Monday, August 23, 2010

Deer Defense

We've caught sight of our deer visitor a few times now. I first saw him when I went out to shut up the chicken coop, just before full-on dark. It's a lone 2-point buck, maybe a couple hundred pounds. He was in the garden, but hopped over the fence and headed towards the fruit trees when I came out the back door. I called to Aries, and we both watched as he went over our lot fence to the west, across the road, over our neighbors' fence, and then headed up the canyon. A couple of nights later, I caught him out there again, same time, same place. Aries has also seen him a couple more times just before sunrise.

We might as well just hang out a "good eats" sign - he's not going to be easily scared away. The scent of the dog didn't faze him, nor did the wire I laid down where the tracks showed he'd been hopping the fence. He just went around to another spot. The mirrors hanging in the corn patch, to keep the sparrows from perching on the top tassels and breaking them, might have kept him away from the unripe corn, but I don't think so - he munched the bean blossoms close by, and was probably just biding his time until the corn was ripe. When I put a wire cage over the chomped carrot and beet tops, he ate the onion tops. The choi and chard were pruned to just clumps of stems. He reached down inside the cages to eat the leaves off the pepper plants, and spit out the peppers. Only stumps were left of the lettuce I'd let bolt for next year's seed.

I researched deer deterrents. Irish Spring soap was listed, or predator urine products, or sprinkling blood meal around the plants. But it also said deer get used to scent-based deterrents, so you have to keep changing every few days. The only sure-fire preventative was a fence, a tall fence - mule deer can jump 10 feet.

So, we set to work increasing the height of our garden fence. We had a bunch of rebar out in the scrap pile. We slid pieces of that down inside the t-bar fencepost clips. Then added the old chicken wire, salvaged from the garden fence we replaced earlier this year. Then, to make the fence look even taller, I strung surveyors' tape around the tippy-tops of the rebar. Aries says, from the street, it looks like we put in a tennis court. But so far, so good. No tracks, no droppings, no more damage. If the first freeze holds off for another month or two, most of the plants might recover enough that we'll get a bit of a harvest after all.

With the garden out of reach, he's started eating the leaves on the grape vines and fruit trees. We had such a cold spring that there's no fruit this year, but that might be a blessing in disguise. The trees are big enough that I don't think he'll do much damage, and once the leaves fall, maybe he'll move on. I just hope he doesn't decide to bring the wife and kids.


Anonymous said...

I live on the North-West side of Carson. We have terrible rabbit and deer problems. We bought some "Liquid Fence" at the garden shop near the A to Zen thrift store (forget the name). The stuff is wonderful! It really keeps the deer and rabbits away. It's a little pricy, but the concentrated bottle lasts a long time.

Sadge said...

Thanks, Polly! I'll look into that. If I can make the main routes he seems to be using in and out of our lot undesirable, maybe he'll head back up into the hills. The fruit trees can stand losing some leaves, but I really don't want him around this winter, browsing on the branches themselves.

risa said...

When all the tomato starts on the porch were eaten, we knew we'd have to fence the whole place.

We have four right "pets" right now: Buck and Owens on the other side of the east fence, and Bridget and Blondie on the other side of the west fence. They can top the fences if they try, but there's enough going on elsewhere that they're lazy about it.

So far. :)

Annodear said...

Wow! He's really been feasting, hasn't he? Hope your deterrents work!

Sonia said...

Hope your deer fence works! So far, we've not had deer in our property in SE Carson, though I've seen them nearby.

Anonymous said...

We've had success with 'not tonight deer' from It needs to be re-applied when you can't smell it any longer. I've heard deer look for a good 'landing spot' over the fence. A few t-posts around the garden paths help deter them from jumping.

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