Moon phase is one of those aspects of elk hunting that you will hear a few different opinions on. You get those who feel it has a significant impact on how they approach elk hunting during a full moon versus others who really don’t seem to care. That said, let me preface this article by saying this is my opinion based on personal experience and from what I’ve been able to glean from biologists and hunters. If you don’t agree, no problem.
When hunting elk during the days when the moon is phasing to and after a full moon (more light than dark), I’ve experienced less elk activity in the morning hours of my hunt. I agree that more moon light allows animals to spend more time looking for food and keeping an eye out for predators. Elk get to capitalize on this extended light, especially bulls. During the rut and a full moon, bulls have optimum opportunity to fight, herd cows and mate. During peak rut, bulls are vocal but if it happens to coincide with a full moon, then bulls continue to be vocal more during the evening hours.
Cow estrus cycles begin around the Fall equinox (around September 22-23.) The Fall Equinox is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the equator. This is when the daylight hours and evening hours are equal. When and if this falls at the same time of the year when a full moon is occurring and it is hunting season for your given area, then elk are more active during the night. When the sun replaces the moon, elk are exhausted and overindulged to the point they stay bedded down until night rolls around again. This can be tougher for hunters hoping to catch elk out during daylight hours.
I tend to watch the moon phase cycle and if I’m burning points for a given hunt that I’ve been saving for a few years, then this definitely comes into consideration for planning a hunt.