December 3, 2011

The 99% Rule

You just can't do this.   You can't wrap MOST of your young sapling trees in protective mesh and expect ALL of your young sapling trees to be okay.  You have to wrap each and every one.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.


  1. Laurrie, Where do you get mesh coverings like that??
    Mine are covered in ugly drain tile plastic...

  2. Funny post on your dumb little buck. He may not be so dumb after all, but he is in trouble with the buck that marked your maple. They rub to designate territory, not predominantly to remove the velvet. So poor little guy if his adversary is around next hunting season.

  3. Sissy, I got rolls of dark green plastic fencing at Lowe's in the same aisle as the chicken wire. It's flexible and I can cut it with regular scissors into narrow strips which I roll into tubes and tie with twisties.

    Donna, I wondered about the territory issue with the bark-rubbing male and this confused young one. They don't belong together out there!

  4. Laurrie, The first time I saw antler damage on one of my trees I accused my kids of somehow hurting my tree...I was so shocked the deer would choose such a small tree for rubbing. I'm glad you can still laugh at your deer. I saw 5 in my garden this morning and while I was able to scare them away, I know they'll be back again tomorrow.

  5. Your poor little maple...not much of a peaceful existence out there in your meadow. I wondered too about the mature buck and how he might respond to the little'll have to keep us posted.

  6. Oh dear (no pun intended), this little buck is so cute, and I'm sure my grandkids would be enthralled by him. But I'm glad he's not cavorting in MY yard!

  7. Dumb is right. And I'm thinking they have no memory, either, as they continue to come back, no matter what you do to 'em.

  8. Debbie, the darn deer do come back, despite my antics to scare them away.. they just return, sometimes a few minutes later.

    Cat, it is kind of amazing what wildlife activity goes on out in the meadow, and while it seems far away, it is only a hundred feet from my bedroom!

    Rose, Oh dear, oh deer!! That made me laugh.

    Lee, they don't connect my actions to their actions, that's for sure. But they do remember exactly where to find my tastiest offerings year after year.

  9. Perhaps he is looking at you wondering what you are doing in his yard. When I'm shooing away deer I'm sure they whisper to each other, "Just humor her and move out of sight. We'll go back when the crazy lady goes back in her house."

  10. His mama probably just told him to smile and nod, smile and nod. How kind of you to provide such a tasty buffet for him!

  11. Hi Laurrie, You seem to have more than your fair share of semi-tame wild creatures. The lynx and this guy could be friends, if they were not enemies.

  12. Joene, I know for a fact that they laugh at us! I can hear them almost.

    Tammy, I wish this little guy's mama would come back and get him. He just seems too young and confused to be on his own.

    Jennifer, there is so much wildlife here, you wouldn't believe I live in a densely populated suburb for heaven's sake. We have a black bear that I have never gotten a picture of, the lynx, deer, coyotes, fox, weasel, and assorted rodents and squirrels of course.

  13. You make me appreciate the neighborhoods that surround my own garden, which would be a tasty deer treat, if only they knew about it! Long ago, before we moved here, deer roamed this land, but development drove them away.


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