Winter Deer Habits

Winter is in full force, bringing with it cold weather, snowfall, warm fires, and grazing deer. For many, there is a fascination with seeing deer in a snow-covered field or even your yard, but unfortunately for a gardener it can be a dreaded sight.

Deer Habits

Since a deer’s food source is much scarcer in the winter, deer become less discerning. The woodland crops, such as beechnuts, acorns, and sumac peas (which are in abundance in the fall), become in short supply, hidden beneath snowfall and matted leaves. The loss of adequate wintering habitat due to development and deforestation is a serious threat to the deer population. As a result, the deer turn to your ornamental shrubs, evergreens and grain fields for their food source.

Deer are creatures of habit. Their habits are controlled by their needs: food, shelter, and procreation. If left alone, a deer will follow the same routine every day, shifting their pattern only because of weather conditions or the availability of food. They do not migrate and does are known to stay within the same 4-mile radius for their entire lives. This means the deer you saw last year will most likely be back this year and the year after. Over time, a feeding site will attract more deer, causing many problems to a homeowner’s plantings.

Prevention

Deer' food shortages are most likely to occur in the winter months

Deer’ food shortages are most likely to occur in the winter months.

The list of plants that deer will not eat is extremely short. It is better to come to terms with the fact that when a deer is hungry it will eat anything, including bark off trees. The only sure fire-method of protecting your yard or garden during the winter months from foraging is deer fencing.

If you have a serious deer problem, you will save yourself a lot of anguish by making the investment in a proper deer fence around your yard or garden. Deer can leap very high and at a distance of up to thirty feet, but have poor depth perception that limits their ability to determine where a deer fence ends and the sky begins. An effective fence needs to be at least 7.5 feet tall to make the deer hesitant to jump the fence. Deer may also try to go under or through a deer fence, so be sure the deer fence is securely staked and goes all the way to the ground. Polypropylene deer fencing is virtually invisible from a distance and is more cost effective than conventional metal deer fencing, making it a great option.

With preventative measures, you have a good chance of protecting your treasured shrubs, trees and gardens this winter from foraging deer.

Comments

2 Responses to “Winter Deer Habits”
  1. mercadee says:

    Zinnia; the deer here in Michigan travel in packs and eat everything, so I feel your pain. I sunk 16 foot treated 4x4s 4 feet into the ground with a bit of concrete and put up a 4 foot wire fence around the 50′x50′ enclosure. Then I ran wire every foot to 6 feet through the pre-drilled holes I had done, and every 2 feet to 8 foot high. The deer pushed the fence down and walked under the wire. So I put it up again and topped it with barbed wire. So far so good- its been 5 years. Bluebirds nest in boxes I put on the poles along with wrens and chickadees in other boxes. They all perch on the wires and clean the bugs off my vegetables. If you are not up to such an endeavor, I read that two 4 foot fences 4 feet apart work great- like kristin said, they don’t feel they have enough landing room. The same article suggested keeping chickens in that middle space. Lastly, why not make your fence of raspberries? One of my fence lines has become overgrown with them and while the deer nibble at them some, they have stopped trying to push over the fence at that spot. Good luck this year!

  2. You will save yourself a lot of anguish by making the investment in a proper deer fence around your yard or garden, if you have a serious deer problem. Deer can leap very high and at a distance of up to thirty feet. An effective fence needs to be at least 7.5 feet tall. Deer have poor depth perception limiting their ability to determine where the deer fence ends and the sky begins, making the deer hesitant to jump the fence. Deer may also try to go under or through a deer fence; be sure the deer fence is securely staked and goes all the way to the ground. Polypropylene deer fencing is virtually invisible from a distance and is more cost effective than conventional metal deer fencing, making it a great option.

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