Deer damage 🦌 2018!

Had lots of deer damage this week in the new cherry orchard. Some buck felt he needed to use his horns on my trees. It caught me by surprise but at least they were ungrafted rootstocks. The base will be ok and I think I will cleft or rind graft them. I planned to graft some 3’ -5’ up a rootstock but now that’s impossible. He took out at least a dozen trees. I think the trees will recover quickly but a deer fence is now needed. Who knew since the other cherries close by have never been antler practice?

People say bucks do that while they are rutting but they seem to so it for half the year starting in Aug. I’ve found that if you protect only the bottom 3’ they leave trees alone here, but we only have white tails. They even leave trees alone that have rodent protection white spirals that high.

Fortunately, my neighbor’s son came back from college during Thanksgiving and shot my problem buck this year. His mother says he has nothing but game meat in his dorm fridge. Every time he comes home he grabs a bunch from the family freezer. I let him put up a stand right on the border of my property with permission to shoot deer on my land.


Great way to handle it Alan. Deer season is over here now.

We’ve had up to five head bedded down in our yard in the middle of town, no shooting allowed. It hasn’t been bad so far this winter because, I guess, it’s been mild and there’s a lot of browse available elsewhere.

When I install trees that are above the browse line I usually use a 12" length of 3’, tall black plastic coated fencing from HD that I cut from 50’ rolls. A low cylinder at the base of trees is all that is needed, although that fencing doesn’t stop voles. Keeps out rabbits, though.


How about shooting your deer with a bow and arrow? Or does your town ordinance forbid that too?

And, in addition to white protective wrapping of fruit tree trunks…even painting the lower three feet or so with white or pastel paint also seems to deter deer from rubbing trees (enamel paint might not be good for trees or environment, so latex would be the preference here).

I am curious what size deer fence you use? I have watched deer jump 6ft high fences to get into my garden in years past.

Na, no archery either- too many people (and kids and crazy Montanans!) We just shoo them off. They don’t like the sound metal tined leaf rakes make when you drag them across the sidewalk. And most of my trees are tall enough that we don’t lose a big percentage, so we live with it.

Here’s a link to a picture of our little salad garden and how it’s enclosed by stock panels wired together. I think the panels are six feet high and rest on 10 inch beds, and then I gained a couple of inches with a top “rail” I made out of 1/4" round and ran through holes in the square verticals. The deer haven’t tried to jump into it yet, ,maybe because there’s not enough visibility around it? I don’t know. So about seven feet. I’m afraid that if a deer got in there he’d beat things to pieces trying to get out!

I’ve noticed this winter that the trees I put only 2’ of chicken wire around the base have been left alone thus far. They are all my new plantings. Older trees that I do not have any wire around the trunk have been damaged. Even those trees with white plastic rodent wrap as you said.

Of course some of these trees with the rodent wrap are 5’ in diameter so the deer bump into that before they even get close to the trunk.

Author Guy Sternberg and personal friend cuts lengths of conduit and hammers (2) per tree in the ground opposite each. Or, he hammers green fence stakes opposite. That stops more than 85% of his problems I’d reckon. I’m talking thousands of trees. Anything utilizable he uses. Rebar, old metal curtain rods… anything metal.


Yeah, I’m not sure what the actual limit is- now that I’m sure 3’ works i’m reluctant to scale down. Others use 4-5’ around here to prevent buck rubs.

Nice to here of further experience with even less protection though.

1 Like

All of my trees have a 5’ tall circle of field fence around them for deer protection along with a 18" hoop of chicken wire around the trunk to keep rabbits off the trees. In addition, I place a weatherproof mouse bait blocks inside and outside the inner circle of wire for vole control. I change active ingredients on the bait blocks every year. On some trees, the bait blocks have been chewed, the only damage I’ve seen yet. I know some here count on raptor birds to keep vole and rabbit populations down, but I try to discourage the raptors because of my chicken flock.
When I’ve failed to maintain this protocol, I see vole and rabbit damage. Deer rubs are more frequent on my wild mulberry patch.


For all type of trees I put roughly a 4 ft X 4 ft x 4 ft high chicken wire fence around my trees. The deer, usually fawns do minor damage to peach tree limbs so I remove the fencing and replace with chicken wire two to three feet off the ground after 2 to 3 years to protect against buck rubs. I don’t know what I will do when my apple and cherry trees get to big for a 4 x 4 fence as the deer love them and will eat every leaf off the trees twice a year - once in late spring and once in mid to late summer after the leaves have regrown. I don’t have much experience with Pear trees but they seem to leave them alone.

With trees I install that are not well enough grown above the browse line I use cheap 14 gage, 5’ tall rings made from 10’ lengths. Trees usually are only browsed on branches that exceed the cylinder and 5’ is usually the ticket for our white tails. White plastic spirals are the easiest protection from voles and rabbits, but I can see the benefit of chicken wire (for rabbits)- it doesn’t help insects hide and provide a moist space to begin entry into the bark.

1 Like