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July: Buck Moon

The Full Moon in July is the Buck Moon, named after the new antlers that emerge from a buck's forehead around this time of the year. It is also called Thunder Moon, Hay Moon, and Wort Moon.

White-tailed deer buck near a canola field.

Bucks are male deer.


Tracking Seasons

In ancient times, it was common to track the changing seasons by following the lunar month rather than the solar year, which the 12 months in our modern calendar are based on.

For millennia, people across Europe, as well as Native American tribes, named the months after features they associated with the Northern Hemisphere seasons, and many of these names are very similar or identical.

Full Moon Names

Today, we use many of these ancient month names as Full Moon names. A common explanation is that Colonial Americans adopted many of the Native American names and incorporated them into the modern calendar.

However, it seems that it is a combination of Native American, Anglo-Saxon, and Germanic month names which gave birth to the names commonly used for the Full Moon today.

Some years have 13 Full Moons, which makes one of them a Blue Moon, as it doesn't quite fit in with the traditional Full Moon naming system. However, this is not the only definition of a Blue Moon.

New Antlers Every Year

The Full Moon for the month of July is called Buck Moon, as new antlers emerge from bucks' foreheads around this time of the year.

Male deer, or bucks, shed their antlers and grow new ones every year. Deer belong to the Cervidae family along with elk, moose, reindeer, and other species. There are several different species of deer in the US and Europe, where this traditional Full Moon name originated. For example the caribou and the moose (North America) or elk (Eurasia).

The smallest living deer is the South American Southern pudu. It weighs only around 9 kg (20 lbs) and only grows to around 36 cm (14 in). The largest living deer is the moose or elk which can grow up to 2 m (6.5 ft) from hoof to shoulder and weigh around 820 kg (1800 lbs).

Thunderstorms and Hay Harvest

Another name for the July Full Moon is Thunder Moon because of the frequent thunderstorms in the summer. The Anglo-Saxon name is either Hay Moon, after the hay harvest that takes place in July, or Wort Moon, indicating that July is the time to gather herbs (worts) to dry and use as spices and remedies.

Topics: Moon, July, Calendar, History, Seasons, Months