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ISO Ways to Protect Trees from Critters

15 years ago

Hi all:

In the "oak tree recommendations" thread is a discussion about how to use wire cages to protect young trees from critters. This spring, I planted 50 black locust seedlings as "nurse trees" for the oaks. The locusts grew beyond belief - most are 10-12' tall. Yesterday, I saw that the bark on several locust trees was rubbed off, branches were broken.

Until now, I was concerned about browsing - this hasn't been a big problem yet. The problem is bucks rubbing the bark off the locust trees. I've searched the forums, found several possible solutions, some have more potential for conditions at my place than others:

* Wire cages. Great idea but I have so many young trees - although not many this tall - I don't think this is practical for all trees as they get taller.

* Stakes and fishing line. Putting fence stakes around trees, then winding fishing line around the stakes - this sounds promising.

* Irish Spring Soap. Put chunks of strong smelling Irish Spring soap in bags and hang the bags from affected trees - this sounds promising if it works.

* Dogs that run the deer off. I have two large dogs and a 2 million candlepower light. I can spot the deer in the field and send the dogs after them. Between 6 pm and 9 pm last night, the dogs had chased deer off on 5 separate occasions. Deer returned within 30-45 minutes. This continued until we went to bed and the dogs didn't want to play that game any more. The dog solution isn't working very well right now.

* Any other ideas?

Related question: The deer are much more active than usual. In the past, when the dogs chased them away, they didn't return on the same night. This is breeding and hunting season. Will they become less active later this winter? Spring?

In other words, when can we expect a break?

Pam

Comments (28)

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I can understand your annoyance. I had some Magnolias damaged recently. One small one was just totaled--gone. The bigger ones should recuperate as a strip of bark was removed (about 25% of circumference), hence, not "girdled". Another large, tulip magnolia looks like a bear clawed at it (and I'm in an urbanized area!!) Yes, the rutting season is over--was a few weeks ago now here. Next year, I'll know better (first year at this locale). I knew there were deer and other critters present just didn't know that new trees would be sure a lure. Convinced the animals saw them as new and different, perhaps a threat to their territorial claim. Next season (November seems the peak here), I will have all the trunks covered in those ugly plastic tubes, chicken wire and sprinkle the ground with cat feces, pee, moth balls, etc.. How much of your trees' circumference got damaged?? They could still recup. Good luck!

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I've been pondering the same question, Pam, except, fortunately for me, I don't have that many trees to protect.
    I was just thinking - what about those invisible fences people put up to keep dogs inside an area? Would they work to keep deer out? I don't know anything about them, but something like that could be used for a large area.
    Sherry

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  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Pam- Welcome to my world. Yes, late fall is the really the only time they rub - prior to and during mating season. From what I hear, they rub for 3 reasons - to get the felt off their antlers, to shine their antlers prior to mating, and to mark their territory. Browsing is water under the bridge compared to buck rubs - at least for me. They rub hundreds of my seedlings every year - the main reason I purchased a rifle.

    I'm probably the one you heard the irish spring idea from - I now cut each bar into 4 pieces and place at the base of each tree - right where their nose is if they decide to rub. I place 2 pieces (1/2 bar per tree) at each tree becuase coons/opposums sometimes like to mess with them - if they mess with them, they will spit them out about 15' away from the tree after getting a taste - full of bite marks. That is the easiest/cheapest solution I've found. Sprays may work as well - but they are not cheap and lose some effectiveness after rains. Cages / protective plastic would work well too, but that is a big job for a lot of trees. I put fence posts next to my 20 best trees (in my future lawn). They won't mess with those. One post next to the trunk of each tree would suffice - however that is not cheap either. I hate to spend more on protecting the trees than it cost for the trees themselves - most will make it fine and replanting those that don't is fairly easy.

    I've only had one tree rubbed with with soap by it in the 2 years I've been doing this - I only do 100 or so of my better trees as doing the entire project is unfeasible. They definately like my pitch x lobolly hybrids the best - luckily that species resprouts amazingly well from the base after a severe girdling job. I'm guessing most of your locusts will do the same and recover quickly next year. If they start rubbing your longleaf pines or most other conifers, that is another story..

    I was hoping once we move out to our site next spring and have dogs, that would do the trick - sounds like that is wishful thinking.

    john

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have heard of using flexible drainage pipe with a slit cut in the side.

    As for Longleaf pines, I have never noticed any deer rub damage to those, for some reason deer tend to leave them alone. I found a young red cedar yesterday they did a job on though, but they can rub those weedy things all they want.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    what does ISO mean again .... i remember its a computer pleasantry ....

    and splain this part lucy:

    black locust seedlings as "nurse trees" for the oaks.

    nurse trees ????

    and finally .... realistically .... did you expect all 50 to live... ??? .. be honest ...

    in suburbia we have expectations that we can nurse and protect everything ...

    you are doing a reforestation project arent you????

    define acceptable loss ...

    how much does a black locust seedling cost.. and how much are you willing to spend to protect your investment ...

    i mean really ... if you got them from the soil conservation dist .. and paid a nickle a piece for them.. are they really worth spending 5 bucks a tree to protect ...

    you best option.. might just be to buy another batch.. and replant ....

    the couple times i tried to do mass plantings ... i retained a few in a nursery ... to maintain size comparatively .. and used that stock to replace the losses ... or.. you could move a few of the last crop to fill into the mass planting .. and plant a second crop or differing size.. to one side or the other ...

    good luck

    ken

    PS: unless the bark is rubbed off entirely around the trunk .. a tree that grows 10 to 12 feet per year.. will heal that wound.. faster than you can replace the tree ... and you probably werent going to leave the branches at eye level anyway... so just prune off the branch stubs ... i mean really ... deer are only so tall ....

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Pam:

    I have been at this for many years, and I am sorry to say that the best option is the cages made from the 12.5 guage cattle fencing I described before in other posts. In the other recent post where I described how I make and secure these, I think I said they were 48 inches high, but I think it is 46, but they come in different heights. I have not seen deer reach over the height I use to browse the leader of any tree placed in the middle of the cage. As I said you can get a roll of something like 320 feet for about $120. That's good for about 31 or 32 trees. Almost all of mine are anchored by heavy rocks placed over the bottom of the wire. Much cheaper than posts. $3 per tree this way. But if you can't find rocks handy, you will have to find something else, such as logs for the fireplace or something. I have also used small wooden stakes angled over the bottom wire, but you need at least 3 or 4 and making these is time-consuming. And for me buying metal posts to anchor the cages is too expensive. But I do use 5 foot very heavy grade metal posts for trees near the road for deer-proof security. Deer sometimes tear these cages away that are anchored by rocks, and I don't want one getting into the road.

    If you want to use posts to prevent buck rubbing, that can be more expensive. I placed a 4' light duty metal post next to some trees. These were a bit over $2 apiece, but there are problems. First, two of these were broken off at ground level by deer determined to rub anyway. Second, after 5 to 7 years, they will rust through at ground level. The 12.5 guage galvanized cattle fencing has lasted for me, as of now, 35 years and is still strong. So I keep re-using it. Heavy duty posts won't be broken by deer, and will last up to 15 years or a bit more, but then you are into more money than the wire cages per tree. And these posts don't protect from browsing. My wire cages do both.

    Well, for me I am really, really tired of buying all this cattle fencing and making the cages, but I don't know what else to do. I have tried repellents, but they don't last as long as advertized, and I don't want to run around and treat all my trees 10 or 12 times a year, and then still get damage. I haven't calculated the cost per tree of this option, but the cost in time is too much for me. And some of these things are hard to mix and spray--uuuggghh!!

    Well, I wish I had some better answer for you.

    --Spruce

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    In my area you have to fence every tree that you want to have survive. The deer are voracious.

    Rosefolly

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I usually have less than 5 trees affected a year. This year, must of had an obnoxious crazy buck rubbing, because have 30 trees or so rubbed on. I like planting sumac for such reasons, seems like they really love rubbing on them. I never did anything about it, I'm hoping all the shotgun blasts I've been hearing the past couple of days has disposed of the problem.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Fencing is what I use also. My cages use only about 5-6 feet of what we call American wire (as Spruce described) and the height varies from 38 inches to 48 inches. I use whatever is economical. The main addition I may be adding is that I have made friends with several of the local dumpsters' operators to call me when things arrive like used fencing, plant pots, or posts. I supply them with apples, invitations to parties, and whatever else I can think of. Yes, I am a dumpster diver. I haven't even told my therapist. Hank

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    1kz5ia, you're right about the sumac. I have some winged sumac and it's always the first thing to get rubbed. I wonder if it has some kind of smell that they like?

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Pam:

    A few more thoughts:

    First, if the trees that are damaged are the locust trees that you have planted as nurse trees, you don't really have a problem--after the oaks are grown up between them you would eliminate them anyway. Second, nurse trees should not shade your oaks, except only slightly when the sun is at an angle. If they have grown 12 feet in one year (wow, I never had that kind of first year growth with a locust!), you will need to cut them back soon anyway. If you cut them back to the ground they will sprout and grow another 12 feet in one year and continue to serve as nurse trees.

    And Ken is right--if there is some good strip of bark left, the tree will regrow the bark/callus over the wound in 1 or 2 years.

    To anyone who says it is not worth it to spend more on protecting a tree than you spent for it. I disagree strongly. First, once the tree is planted, you have a cost in time planting it. Next, taking my Norway spruce trees I planted this year, for example, in two years the trees will be 3 to 4 feet tall. To have someone come and plant MS that size for me would cost a minimum of $50 per tree, Now I spent about $1.20 per tree, 20 minutes to plant each one, and now $3 to protect each. I think that is a bargain.

    But there is the bottom line--the deer are so bad here, if I did not protect these trees, they would ALL, and I really mean, ALL, would be destroyed. If I want any trees at all I have to protect every one, and I have to protect them for years. Last year I thought my P. pungens "Hoopsi" was large enough to resist deer. It was 7' tall and the branches spread about 4 or 5 feet, so I took away the cage. Well, the deer got to it fast and would have had the poor thing rubbed and slashed to nothing in less than three more days. As it is, I got the cage back up just in time, but several of the lower branches were slashed off and the trunk already badly scraped. Luckily, it is recovering and will be fine.

    --Spruce

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Ken - ISO means 'In Search Of' and for those of us past our youth, planting is hard on the back!
    Sherry

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    First, thanks to all for your advice.

    To answer Ken's questions about the purpose/role of the locusts. When planning the reforestation project, we discussed how to 'encourage' oaks to grow taller instead of expending energy branching out. Spruce suggested using nurse trees - locusts and loblollies - to create some shade so the oaks would put more energy into growing tall. (Spruce, please correct me if I haven't explained this correctly.) The nurse trees are expendable and can be cut down later. Some of the locusts are 10-12' tall, others 6-8.' I plan to keep them for now although I'll prune them. This is how things looked in July with a locust shading an oak seedling:

    {{gwi:494953}}

    When I saw damage to the locusts, I wasn't that worried. Then I noticed buck rubbing on a couple dawn redwoods - I was worried. The locusts, dawn redwoods, a tulip tree and few red maples are the only trees in the field. The rest are seedlings. All the seedlings have put on remarkable growth this year so will be tall and at risk before long.

    Spruce & hank: If you use wire cages, when do you put them on and take them off? The time and labor involved in making them, then installing and uninstalling must be considerable.

    lkz5ia - thank you. After reading your post, I don't know if I have a serious deer problem after all. I live at the eastern tip of a peninsula that juts out into the Bay. The distance from the north to south shore is 1/2 mile max - there isn't much land so most deer live further inland. We do have a resident herd with about 10-12 moms and young ones and a couple of bucks - I see them all year. They browsed a little this year, not much. When I sent the dogs after them, the deer took off and didn't return for a day or two. Until now.

    Before receiving advice from forum members, I decided to take action. I heard that deer hate feeling something around their feet when they can't see what it is. I took a 1,000' roll of fishing line and ran it from tree to tree, a few inches from the ground, then made another run about 9-12 inches higher so there is a maze of fishing line (that I'll have to take up when the problem is over). I ran another run of fishing line higher around the perimeter of the field where they enter. I took long strips of mylar ribbon and strung them between trees - they are bright, shiny and dance in the wind.

    No evidence of deer for two nights. One night was very windy and cold so that probably doesn't count.

    What do you think? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Should I plant sumac? Invest in a couple hundred bars of Irish Spring? Start building cages for the future? None of the above?

    As always, thanks!

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    fishing line is cheap .. as long as there is no concern for decapitating a person .... which i doubt would happen with light weight ...

    van wade.. hosta guru .. and tree guru ..... used to say.. put a $5 hosta in a $10 dollar hole ... for best success .. i understand protecting your investment.. OF THE GOOD TREES ....

    but why would you give the nurse or disposable trees any further investment ... like he said.. cut them to the ground.. they will be back soon enough ....

    i have used two methods on the good trees ...

    on trees.. corrugated drain pipe.. 4 feet or so.. depending on snow cover depth ... sliced long ways... two peeps to install and spread ... and to remove in a few years ... you know trees are starting to mature when the bark goes from baby smooth to more heavily textured.. the baby smooth is easier to damage... mind you.. this is in my z5 ... i dont know who it would all work out in your zone ....

    for conifers that dont have a straight trunk .... i used 3 T posts in a triangle.. and wound the fishing line around and around... they dont like to stick there head through a spider web they cant see ....

    i also recall a hosta guy.. who had used an electric horse fence baited with strips of alum and peanut butter.. and after a few years the deer didnt mind the shock [freaks!!!1].. and just jumped over the fence .. so he had to resort to concrete re-enforcing wire ... cut into 4 or 6 foots lengths.. and bent to make a half circle... apparently. the deer couldnt get close enough to the fence to jump it.. because it would tangle their feet ...

    but .... in regard to the nurse trees.. yeah they are ugly .. they are going to be removed... dont spend another penny on them.. they are sacrificial lambs...

    ken

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Here's what concerns me about all of this. Here are good gardeners going to a lot of trouble to protect their trees just enough to get them past the size where deer can kill them. There are not many good gardeners who go to this effort. Worse, who is doing anything to protect wild tree seedlings growing in green spaces. Nobody. If we value trees or any wild plants, we need to control the deer population. End of story. Yet, often, the same people who donate money every year to replant the rain forest get up in arms when the topic gets raised. Let alone if a rancher allowed his sheep onto their property to cause the same damage. Gardeners and environmentalist need to be more vocal about this issue.

    Scott

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This completely ignores the problem of deer and other wild animals being displaced from their native territories because of the growing suburbanization of the country--ever expanding development into once forested areas.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Scott: You are probably singing to the choir here. I've talked to our forester about the deer population - his view is that it's a problem elsewhere, but not much here. Yet, we hit deer twice in less than a year when driving two miles to town (driving a Miata with the top down). I can still see those sharp hooves a couple of inches from my face.

    I don't know the solution to the problem.

    Deer have few natural enemies. Last summer, we spent a week on the SC coast. Deer were walking behind the cottages as people fed them table scraps by hand. People are a big part of the problem but it isn't easy to change attitudes and beliefs.

    There are fewer hunters and that pattern is likely to continue, so extending the hunting season won't help much. I think scientists should be doing research into birth control measures, but you have to consider unintended consequences of putting chemicals into the environment. I know there are solutions I haven't considered.

    We may need to reach the tipping point in highway fatalities.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Scott:

    I have ranted about this topic of the deer protection laws that have resulted in completely unnaturally high populations of deer before in this forum. These deer are destroying our environment, and destroying, or at least drastically changing the composition of our forests. On my timberland in Western MD there is no advance reproduction anywhere, meaning that if I or someone after me cuts the timber, the only trees that will reproduce are those that don't need advance reproduction. For example, there will be no oaks, no sugar maples, etc, but plenty of black birch.

    The MD DNR has a unit they call the "Heritage Unit." They take it upon themselves to establish rules for the forestry programs in the State that preserve the natural environment as close as possible to the condition it was when the country was settled by Europeans. So one can't plant more than 10% non-native species such as larch and Norway spruce. Of course one can plant white pine and all kinds of other trees that deer will promptly destroy after planting. And the deer are destroying all kinds of native plants. There is a long list of plants that I can't find in my woodlands and fields that these deer have virtually eliminated, but these "heritage" goons have no concern about this and will do nothing to reduce the deer populations back to the levels that existed when Europeans first settled this country--part of our true "heritage."

    I have tried to impress on the local MD DNR forestry people in Western MD the seriousness of this problem, even getting riled up enough to alienate the people there. But they will do nothing. I can not find anyone in any official position in the MD DNR who seems to have any understanding of the problem or is willing to do anything aobut it.

    There is a program where if I can demonstrate damage, I can get permits to shoot a specific and very limited number of deer. But the process is so cumbersome, and the number of deer shooting permits so small, that it is not worth the time and effort to go through the process. My farmer neighbor has about 30 to 40% of his oats crop destroyed every year. He is in effect supporting the population of deer to give humters easy recreation, but he gets no compensation. He has given up on the deer shooting permits and just suffers in silence, but with great anger, at this point. Recently he counted 85 deer in one small oats field in the evening. He can get 12 deer shooting permits, but that doesn't even make a small dent in the population. He has better things to do with his time than fight DNR.

    Well, you have another of my rants. I could rant about my wife's frustration here near Winchester--her flowers are destroyed. And all the time I spend putting cages around my trees. I am sure the VA DNR is as bad as the MD DNR. I am fed up and have stopped trying to argue with these people.

    We need an extended hunting season with no "bag" limits for any kind of deer.

    --Spruce

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Pam:

    I can make 10 to 15 cages in an hour. Placing them around trees and finding rocks or some other means to anchor them takes more time, depending on the availability of rocks, etc.

    I put them around trees when I plant them and keep them there until the trees are about 6" in diameter, which can be anywhere from 6 or 7 years to something like 20, depending on how fast the trees grow. And another problem is keeping them weeded when they are small. I just reach through the cage and using tough gloves rip the weeds away.

    What I might recommend is that you try to protect with these cages the most important and valuable trees first. Then monitor the damage to others and see what is necessary. Here in Winchester, I am not exaggerating when I say that the deer will destroy virtually all trees. A few exceptions are some volunteer black walnuts and come others that are growing amid heavy weeds, especially in blackberry patches. The deer won't or can't go through blackberry thickets to get to these trees.

    One example of what happens here. On one side a neighbor planted a row of pines and spruce trees about the time we moved here--maybe 75 to 100 trees. There are about 5 pines left and two spruces, and they may not yet be compeltely safe, but they are now about 7 feet tall.

    If you want some more complete explanations of my cage-making methods, let me know.

    --spruce

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Spruce: Geez, 85 deer in one field! The devastation your neighbor suffered after planting all those trees and ending up with less than 10. After reading your examples of devastation, I feel like a whiner.

    When I saw bucks were using the locusts as rubbing posts, I realized that my oaks are likely to suffer the same fate as they grow taller. And the oaks may not recover as easily. I think your idea of putting cages around the valued trees, and monitoring the situation, makes sense.

    If you can make 10-15 cages in an hour, I can probably make 2-3 in an hour (with luck) - you have a lot of practice! You leave the cages up all the time for several years? Is this to protect the trees from browsing? You say "I keep them there until the trees are about 6" in diameter, which can be anywhere from 6 or 7 years to something like 20." Diameter meaning caliper?

    I need to make a run to Lowe's this week so I'll pick up some wire. You recommended 12.5 guage cattle fencing, Hank recommended "American wire" which sounds similar - about 36-38" high.

    BTW: I put up the fishing line and mylar ribbons on Sunday - no deer for 3 nights. I'll probably have to change the setup in a few days. That's one thing with deer - you have to change aversives frequently so the territory is unpredictable. Most of the year, the dogs do a good job.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    "This completely ignores the problem of deer and other wild animals being displaced from their native territories because of the growing suburbanization of the country--ever expanding development into once forested areas."

    No, controlling deer populations IS addressing the issue. Not doing anything "completely ignores" the problem. The fact is, each doe brings two deer into the world every year. In two years, in some cases only one, each of those deer will bring two more into the world. They will then produce two fawns a year for up to 16 years. Nothing, except for traffic, is controlling this explosion in population. Do the math. A part of this problem is less space, no doubt, but mostly it is no population control. Whatever the underlying reason, it is wrong, completely wrong, to allow an unsustainably high over-population of deer to destroy all natural flora in the remaining green spaces we have left. Moreover, all that destroyed flora means, of course, nothing for all other species of fauna. The other mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, what is left for them after deer have removed virtually all non-toxic plant life?

    I keep wondering if it is not possible to include some sort of abortion-causing agent in salt licks to be strategically placed in areas of unsustainable numbers? The numbers of licks, the placement, and the decision when to administer or not could be carefully controlled. Numbers would be diminished to a natural level, and no one would have to worry about hunter activity in suburban or urban locales.

    Scott

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    As I said earlier, you won't find many people who disagree with you. You are frustrated. You need to make your views clear to people who have decision-making power - your state and federal legislators.

    I don't think the failure to limit the deer population is a plot designed to benefit hunters. The number of hunters has dropped for decades, the number of deer has exploded, the hunting season is short, it's easy to get your limit.

    IMO, a solution won't be found until there is pressure from citizens. Public education is a key.

    Query: How many people are injured, maimed, and die in traffic accidents caused by deer? In your state? Nationwide?

    Find out who is on the board of natural resources in your state. Find out who your state legislators are. Make an appointment to meet in person to share your concerns.

    Temper your emotions with reason and rationality.

    Your goal is to persuade. You need to get people who have decision-making authority to see your point and want to help solve the problem. So you need to present your case persuasively and you need facts to back up your assertions.

    We've wandered far from the original questions. Since I contributed to thread drift, I'll climb off the soapbox on this issue.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Scott:

    You have a wonderfully clear understanding of the deer overpopulation issue. Thank you for adding some extra clarity. I also like your idea of the use of salt licks for "birth control." That way no one has to shoot "Bambi."

    Pam:

    The cages are quite easy to make, except for one or two points. First, the rolls are terribly heavy. At Southern States here in Winchester, they load them in my Suburban with a forklift, but a very strong young man can lift one. I jockey them back and forth to roll them out and am careful to get out of the way when I get them to tumble out. I never buy more than two rolls at a time to leave room for this maneuvering. I brace them in the Suburban with bricks.

    After that it is pretty simple. Find a place with some room to piece-by-piece unroll them for cutting. I use some small bolt cutters to cut the wire, securing the free end with weights to keep it from rolling up on me. The next step might be difficult for you, depending on the strength in your hands/fingers. That is twisting the cut ends--just 3/4 of a turn, really--to secure them. I do this at only three points--more is not necessary. I do the top in one direction, the middle in the other, and then the bottom back again, to add a bit of stability. And each side at each level I twist in the opposite direction. Wearing heavy gloves makes this easier. I am 70 with some arthritis in my fingers, so I am not that strong either. My guess is you could make the same number I do, but it takes just a bit of practice. Of course you could use some kind of soft tie wire to secure them--that would not take any extra time. The way I do it adds some stiffness and makes the rolls keep their round shape better. But using the tie wire with a one section overlap should be just as good. That would just require about 5% more wire per cage.

    I cut each cage at the 19 section point--that makes cages about 3 1/2 feet across at the top (although I am not completely sure the sections are exactly the same with all brands of this wire), which is wide enough to give protection. A very few times I have had deer put their head/tongue through and nibble anyway. In a few cases I have put extra wire--chicken wire around the upper part to prevent this. I also put the larger openings at the bottom--to accomodate the anchoring rocks and to make the openings higher up harder for the deer to poke their heads through.

    Finally, you really need the taller wire--anything less than the 46 inches will not be enough.

    Yes, I put these around the trees and just leave them there until they are not needed. Keeping in place them until the trees are 6" caliper is perhaps overdoing it a little. The risk is less after they are 4", but I have had some scraped minimally up to 6". If the bark gets thick, that affords some protection a bit earlier. Black Walnuts at about 4 inches are fairly safe. Tough lower branches at the "rubbing level" can add extra protection with hardwoods. With pines the deer will simply strip all the lower branches off to get to the trunk.

    --Spruce

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    85 deer in one field, Spruce? That's incredible! I once saw 9 at my corn feeder that I put up after the hurricane, because they'd lost their acorns, but you usually just see small groups of about 3 or 4 or occasionally a lone buck. Our deer population is very puny compared to 85, but then there are SO many good 'ole boys down here that kill at least one deer each season. They especially love deer sausage - some of them fry rattlesnake! Just about every man you see at Walmart is wearing camouflage clothing - I never appreciated these guys enough!
    Sherry

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sherry:

    Yes, that 85 number is hard to believe. I did not make the count myself, but my neighbor farmer is as level headed as anyone I know, and I have never heard him exaggerate anything. I used to visit him and his family often in the evenings--I used to help him make hay--and I, myself, in those years often counted 40 to 45 in that field. I know the population has increased since then because of the new kinds of plants the deer now browse that they never bothered before.

    Here on my place in Winchester, or on the adjacent hay field, I never see more than 12 to 15 at a time. But I know there are a large number here--they just don't congregate in hay fields like they do in an oat field. But the deer here are in some ways more destructive than in the western MD mountains. I have never seen the kind of buck rubbing anywhere that I see here, especially on any kind of conifer. They will, literally, rub--slash rather--any spruce or pine they can get to, down to almost nothing. In some cases down to a two inch high stub in the ground. Really strange! They will also do the same to red cedars and other things.

    They do the same to hardwoods once in a while. I had a black locust that came up last year that I never fenced--about 1 1/2" caliper. This thing is down to a five inch stub in the ground. Once they get on a tree they don't stop until it is destroyed. And if they don't do the job in one thrashing session, they keep coming back until the tree is gone--completely gone. Of course this locust will re-sprout, and I will fence it then.

    --Spruce

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Spruceman you need more bullets. Hank

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    man this post has gotten unwieldy ...

    pam ... this popped into my head .. why not start a new thread.. and ask if bramble is an option ....

    your post.. so answers come to you ...

    i was touring the garden.. and saw my wildly overgrown raspberry patch .... and then started thinking.. when those oaks start shading them ... they will start to die out ... and then thought.. wish some deer would come by and thin it out ... ya .. heresy ... lol ..

    if you think of your tiny treasure oaks... as command central .... then a defensive line of nurse trees .. protecting.. and sacrificial ... what would be the next line of defense further away ....

    some things that come to mind ... no research to find if they are invasive... sumac... bramble ... things you see on the side of the highway ... that used to get mowed in summer... but repeatedly came back... probably the invasive stuff ... lol ...

    what could you plant... at the perimeter... that the deer wont go through ... and that could take the beating the deer would give

    again.. just stream of consciousness ... i will leave it to others .. if there actually is something like this ... the soil conservation district may offer such stuff ....

    ken

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Deer rubbing is one reason I don't trim off low branches on any saplings -- yet. They prefer an exposed trunk to rub. For those trees that don't have low branches, a simple, cheap method is to lean sticks or cut-off weeds like goldenrod/asters thickly against the trunks for the ~2 month period that they rub -- say October/November.

    Plastic "tree wraps" are another way, but that's expensive for alot of trees.

    The recent gun-blasting in the nearby areas sounds like music to my ears -- it seems to have scattered the deer away.