Recovering from Deer Damage

I just had some nice deer damage. They crushed leaves on my Plums, Cherries and Apples. The Peaches and Pears were left alone. There’s minimal branch damage and they all at least have SOME leaves. So, I’m pretty sure I just suffered a growth set back and no permanent damage (stay positive :slight_smile: ). I planted all trees Spring 2019.

If I can stimulate some leaf growth, I should be able to minimize the damage. Would it be wise to give the hardest hit trees some fertilizer and give them a little extra watering love? I gave all my trees a hit of Tree Tone in the early Spring. What if anything can I give them to stimulate some leaf re-growth?

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What’s your plan to discontinue deer browsing? If you don’t prevent it, pushing new leaves will only provide the deer another snack.

I posted another thread about this actually :slight_smile: For a permanent solution, I’m thinking a Gallagher style 3D fence. For now, I’ve got the inner fence up and sprayed “Repels All”.

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First thing i would do is fence those trees off. Without physically stopping the deer, they will continue browse the new growth.

Forgive me friends, but I just have to vent by showing this and talking about it! Deer completely wrecked 5 of my trees in a single 48 hour period!!! I’ve always said there are only 2 common problems I’ve never had in my orchard: Deer and peach tree borers. Borers found me this past summer, now deer have too! As a deer hunter I certainly have something to cure this problem, but because I’m so far from any woods/cover deer rarely ever hit my orchard so I can’t imagine it would be worth sitting out there in wait. But clearly I have some bucks, so I may “give it a shot” (pun intended).

Man this is soooo frustrating!!!



The following even shows a nice scrape where they scrape the ground and pee and chew and put their scent on a limb hanging over the scrape. I used to love seeing this as a hunter. In my orchard its just a bad sign that they will be back.

Guess I’ll have to start putting some protection around trees, but with 150 trees, that’s a tall order!

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Hate those sonsofbitches.


I had some bucks rubbing my young trees as well. I emailed David Vernon thinking he’d recommend getting new trees. Instead, this was his response:

YES. But wrap the entire damaged area with regular masking tape immediately. Wrap it around and around the trunk that is damaged. It will heal very nicely under the tape and the tape will break apart by itself in 12 months. Leave no gaps.
Do not use other types of tape.

Original post here.

Yours does look worse than mine but I would give it a shot. The painter’s masking tape is extra wide. Makes the job go quicker if you have a lot of trees to do this on. I used the plain beige tape, as per David’s instructions.

I’ve also surrounded my trees with tomato cages.

The tape trick only works when there is some cambium left. Kevin’s trees look like they have ben rubbed down below that. I tried it a couple times and it never worked.

I now put deer fence around all young trees. I still lost a couple this year when they ripped off the fencing.


Thank-you for that Joe. I may give it a try! My problem is that all sides look like the ones in the photo- in other words they have been completely girdled/all bark removed all the way around and for 12-24 inches vertically- so it seems impossible they could live. The good news is I think all of them have enough above the graft line that even if I have to cut the tree off at 12 inches tall, its likely the grafted variety can regrow- but it will take years.

@PharmerDrewee It kills me to tell you this, but one of these is the Jilin Asian Pear you were kind enough to send me a fully grafted version of and which I’ve been waiting 4 years for fruit and was certain I’d get some next year!!! But as I said above, even though it will be much like starting over, I’m pretty sure there is enough Jilin left on the grafted section to regrow.

You might put up a cedar rubbing post with a licking branch to channel there aggression away from your fruit trees.

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I don’t think anyone can assume they are safe from deer, even in the middle of town. Rabbits, too. Better safe than sorry. Fence everything.

Even once tree branches are above deer (on their hind legs) level, you still need to protect trunk from antler rubbing… until tree’s bark is thick - about 15 yrs!

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Has anyone had success with Motion Activated Sprinklers? Deer have taken the leaves off of two of my trees and I just setup some motion sprinklers, and am hoping that this will alleviate some future pressure.

With my deer they would work for about a month, and after that the deer learned to put up with them. I stopped putting them out a few years ago as they were not giving me control worth the effort of the set-up and maintenance.

That’s disconcerting, but hopefully my deer do not catch on quite so fast!

As much as I hate deer (in my case moose), if you are not fencing and they eat the orchard to the ground well that’s not on them, that’s on us.

Moose (and most likely deer) travel the same paths; once they learn that there is food in your yard they will make a habit of stopping by and even bring their offsprings so they can learn it… The correct reaction to seeing a baby deer anywhere near your orchard should not be “awww, so cute!” But to reach for the slingshot or BB gun. In addition to fencing you want them to learn that your property is a very hostile place.

We had our trees nibbled back many times, and our first try was 6 ft dia cages. All we got was bad shaped trees because to was a pain to get in to trim.

Put up a simple electric fence and all the critters went away. We even ran a hot wire to the deck posts and our bird feeders are free of raccoons.

the fence is on a timer, sun set to sun rise.

That works in warm climates, but much of our deer damage occurs in winter with a foot or two of snow on the ground. Electric fences aren’t of much use then.

They will work with that much snow IF you have multiple strands
10” apart , Alternating with a hot wire a good ground wire .
But not with only one hot and a deer standing on snow

How much of a shock do these fences put off? I live on the edge of suburbia and have kids running around!