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

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  • From: "Richard Frost" <>
  • To: "'North American Fruit Explorers'" <>
  • Subject: RE: [NAFEX] What do deer REALLY want?
  • Date: Fri, 27 May 2005 20:42:42 -0700

I'm not sure how much acreage you are trying to protect. In the mid 1980's
my neighbor was trying to protect his garden and orchard of 300 x 300 feet
against a good portion of the mule deer in the Trinity (CA) mountains. His
initial effort of a 7 foot fence was of course no barrier at all, nor was
the 4 foot extension. So he bought a pallet of commercial grade 20' 2 by
4's, a box of bailing wire, and a pallet of 5' high non-climbable fence, the
4" variety. The timbers were painted with creosote. A 15' perimeter fence
was erected. It took us about 6 hours to construct. No deer ever entered.
After 2 years, the deer did not frequent that part of the valley.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2005 6:56 PM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] What do deer REALLY want?

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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