I have not heard or seen any problem with deer eating conifers, if they are Arbor day size trees they might step on them but wouldn't eat them. Now my concern would be if they have a lot of trunk showing and are taller than 3', then in the fall the bucks may rub their antlers and scar it up pretty bad. They tend to go after the Charlie Brown trees than a full one, they don't like all the needles in their eyes.
thanks for replying scot. I'll keep that in mind when we buy them. i have a feeling we will be buying 3 foot trees. i'm hoping there are so many pinetrees to choose from currently, the bucks may go for others as these will be in a close proximity to the house and on difficult terrain.
I would plan to have at least a few feet of protection for anything you're not sure about. In high pressure areas, deer will also hammer cedar fir and pine... Deer do not always seem to know about the lists of plants they won't eat!
If you're talking about planting saplings, in areas where there are not many trees, deer will eat juniper, a nibble at a time and the bark.
We put that thin flexible black plastic wast line, split it up the side and snap it on the to protect the trunk. What has worked best is a hot [electric] wire about chest high on a hog wire fence. After the trees get larger chewing animals are less threat.
Some one was telling that they hung a flap of aluminum foil with a wipe of peanut butter on the hot wire, to teach the deer.
There are several good methods of deterring deer from plantings;
1) hot wire fence, with or without bait attached.
2) out right fence (needs to be 6-7 feet tall)
3) wide line of blood meal (this needs to be at least 2 feet wide and all around the plantings) *this is one of my favorites for trees outside of our perimeter fenced garden/orchard grounds.
4) stakes with strips of white cloth attached so they can blow in the wind. *I have a buddy that uses this, I don't think it works as well as he wanted it to.
5) Dogs in the area. * this is sure fire, the dogs will spot the deer and bark and chase them away. Problem is, you will then need a perimeter fence to contain the dogs so they don't create issues of the human kind.
No wild 4 legged, prey animal seems to like the smell of death
they avoid areas of this particular scent.
Predators, on the other hand, will tend to investigate to see if there is a free meal available.
We have a pack of Coyotes that come very near our living quarters. So far the dogs have kept them from getting to close.
I do have deer that come through the farm as well as other "food" animals that are not domesticated, they all stay away from where the blood meal is spread.
Using blood meal has other benefits since it also is a natural fertilizer and conditions soil somewhat.
I have had pretty good luck with a plug in electric fence, not the cheap one. The top strand is 6' tall, and the bottom 3 strands have to be closer together or they will "time" the shock and sneak in between.
The battery operated ones aren't hot enough to reliably deter deer.
Shooting them is pretty effective and they make terrific jerky.
I have no experience with the following product, but it looks promising. It's a motion activated sprinkler, and they run 60-100 bucks.