All my life I have always had a dog but that came to an end when our black lab, Theo, died of old age in 2006. We were going travelling so decided not to replace him immediately. When we returned from our trip we noticed some subtle changes on our acreage. More and more wildlife were passing through the property. We were seeing coyotes for the first time, a lot more bear and plenty of deer.
I have always enjoyed watching wildlife so this was turning into a wonderful experience. However, it soon became apparent that we were going to have to set some parameters for the deer. They were feeling very comfortable in the garden and would tend to browse – a snippet here, a nibble there. Unfortunately we really liked some of the plants they were eating. I went out and discussed the situation with them – pointing out what weeds they could eat and they indicated that they understood completely but obviously they didn’t because more and more plants disappeared.
We tried all the folklore deterrents i.e. soap, fishing line strung about, chicken wire on the ground, human hair clippings, peeing on our favourite plants, etc. – nothing worked. So, as a compromise, I bought 7 foot high deer fencing and fenced in all the areas we didn’t want the deer. They still had a selection of our less favourite plants and things have reached a good balance.
We have seen numerous generations come and go now. The momma deer seem comfortable bringing the fawns by and they will all sleep together on the lawn. They quite often seek shelter here when it is stormy in the woods and I will go out at night and find them staying close to the house. While I don’t try to tame them I do occasionally hand out apples which they particularly like in the Winter. They also try to get at our bird feeders and will clean up the seed under them. Fortunately hunting is not allowed in the area so we don’t have to be too concerned about the deer becoming habituated.
Just about all the deer have a fascination with the chickens and our cat and if she is outside they will try to follow her around the yard.