Monday, August 29, 2016

Deer - Pretty and Pesty

“I live in a new subdivision where deer are a big problem.  It is bad enough when they eat the foliage off my azaleas or the flowers off my daylilies, but last year a buck rubbed its horns on one of my new trees and killed it!  I have done my research, and I know in the next few months bucks will be rubbing the velvet off their horns again.  Is there any way I can avoid losing another tree to this four-legged pest?”

Someone asked me this question a few years ago and I had a similar question the other day. When a buck rubs a tree, he usually scrapes the bark off one side of the tree. The scape is usually 2 to 4 feet long, depending on the buck.  On a small tree, he can scrape the bark off all sides of the tree, girdling the tree and killing it.  Deer do this to mark their territory as well as rubbing the velvet off their antlers that they grow new each year. 

Controlling deer can be (is) very difficult.  An outdoor dog or two on an electric fence would probably be your best defense. Is fencing is an option?  There are many other deterrents for the deer that are set off by motion detectors.

Dogs would probably be your best bet.  They don’t have to be nasty or mean dogs.  As long as the dog(s) lives in the yard, his different scents will deter a deer and also the dog would probably chase the deer out of the yard.  The dog would have to have free roam of the yard and be out there at night.  A dog will also keep other intruders out of the yard such as raccoons, people, and the occasional…ever so lovable…North America’s only native marsupial… drum roll…The Possum! 

Another option for controlling deer is a fence.  The recommended height of a fence is ten feet to control deer, which is not going to be practical in most neighborhoods.  If you live in a neighborhood with huge lots, I guess you could put up a fence ten feet tall.  Just be sure to check your neighborhood covenants before embarking on this project to make sure this is allowed.  Deer will go in any entrances left open so be sure to use a cattle guard across any entrances. 

There are a series of gadgets that are triggered by motion detectors.  Lights, music, and sprinkler systems are a few that come to mind.  I hardly think that a deer marking his territory will be thwarted by these devices.  Deer seem to get used to these gadgets rather quickly! 

There are many repellents available on the market as well as home remedies to keep deer from eating your foliage.  Since the buck is not eating, the success of these repellents could be limited.  Deer are easily trained and if your yard is constantly protected by repellents, they might choose somewhere else to mark as their territory.  The people at Messina Wildlife make a great product called Plot Saver.  This is a ribbon that you soak in Deer Stopper and put around the perimeter of your property.  This ribbon will deter deer for 30 days and is not affected by rainfall.  Using this barrier instead of spraying individual plants works very well and saves a lot product and time.

There is a “new” product we carry at Possum’s made by Repellex that repels deer for up to a year. We were introduced to this product by a farmer who was trying to protect his crops. The product worked for him on the farm, and he wanted to get it locally from us. The rest is history. We have had several success stories with the product (and Repellex Mole Repellent). The product is systemic and gets into the plant, so it is not washed off with rainfall. The active ingredient is Capsaicin and is a natural product - derived from hot peppers; therefore, not for edible plants. If you want to get away from mixing and spraying, give Repellex a try.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.