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nafex - Re: [NAFEX] What do deer REALLY want?

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  • Subject: Re: [NAFEX] What do deer REALLY want?
  • Date: Thu, 26 May 2005 21:56:23 -0400

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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