I love animals. I love deer. I am not a hunter. I do not eat venison. When I see deer on the side of the highway, I slow to a crawl and let them cross without damage from me or my vehicle.
When mother deer honor me with a visit showing off their fawn or sometimes twin fawns, I admire their offspring and often speak to them softly.
When I see them eating my plants and flowers, I tell them gently and politely that they shouldn’t do that.
They are very beautiful and I love seeing them.
I never yell at them or chase them.
Since I am such a good friend to them, I cannot understand the way they treat me.
When I tell them it is not nice to eat my plants, I always use a pleasant tone. They pay very little attention to my gentle courteous words. They look at me when I speak to them and then go right back to munching on my favorite herb or flower.
Thinking maybe they have impaired hearing, I raise my volume a little. This causes them to lift their beautiful necks and look at me through their beautiful eyes as if to say, “I’m not deaf, you know. I think you need to learn to share.”
I think about this. So far I’ve shared a rose bush, a pot of petunias, three begonias, two hydrangea bushes, two hibiscus plants (one red, one pink), plus all my herbs and vegetables.
I think there is a limit to sharing, but apparently, I haven’t reached it yet.
I had placed a big pumpkin in my yard to welcome fall.
I was sure deer could not eat a pumpkin.
I was wrong.
I looked out my window one day and there was a deer kicking that pumpkin with his hooves until he had a big hole in it.
Then he commenced dining on its contents. I don’t call that peaceful sharing. I call it pillaging and looting.
At this point, I decided that reasoning with these guys just wasn’t going to be effective. I had to take more drastic measures.
I declared war on them but of course, I only resorted to humane deterrents. After all, I am not a violent person.
Therefore, I tied dryer sheets to many trees around my house. It was amusing to see them walk through these flapping fragrant sheets, looking annoyed but never slowing down the invasion of my domain.
Next, I tied human hair in pantyhose and hung it up. The results were the same. They did not stop the deer.
My yard and garden now looked like a wasteland. Everything was chopped off. Some plants had no leaves at all and others had a few here and there.
The dryer sheets and pantyhose dangling from the trees also did nothing to improve the appearance of my property.
I had to get a new plan. I went to a garden shop and asked for advice. They sold me some powder with instructions to spread it around my plants and the deer would not go near them.
I strewed it around enthusiastically. My tattered yard now looked like we’d had a big snowfall.
I was hopeful that by the use of this scientific product, I had now resolved the problem.
The result of this endeavor was the deer walked through the dew in the morning to have their breakfast at my place and the powder stuck to their hooves leaving white tracks all over my deck.
For days I was trying to clean those white hoof-prints off.
I gave up on this plan, but I didn’t give up.
I sent away for a gadget with batteries and a spike on the bottom which was guaranteed to deter deer.
I placed it in the center of a day lily bed.
For two days there was no harm to those lilies, but on day three, the lilies were gone and my gadget was lying on its side with its batteries beside it.
Those dear deer were fighting back.
I was losing heart in the fight but I didn’t want to give in.
I tried everyone’s home-remedies. I put up a scarecrow. They were less afraid of it than they were of me (and they were never afraid of me), which doesn’t say much about my appearance. Nothing worked. The deer spread the word to their friends and families. They went on a recruiting spree. Where I had been dealing with one or two deer at a time, I now had seven or eight.
As their army was growing, mine remained constant at just one soldier – me.
Morale was low on my side. I tried to recruit Beebe, the cat. Beebe is slightly obese, but he took one look at the size of the opponents and went AWOL immediately.
So much for building my army.
Looking around, it was easy to see that I was losing badly. My place looked like a picked-over cotton field.
The opposing force badly outnumbered my army of one. It was time to begin peace negotiations.
The dear deer were tough negotiators. I ended up giving them the run of the place, but I held the line on promising to plant their favorite delicacies.
We now have a truce and live in relative harmony. They do whatever they want to and I complain a lot. They are still beautiful and I still love seeing them, but beneath that serene exterior, they harbor wills of steel.
Don’t mess with the dear deer.