Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


Klepper Moon Clock

Lunar phases can provide clues for good hunting times.

By E. Dan Klepper

It comes as no surprise that throughout history the moon has been invested with all manner of supernatural authority. One glance at a tallow moon looming fat and saffron above the horizon and it is easy to understand why an otherwise level-headed human would bestow upon it lofty powers normally reserved for magicians in fairy tales. But the moon and its phases hold sway over natural, rather than supernatural, forces. Once released from metaphysical orbit, the moon’s power can be understood to influence nature in a way that is clearly grounded to earth; Earth, rather, with a capital “E.”

The cycling phases of the moon have been used to determine when to plant crops, how to increase crop yields, when to castrate yearlings, how to establish tide flow charts, and other assorted earth-bound duties for centuries. There is no magic involved in the utilization of moon phases simply because the moon, like the sun, directly influences our planet and its inhabitants in a natural way.

My father, the late sportsman and journalist Dan Klepper, developed a way to use the moon’s phases to optimize his hunting schedule. After a conversation with a TPWD biologist about state agency deer trappers who set drop nets according to the phases of the moon, Klepper realized that the same system could apply to deer hunting. Trappers, the biologist reported, observed when deer were most active, then noted the phases of the moon during those times. By scheduling their net setting and baiting accordingly, the trappers were able to maximize their objectives while expending a minimum of resources.

Based on the trappers’ technique, Klepper devised a clock that marked the hours of prime deer movement and notated where they fell on the moon’s cycle. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, deer are creatures of habit. Deer have two periods of heightened activity every 24 hours, each lasting between two and three hours. By aligning them with the moon’s primary phases — new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter — represented by key points on the clock, Klepper was able to determine the optimum times to hunt deer for any day of any year.

Using the Klepper Moon Clock is simple and straightforward:

  1. Locate a calendar or almanac that illustrates the phases of the moon for the year or, for the Internet-savvy, search online for “moon phases,” then bypass the myriad astrology and Wicca sites. Enter one of the many “down-to-earth” Web pages that list moon phases. Here are the phase dates for the 2007-08 deer hunting season:

    • 1st – Last Quarter
    • 9th – New Moon
    • 17th – First Quarter
    • 24th – Full Moon
    • 1st – Last Quarter
    • 9th – New Moon
    • 17th – First Quarter
    • 23rd – Full Moon
    • 31st – Last Quarter
    • 8th – New Moon
    • 15th – First Quarter
    • 22nd – Full Moon
    • 29th – Last Quarter
  2. Determine what days you plan to hunt and where they fall according to the Moon Clock — before, on or after a specific phase of the moon.
  3. If your hunt day falls precisely on one of the four major phases, use the clock to pinpoint the primary hours of deer activity for the two periods — a.m. and p.m. Often, one period will occur after dark or before dawn, when deer hunting is illegal. But the other period will likely occur during daylight hours.
  4. If your hunt is scheduled on a day that lands between major phase changes, you can use the clock to determine the prime period of activity anyway. For example, if your hunt day occurs between the full moon and the last quarter then calculate accordingly. The peak hours of deer activity on a full-moon day occur at noon and midnight, and the last-quarter-moon day’s peak hours of activity occur at 3 a.m. and 3 p.m.; thus the peak deer activity hours for your hunt day will occur between midnight and 3 a.m. then between noon and 3 p.m.

There is no doubt that a number of factors determine a successful hunt, including weather, browse conditions and, of course, gun skills. Adding the Moon Clock into the mix can increase hunters’ odds for bagging their deer. It also allows hunters to schedule both their hunt time in the field as well as their nap time back at camp, perhaps the two most important activities that take place on the deer lease during hunting season.

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