full moon gives the bulls an advantage over the young upstarts trying to steal cows. Now if the full moon is out during the day, which happens, the elk gain no plus from its light. If the rise of the full moon is around 10pm the elk may not get outof their beds until the mon rises. Kind of ruins the evening hunt.
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Old 08-28-2007, 09:49 PM
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Default RE: Lunar phases and the Rut?

The moon stage doesn't effect rut per se. Photoperiod (the length of the days) is what starts, peaks and ends the primary rut.

By virtue of the fact that elk (and other critters) are more active during a full moon, regardless of the season, tends to make it appear that the moon is driving them crazy. It's because it's the rut anyway and everyone is out partying under a full moon.

I guess you could say it intensifies the rut, but not really. The activity would be just as intense if something else gets them moving like early snow etc.

It's just the fact that they are moving more and it's the rut.

Just like the myth that hot weather shuts them down. Not so. They just aren't moving as much and rutting activity will be somewhat compressed to late night/very early morning and taper a bit earlier as it heats up.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:26 AM
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Default RE: Lunar phases and the Rut?

Photoperiodism controls hormone release in an elk’s body all year, not just for the rut. It controls so many functions in an elk’s life. But it is nothing more than a trigger for hormones. The two major hormones are estrogen and testosterone that deal with the rut. Testosterone tells an elk to grow antlers, shed velvet and make seamen. Estrogen starts the reproductive cycle in the females, but doesn’t stop with the rut. But even though Photoperiodism triggers the rut, it does not control it! Physical environment controls the rut; temperature, weather and hunting pressure are the key elements to how the rut runs.
There is a good reason why elk cows will go through a minimum of three cycles. There have been as many as 5 cycles by a cow that was not bred[Elk of North America Ecology and Management] The idea heat won’t shut down the rut is absurd, if a bull tries to rut in very warm conditions it will kill him. This is why they go nocturnal in hot conditions, or stop until the temperature cools down. Hence multiple cycles in cows.
So even though the moon doesn’t cause the rut, it most definitely enhances the elk going nocturnal for the time it is up between dusk and dawn because the optimal conditions to rut.
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Old 08-29-2007, 04:48 PM
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Default RE: Lunar phases and the Rut?

You're arguing semantics, and you're incorrect at that. Weather and lunar phase don't "control" the rut. If it was 85 degrees all September they would still rut, it's just be shifted to later night/earlier morning. Just like if it snows the 2nd week of August they don't rut, even though they could be bugling etc.

It's all perception. Just because you don't see them being as active doesn't mean they aren't. They are, it's just structured differently based on those proximate factors.

I shouldn't have to reiterate, but when they are rutting, they are rutting regardless of the weather and lunar phase. When the weather and moon are favorable, they are moving all day and rutting, which means activity is all through the day possibly, but no less intense.

Is this making sense?

Is that an old version? Semen is mispelled. I guess I better dig mine up.
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:18 PM
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Default RE: Lunar phases and the Rut?


Time of year/season dictates when the peak rut occurs. Look at when calves are born no matter the state. Do the math in reverse, you'll see peak rutting times fall from Sept. 16-25, statistics will bear this out. If a full moon happens to fall into this realm fine. But if it doesn't they still rut regardless. There are many times when stormy conditions hit during full moon phases, the rut continues good weather or bad. It's no secret that elk are very active during full moon times in Aug--Sept.-- & Oct. In can throw a wrench into our hunting methods but that's about it! Keep it simple!!

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