Category Archives: deer

The ugly side of rural living

Around 4AM Sunday morning, D’Argo started woofing. I tried to ignore him, but then I heard a couple of horrific bleating screams outside. I went outside to see, without D’Argo, much to his chagrin, and heard rustling in the leaves on the hill to the East then movement away. It was still dark, the dogs in the neighborhood were all barking, but everything else was quiet.

When I let the dogs out after first light, D’Argo ran straight up the hillside and started crying at the gate when I tried to call him back. He wanted to show me something, and this is what I found. This picture was taken Monday morning after I had moved the carcass. Originally it was up on the hill not far from our well, and barely touched, but definitely mauled, not shot. My best guess is feral dogs, although coyotes are also a possibility and they disappeared when they heard me open the door. I’m of the opinion that Coyotes would have done a better job of killing the deer, but who knows. On Sunday night, something came back and tried to drag the body away, but didn’t manage to get very far, and did start consuming it.

I had already decided to move the carcass because I didn’t really want predators milling so close to the dog pasture, so this morning I roped the legs and dragged it off to the back of the property. For my family in Canada, who are used to big deer, our deer are only about 150lbs, and this one was a yearling. Dragging it by hand was like pulling a loaded sled. I did find a freshly dug burrow where I left the body, so someone will have a surprise when they emerge tonight. Hopefully it’s something that enjoys carrion. If it hadn’t been winter, I would have left the deer out in the open, but all the vultures have left the vicinity for warmer climes.

It ain’t pretty, but it’s all part of rural living. I’m just glad there’s something around that might put a dent in the deer population.

It works!

I thought I had my deer browsing problem solved by using a row cover on my strawberry bed. Out of sight, out of mind; it seemed to be working. I had lush green plants hidden under a white cover, and loads of berries. Unfortunately, our relatively dry Spring turned quite wet and humid. Without proper air circulation to dry out the plants, I suddenly found myself with a bad case of fungus; fruit rotting on the plants. Gritting my teeth, I set about removing all the affected fruit, three gallons worth, then removed the row cover.

Sure enough, it was no more than two days later when I found the deer had torn the netting loose in one corner and started eating the plants. In less than a week, they had nearly stripped the bed, taking a little every night.

However, reinforcements were on the way. Another advantage to getting the bathroom plumbing repaired is that now the outside faucet doesn’t leak anymore, so as soon as the deer started penetrating my defenses, I ordered a Scarecrow┬«.

This device is a motion activated impact sprinkler. When set off, it’ll emit a four second burst of water, moving rapidly back and forth. It scared the heck out of me and I knew what to expect. I installed it last night, we turned on the water, and went to bed.

This morning, I went out to pick strawberries. I turned off the water, but still got scared when the sprinkler activated with the water left in the hose. The netting on the strawberry bed was intact, so I couldn’t really tell if it had worked, but knew it hadn’t NOT worked. I took a look at the next garden bed and found that something heavy had slammed into the conduit hoop and gave it a lovely S-curve, tearing the row cover in the process. Here was evidence of success. With the evidence at hand I can surmise that the deer casually jumped the fence as usual, near the peach tree, and, no doubt while grazing, made it’s way to the West side of the beds heading for strawberries. Just as it approached, the sprinkler activated (it makes an explosive hissing noise when it starts up) startling the deer, whereupon it jerked away, slamming into the next garden, then running away, back the way it came. I write this with a certain amount of satisfaction, but this is only one successful skirmish in a long battle to gain some kind of equilibrium with my furry neighbors. They serve a role in the environment, and I’m not trying to “get rid of them”, I’m just trying to carve out a little niche of my own. In fact, I did see deer this morning. Two of them were having a drink in the pond, then grazing in the savanna out front. I left them alone.

The necessity of deer cages

This is what happens when a deer cage blows over. The deer stripped all but two leaves on my poor mulberry tree. I don’t know if the deer knocked over the cage, or if it blew over and the deer took advantage. Either way, the poor tree should survive, if I make sure it’s well watered. Luckily we got 2.8 inches of rain on Monday.

Some other plants won’t be so lucky. After leaving my tomato plants alone for a few weeks, allowing them to recover from their first browsing, the deer decided they were ready for a second round and pulled it right out of the ground. I’m not even going to try to rescue this one.

You’d think this round garden was in the early stages of growth, but it’s been browsed so much it’s stunted.

This is the next garden, which you’d think at first glance was doing well.

Unfortunately, the corn has been browsed down…

…and numerous leaves have been removed from the squash vines.

I knew the fencing was too low to keep the deer out, but I was hoping they wouldn’t ignore it so quickly!

More excitement

Previously, D’Argo had alerted me to a fawn sleeping in the front yard. When given the opportunity, both dogs thoroughly sniffed out the area, checking for deer poop, a canine delicacy. I had put the little deer out of my mind, assuming the doe wouldn’t leave the fawn in the same place because of predators. Boy, was I wrong.

I was heading for the mailbox, D’Argo on leash and Odo lagging behind in the heat, last Friday, one week after we found the fawn. When I got to the mailbox and looked back, there was no Odo in sight. I didn’t think anything of it at that moment, because he often waits in the shade for us to return or finds a private spot for any “business” he needs to attend to. As D’Argo and I walked back up the hill, D’Argo kept trying to stand up to see over the rise. When I looked to see what might have caught his attention, I saw Odo, with a happy face, looking at something and wagging his tail. As I panned to the right, I found the object of Odo’s delight: the little fawn, splay-legged, and clearly stressed. Of course just as I yelled “Odo, NO”, he takes off again, chasing the poor little creature, who is bleating like a lamb for help.

I ran around the curve of the driveway, D’Argo leading the way, trying to cut Odo off and was stopped by another scene. The little fawn, having decided there was no escape running, tucked it’s head and butted Odo in the side, then reared up and whacked Odo in the head with it’s little front hooves. Odo wasn’t fazed and was still attempting to sniff the fawn’s butt when I finally managed to intervene. With three enemies to deal with the fawn just stood staring as I pulled both Odo and D’Argo away from it. The poor little fawn was no bigger in size then D’Argo, but was a few inches taller with it’s long gangly legs. It had spunk though, trying to take on a predator twice it’s size. I’m sure it didn’t know what to make of the events it had just survived, but I was glad to see it start feeding soon after we got back to the driveway.

I will be SO glad when I have the fencing finished! In the meantime, apparently, I need to keep a much closer eye on Odo.