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Story Posted 10-18-2013

Bad Moon Rising

Big, colorful Hunter's Moon signals beginning time to hunt

Bad Moon Rising

By: Mike Suchan, OutdoorChannel.com

It’s illuminating, yes, but just not for hunters anymore … at least when it’s up.

The Hunter’s Moon is tonight, Oct. 18, and it’s being advertised by celestial watchers as a spectacular visual feast. The full moon will rise big and colorful in the Eastern sky with a slight northward movement that adds to its magic. There will even be a subtle lunar eclipse this year.

The Hunter’s Moon follows the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. Indians named the moons from activities at that time, the added light allowing work into the night to bring in crops and then to hunt animals eating on the field stubble.

“Hunters … tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead,” writes NASA’s Tony Phillips.

Also called the Blood Moon, the Sanguine Moon as well as the Travel Moon and Dying Grass Moon, tonight’s full moon will be best viewed at 7:38 p.m. ET. Where cloudless, the moon will shine brightly all night as it rises near sunset and sets near sunrise.

It’s really just an ordinary full moon, not the supermoon when the lunar body is closer to earth and gives a larger appearance. But its ecliptic path gives it more time along the horizon, making it look larger and more colorful than usual.

Earthsky.org explains that the moon appears larger along the horizon because you are looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere, which also scatters blue light and gives this moon more yellow, orange and red hues.

A faint penumbral eclipse -- Earth’s outer shadow covers the moon slightly -- begins around 5:50 p.m. ET is best noticed at 7:50 p.m. and ends around 9:50 p.m.

While all hunting except for maybe predators and varmints is closed after daylight, knowing moon phases can help hunters. Like anglers using almanacs for best time to catch fish, researchers have studied wildlife changes and found deer are more active during full moons, and not just at night.

An article on Moonconnection.com says some swear by moon phase hunting, and research has shown it affects mating patterns. A does’ reproductive cycle is influenced by and peaks three or four days surrounding the second full moon after the autumnal equinox, which is Nov. 17, 2013.

“If you know when the full moon occurs, you can be at the right spot, at the right time, and have the best chance for success, luring the bucks into your site,” the article states.

The Harvest Moon can be mistaken for the Hunter’s Moon because once every four years or so the Harvest Moon is in October instead of September. When that happens, the Hunter’s Moon is in November.

Here’s a passage from the Farmer’s Almanac on the Hunter’s Moon:

Native Americans named this bright moon for obvious reasons. The leaves are falling from trees, the deer are fattened, and it’s time to begin storing up meat for the long winter ahead. Because the fields were traditionally reaped in late September or early October, hunters could easily see fox and other animals that come out to glean from the fallen grains. Probably because of the threat of winter looming close, the Hunter’s Moon is generally accorded with special honor, historically serving as an important feast day in both Western Europe and among many Native American tribes.

A number of locations still have Hunter’s Moon Festivals, like Grand Rivers, Ky. In West Lafayette, Ind., the Feast of the Hunters' Moon is a re-creation of the annual fall gathering of the French and Native Americans which took place at Fort Ouiatenon, a fur-trading outpost in the mid-1700s.

They hold the event on the banks of the Wabash River with thousands of re-enactors “creating a feast for your senses” with authentic food and activities. Of course both events missed out on the real Hunter’s Moon as both were held on previous weekends.

But don’t you. Get out there, look east and marvel, there’s a bad – as in pretty cool -- moon rising.

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