[nafex] Deer Damage

Don Yellman dyellman at earthlink.net
Fri Jun 2 01:02:49 EDT 2000


For Mike Tomlinson:

1.  Deer damage has certainly become an urgent problem for many of us.
Here in Fairfax County, VA, the whitetail population has more than
tripled in 25 years since we bought our little acre.  Hunting, and the
discharge of firearms, is illegal in the county, but quiet, air-powered
guns are ok. There are some halfhearted county programs to thin the
herd, but they are constantly opposed by animal rights activists. In
addition to the fruit trees, deer will destroy nearly everything in the
yard if left to their own devices, including, but not limited to,
tomatoes, strawberries, asparagus, beans, and many flowers and
ornamental plantings.  The heavy plastic deer fencing or baited electric
fences are good solutions, but I cannot use them in my suburban
environment.  I can tell you that things like wolf scent, puma scent,
soap and hair have not worked for me, and the repellent sprays are
expensive and only briefly effective.  I get so disgusted with these
animals that I would probably use nuclear weapons were it not for the
test-ban treaty.  Of course, I would only use tactical stuff.  Nothing
over 1 kiloton.

2.  The little motion/heat sensing alarms sold by Radio Shack and others
can help, however, when used with certain other elements to form a
complete system.  However, it's probably not for everyone.  The system
requires:
a.  Several detectors placed strategically around the yard, preferably
over the current favorite deer food.  Right now, that happens to be
pansies.  The detectors will range out to about 40 feet, and produce an
irritating whistle accompanied by little flashing red lights.  I use
units called "critter gitters", and also a rather expensive driveway
alert that sends a signal to a receiver in the kitchen.
b.  It is essential to have a very patient and tolerant wife, who is
also a light sleeper.  It is best to leave a window open.
c.  You will require a fairly high-velocity pellet gun, preferably of
the spring piston type, equipped with a low-power scope, and a narrow,
but powerful flashlight.  The Maglite works best.
d.  You have to be willing to spring out of bed just before dawn and run
into the yard in your shorts when your wife pokes you and says "that
damn thing is going off again".
3.  When you run out into the yard in your shorts (thankfully, it is
still dark), you will find the deer standing around looking at the
screaming motion detector.  You won't be able to get closer than about
30 yards before they spook and run off; hence the need for a pellet gun
with fairly high muzzle velocity.  The pointy pellets fly truer than the
flat wadcutters, and, I think, sting the deer a little more.  But I am
pretty sure they will not penetrate deerskin.  Not enough weight.
Nevertheless, the deer really get something to remember.  After a little
practice, you can get nearly 100% hits, although it's a little difficult
to hold the flashlight next to the barrel while lining up a shot.  Open
sights do not work as well as a scope, as the light seems to reflect
back and ruin your vision.
4.  After a few weeks of this, when I have clipped nearly all members of
the local herds (except for the little Bambis), I find that they start
to avoid my yard.  Last year, I managed to prevent any damage to the
tomatoes, and even got a few green beans.  This year, I have replanted
all the strawberries, and do not intend to see them destroyed.
5.  This system offers quite a few challenges, and, of course, you can
lose some sleep.  Depends on how much you love your plants.  I often
wish I could try what I consider to be the ultimate alternative
solution: a good, free-ranging dog in the yard.  But I do not yet have
authorization for that, and may never get it.

Rgds, Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA


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