[NAFEX] What do deer REALLY want?

list at ginda.us list at ginda.us
Thu May 26 21:56:23 EDT 2005

On May 26, 2005, at 9:32 PM, kieran or donna wrote:
. . .
> Yes, I do think that this has something to do with success or failure 
> of
> deer repellents.  There are hundreds of acres around us with plenty 
> for deer
> to eat, from cornfields to woods to nice rolls of hay in the winter.  
> They
> don't need to come to our relatively small garden where the dogs are 
> going
> to go after them.  I know they come near because sometimes I hear them 
> snort
> down the hill, and once in a while the dogs will go charging off 
> through the
> woods and I'll hear the sound of bounding deer.  One year one was 
> coming to
> the far end of the garden and eating the leaves off my beans.  I 
> covered
> them with netting and it quit.  Either it didn't find anything else I 
> had
> that attractive, or more likely the dogs started checking the area more
> often in hopes of catching it.  (Hope springs eternal in a dog's 
> heart)  My
> husband reminds me that he strung 6 lb test monofilament around that 
> area as
> well.  We used to run into it a lot ourselves.
>     But when the population of deer is fairly high, and the amount of 
> really
> yummy food is fairly low, I doubt much of anything would deter deer.  
> I had
> goats for years, and they have a lot in common.  Here is a question 
> though:
> If the surrounding soil is fairly depleted in some minerals and you 
> add them
> to your orchard, could it be that your orchard really is more tasty and
> nutritious than anything around?  Stephen's easy access clover vs
> hard-to-reach orchard are what made me think of it.  I read about an
> experimental field where one quarter had been limed.  Round bales were 
> made
> from the grass and left where they landed.  Cattle were wintered in the
> field and allowed to eat as they chose.  For the next 13 years, the 
> cattle
> ate every bale in the area that had been limed before they touched any 
> of
> the other 3/4 of the bales.  After that, the effect of the single 
> liming
> seemed to wear off.  Maybe if you do something to make your fruit trees
> taste more nutritious, maybe you need to do the same thing for some 
> other
> area.  Then minimal fencing or deer repellents might work.  Actually, 
> maybe
> all the deer need is a phosphate block, seeing as that's something that
> you'd use on an orchard to encourage fruit production.  Nitrogen makes
> plants grow fast and succulent, but might not improve the flavor all 
> that
> much... but I think artificial N fertilizers also tend to up the sodium
> content of the ground, and presumably the plants?
> What do ya'll think?    Donna
> _

I think a lot of crop plants have been bred to be tastier than most 
wild plants are, and that's one reason animals will work to get at 
them.  I have mild deer pressure.  We have lots of deer, but they have 
lots of choices of food, both in people's yards and in the nearby 
nature preserve.  I notice that the deer selectively nibble my domestic 
apple trees and never touch the (numerous) wild crab apples.  I bet the 
tree, like the fruit, is sweeter and less bitter.  They are especially 
fond of a little Ashmead's Kernal - I bet it has a lot of sugar.

There's no question that well-fed deer are easier to repel than 
starving ones.  And I bet you are right about deer seeking scarce 
nutrients.  I wonder how much mileage you could get with a modest 
deterrent and a good multi-nutrient salt-lick.


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