Yes they like to graze. See the link below to read another post about deer.
Here is a link that might be useful: Suggestions on how to deal with deer
Well dang!! Interesting thread!! Guess I will just spray some liquid fence once they start nibbling. Thanks
Deer--VERMIN--will not only eat camellia leaves, here in northern Virginia they will gnaw every last leaf off of young plants. You've gotta cover with mesh or the poor things need to make all new leaves in the spring. This past winter was the surprise: NoVA deer will even eat rhododendron leaves.
Some deer are resistant even to the very toxic Kalmias.
But there seems to be curious variability. As nearby as the suburbs of Philadelphia, people on the rhodo yahoo group say that deer will eat any and all rhododendrons. OTOH, my deer won't even take a bite of my rhododendrons or azaleas, barring one species, the Japanese R. kaempferi. But they haven't even liked that in the past year or so. Some cultivars of camellia they've periodically browsed, some they never have. It's odd. Deer behaviorists say they don't eat grass, but I'm convinced that by leaving the grass and some brush in a semi-swampy area of my yard high all winter, they eat that rather than my plants. I just can't believe that for a ruminant, lush native grasses and forbs aren't more desirable than lignin-filled, poisonous Ericaceae branches. Even if they can be detoxified, they still have to spend metabolic energy doing so.
The most serious problem I've had w/deer in the past couple years are: 1) rutting against small to medium sized trees - one just knocked a whippy 6' Magnolia 'Vulcan' over, I think I righted it in time and 2) "sampling" small plants. They almost always seem to reject/spit out the plant, but if you're talking about something that is 4" high, that can be the entire top growth they destroy. It's the same with rabbits. There seems to be few ornamental plants they actually like the taste of. But they can be very destructive with their sampling.
Longterm we really should do something about these antlered rats - like exterminating them from all but a few reserves - because they are irreparably harming what's left of fragile native ecosystems. Unfortunately, the hunting lobby insists that they be relatively easy to hunt, to satisfy their blood lust, and the moronic Bambi lobby goes apesh-t every time a municipality tries to control them. If New York City didn't kill its rats, they would be knee high and eating people's children and small pets. New York City is not a "natural" environment; but neither is the eastern third of the country in its entirety, and without higher predators that used to control them, deer are destroying native plant and animal communities.
(Obviously I don't have a problem with people hunting deer where they are overpopulated. In that sense I'm probably helped by being in a rural area compared to somewhere like Northern Virginia. It's just that states "manage the herd" for the benefit of hunters, not the environment. What the Cristol article just touches on is that their ungulate "clear cutting" also favors invasives over natives, because invasives are less palatable to them. They help spread, for example, the dreaded Asian mile-a-minute vine, but they don't eat it.)
Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/19/opinion/why-bambi-must-go.html
This post was edited by davidrt28 on Wed, Oct 16, 13 at 19:55