Can't Win, Seemingly

Just ranting here.

If it is not insects its wild-life.

After years of care, and having finally gotten PC managed, my trees were producing an abundance of fruit. However, now as the fruit approached harvest, they are being gradually destroyed by climbing wild-life.

First, a seemingly weighty creature practically uprooted a tree, while losing 1/4 of its harvest. I initially thought this due to the weight of the fruit combined with some stormy weather, to which I added support stakes.

Unfortunately, the next morning more harvest was down, as well as many of the fruiting branches/spurs having been snapped. Recognizing this the work of wild-life, I then added an additional fence ( the trees are already well behind a deer fence ).

Sadly, this did not help. The fencing was traversed, more branches snapped, and more of the harvest down. All of this while the pile of previously knocked-down fruit left nearby outside of the fencing, for whatever had been after it to eat, went untouched.

With not many, comparatively, 1/2-3/4 matured fruits remaining, and the continued nightly destruction of the trees to consider, It decided to simply remove all remaining fruits, as to not entice more climbing. Now I have no real harvest aside a small bunch of not-fully matured/ripened fruits.

They also destroyed a lot of my raspberries, having pulled the canes down, and broken many in the process…


sorry for your loss. damned crows busted up my honeyberries by landing in the middle of the bush. i shot 3 of them and so far the rest havent come back. sucks when you try so hard to get a crop just to get it stolen from you.


I’m very sorry for your loss. It is a painful way to learn that the price of produce is eternal vigilance.

You should get a game camera, there are inexpensive ones out there. A fat raccoon can break branches. Once you determine what did it you can then work on your approach.

Deers can bump tall buildings in a single leap. Often the solution is not a taller fence but robbing them of a landing spot; if they can’t see a good place to hit they won’t try. Rocks, logs, pots, raised beds, a trellis to grow something else, pretty much anything that removes clearings.

You can trap most other things. I’m most jurisdictions it is illegal to relocate, you have to put them down. Heck in some jurisdictions you need a permit even if the critter is inside of your house, so do look up what you need to do.

If you are not squeamish a .22 pellet rifle is a good pest control tool, it can cleanly take large woodchucks at 40 yards.


I don’t think trapping is long term effective because nature abhors a vacuum. New animals will take of those removed. Best is to exclude them via deer fence and a hot wire.


It works. You basically insert yourself as a predator, which with the help of natural predators it puts enough pressure on the pest population. It is not a one time deal, you have to keep the pressure on.

In Maryland I had woodchucks/groundhogs. I had to “remove” some about every other year.


Just got my first serious deer grazing if the season. Bugggers stripped a cherry tree pretty good, sampled some melon and tomato vines, and to top it off took a bite out of a prickely pear cactus. I surely hope it got a mouthful of glochids


It can really frustrating to have all your fruit, fruit trees, and canes damaged or destroyed by animals. Sorry to hear about all the lost fruit and damage. All ideas for solutions here are good ones. i
I’ve been battling mostly raccoons eating my peaches. The last few years and some deer damage to the younger leaves and newer lower branches. I’ve used pepper spray to try and keep them from eating the tips of the branches. You never know if it works or not at times.


Sorry to hear it. I had a similar evolution, five years of figuring out how to fight the bugs and diseases and once I got those under control I spent ten years and counting fighting all the animals.

With major breakage like that I would say woodchuck is the most likely and raccoon #2. So far this year I have not had any but I get one of these guys every other year or so. They are very hard for me to trap but I usually get them with my havahart.


Almost everything has a predator… we have removed the wolves and coyotes that would love to have the job of eating those things… wolves and coyotes dont like fruit or gardens much… they like everything that does though.

Birds of prey need areas to hide and hunt from… we remove those things usually and their habitats

Snakes love the little scurrying creatures… we remove snakes and their habitats

So your job as the owner of an orchard or berry patch or garden is to be a wolf, a bird of prey, a snake… you have taken on the job as a top predators.

Personally i dont walk around my orchards starving and hunt all day and night long… so im not a very good predator.

Humans are very lazy compared to natures predators… so we invent poisons and traps and hope for the best… then complain. Guns are cool… but i dont want to lay in a ghillie suit for days to hunt my orchards.

A good dog(s) is as close as we are willing to get to allowing natures top predator in our world. And dogs are lazy compared to wolves/coyotes. Sometimes you get lucky and get a dog with feral instincts…

Encourage predators…or become a better predator than nature is your only hope… or let your food become prey.

My property is loaded with Deer… and i dont have enough coyotes or wolves… locals kill them every chance they get. So the deer are pretty fearless… and willing to take chances. I think some of my neighbors feed them. I know a few neighbors love to have them in their yard eating apples. Lots of pictures on social media of their ‘pets’.

My only real option is to spotlight and murder them… as i am forced to do the job of the Wolf. He is nocturnal and hunts and feeds when i sleep. He loves deer and would likely lay in wait near my orchards.

I cant win either. They have killed all my wolves and i have to break the law to do the job of the wolf.

So i have started building prisons around things that i enjoy.

Welcome to Alcatraz Orchards.


I agree 100% - The deer pressure has ramped up in such amounts in my neck of the woods this year, that the ghillie suit is not looking like a bad option anymore. I can only exclude them from so much territory. What the deer are willing to browse on, and how much risk they are willing to take to do so has really surprised me this growing season, when compared to past years. My hunting blind comes in today :laughing:

I plan on enclosing my orchard and garden over the next few years, maximum security!


sorry for your troubles, don’t give up.

Electric fence keeps night critters out, if built correctly. A 2 foot tall chicken wire with hots and grounds real close together above. I use fiberglass rods to hold the spacing just right. For E-fences to work, they have to get zapped in the face. If on their backs, they jump in. Deer, opossums and raccoons have learned fast

Squirrels can get in small gaps


Im at around $3000 in fencing. Looking more like a prison every day here.

My pups have killed 3 fawns so far… but they have let a few deer slide during some rainy nights…

Hoping some wolves and coyotes take hold on my land… but as soon as one is spotted the whole community will go crazy to kill them ASAP.

It sucks being a predator. I hate my job.


All of the above. Traps. Fences. Taking them Out. You are right . . . it is endless.
We had a lot of success individually fencing trees - and netting the tops, too. But it is sooooooooo much work - and makes it difficult to ‘work’ with the trees. And involves moving out the uprights each year as the trees spread.
We put a Hav-a-Hart trap at the base of one of the fences - and enclosed it with the fencing. So, it looked (to a raccoon) like a little door into the ‘promised land’ . . .
He’d go in through the little ‘tunnel’ . . . and we’d have him.
We caught 2 that way last year. They won’t be back.
The game camera is fun. At least it doesn’t remain a mystery - as to who is doing what.

P.S. - There is a U-Pick Peach place about 5 minutes from my house. We asked the owner what he does about pests? He said “Nothing”.

He goes with the theory that there is safety in numbers . . . and if you grow enough of something ‘they’ can only eat/destroy so much. But who wants to put 30 peach trees in their back yard???


For me is the fact that I’m keenly aware that the act of eating involves killing, even if you are a vegan. Six billion creatures each year; that is the estimated amount of wild life killed each year from raising the produce we eat.

I kid you not; it pains me to shoot a squirrel, but it pains mean lot more to waste food because it means that all the creatures that died while producing it died in vain. Feeling bad about shooting something only spares people’s feelings while most still happily contribute to the mass murder of everything else.

Another sobering statistic; about half of all the produce you see in the supermarket ends up wasted.


I feel you. Been down with covid all week, finally walked down to the garden to see every single watermelon is eaten by mice or chipmunks. Guess I will rip them up and plant fall crops there.


I have grown gooseberries for a few years now. Nothing bothered them until this year. Something plowed thru a row of peppers next to the gooseberries then ate about 1/2 my gooseberry crop. Found partially eaten fruit all over the ground. I have a lot of squirrels but never had them bother the crop before. Since the peppers were busted down it has to be something bigger like a raccoon.

Luckily I grew more that I need so I still had enough fruit for myself.


thats the ticket. dont just plant 1 bush. plant 3 in different parts of the yard. chances are they may get 1 but the others might be spared. the old saying of not putting all your eggs in 1 basket still rings true today.

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True story. I remember as a kid my dad was able to go behind the grocery stores and get boxes and boxes of produce and we fed it to the chickens. Somewhere in those decades i guess someone ate it and got sick so now it all goes to the landfill.

If only there was a program for farmers or even composters… that would be so much wiser than just carting it to the roach havens of landfills.

I think the worst sobering statistic is the commercially grown stuff is probably so heavily sprayed (poisoned) that they dont worry about the things that we do in our backyard. Everything that tries to eat it or get near their trees gets poisoned to death…

If you want to be freaked out join the Backyard Fruit Growers group on FB… no matter what it is… the #1 question asked about 30X per hour is what do i spray to kill this or that.

Shooting a squirrel is probably more humane than some of the sprays and poisons people are using… i wish we would go back to the old word of Poison instead of spray or bait. But again its tough being the apex predator when we have removed them all and humans are lazy compared to natural predators.


Where do you live that all the apex predators have been removed? I’ve got loads of coyotes, bobcats (and feral cats), and occasionally wolves. Good numbers of badgers around too. It’s a rare day around here that I don’t see a half dozen different raptors, and from spring through early winter it’s closer to a dozen.

Sounds like where you live humans must have really screwed up the ecosystem. I’m glad that’s not the case here.


Honestly that’s the reality on most urban areas.