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Permaculture and Bambi  RSS feed

 
Posts: 231
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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I would like to preface this, by saying there needs to be a special category at Permies.com about Deer and Permaculture.  Deer are decreasing biodiversity.  Deer are causing extensive damage to agricultural and city properties.

Deer is not a single species.  Deer constitute many species: whitetail deer, mule deer, roe deer, ..., moose, elk, caribou.  Having a personal encounter with a small deer, may not have serious consequences.  Having a personal encounter with a moose, elk or caribou can easily end your life.  Personal encounters with mule deer are probably something to at least think about.

Permaculture has some good properties.  Disney Studios produced a series of video things a long time ago, which have lasting effects on our ability to deal with deer in their various forms.

If people recognize that there are too many deer in their area, they can't do anything about it.  They need to attract politicians to fix this.  About the time anyone notices there are too many deer, and looks to try and decrease how many deer are present, the Disney group notice and have been very effective at making all of us live with too many deer.

Most people who write about too many deer, do so in a "voice" which suggests it is "only here".  I'm sorry, too many deer is probably across any part of the world where too many people who have watched Bambi from Disney live.

If anyone talks about "culling" deer, they are talking about killing deer.  The Disney bunch get all upset about this.  How dare you kill Bambi!  And along with Bambi, lots of people have problems with rabbits in the plantings.  How dare you kill Thumper!


As near as I can tell, deer (possibly excluding the big deer - moose, elk, caribou). are "edge" species.  How a person should describe or analyze how many deer are present, should be with respect to the "edge".  This is difficult, in that two "edges" can be close enough that are actually one edge.  There is probably a way to deal with this related to chaos or fractals.

I first seen a prescription of 1 deer per 65 acres as a limit for deer population.  I live on 40 acres, and in 1 day I have seen 11 deer on my property (likely all unique in that circumstance).  Another member of my family says she seen 14 deer in one day.  This suggests the number of deer "here" is at least one order of magnitude (power of 10) higher than it should be.

Most recently, I seen a prescription from the State of New Jersey (in the vicinity of New York City) of 5 deer per square mile (about 1 deer per 130 acres).

By and large, deer populations are higher than this.  By a LOT!

But the Disney crowd still wants Bambi!

I recently seen an economic analysis of deer on Iowa (I believe).  Deer cost Iowa more than $300 million per year.  One analysis, could be wrong.


Most hunting jurisdictions control deer population by requiring the animals to be killed have antlers (are male).  I disagree with this.  Males don't raise the fawns they procreate.  Females do.  These females can teach their children all kinds of bad habits.  And the fawns learn bad habits all on their own.  If you want to cull deer, what you want to do is kill female deer, not male deer.  Let the few males (further) kill each other in sparring matches to get a reduced female population mate.


Contraceptives are used to control the success in mating.  As I understand things, these have to be applied by dart every year.  There is not a multi-year contraceptive available now.


If you look through the various lists of plants that deer tend not to eat, you will find a lot of poisonous plants.  And there are lots of different kinds of poisons.

As near as I can tell, it is unusual to find a deer dying from eating a poisonous plant.  For one species of deer, it is unusual to find them dying from eating a highly poisonous plant.

Deer do ingest a lot of cellulose (wood fibre).  Wood fibre has a large surface area per unit mass, and poisons can adsorb onto the surface of the cellulose.  Deer do ingest clay (geophagia).  And if nothing else, clay has a larger surface area per unit mass than cellulose does.  Both of those things reduce how much poison a deer actually metabolises.  And since deer seldom "pig out" on a particular plant at any given time, they reduce how much poison (of whatever kind) they have to process.  Processing poison does present a stress to their system, but they seem to manage it well.

There are LOTS of classes of poisons.  But by and large, poison is poison.  The difference is when a poison is addictive!  To find addictive poisons you need to look to the alkaloids (which have such addictive poisons as: caffiene, nicotine and cocaine).

A deer "browses" yet another plant.  And moves on to browse others.  That plant, sows the seed of addiction.  The deer tend to have their territory, and revisit.  The addictive alkaloid plant didn't kill them the last time, they will eat it again.  Maybe more, maybe less.  But over time, the addiction takes hold.  They eat more.

I suspect it seldom happens that a deer eats enough of even an addictive plant, to kill it.  But what should happen, is that the deer now concentrates its browsing in the vicinity of this addictive plant.


Now genetic engineering has a place to take hold.  First chance is can we add a deer contraceptive to the addictive plant itself?  Second chance, is can we add a deer contraceptive to some other plant, which will grow in the same conditions the addictive plant is growing?


While I think the Disney crowd has been and will continue to be the largest voice against culling Bambi, another factor is that hunting seems to be a Baby Boomer type thing.  And as the Baby Boomers die off, there is not as much interest in hunting Bambi for whatever reason.


Here I am at 56N, and I am going to see if the Osage-orange hedge will keep deer from coming onto my land.

I've only been looking for an alternative.
 
pollinator
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Lets give this a permaculture analysis:

Like a weed, the problem is that the ecosystem is out of balance.  Weeds step into the void when there is a lack of balanced diversity in the system.  in this case, deer have become like weeds.  There is a lack of predators; mountain lions, wolves, even coyotes  . . . or hunters.  If the Bambi crowd has a problem with Jethro blasting away with his 30.06, how would they feel about a big 'ol panther working their suburban neighborhood?  We are seeing a significant population increase in big cats throughout the west.  I don't know about the east where the deer population is a huge problem, but we are seeing mountain lions here in greater Los Angeles.  Wolves are making a comeback after having been re-introduced in national parks.  So nature will eventually provide a solution, if we get out of the way and let her.

You mention planting an osage orange hedge.  That's a design solution.  It would have to be a pretty tightly planted hedge without any gaps anywhere to keep them out.  I've seen deer seemingly walk right through a 3-strand barbed-wire fence without hardly breaking stride.  How'd they do that?  It's crazy to see—they are so nimble and agile.  Not over the fence, but they step right through it.  Even a tiny gap, and they'll slide right through your hedge as if there isn't anything there.

If you've got 40 acres, perhaps there might be other design solutions, including fencing that would move them toward a corral where you could trap them and then they could be "eliminated".  Can you hunt on your land?  If you've got 40 acres, that's a chunk of land, certainly large enough for hunting.  With a few well designed fences with gates that are open most of the year (so the deer are habituated to waking right into the space you want them to walk), you could funnel the deer into an area corral where they'd be trapped, in much the same way that people trap ferrel hogs.  How many friends and family do you have that would be willing to let you take out a deer tag in their name?  Does your mother-in-law use her deer tag every year?  Take her down to Walmart and help her pay for it.  One good hunt would provide a lot of meat for a lot of people.  And once you've created this deer trap, you'd be able to use it again and again for years.

There are all sorts of other products to be made from deer.  The hide, the antlers, etc.  If you are at all resourceful, there are people looking to buy leather, buttons, and other deer byproducts.
http://www.wideopenspaces.com/14-uses-deer/

Deer guts and such could be fed to a black soldier fly bin where they'd produce larva for the chickens.  If there are that many deer in your area, there certainly must be road kill deer as well.  If you've got a healthy BSF colony, you could ask the local highway crew to give you a call whenever they find a dead deer on the side of the road and you could either use it for dog food or BSF food (which then becomes chicken food).  The problem becomes a very elegant solution.

Another design solution would be the integration of livestock guardian dogs into your operation.  LGD"s would provide relief from the deer, offer the potential of raising pups for additional income, and give you protection of the animals you'd raise (cattle?  sheep?).  Now you get about 3 or more functions for your investment.  But big dogs eat a lot: how would you afford to feed them?  Hmmmm . . . maybe fresh venison?  Frozen venison.  Deer jerky.  Deer chew toys.  If you are killing about 5 deer a year, you'd have all kinds of food to supply your puppy operation.

If you create a high-fenced section that functions as a deer trap, in the summer during gardening season, that same space could be reversed to protect your garden.  The same fence that would be used to trap deer in would certainly keep deer out.  When you finally open the gates and let them in to pick up apples, garden spoils, etc., they'll be thrilled with your hospitality.  I'd suggest that you keep them boxed out 90% of the year, and open the gates 2 weeks prior to hunting season.  Come and get it . . . until the day when you swing the gate closed behind them and funnel them into a tight enclosure.

A final permie lens through which to view the "problem" is one of enjoying them.  Watching deer run through the snow is truly a beautiful sight.  Seeing a mother doe with her little fawn is amazing.  If your system is designed well, you can enjoy them (while they are not eating your garden and orchard) and them when you are ready, cull them yourself for food and profit

You'll never succeed in changing the greater cultural attitude about Bambi, but permaculture isn't about making other people do what we want them to do.  Design a solution for yourself, and you'll soon find neighbors who want to copy you.







 
pioneer
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Gordon Haverland wrote:I would like to preface this, by saying there needs to be a special category at Permies.com about Deer and Permaculture.  Deer are decreasing biodiversity.  Deer are causing extensive damage to agricultural and city properties.



I added your thread to "Nibblers" (https://permies.com/f/107/), which has the subtitle of "deer, moles, voles, birds, mice, rats, squirrels ... critters that eat your growies!" I also added this thread to "Permaculture." Perhaps by having it in both forums, it's almost as good as having it's own forum?

We generally don't add new forums unless they have at least 20 threads that will fit in that forum. Supposedly, a relatively small forum makes google think it's not interesting and doesn't send people to it? Do we have 20 threads about deer?
 
Posts: 180
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Yes, difficult situation needing a lot of balance when the species is indigenous, bearing in mind that humans have destroyed habitat, killed natural predators, and improved the environment so they breed more.

We have the same issue with kangaroos and wallabies, though many of the latter species are protected, and I doubt the average gun-toting weekend warrior knows the difference or even cares.

We have about six species of deer - all introduced in the nineteenth century by 'acclimatisation' groups - misguided idiots that unleashed many pest species across the country. The deers have spread from Melbourne to Far North Queensland, a distance of over 3400 km (over 2100 miles).

The mountain range that follows the eastern seaboard is predominantly National Park, State Forest, Water Catchment, or remote farms; so it's easy for these animals to disappear into wilderness, breed up, travel long distances and then venture onto open farmland country.

Importantly, they spread diseases like tuberculosis, though we don't have foot & mouth or rabies (yet).

A similar problem exists with our 'Bambi Brigade' who want to save introduced wild horses in the Snowy Mountains alpine area - they destroy fragile habitat where vulnerable native species live, but the horse-lovers don't care about reality.

Some mates don't buy beef, lamb or pork, their freezers are packed with venison, wild boar, goat and rabbit - all non-native pests.

In the Permaculture scenario, I've no issue with regulated controls and policing them when it comes to native species, but it should be 'fair game' when it comes to non-native (pest) species.
 
pollinator
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I agree there are not enough hunters presently to balance the deer population.  We have, in addition to the native Whitetail, imported Axis deer, whose natural predators are leopards and tigers.  We can have over 20 deer on our 20 acres.  They are eating or killing all of the small trees and shrubs.

Stupidly, ranchers still kill predators here.

We are trying to find non-hunting solutions to the problem, because neither my husband nor I hunt (he isn't a killer and I have mental illness), but we do invite hunters to our land.
 
pioneer
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We are lucky to be rural enough that deer aren't a problem on our 40 acres; in fact, we welcome the ones that hole up here, figuring they are a protein reserve for hard times.  But we are surrounded by hunting neighbors and wild coyote packs, and I joke that we are harboring a pack of coyotes that sleeps in our living room on our couches, led by a wolf -- by which I mean our four large dogs that are slavish minions to our huge new LGD.  One serious bork from him on the other side of the property and they all go flying...

Our dogs keep the deer out of our immediate yard and garden areas (call it my zones 1-3) and the coyotes off the property entirely; that leaves room for a few deer to visit zones 4-5, but though I have seen up to 8-9 at a time, there's rarely more than three back there, because my shooty neighbors blast them every fall, with no small amount of poaching at other times of year. 

My shooty neighbors also believe in killing coyotes on sight but apparently they suck at it, because on any given night I can hear packs singing in three different directions.  Now that my dogs have a 150lb boss-behemoth they want to go out and take on the packs, but I try not to let them; they are the worst collection of limpy misfit beat up old rescue dogs you ever saw, and they would get outsmarted, separated in the dark, and defeated in detail, despite having all kinds of spirit and good intentions.   My one dog that looks vaguely like a German Shephard did come home with the tip of a coyote tail one time though and carried it around for days like a conquering hero.  Proudest dog you ever saw!
 
pollinator
Posts: 513
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Gordon, not sure if this is an option in the Frozen North, but here one can obtain a "kill permit" for deer damage. The state is not yet a subsidiary of D.C. (getting close though) and that allows for more time to hunt the deer. It is just impossible to process enough deer here during the season to make a difference. I am looking into getting a permit, which would allow me to take them anytime the temperature is not too hot to process them. Additionally, some locations you can hunt with lights or other special equipment, which really expands the chance of getting an animal.

I gave away two deer last year, I'm teaching some friends without land how to process them, and then I just field dress them and call them for pickup. This drops my time commitment considerably and provides a renewable resource for those in my community with less. If I get a permit this number will go up considerably.

I think deer here were considerable thicker than out west. The winter kill is generally minimal, and the terrain is favorable for survival. Based on the mature forest, the big cats would have been the major player, not canids. I really REALLY don't want them around, I grew up around them and they are not compatible with my (any?) type of farming . People spent a huge amount of resources to eradicate them out east a long time ago, and they are formidable. We do have bears that probably take some fawns, and they are not a big issue to me. We can probably support a one deer per acre here before they have starvation pressure, but I agree that is almost as much a monoculture as a feed lot, and now we have CWD and all the issues with the population density.

Overall, I agree with your sentiment. I have family in New England and it is extremely schizophrenic, they want less deer because of the tickborne illness, but they don't wan't weapons, or deer being killed. So the main deer predator is cars. I was up in Pennsylvania and you could not drive 400 meters without seeing a carcass on the shoulder for quite a stretch. What a resource waste! What especially chafes me is the energy input into all the destroyed vehicles! Massive waste. Last time I looked at hunting in PA, you got one antlered tag, that's it! Here we can effectively get as many doe tags as we want. I mostly want to extend the season because of processing times, so I'm looking into ways to do that.
 
pollinator
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I get as much meat from deer as i do from the sheep we raise,  with much much less time, inputs, and labor. I want them on my land.

Thats not to say it comes without problems. Deer fencing around annual garden being the main thing. Girdling newly planted fruit trees is the other. Both of these are manageable minus the occasional "oops, i left the gate open".i want the deer here.

Being browsers their poop is probably more fungal. Better for use on trees than horse and cow poop which are probably more bacterial from eating grass. Manure tea from it would be better for trees. This is one area people don't tend to think about.

I can see the problem in an urban setting where the rules are so restrictive. In a acreage situation i'd rather leave it up to me to solve it.

Think of all the people on this forum that dont want to use horse manure cause they were wormed. Now you have to question whether to eat a deer that was darted. No thank you mr govt. I'll handle my own.
 
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Interestingly enough a few days ago a deer chased our dog across the yard, the dog yelped in pain and they collided with my tent and made a hole in it. It was an interesting way to wake up.
I eat as much venison as I have access to, my uncle has land in Indiana and supposedly he's allowed to take as many deer as he likes from his own land, though I haven't researched it. Here there are tags for does and bucks.
I think the biggest causes of the problem are A) no wolves and B) lots of woods meets backyard fringe habitat, which deer love. This gives deer a good reason to acclimate to humans, venture onto their back porches and eat all their basil. The easiest way to restore balance would be to back off on water management and let the beavers do their job, turning prime real estate back into the swamps that, deep down, they were made to be. It's well documented that wolves are a keystone species which depends on beavers, another keystone species.
I have every intention of practicing my hunting skillz this year. There's a perfectly good freezer in the basement which is all but empty. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get my archery skills up in time to fill it though.
In my fantasy world homestead in my imagination, I have big dogs that keep the deer away from the vegetable garden. Except having our pit mutt flee from an angry deer in terror has shaken this dream. She wouldn't even leave the yard until I talked real mean to her. Maybe a dog took one of her fawns before or something, but she's a mean one for sure.
 
Gordon Haverland
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I may not attribute as much thanks as I should below.  Please don't think your respone was not appreciated.


Marko Banks, what a wonderful response!  Thank you.

I don't know that Dawson Creek has seen warnings about cougars lately, but Grande Prairie (130 km away has).

I think most of North America is confusing itself, thinking deer populations are a local problem.  I think deer populations are too high, in all of North America.  I suspect they are too high in many other places as well.

Osage-orange hedge was said to be: "Horse high, Bull strong and Pig tight".  Does a deer squeeze through openings smaller than a pig can get through?  I've no idea.

I have not asked the explicit questions of Fish and Wildlife here, but the answers I have received more or less say that I cannot kill deer to solve my problem.  I don't have a gun, I have considered getting a recurve bow.  I'll have to think about your coralling idea.  My sister's boss is willing to come here and shoot deer (even if it means buckshot).  But I think everywhere, deer know when it is deer season.  So even if you see one of them, and call someone who wants to shoot one, the deer may have left before they can get there.

Lots of things to digest.  Thank you for giving me a bunch of ideas.

Nicole Alderman - I have no idea.

F Agricola

Difference betwen Kangaroos and Wallabees is somewhat humourous to me.   Too many hunters here can't tell the difference between a deer/bear/... and a tractor, to avoid shooting a tractor.


TJ Jefferson

I like the idea of killing deer (especially females).  And I would gladly submit most/all of the meat to things like the food shelter (not that I wouldn't eat wild meat, I don't think my Mom would, and I am caring for her).

I have no idea where the stable density of deer on the landscape is.  From researching things, I think most of North America is at least a factor of 10 above what it should be.

I know that the deer here are not looking for new things to eat.  I seen new tracks on a path I travel (to visit 3 hawthorns I planted).  The one hawthorn almost got stepped on (crushed the plastic cup surrounding it), but no sign of predation.  But last winter I cut a LOT of aspen/poplar down, and there are a zillion sprouts for the deer to be interested in.

wayne fajkus - Thank you.  Interesting idea to use deer poop for another source of local fungus in the area.

----

I might have mentioned the idea of GMO, which is not wanted at Permies.com. 

I don't care one way or another on GMO.

I have read about toxins that can lead to abortions in animals.  Functionally this is the same as a contraceptive to me.

----

Thanks to all!  Lots of ideas.  Hopefully I can return the favour in the future.
 
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For what it's worth, I read that if you plant a field of sweet clover deer will leave everything else alone. They LOVE sweet clover. Not sure where I saw this but it was somewhere along my travels.
 
Tj Jefferson
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J Anders wrote:For what it's worth, I read that if you plant a field of sweet clover deer will leave everything else alone. They LOVE sweet clover. Not sure where I saw this but it was somewhere along my travels.



I have a field of clover and sweetclover. the thread is here. The issue is not the species present, it is the density of each. If I had a higher percentage of clover (I'm probably seeing 10% clover in spring, now <<5%) the clover present was sufficient to provide nitrogen fixation for the field most likely. The deer don't eat grass, so they browse the other species, leaving grass and unpalatable forbs. So that means either exclude the deer, decrease their numbers to allow the recovery of the browsed species, or use some other method to create an equilibrium like get grass grazers (sheep or cows) to utilize the other growth. I'm doing #2, working on the other things as well. I doubt very much my predation will change the equilibrium much at all, as OP said the numbers are so high it is like a liquid. Getting an LGD might change the numbers just on the fenced area to which she has access. Getting grazers would utilize the other species on the field and improve the soil food web. The deer eat a tiny percentage of the biomass.

.i want the deer here.

Being browsers their poop is probably more fungal. 



Dan I respectfully think this is wishful. They are a very good meat, but the limitations on harvest and the mobility of the resource is evidenced by the fact that your neighbors are harvesting your biomass! It sounds like you are doing everything right, and I applaud you, I tried the same until I realized how small my harvest was compared to the acreage used- although the inputs are tiny. I have started hearing people sighting in their rifles, and rifle season is months away. The only reason is because they start poaching as soon as the weather cools. Deer are ruminants, and their gut is similar to a rolling fermentation vat of a few days, rather than a kimchi bucket of many days. If you look at a deer pellet, how long does it take to degrade? Does it show hyphae pretty fast? Not here, they remain unchanged for weeks. I suspect those indicate a bacterial degradation is predominant.

The major change in the calculation was the idea of LGDs, because the ticks necessitate birds or mowing. I hate mowing, and I am loving the change in the fields from minimal mowing. It's like I'm raising bluebirds out there! But the chickens are getting eaten, and the ticks aren't. Why did people fence back in the day? What was the big advantage? It kept their production on their fields and kept their dogs from roaming free. Essentially it created a little biosphere. LGDs replace the predator niche to some degree, and allow for a ground bird population expansion. My friends that have LGDs see turkeys in their field ( the LGDs see them as part of the herd because they have domestic turkeys) but deer almost never go in there.

Gordon has not even touched on the turkey contribution to a healthy ecosystem. They eat many of the same plant species as deer (clover and acorns especially) and leave their droppings where they eat to some degree. Deer mostly poop where they bed down, which is in one area of my neighbor's property. I have 10-12 deer out there nightly and see only occasional piles. They are moving the minerals and soil life, but into the woods not out of it. Turkeys are equal opportunity! When they are eating acorns they poop where they roost but easily digested stuff goes through fast. I get some of that back. I am aiming for a transition from deer mass to turkey mass. In the more mature areas here there are few deer, incredibly numerous squirrels and probably an equal weight of turkeys to deer!

 
wayne fajkus
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I think i misstated the fungal of the deer poop. My source was redhawk. I went back and looked and it was the sheer number of different bacterias (compared to other manures) he was talking about, but get it quick before it dries out. Rabbit and deer were lumped in the same conversation. Maybe he will clarify.

Harvesting a quart of poop takes a couple minutes for me. My acreage seems to be the local birthing area. Until dove season starts with all the shotguns going, deer are plentiful.

When people make a manure tea, they tend to  concentrate it, then dilute it down for actual use. I take a lazier approach. I'll add a smaller amount to 200 gallons of water, then apply that directly with no dilution a day later.
 
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I have lots of deer in suburbia near me.  My goal is to fence most of the one-acre yard, get food production going, and open it up during hunting season (crossbow-only).  My neighbors are "Bambi-people", so that could get interesting.  I've already "fenced" most of the property in brush-piles that are probably pretty deer-proof.

If I had a lot of rural or mountain property I'd be managing some of my Zone 5 for whitetail production.  Hinge-cuts and trail maintenance to create bed-down areas, tree crops, and potentially some tilled food plots.  Presumably you could get property near protected wilderness areas to maximize your deer herds.

Some dog breeds can take out deer by themselves; I wonder if that could be a legal work-around in some states to harvest more animals...
 
pollinator
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We are currently looking for property and I'm constantly amused by realtors bragging about the herds of deer or whatever on a particular property. I don't want that, but I can't really get away from it either. My plan is lots of fencing. We will probably learn to hunt, but we can't really buy guns, so not sure.

At one of the restaurants I worked, we had a dish we lovingly referred to as Bambi and Thumper, many people were not amused. Disney will anthropomorphize anything. Anyone remember "The Brave Little Toaster", caused no end of grief for us when we took the vacuum cleaner apart.
 
F Agricola
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Gordon Haverland wrote:Difference betwen Kangaroos and Wallabees is somewhat humourous to me.   Too many hunters here can't tell the difference between a deer/bear/... and a tractor, to avoid shooting a tractor



🤣 Yep, we have a few of those types here too. It's a shame there's not an IQ test in the application process.

 
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Stacy Witscher wrote: ... I'm constantly amused by realtors bragging about the herds of deer or whatever on a particular property. I don't want that, but I can't really get away from it either. My plan is lots of fencing. We will probably learn to hunt, but we can't really buy guns, so not sure.



Curious as to why you can't buy guns.....would this be more urban property where they can't be used anyway?

Just a FWIW.....we are in a region where all food not nailed down would be gleefully taken by deer, raccoon, mink, fox, coyote, rabbits, etc. and the only fence we have is one around the garden that mostly keeps chickens out.  Before we had the chickens, we really had no problem even without the fence.  In this case, I don't think it was the livestock guard dogs (LGDs) per se, but for some reason it was the free-ranging pigs that  seemed the only thing we could point to as deterrent in some way.  The perimeter fencing keeping in the pigs is only 4 foot tall and easily jumped by any deer, so we know they had access to the place.  Maybe the deer were put off by the scent/presence of the pigs?....Don't know.  For sure, with the current LGDs, the deer are pretty scarce within the perimeter fencing. [Unfortunately, hawk and owl activity still reduces some of the chicken numbers, but not appreciably.]  At this point for various reasons, we don't hunt deer and the household food intake is less than 5% meat-based over the year.  But I like the fact that they would be another food option if the need arose....or their numbers rose too high.
 
Gordon Haverland
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I spent a little time looking at contraceptive issues.  It seems that a common contraceptive being used in deer is derived from pigs (pircine?), and is a kind of vaccine.  It's hard to imagine find a plant that happens to be producing something similar.  There are plant analogues of estrogen (phytoestrogens), soy has some.  Is that going to reduce deer fertility?

There have been some observations (notably in Colorado) about deer and possible increases in abortion rates due to eating ponderosa pine needles.  One suggestion is that it might be one or more resin acids in the pine needles.  Another was some kind of bacteria.  A third was a combination of the two.

http://spot.colorado.edu/~mitton/webarticles/ponderosa%20pine.htm

It may be there are other things some plants can provide, to provide incentive for deer to stay away.  Alter their sense of smell comes to mind.  Altering their sense of balance might be another one.

This was a crazy year for hay around here.  Usually I stop seeing strawberry plants in the fields in May,  I can still easily see strawberry plants now.  This doesn't seem to have changed the deer visiting, so obviously deer have no problems with strawberries.

The deer have been eating sunflower heads.  I have two patches of the related Jerusalem artichoke, that haven't been bothered.  One patch has some kind of brown spot disease problem, which I haven't figured out.

I got some comfrey root this year, and started it (near one of the Jerusalem artichoke patches), the deer haven't bothered it.

I had maybe 4 loads of wood chips from last year, going into summer.  Since then, a company doing power line right of way work has dumped more than 10 loads here.  I do wonder if I start to make big spots on the landscape, where I surround my trees of interest with wood chips, if that isn't like asking the deer to come visit that tree and eat it.
 
Marco Banks
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The primary difficulty of contraception is holding those big bucks still while someone tries to put a rubber onto them.   ;>)

 
Gordon Haverland
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Another paper on poisons in plants, and herbivores:


Coevolution of Poisonous Plants and Large Herbivores on Rangelands
W. A. LAYCOCK
https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jrm/article/download/6858/6468
 
Gordon Haverland
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My property has about 1/8 mile of frontage on a county road.  It also has power line right of way from a pole slightly west of my west property line, which crosses the property line at about a 19 degree angle.  The electricity authority has rules about what they will allow in the power line right of way, which is worded in terms of distance perpendicular to the powerline.  BC Hydro has rules for 15m.  Because of the shallow angle, it means I have concerns for 46m (about 151 feet) north and south of where the powerline crosses the property line.  Thanks guys.  Actually they have zones of 5, 10 and 15m I believe.  But in any event, the only solution I can think of for the immediate vicinity of the powerline is a trellis onto which to grow a vine.  Or put up a fence one can't see through that is 12 feet tall or so.

The fence all along the frontage road is board fence, not barbed wire.  And only about 5 foot tall.

The land here was broken probably 80 years ago.  The dominant tree is the aspen, which is a colony plant.

The west 90 feet or so of my frontage, is west of my old driveway, which is still usable (for some definition of usable).  This section is far enough away that I can grow a short tree, and it has to be a short tree that deer don't want to deal with.  I've got three English hawthorn 5 feet off the fenceline started there, but the west most one doesn't want to live.  Too many points of interruptions kept any starting to germinate seed early enough to be viable to last the winter.  All I can think is that I need to make some kind of greenhouse, possibly specific to starting from seed (pointers, especially based on Chinese greenhouses appreciated) to do this over again next year.  At least wasting seed isn't as expensive as wasting seedlings from commercial growers.  I had both English hawthorn and Russian hawthorn seed in my work.

The west is 90 feet of hawthorn, because the plan is to have orchard further south (I'm on a north facing slope).  I then need to do a double gate to mimic the double fence that deer don't want to cross.  For the next 260 feet of road frontage, the plan is to grow 3 Bur oak.  There are no trees growing south of them, there are trees growing to the east and west of these three oaks (one is in its second season).  The second season oak has not grown vertically (or very little), but it has put out huge leaves and they've been dark green all season.  My guess, it is  building roots.  I had been thinking about planting either a locust (honey or black) or grey alder at some distance to the south of the oaks.  While the oaks are currently surrounded to the north by aspen (and some poplar and willow), the sun comes from the south here.  The locust or alder would fix nitrogen, but apparently oak are meant for low nitrogen environments?  But it would also be a tree that it would "see" that was competition for sunlight.  And the idea would be to coppice the tree(s) to keep from seriously shading the oaks.

As the oaks grow taller, they will osculate with trees to the northern hemisphere (from the oak's point of view), and my job is to cut those aspen (sometimes other things) down.  While the oaks are still small, I think it is useful to cut down aspen to provide a reason for the colony to produce new seedlings for the stupid deer to eat, instead of them looking to eat my trees.    I've been told to write the deer a note: I don't speak deer (or write deer).  The long term plan is to slowly clear out the young aspen (mostly), and let the oak start to  shade out all the aspen (et al) north of it.  Part of the reason to not cut the aspen down now, is that they are providing a wind break environment for the oak to grow into.    But this only goes to 40 feet, and I want to give the oak incentive to go much beyond 40 feet.

About even with where the third oak is, is a line of walnuts running to the south.  Black and white walnut, alternating.  The idea being to start a line of juglone, cutting off the aspen colony to the east (which was more farmed, and has less aspen colony established at this point, I think).

To the east on my frontage of the county road, is the lowest part of my farm.  When it was a hayfield, this was the place that wanted the most to be a wetland.  But when you only get a bit over 12 inches of precipitation per year, a wetland needs to be take with a grain of salt at times.

What trees (which can get tall enough to shade out the aspen, like the oaks to the west) need water to do what they do?  I am looking at sugar maple, as I think the growing zone of sugar maple is moving north (and I think I am now Zone 3).  So, two sugar maple seedlings got started.  And a few weeks ago, some deer raped one of them.  And then didn't even eat the leaves it stripped off the seedling.  I gave this seedling (and some others) some aspirin water, and  this sugar maples is trying to make new leaves and harvest some more sunlight.

There are recommendations on planting plantations, and I don't think that is what I want.  Especially since work at UVermont  on beheading young sugar maples and putting a vacuum fitting on top, and sucking sap out of young sugar maples came out.

To make a good sugar, I am thinking you need the totality (which works with the holistic often mentioned in permaculture).  You need an environment with older established sugar maples, you need the other hardwoods often seen in the "sugar bush".  For me, I think you  need the nitrogen fixers (which attract bees), and so I think adding black locust to the sugar bush is useful.

----

Nothing to do do with deer, and deer do eat sugar maple, where I live has a problem with Foehn winds (we call them chinook (which means snow eater)).

I have a patch of (mostly aspen) running along the county road.  Mostly everything to the south was fescue pasture (now fescue pasture, wild roses, the odd tree and weeds).  You can see lots of damaged aspen in that patch along the road.  Most of this damage seems to be from chinook.  The warm winds blow in, the tree starts running sap, the winds go away and everything freezes.  And this can kill the aspens.  You  can see lines where damage affects multiple trees.

My thinking, is that if I want to establish a sugar bush here, it needs to have rows of conifers to the south.  To moderate the warm winds in the deep winter, and to keep the sun from warming the bark of trees.

As you want the sugar bush to get the full benefit of the sun in summer, the conifers need to be controlled for height.  It is the winter sun we want to block.

----

But, I am only guessing at this point.

 
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Bambi and Thumper lol.
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Bambi & Thumper. Now that sounds like a great meal.

Curious as to why you can't buy guns.....would this be more urban property where they can't be used anyway? 

California. That pretty much sums it up.

Easy to understand people not wanting deer in their urban neighborhoods, gardens, or nicely manicured laws.

I consider myself very lucky. We keep bees, cattle, goats, camp, explore, swim, fish, hunt, have huge bonfire parties, play banjos, & do whatever the hell else we feel like doing on well over 1000 very remote mountain acres. Surrounded by zillions more. We noticed less deer than normal this year so we decided to harvest only older bucks on the property this year. There are still plenty of deer around, we just want more. There is plenty of other game. Meet the neighbors ... then it's probably best to turn around & leave. ha



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Stacy Witscher
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Where I am now in California, we don't have a deer problem, it's too urban. You have to go up to the hills. I'm near the bay. And firing a gun around here is a big no-no. Where we are moving in southern Oregon will be rural, and there are lots of deer and other things. I cannot legally buy a gun because of previous mental health issues. I have looked into petitioning the court to remedy this, but it seems quite difficult and costly. So I haven't quite decided what to do.
 
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Marco, I know it was a while ago, but I would never advocate breeding dogs as a source of income. Specific breeds, heritage lineages, those may be exceptions, but I don't think it wise to suggest dogs as income.

I like to think about it like this: in case I raise a crop that doesn't sell, I'd like to select for edibility and storage, such that I can still benefit from it. What happens to puppies that don't sell, Marco?

As to the Bambi thing, yeah, we see it everywhere, and I think it's more of the urban/rural dissonance. If we've removed the predator species keeping prey species in check, we have to become the predator.

Another telltale sign of deer overpopulation, according to the permaculture view, is the spread of brucellosis through deer populations. If there weren't so many that they had to eat where they defecate, I doubt the disease would be able to make such inroads.

As to the sacrificial crop idea, is red clover an abortifacient to deer? If the sweet clover was interspersed with large quantities of red, wouldn't that work to reduce the pregnant doe population?

-CK
 
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We get occasional deer. Maybe 3 that I can remember. We are hoping to get some on our property this year as we have a deer tag.

Rabbits, however....I admit when I see one while driving I do my best to run it over. It's like we have a rabbit sanctuary. The dogs keep everything that would eat them at bay and my permie efforts have given them substantial food and hiding. Dang rabbits drive me nuts!!!
 
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