We’re being attacked by a group of cunning Browsers. Yes, we are being invaded by a herd of White Tail Deer.
We have a fenced area behind our house. It is about half an acre in size, and I try to grow vegetables, ornamental trees and flowers. For many years, the White Tail Deer respected the fence, with only the occasional delinquent crossing into My Space to feast on the tulips in the spring, or the garden in the summer (beans are their first choice). Then, this winter, they decided that My Space is their space, and they have started to camp out in the backyard. They are browsing everything in sight.
They show no timidness, venturing right up onto the patio on many occasions. When I fly out the door and bear down on them like a crazed Banshee (the stunningly beautiful woman, not the ugly, frightening hag), the deer cast me a glance that says, “I dare you.” Which causes me to pause for a moment, and wonder what would happen if he/she turned on me. We stare at one another for a few moments, and then one or the other of us retreats.
We investigated the cost of Deer Deterrent #1 – raising the fence from 4 feet in height to 6 feet. $15,000 seemed a bit high for a fence that still might not be, well, high enough.
The Car Guy and his dad decided to make use of the old phrase about “Deer in the headlights”. But instead of stunning the deer into inaction and inadvertently mowing them down with the car, a light system is intended to startle the deer as they raid seed from the bird feeder. After several seconds of thoughtful conjecture, hopefully the deer will decide to leave the yard.
On the top of the post is a motion sensor, and below it are two bright spotlights. Rather nicely done, isn’t it? The deer usually arrive shortly after the sun goes down, so the lights should be quite bright. And certainly unexpected.
It may have worked at night, but it didn’t stop the day incursions. Next he put some energy into designing a solar powered, motion sensor, bright glaring light with siren. This project has gone from design phase to purchasing, but is now stalled on the work bench.
Deterrent #3 was a Paintball Gun. Loaded with white non-toxic balls, the Paintball Gun has been shot several times at the deer that were tasting the lilacs. Paintball Guns are not particularly accurate in the hand of a novice. Not a single deer has acknowledged it has been hit – yet. But the deer are a bit more motivated to move along when The Car Guy, a 6 foot 2 inch man with a weapon in his hand, bears down on them.
Recently arrived in the mail is Deterrent #4 – two sets of a product called Wireless Deer Fence. These work like a mild cattle prod. The Car Guy (and his friend Airplane Guy) will attest to the fact that a cattle prod isn’t something you test on a friend more than once…
These units were installed several weeks ago on the paths the deer frequent. So far there are no deer tracks in the snow around the units to indicate the deer have encountered them. But there are also no new deer tracks in the snow inside the yard. We hypothesize that perhaps other people in our neighbourhood also have used these devices, and the smell they give off is warning the deer to stay away. (The smell is supposed to attract the deer to the device and then give off a mild electric jolt when they touch it.) We are cautiously optimistic.
Deterrent #5 could be beefing up the chain link fence with electric fencing. I think The Car Guy is quite enthusiastic about this. He has always thought he would like to protect our house (from unwanted incursions by two footed mammals) with the judicious use of cattle prod technology.
Deterrent #6 is a starters pistol. I have found that if I slam the screen door shut a few times, it makes a sound like a gun going off. If the deer are close enough, they take off. A starters pistol should do the same thing, and save the screen door from being destroyed. If the effect of the starters pistol wears off, then the person carrying it can resort to running after the deer, brandishing the gun, which seems to have some effect too.
Deterrent #7 has something to do with venison. I think The Car Guy was just joking about that. He knows our deep freeze is way too small.
I am very thankful to The Car Guy for all his efforts to keep My Space free of things that eat up everything I plant. Gardening in this part of the world is challenging at best. With 112 frost free days, but only 80 days of productive growing season, gardeners don’t have a second chance at a crop if rabbits or deer eat everything in sight!
Update July 2014 – Success! We raised the chain link fence to 6 feet. The deer have not tried to jump it!