Ok, the deer have killed a few of our newly planted trees for the last 2 years. We’ve recently added corrugated plastic pipe around the lower sections of the trees. That seems to have solved the damage from the bucks during rutting season. However, the smaller trees are still getting a pruning when the deer want a midnight snack.
We thought we would try this low cost and simple method for added protection. Note that the same solution can be used for gardens to keep other critters out.
Photo courtesy: Creative Commons - https://pxhere.com/en/photo/896075
Step 1: Deer Damage
This picture shows the damage that can be caused by deer. Bucks typically do this in the early fall to remove the velvet that has been growing on the antlers throughout the summer. At the same time, it leaves a scent on the tree which warns the competition and attracts potential mates.
Anyway, the larger trees in this picture will most likely survive. I can attest, however, that the amount of damage a buck can leave on a smaller tree will definitely lead to its eventual demise.
Photo courtesy: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Joan Sykes - geograph.org.uk/p/1802366
Step 2: Materials
The supplies for this project are pretty simple:
- Bags: The muslin bags were purchased in bulk and cost about $.05/bag.
- String: Higher strength than supplied with bags ~ 2 feet / bag
- Soap: Irish Spring (1/2 bar per bag)
Step 3: Bag Modifications
The overall bag quality was nice but the string was pretty thin and I didn’t think it would hold up very long. I pulled a thicker string using the existing string as a guide. In addition, my wife didn’t want bright white bags hanging from trees so the bags were soaked in a mixture of coffee and tea overnight. This dampened the color to a light brown that doesn't look too weird from a distance.
Options to muslin bags include socks, hosiery or making your own. However, beating the 5 cent per bag is pretty hard to do.
Step 4: Soap
I chose Irish Spring soap for the repellent since it was low cost ($4 for 8 bars) and easy to place in the bags. Each bar was cut into 8 smaller blocks. Add 4 blocks to a bag. A few options to soap include peppermint oil, baby powder and garlic powder. For each, you will need to come up with a way of containing it. Soaking in cotton balls or a sponge will generally do the trick but the life expectancy will be pretty short. Filling the bags with human hair is another potential solution.
Step 5: Hang
Tie the bags to the tree at roughly 4 feet off the ground (deer head height).
Step 6: Hope for the Best
Here are pictures with the bags in the tree. The first picture is the tree we planted this year. I will be putting the pipe around the trunk next week. The second is a tree planted 2 years ago. It's almost big enough to not worry about.
I have no idea if this remedy actually works. I'll provide an update 6 months from now. Thanks for viewing.