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Early morning in Wellsville, by Melissa Scott

 In the Outdoors: Full Hunter’s Moon Saturday


“Moonbeams have been considered as having a special quality in myth and legend”

By Oak Duke

    A little after 6 pm Saturday, the Full moon, like a drum roll, will rise to the delight of millions of soon-to-be Halloween revelers, setting the celestial stage for the annual earthly spooky times.

    Then, a couple days after the Full moon, Halloween appears here as it always does, on October 31.

    And each night, the Hunter’s Moon, named so for good reason, will lighten up the nighttime darkness.

     Full moons are not a one-day events. Similarly to Halloween it spans almost a week, termed by astronomers as the Full moon phase.

    Skeletons, ghosts, witches, goblins, vampires, werewolves, and monsters of all sorts are popping up in yards and on porches, now, not to mention the ubiquitous pumpkins transformed into jack-o-lanterns as that magical evening approaches.

    Halloween’s Trick-or-treaters, with all their costumes and transformational roles take to the sidewalks for candy and treats, not just here in North America, but South America, Europe, Japan, and others… even down-under in Australia, all under the same Full moon.

    Though Halloween this year occurs during the Full moon phase, it’s one of those holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and of course, The Fourth of July (Independence Day,) that’s always on a specific date.

    But Easter’s date is different, determined with a formula that includes the Full moon, being always the first Sunday after the first Full moon after the Vernal Equinox (March 21,22, or 23.)

    Down through time, poets and songwriters have waxed eloquently upon the notion that the moon somehow sets the stage for love and romance.

    Uncountable songs and poems have chronicled the moon’s amorous effect on us.

    For example, a few are Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” “Amore,” “By the light of the Silvery moon,” “There’s a Moon out tonight,” by the Capris, and of course the crazy, “Blue Moon” by the Marcells…and on and on.

    But weirdly…there is a conflicting emotion…that the moon is kind of creepy and weird, and a bit disconcerting.


    After all, the moon in popular myth and legend is also the time when werewolves grow their claws and teeth.

    And witches fly past the Full moon on their broomsticks (latest models of course.)

    In this realm of myth, Neil Armstrong shattered it all, landing on the moon, proclaiming, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” after flying 240,000 miles through space back in 1969.

    But the moon has always enveloped, like a cloud in the contrast between myth and science.

    Some still believe that the NASA Lunar landing mission back in 1969, along with the others, are in themselves myths…made-up stage props somewhere outside of Hollywood with special effects… no matter the scientific evidence to the contrary.

    This Saturday’s Full moon is called the Hunter’s Moon and for any given year coincides with the peak of the whitetail breeding cycle, the Rut.

    Millions of deer hunters down through time have noted this special time when whitetails break out of their normal reclusive, low-key ways and go crazy for a spell.

    Bucks chase bucks, bucks chase does, does pace continually and hunters have, what many consider their best chance at this time to put venison in the freezer or tag that trophy buck.

    As Halloween celebrates the magical, the strange, the otherworldly and the transformative, a mysterious thing happens to deer at this time.

    Whitetails change, especially bucks.

    They change their shape, their appearance, but mostly their attitudes and behavior.

    Now, white antlers are THE iconic symbol of the species, though they only last on a deer’s head for a percentage of the time (September through December, and sometimes a bit longer then are shed.)

    Researchers have posited that one of the factors creating this metamorphosis is photoperiodism, the changing of daylight.

    And moonlight is simply reflected sunlight.

    Moonbeams have been considered as having a special quality in myth and legend.

    But I like to look at the Full moon in relation to the whitetail rut as a fine-tuning dial, mounted into the larger dial of waning daylight, skewing the amount of light, brightening it with the Full moon, and then going dark. 

    This Hunter’s Moon in fact is quite special because as this good earth spins between the moon and the sun on October 28, its shadow will graze the moon, kissing it, called a Partial Lunar Eclipse, but will barely be visible to us here in Eastern North America.

Oak Duke/Wellsville, NY/ October 2023  

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