Backyard Deer Deterrents: the dirt on keeping deer out of your garden without breaking the bank.

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deer hunting

Homemade deer deterrentLast November, I killed my first deer.  It was one of the high points of the year, despite the fact that during the same twelve month period I got married and learned to take vacations.  Now that hunting season has come around again, I'm ashamed to say that the delicious taste of venison is not enough to tempt me to take up arms.  Why not?  Because, for the first autumn ever, our garden is 100% deer free.

A month ago, I saw the signs of an incursion on my daily patrol.  One of the three beets I managed to germinate during the late summer heat had been kicked out of the soil, its tops eaten off, and I followed the deer tracks to a bed of swiss chard that had been similarly defoliated.  The deer damage occurred right where I knew it would --- where one of last year's old-version deer deterrents had failed and was replaced by a deterrent with more of a bell-like chime than a metallic bang.  "Please make that one louder," I begged Mark, and he added in a metal bowl for the golf ball to strike.  I fired a few shots into the woods above where I heard a rustling, and the garden has been safe ever since.

Mustard greens

As a result, we're eating nearly completely from the garden still, despite it being two weeks 'til Thanksgiving.  The deer-free mustard greens are huge and sweet and there are so many that I barely seem to make a dent with my daily picking.  The Black-seeded Simpson and Bibb Lettuce make for daily salads, and our broccoli is sending out enough side shoots (after we picked the 10 inch wide main heads) that we eat broccoli once a week as well.  I took a look at the high prices of broccoli in the grocery store the other day and figure that our deer deterrents have probably saved us a couple of hundred dollars in product costs for the fall garden alone.  Victory sure tastes sweet!

Posted at lunch time on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 Tags: deer hunting
backyard deer hunting

Everybody knows that the best and most effective backyard deer deterrent is a well placed bullet.

I know there's still a thing or two I could learn on how to convert a backyard deer into dinner, which has promted me to put WM. Hovey Smith's new book on the list of books I want to read.

You might have noticed from my last post our local library only had a juvenile book on the subject, and although it covered some interesting subjects in regards to deer behavior, it said nothing about how to shoot and dress out a deer. This strikes me as odd because deer hunting almost seems like a religion around here. Perhaps when I hunt down a copy of Backyard Deer Hunting I'll donate it to the library after Anna and I devour it.

Posted late Wednesday afternoon, August 11th, 2010 Tags: deer hunting

Even though our deer deterrents work like a charm, this fall I decided I wanted to learn to hunt.  I figured that if I cut down on the population a bit, the deer wouldn't press quite so hard up against our boundaries.  Plus, I liked the thought of low cost, free range meat.

On the night before hunting season began, I turned off the deer deterrents, then woke at 5:51, dreaming of deer hunting.  At dawn, I opened the door --- and two deer fled up the hillside out of the yard.  Was that my one chance, gone?

Lucy, our Chesapeake Bay RetrieverStill, it was the perfect dusky morning, just the time when deer like to travel.  I leashed Lucy, made sure the safety was on the gun, and headed off for our morning walk.  In the powerline cut, I startled another set of deer, but these two only ran a few feet and stopped.  I crept forward and the deer watched me but stayed put.  My second chance!

I silently ordered Lucy to sit, then crouched down myself and took the safety off the gun.  Lucy is a good dog, but she's not used to hunting --- she tried to crawl into my lap with the gun, and the ensuing scuffle sent the deer running again.  But again they stopped and waited.  Again I crept forward.  This time, Lucy sat, I crouched, the deer watched. 

I'd been practicing to hit the heart, just behind the front leg.  But the deer in my sights was only visible from the neck up.  I could try for a head shot and risk missing entirely,  or guess where its heart might be and fire blindly into the weeds.  I chose the latter, checked one last time to make sure my aim was accurate, then pulled the trigger.

I can't even remember the gun going off.  Suddenly, the second deer was fleeing in huge bounds, her white tail a brilliant flag against the brown woods.  The deer I'd shot at was invisible.  Did I hit it?  Wound it?  Kill it?

I beat a path through the brambles to the spot where the deer had stood.  Nothing.  But I faintly smelled a hint of gunpowder and blood so I let Lucy off the leash, hoping she'd track
down the wounded deer.  She set off like a shot and I raced behind her until she crossed the creek to the neighbor's hay field.  Was my deer really gone?

Dead white-tailed deer

I circled back around toward home and nearly stumbled upon my deer.  It had fled about twenty feet, then died just outside the powerline cut.  Upon further inspection, I saw that my shot had been about five inches off, hitting the lungs instead of the heart --- still a pretty good hit.

Carrying the deer home.I have to admit that at this point, my adrenaline was pumping so hard that I couldn't think what to do next.  So I made sure the safety was on the gun and ran home to my husband, waking him out of a sound sleep to come help me gut the deer, tie it to a board, and carry it home.

My very first deer!  I guess I shouldn't have felt so special since the newspaper is always full of photos of six year olds and their first kill at that time of year.  But I was oddly exhilarated, floating on air.  A deerslayer wannabe no longer, Mark has taken to calling me "Killer."

Posted at lunch time on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 Tags: deer hunting

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