Male deer will find any unprotected supple trunk and vigorously rub the felt off their antlers, shredding bark in the process, enough sometimes to kill a young tree.
|I forgot to enclose this maple sapling in a mesh cylinder this fall. Look what happens if you don't do that.|
|Wrapped now, a little late.|
Here is the Rule of 99% regarding male deer in autumn:
- If hunters were allowed to hunt at will and if they killed 99% of all the bucks in the area, every doe in the same area would still be pregnant. Deer are prolific reproducers and all it takes is one male deer. Just one. Hunters want antlers, but killing a lot, but not all, of the bucks does nothing to control herd size.
- If gardeners protect 99% of all the vulnerable tree trunks in their gardens each fall, saplings will still be damaged by bucks rubbing their antlers on bark. The sole unprotected trunk, tucked in behind other plants and hidden in the general planting scheme, will be sought out, found and trashed.
This season there has been a young adolescent male in our yard and he has been so funny to watch. He is confused, uncertain, without any antlers yet, so he was not the bark shredding culprit. This time.
He is not feeding or browsing, just wandering around and it doesn't bother him at all that I am out in the yard. He is big, with giant hindquarters that don't fit his clumsy body yet. He doesn't bound gracefully, he forges about heavily, tromping across front yards and driveways.All summer the female deer and I have an agreement --- when I scream and run at them, the does very sweetly agree to prance away into the woods while I carry on, and then nicely come back when I go inside. This dumb young male doesn't get it.
I try to scare him and he stands there hanging his head, knowing he is doing something wrong, but not sure what. I clap and bang and threaten, and he looks around to ask "does this mean something? Am I supposed to know?"
Jim throws small rocks at him, and he shifts position, then crashes about in confusion as he heads for the meadow, veering back and forth in random directions. He's just dumb, dumb.
But I'm 99% sure that in another year, all the fawns in the neighborhood will be his.