Friday, October 21, 2011

Dealing with Deer

   Deer cause a lot of damage in orchards.  The worst problems are bucks rubbing on branches of young trees in late summer and fall, to mark their territory and rub velvet off their antlers, and deer eating the bark off young trees in winter.  Both these activities can kill the young trees.  After losing several young apple and peach trees, we now place wire cages around all young trees to protect them for deer damage.
This young pear tree, which Bill grafted last year, is protected from deer damage with a wire cage.
    Deer love to eat strawberry plants, and will eat them to the ground, killing the plants.  The last time we planted a strawberry field, we placed a plastic deer fence around the perimeter of this small field, and it has eliminated the damage.
   Deer also love to eat peaches, pears and especially apples.  We lose quite a lot of low-hanging fruit to deer, especially this fall's apple crop since the summer was so dry.  Birds also peck more fruit when it's dry, to get the moisture, as wild fruits are far less plentiful.
   This fall I tried an old remedy that some say works for them, hanging bars of strong-smelling Irish Spring soap in the trees.  It hasn't seemed to reduce deer damage much.  Hopefully in a couple years we can afford to put an electric fence around the orchards.
This fall I tried hanging strong-smelling soap in our apple trees, but I haven't noticed any reduction in fruit knocked off or chomped by deer.
   Our son Michael is a hunter and helped reduce the deer herd in our woods for a couple of years, but he's away at college now.  Our neighbor's nephew, a bow hunter, just asked for and was granted permission to hunt in our woods.  We hope he gets a deer and scares away others.