Flora and Fauna 2: Close the Gate! (or, The Barriers are Psychological)

In southern Vancouver Island, the biggest garden threat–by a lot–is the deer.  Adorable, especially at this time of year, when the spotted fawns are at their most Bambi-like, they can destroy whole gardens in a single night.  When we were house hunting last summer, we used to drive through suburban neighbourhoods in the evenings and marvel at the deer munching the window box flowers right next to the front doors!

The ONLY reliable protection is deer fencing, which is usually 6-8 feet high and sturdy.  In many places, you’ll see “deer-resistant” gardens (lots of rhodos, heather, and daffodils) around homes, with small, caged areas for vegetable growing.

One of the big selling points of our home for us was that the whole backyard is deer-fenced along the perimeter–probably about a third of an acre.  Suddenly, we’re freed from small caged boxes, and the whole yard is a spectacular, edenic, lush piece of paradise safe from munching fawns and sharp hoofs.

So imagine our surprise one evening, to look out into our backyard feast and see someone else enjoying the bounty:


Yup.  The deer fencing doesn’t work if you leave the gate open.

I stepped out onto the back deck, and the Skipper made his way around to the back, and we both hoped to gently convince the deer to make his/her way back through the gate.  The last thing we wanted was panic, because a frighted deer in the garden is really like a bull in a china shop.  He/she did take a few steps in the right direction, but then, instead of moving peacefully out the gate, he/she doubled back down the fence line and side path toward the back of the yard.  Except that then he/she noticed the Skipper standing at the end of the path.

The next thing I knew, there was a loud bang, and I could see the young deer on the other side of the fence, racing into the yard next door!  I yelped, open-mouthed, expecting to see the fence ripped to pieces, the plants trampled, and deer bits everywhere.  Or maybe adrenaline had enabled it to leap over the fence?

Skipper walked toward me dragging his jaw over the wood chip path.  “The deer went THROUGH the fence!”  “What do you mean?  Is the fence torn through?” I asked.

“No, the deer went THROUGH the fence!”

The deer, in a panicked split second, had jumped completely through a 6″ x 10″ space in the deer fencing.  There was nothing left but a tuft of hair stuck to the wire, wafting in the breeze.

So far we haven’t been invaded by hungry fawns–we’re hoping there’s enough tasty grass surrounding our property that they won’t think the effort is worth it.  And we’re hoping that the word won’t get out among the deer community that our deer fence is only a psychological barrier!


2 thoughts on “Flora and Fauna 2: Close the Gate! (or, The Barriers are Psychological)

  1. And now they know where the good stuff is. They’ll tell all their friends… Yup, deer are cute and furry until you see them eat hundreds of hours of your work in one fell swoop. People around here talk about getting out their paintball guns…

    1. I keep having visions from the episode of the The Simpsons where Lisa frees the dolphin from the aquarium and it turns out to be the king of the dolphins and he leads a land-based revolt against the humans… 🙂

      Here the paintball gun discussion has been focused on the squirrels….

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