Here is my latest hypothesis. which I hope to find answers to by the end of this year.
Does Moon Phase Affect Deer Activity?
This is just a thought process, in progress, but, many people want to know which moon phase animals are most active in. There is a lot of anecdotal information available to hunters, by hunters, who generally do not take good notes - because they are not getting sightings from every moon phase, for equal numbers of days, throughout the month.
And they may not take into account whether or not there are clouds present, which alters the amount of light available during the day and night. They may not take into account the perigee/apogee cycle of the moon, which my affect deer activity. And they may not take into account the weather conditions, which affect deer activity. All of this has to be taken into account, in order to come up with reliable conclusions.
Plus - If a person does not have deer sightings from an equal number of days during the full moon, and the same number of days during each of the other moon phases, at the same location, while sitting for the same number of hours, their notes may not accurately reflect when peak sightings of deer or bears occur. Which is why we conduct controlled, very rigid research projects.
And why my current Wildlife Activity Research Project, is so important. It is the first study I know of to use live feed infa-red cameras, 24/7, and the first time a study of the "activity" (not just time and location) of the animals, particularly deer, in relation to lunar factors, at night, has been possible.
Researchers have found that peak deer activity occurs during the full moon, and during the new moon, and during other phases. There seems to be no consensus. Which may suggest it makes no difference. During my resarch in the fall of 1997, I found peak sightings of deer, during October and November, during the full moon.
It may be that, since deer are a prey species, susceptible to predation, and because sight is a means of defense to them (meaning security to a deer is not being seen) - that - the high visibility during full moonlit nights, without clouds, may allow deer to see well enough to detect dark objects, and movement, that they may not see on cloudy nights or during other phases of the moon. This high visibility factor may make deer so nervous, that they do no move much in open areas, at night, during the week of the full moon, provided there is no cloud cover.
This could result in more daytime deer movement, during the full moon, because the deer still need to eat, and they can do so, during the day, in wooded areas, where thy feel secure.
You can view the weekly results, graphs, and my latest ideas and conclusions, on the bottom of our home page at www.TRMichels.com.
In his study on white-tailed deer R. Kent Kammermeyer found that deer activity was greater in both daylight and dark hours when the moon was in the light phase (greater than half moon) than it was during the dark phase (less than half moon). He also found that deer activity was significantly greater during the day between the hours of 8 and 10 in the morning during the full moon phase.
In a study of sambar deer in Florida Lewis, Flynn, R.L. Marchinton, Shea and E.M Marchinton also found greater deer activity from moonrise to moonset during the full moon than in the new moon phase. No correlation of sambar deer movement with tidal activity was noted, which suggests that the moon's gravitational forces were not directly responsible for any effect the moon may have on deer movement. It was noted that the greatest monthly movement of the sambar deer occurred during the seven days before the perigee of the moon.
If you have questions, feel free to ask.