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One man’s experience with destructive deer

Ted has a recipe to help discourage them from damaging trees and shrubs

As I write this, September’s been a really wet one so far here in my part of Manitoba and elsewhere too, according to news reports. Seems moisture began falling not many days after I wrote about “The Rain Dance” in a local publication. Now a few folks have said — maybe it’s time to write about “stop the rain dance.”

However, I’m staying focused as follows. Do you recall “Home on the Range”? How well I remember these words to that song. “O give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the DEER and the antelope play, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.” You’ll note I’ve emphasized the word “deer.” That’s because today’s Grainews column focuses on one man’s experience with yes — deer — and he supplied pictures too, some of which appear on this page.

There’s something about reading the printed word on paper that’ll never fade out completely. Countless people have told me the same thing. So readers and advertisers — support your local newspaper if you’re lucky enough to have one — and to folks here with me — keep your subscription up to date with great publications such as Grainews. Now let’s get started with a welcome tip of my Tilley hat.

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2018
To: Ted Meseyton
Subject: Deer repellent

Yes, name is John Rempel, 74, located east of Carberry Man., RM of North Cypress-Langford. I read your column in Grainews, given to me by a neighbour, and enjoy it very much. We moved to this quarter section in 1999, and have been planting trees since early 2000s; mostly for windbreaks. We planted various species (caragana, lilac, roses, willow, sea buckthorn, hawthorn, tamarack, spruce) as well as pines, mostly from PFRA and Whitemud Watershed. Altogether, about 4,000, of which we lost one-quarter to deer, beaver, and drought. The deer nibble at everything, besides decimating the pines, except for five walnut trees we transplanted from our home in Winnipeg. We have caged with stucco wire what we don’t want the deer to get at around the yard, and have been spraying the pines in the fall. We are still transplanting maples and spruce as we find them. Our garden and orchard is fenced eight feet high, which keeps the deer out, but the moles, gophers and mice do well there.

Our pine trees, all planted since 2003, are somewhere around 15 feet high. They were planted 12 feet apart, some died, probably about 1,200 left. They are planted in the open, surrounded by native grass and weeds. We mow around them to keep the weeds down.

This single pine tree with bared branches shows severe damage that deer can inflict while foraging.
photo: Courtesy John Rempel

The deer eat whatever they can reach in the winter when they are short of food source; usually the middle, as they can’t reach the tops and the bottoms are covered in snow. Also have problems with bucks, when they are knocking off velvet in September, and during the rut in October; basically they break them down to the ground. We have had up to 250 deer at a time in some years.

Wondering if u have a recipe for homemade deer repellent. Need to make about 30 litres to save our pine trees. Have been buying a commercial product from the U.S., but it is expensive and they are making it weaker. The smell stays with my nose for a couple of days after I’ve sprayed it. Would be appreciative if u have any idea of what proportions of ingredients would be needed.

— Thank you, John

Homemade deer deterrent

Ted says: You should expect an unpleasant and strong odour that clings from this formula. Local results may vary, so be prepared to even do some possible tweaking or experimenting with batches. By that, I mean, after your first trial you may want to add a touch of some garlic oil and/or hot cayenne pepper sauce.

Here we go! Mix two teaspoons of liquid beef bouillon and two well-beaten eggs together and then funnel it into four litres of water using empty milk jugs. Leave the mixture outside, in a sunny out-of-the-way spot for several days. During cooler weather you may wish to add a little extra liquid beef bouillon. It will really begin to stink. Once it smells terrible, pour the concoction with a few drops of liquid soap into a watering can or sprayer and apply over evergreens, shrubs and ornamentals subject to deer attack. You’ll need to respray after rainfall, so it may be worthwhile having an extra ready-made batch on hand. There’s a bonus too. This formula seems to ward off grasshoppers and rabbits. Do you, the reader, have any suggestions, ideas, methods or recipes to add in this connection? If so, consider sharing and send them along to [email protected].

An eight-foot-high fence prevents deer from feasting in John Rempel’s flower and vegetable garden.
photo: Courtesy John Rempel

Something else that you may want to try is seeding a blend of 17 wildflowers that grow into deer-resistant plants. Keep in mind when food is scarce, deer will nibble on almost anything, if really hungry. This excellent Deer Resistant blend is available in seed packets from West Coast Seeds, 5300 34B Avenue, Delta, B.C. V4L 2P1. You can also welcome and attract butterflies and beneficial pollinating insects into your garden with a seed packet of Butterfly Blend wildflowers from WCS. Do you want to establish an authentic Canadian spectrum of wild and natural plants in a garden, field, or both? Prairie gardeners won’t go wrong with a packet or two of Southern Prairies seed blend. This true North American blend creates a carpet of colour ranging from bright yellow to intense fiery reds and dramatic blue and thrives in our landscapes where “winters are cold, really cold and summers are hot, hot, hot.” (Lyrics borrowed from my “Canadian Weather Song.”) For lots more, visit the wildflowers section by requesting the new WCS 2019 print seed catalogue by email to [email protected] or phone toll free 1-888-804-8820.

Thankfulness

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
For song of birds and buzz of bees,
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the towering trees,
For clear flowing streams and blue of sky,
For pleasant shade from branches high,
For mother’s love and all dads do,
For brothers strong and sisters too,
For love at home shared every day,
For guidance lest we go astray,
For rest and shelter during night,
For each new morning with its light,
For health and food, amazing friends,
For everything Your goodness sends,
Father in heaven we thank Thee!

About the author

Columnist

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I salute all gardeners and farmers who help make our world a little safer and more ecologically balanced, and who toil to provide health-giving produce to others who cannot produce their own. It takes all sorts to make a world. One half of the world doesn’t know how the other half lives. The best physicians are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet and Dr. Merryman.

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