Mutant deer from outer space: Note the way they can warp time and space at will, all while devouring my lawn. I’d shoo them away but their mind meld has left me incapacitated.
Deer are behaving differently this year: smarter, choosier and more willing to risk life and hoof for forbidden shoots and flavorful leaves — namely anything I’ve planted that is cherished and/or fruit bearing. While not officially confirmed (I smell a cover-up), I believe the deer on Vashon to be a mutant strain of antlered space aliens sent here to observe our ways and test our mettle.
First encounter: Two weeks ago, my neighbor Tim called to say he saw a deer in my fenced orchard. I could barely find time to say thank you and goodbye before hanging up the phone and charging out the door to the orchard. After fumbling with the gate, I was in, and low and behold a doe, a deer, a female deer was staring right back at me, undaunted. Then, she took about ten quick steps and hopped over my eight-foot fence with the ease of stepping over a shoestring. On the other side, she stopped to grab a couple bites of tender blackberry shoots for good measure and meandered just to make a point. I later discovered the doe had gained access by wedging her way between the gate and fence, stretching a bungee cord to its tearing point. Yep, this deer wasn’t from around these parts.
An alien’s favorite foliage and fruit, the fig (a.k.a ficus edibulis denude-us).
No Sweet cherries this year
Second encounter: Fence repaired and days later, I sensed something was amiss again when I opened the gate to the orchard. I turned slowly to witness the horror and devastation, and begin whimpering like a kid on roller skates with skinned knees and bruised ego. My row of young cherry trees looked like poodle-cut topiary, the branches munched bare with a few tufts of leaves on top. The doe, still in the orchard, bounded out of the woods at full speed with Boz and Gracie in hot pursuit. Since fence jumping seemed passe (done on her last visit), she opted to blast through my deer fence like it was wet tissue paper.
After scouring the perimeter, I discovered a towering cottonwood tree had dropped a large branch and brought down a section of fence in the woods. Was it merely gravity at work or…did the mutant deer used some kind of laser to bring it down. After whining to a couple friends who would understand my angst, I fixed the fence, and cursed the antlered aliens (much like Charlton Heston did in Planet of the Apes, shaking his fist to the sky and damning those bossy primates, that is the apes, not us.)
2011, a non-vintage year
Third encounter: Several days later I discovered new damage as deer had stripped most of the leaves from my 15 grape vines–all of which were nicely trellised, a veritable vertical smorgasbord of budded delights. Rose tips rounded out their late night gorging, with a few plums trees serving as digestifs. Again, the deer had determined the new weakest link in my fence and wedged through a fence section I had spliced, securely I thought. I can just see them now in their night vision goggles casing the perimeter, looking for flaws in my wall of defense. I went back to the house to stew, steam and pout, and possibly burn a Bambi DVD and shop online for venison.)
One week later, my spirits revisiting a kinder, gentler state of being, I noticed my apple trees (above) looked strange. Not again! Not again! Not again! The fourth time was not a charm. I was ready to move back to a cramped condo in the city and raise tomatoes in pots on my deck.
Mutant deer are wily alright. Yep, the hungry herbivores fell back on an old trick and activated their stratospheric wind machine, which brought down a very large Madrona branch. Of course it fell perfectly perpendicular to the fence, flattening it in seconds.
T-posts, zip ties and a plastic fence are no match for a falling half ton log (and the skills of mutant alien deer).
While I don’t have any photographs of the mutant deer in their alien form, I did make a sketch of one when caught one off guard. Beware of laser tipped antler points and spiraling hypnotic eyes. Stare too long, and they can telepathically will you to open the gates to your most succulent gardens and orchards. (Not to worry, the National Security Agency has been alerted.)
Gracie and Boz have assured me that they are on it. Here, feigning sleep, ready to launch their surprise attack on mutant deer from outer space!
Last year we had a young buck who nightly jumped our deer fence, and greeted me each morning under a favorite tree. Threats of son in law with bow and arrow had no effect. Deer repellant works if you don’t mind your property smelling like the bad end of a cow barn, eww. Finally stopped the problem by hanging bars of Irish Spring soap from the fencing. It worked (tho it makes one wonder what it’s contents do to humans). Had a doe with very young twins in the “welcome to deer” area of the yard last evening. Just too cute. Sandi on AI
I’m scared to click on your ad linkfor Quantum Jump. Where will I end up? Deer are pains. I once spent an entire afternoon digging through rocky soil to plant hundreds of bulbs, only to never see a single flower because the first buds were eaten in a 20-minute window of time. I had few weeks of glorious, green stems.
Very funny tale. Beings that I live in congested So Cal I never realized what pests deer can be. Maybe you should try putting some bells on your fences. Something to make a little noise to alert your guard dogs to a predator!! Keep up the fight and thanks for making me smile.
Your 2 guard boys really look interested!
Oh Tom, I so feel your angst!! Mercy! I think those puppies might need to pay heed, and get protecting them thar gardens! No sour cherries? ? Help me! The apple trees?? I could cry! But sadly, I love the deer too! An eight foot fence? Seriously? Are those deer on growth hormones or what? I want some sour cherry jam…damn those beloved deers! My heart is torn…although…I really really, want sour cherry jam. 🙂
I’d laugh heartily at your alien deer story if I didn’t feel so badly for you, Tom. Deer can be so destructive in their quest for yummy food. All kinds of methods are employed around our area (even electric fences), but all fail from time to time from the relentlessness of the “alien” deer. We live in the woods and have few flowers and plants due to lack of sun, but that seems to work for us given the many deer we also have. But you have sunshine and a beautiful yard and orchard. Hope the dynamic duo decides to help you out a bit more until you can figure out the best response!
UGH…I wanted to let you know your drawing clearly shows an alien deer flipping you off…that’s how it looks! Flip ’em back, it doesn’t discourage their moves, but you will feel better. I know it works in NYC traffic! Love you!
Oh I must have that type too- they are eating all the plants ranked as deer safe in my yard…maybe the moniker meant only native deer!
I feel for you & the mutant alien deer. They have also suddenly appeared here on the west coast – most likely due to the disappearance of the mutant alien dog packs that used to wander around the neighbourhoods.
It is now a common sight to see people shaking their fists in the air, uttering random curses & throwing rocks at the deer, who have force shields around them as none of the rocks ever meet their target.
The garden scene has also changed to include many small caged areas as installing 10 foot fences just seems a bit ridiculous. We live out here to NOT be fenced in. I dream of venison almost every night…
Tom–sounds like it’s time for Gracie and Boz to start sleeping in the orchard! Otherwise it might be time to start freezing venison to go with your summer harvest!
Oh Tom, I feel your pain, you know I do. It was like rewinding to our own deer woes last spring. I was absolutely convinced that every time I rigged some new piece of fence, added more stakes, tension lines, zip ties etc., that their ring-leader was lurking on the hill behind a tree taking notes, and formulating a new plan to breach the defenses…if only to make the point that they were smarter than me, and resistance was futile.
They sampled everything in our orchard too. The hardest his was the Frost peach that was stripped bare on its lower branches, and this spring those branches died completely. It’s clear these arch villains of the orchard must have hydrochloric acid in their spit! I think this spring the deer changed tactics, and now have recruited their vole minions to do their dirty work. The voles stripped all but 1 cm of the bark below the soil line, and Frost is now suffering a slow and painful death.
Clearly gardening without laser cannons and force fields is asking for trouble in the presence of these beasts. I hope Boz and Gracie are suitably equipped to face them, and I do really hope your trees recover from all the browsing, and yield twice the crop next year.
You are living a Greek tragedy here; I can relate to your anguish; I could not bear to lose my cherry trees and all the others; what to do?There must be a solution! Damn, life is so hard.
Dang deer. I use Costco-sized kitchen table pepper all over my delectables to deter raccoons. My friend sprays a water/hot-hot sauce confection on her roses to keep the deers away in Eugene. I think they don’t like spicy.
Sorry to hear about this, but I LOVED the sketch you did.
Two years ago we moved from Vancouver to Bowen Island BC and installed a glorious garden – all fenced in of course. So far the varmints have not penetrated the fence but your tale is a cautionary one and I will be having the fence checked very very soon – those 20 baby fruit trees would not stand a chance. My heart bleeds – your equanimity is amazing – ! I love your posts and check frequently to see what is going on in your world…
&^^%$# bambis! I hate ’em. I so feel your pain, and feel amazement that you can be so …… blithe about the damage they are doing to your garden. Years ago I attempted to convince my bow hunting nextdoor neighbor to come over some dark night and shoot the deer in my yard. I thought it was a clever plan, since the killing would be both swift and silent, but he just laughed. I guess he thought I was kidding. I froth at the mouth at the sight of a deer in my garden, and so far have mostly caught them in the act. They do run away when I burst out the front door, yelling & banging pot lids together. I’m sure the neighbors think I am batty. Especially the one — forever curse her — up the street the FEEDS the f-ers. Oops. Calm down, KathyG. I hope you figure something out, Tom. Seriously, they will never stop, and their incursions will only get worse and more damaging. Does anyone locally offer rent-a-cougar?
Rolling around laughing so much at this terrible tragedy Tom, when I get over the visual of those mutant deer in night vision goggles I’ll alert the authorities for you. (On a serious note, so glad you’ve got Gracie & Boz – they’re just biding their time I can clearly see before they pounce – you can rest easy knowing those 2 are on duty).
Wishing you a deerless week my friend 🙂
Thanks my friends for your support, I am feeling the dear love (don’t mistake it for the ‘deer’ love). I will persevere or else buy some camouflage make a trip to Cabelas.
I’m a few miles south of you, but I do understand. We built a 6′ chain length fence around the raised beds garden. Thankfully, it’s down in the meadow and out of our sight…and evidently keeping said wily deer out. Let’s hope that’s the case when the crops are totally ready to harvest!
Tom, I too feel your pain. I too have waged war , or had war waged onto, sometimes I lost track. After pulling my hair out again, loosing it a little each time, I told an old native friend about my last encounter. He said give them what they want.
Just a few feet outside my fence I tilled a 6ft wide x 40ft long spot and planted it with beans, cheap grow anywhere baens. Haven’t had a deer in my garden since. Ever had bean fed venison?
Dianne, I wish you the best with that 6 foot fence. Get out that rolling pin and walk the perimeter, they also need to know you mean business.
Bill I love that story, and the ending, so heartwarming, especially with some Chanterelle risotto. 😉
Oh how I feel your pain! The deer have been so destructive this year! They ate all the leaves – every single one! – off my 30 winter squashes and ate my zukes to the ground. No butternuts for us this year! I wish I had a rifle! We’re springing for electric fencing soon, though the tallest I can find is 68″.
[…] can-do lady of infinite skill, capability and charm. So while I sat around whining about my recent Attack of Mutant Deer from Outer Space, my Mom put on her thinking cap and took on the challenge of finding a way to keep deer out of my […]
Fun post dealing with a most discouraging situation. We are blessed with never having a deer visit in the 40 years I’ve been gardening here… on the other hand, we are a rabbit, raccoon, skunk, and possum magnet… not sure if they are aliens or not! Larry
We have deer near us occasionally, we live in the downtown area of a rural town. They will eat any and every thing!
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