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Deer Devastation

Posted by zachandethan (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 10, 06 at 18:16

Well, I just discovered that my beautiful 8' tall Korean Fir was devastated by deer last night. They stripped the bark and about 12 branches right out of the middle. It was growing beautifully, even putting out cones. Now it's a twig. I'm devastated.

I've tried to plant shrubs and trees that deer won't typically eat, and what do I get? What's the point of even trying to garden in this state when the deer devour everything that isn't grown behind a 10' tall fence?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Deer Devastation

"Hungry deer will eat almost anything"

But, we can fight back! I'm also deep in the heart of deer country - sprays don't always work, my deer treat them as salad dressing.

A ten foot fence isn't needed: you can use lower fences made of 4" X4" wire mesh around specimen plants; you can enclose your yard with 6' stockade fencing (or something similar - deer won't jump if they can't see the landing(feeding) zone; you can use 5' high 4'X4' mesh hung a foot above the ground(not perfect-some will squeeze under it!

As for deer proof plants - there aren't that many.

I'm not in NJ, across the line in Rockland County, NY. My deer have eaten most of the understory (including Trillium, Jack in the Pulpit, and Virginia Creeper); they love lillies (all varieties), hostas, chrysanthemums, roses, yuccas, blueberries, peonies, and sedums.

They tend to ignore my hellebores, daffodils, aruncus, cyclamens, foxgloves(digitalis), poppies, and autumn crocus.

They can't reach my lillies, roses, lythrum, echinacea, and gailardia (they're all in an area surrounded by privet (with an internal mesh fence).

The point of trying to garden is to seek methods that allow us to garden, and divert the deer.

BTW my veggie garden has a 6' foot fence (bent over at the top - groundhogs aren't mountain climbers - but 3 ' under the garden is a mesh fence - to keep groundhogs out - yup, they're as bad as the deer!

I actually enjoy gardening; houseplants as well. But, I have realized that nature (and kittens) have little regard for what I want so I adapt, improvise, and sometimes overcome.

The plant lists are off, by quite a bit; starving deer will eat anything, they don't know how to read our lists

RE: Deer Devastation

One of our local land trusts is advocating just fencing off deer trails, i.e., string 8' high netting across trails and force the deer to go in another direction.

They feel that:

1. Fencing, on a large scale, prohibits deer from entering an area but also interrupts the normal movement of other animals that are not destructive to the environment, such as turtles, fox, and yes, even, rabbits.

2. Fencing, again on a large scale, forces the deer to neighboring properties which increases their destructive behavior on those properties.

I, personally, am not too certain how well just fencing off trails would work - I think that's kind of pie in the sky thinking.

The only way to control deer is to eliminate them.

RE: Deer Devastation


Your local land trust is living in "cloud cuckoo land" if they honestly believe that the current population of deer can be confined to trails and pathways by fencing! Deer can jump an 8' fence (or sneak under one that is elevated 18"). Besides that, trails won't provide enough food for them - they would starve if limited to trails.

I know about the sneak under part, I tried using elevated fences, to allow other critters (not varmints like rabbits/groundhogs-groundhogs I have) access to my property - the deer emulated the foxes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and neighbors dog.

Their needs to be population control of the deer - their present population exceeds the 'carrying capacity' of the local area (by a factor of about 9:1), fewer deer equals less damage.


The loss of a beautiful tree hurts; I've lost beds of flowers, shrubs, and the understory in my yard. But, I have learned that fencing works - if you fence it, it has a chance to grow. I'm starting to think about removing some of my 'island' fencing around my V. trilobum - because the partial perimeter fence (3/4 of it) seems to be deterring Bambi and relatives.

Don't give up! Analyze, research, and experiment: sprays work for some; smart sprinklers work for others; the right choice of plants works for some; and perserverance and persistence work for the determined.

RE: Deer Devastation


I always have to laugh when I see a deer crawling under a fence when jumping over it would be so much easier!

My hunter took his 4th one this season yesterday. And I've got another hunter who will work the front of my property - he's a real pro and is comfortable hunting closer to the road.

With any kind of luck, the local herd could be culled by 10 or 12 deer this fall. Add to that number maybe 5 or 6 fawns that won't be born next year and a small dent has been made.

RE: Deer Devastation - P.S.

I know Dad is in New York but Jersey readers should consider contacting the Dept. of Fish and Game and urging a 150' distance from an occupied residence for bow hunting. That could open up a great deal of land to hunting and control.

RE: Deer Devastation

Yup, I'm in NY, and you should listen to njtea, she is right! More population control is needed for the deer (much more - but we don't have any of their predators anymore).

We can't get that here, unless we run an orchard - most towns/villages ban the discharge of firearms(including bows) with town/village limits.

And she is so right about the absurdity of deer crawling under fences! But I ran elevated fences to allow other critters - skunks, oppossums, foxes, raccoons access to my yard. Groundhogs aren't welcome, they eat stuff that deer do and even things they won't (hellebores)

RE: Deer Devastation

Here in NJ the local hunt clubs are allowed to hunt the deer in season at certain locations on specific days.

Each year they kill about 100+ which is just a drop in the bucket but its helping.

RE: Deer Devastation

NY doesn't have a program like that, wish it did, it would help.

Best non-lethal option for deer is still fencing (sounds like 19th cetury range wars out west - but that involved farmers v ranchers)

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