Monday, July 25, 2011

The Folklore of Deer

If you have a garden, or a farm, chances are you will have a discussion with someone about deer. There is mythic lore associated with these critters. I never realized the magical properties they possessed. The the terrible truth comes out about Bambi. Everyone reviles his appetites.  Everyone has a story, a tale of battle against these creatures.  They travel in herds and wipe out entire plantings.  Anguished tales of one particular crop being wiped out completely. Often they will do so in a way that is completely unexpected, and unseen while you are asleep.

So far, they are eating my green beans, and inexplicably trampling them. They have also done a strange bulldozer trick in the corn field. The corn for the most part was knee high, except in one area where there we dumped a pile of cow manure. In this spot the corn was 6 feet tall. Wouldn't you know that the deer chose to crash straight through the beautiful tall corn, when all around was corn that they could just step over easily.

To give the impression that they are experts in the matter, every gardener is ready to offer their fool proof method for exacting revenge upon the deer. Its all in a misguided effort to cover up the monumental truth; they just can't stop the little boogers.  Of course it is a sign of perfect etiquette to stand and listen to your fellow gardener proclaim proudly that they have triumphed over the animal kingdom, and it is very good manners to nod and smile and agree to try their methods. Deep down you know the dirty secret;  whatever it is, its not gonna work.

Now I realize that I will probably put some of you in a tailspin. You will protest and possibly write back to me, calling me a fool. You will loudly proclaim your personal triumph over the animal kingdom and say to me " I, I alone have done this, and it really, really works".  "I have never had a problem since" is the phrase uttered as a bookend to this rant.  You my friends, are deluded and in textbook denial.  The deer have got you.

Some of the lovely and broad ranging methods I have heard for eliminating deer damage:

bars of soap tied to the plants
human urine scattered about
garlic juice sprayed on the plants
scattering of moth balls
spraying ammonia on the ground
spreading around human hair swept from the barber shop floor
hot pepper juice/sauce/powder
dried blood

And then there are fences. Deer, in their mythic power are somehow able to leap the highest fence, 8 ft seems to be a nice round number used for deer fence. I understand that deer will still try to give it a shot. There is also the light as gossamer plastic deer netting. It is supposed to thwart the deer because they cannot see it, and walk straight into it making for a very unpleasant experience for them. Ha! If the deer can't see it then I can't see it. It is only a matter of time before I become hopelessly entangled. Then I have heard that deer do not like jumping over wide fences, as in a cattle fence laid down at a 30 degree angle all around your garden, I cannot comment since I haven't tried it either.

So you say, "try electric fence". That doesn't work if the deer don't bother to touch it, but sail right over the zappy part without so much as a touch. I know, put a peanut butter smeared streamer of aluminum foil on the fence.  I haven't tried that one yet.

Fact is, in this universe, you are paired automatically with your equal and opposite deer nemesis, the best you can do is hope to tip the balance in your favor for just a little while.


  1. I've heard that layering fences can do the job and hooking yellow ribbon onto a pole so it flaps in the wind can do the trick, too. Since I don't garden (yet) I've never had issues with deer.


  2. Autumn, a worthy suggestion. I will have to give it a try. :)
    BTW you are my first comment on my blog,so thank you!