They look like Bambi. Those adorable, innocent eyes. The quickened quiver of their noses. The pointed poise of their ears. Their perky alertness as if they hear a high-level pitch that just doesn't make its way to human ears. Dear deers ... they are DESTROYING MY GARDEN!
The seasonal cycle begins when the threat of frost has waned. I go to the local nursery and get beautiful heirloom pansies. Angelic little faces of yellow petals rimmed with violet... or crisp white... or raspberry pink. The diversity is enthralling. I plant them with enthusiasm and excitement for the dawn of a new springtime. I am happy! I am loving nature! I can hardly wait to see what I planted the next morning, as I know the vision will start my day on the sweetest note.
I open the front door to a beautiful spring morning and... The Pansies. Are. Gone. Nibbled and eaten away. The only things left are green twigs sticking straight in the air. Their multi-petalled embellishment is g-o-n-e. My newly planted garden looks like hell boiled over. The new enthusiasm for the growing season has been galloomphed in one fell mouthful. Thank you, deer.
So how does one get rid of the critters? And don't tell me to put up an 8-foot fence. As much as deer get under my skin, I can't stand the thought of altering the migration patterns of our wildlife. When I mentioned this to a friend, he encouraged me to build the fence but "open the bottom so that the squirrels, chipmunks and snakes can still migrate."
Worth a try... and I get to keep my favorite "Save Our Migration Patterns" T-shirt.
I fielded the deer pestilence question to some astute friends and fellow nature lovers. "So what's your deer deterrent of choice this year?"
Responses were varied, if not snarky. In fact, you could tell from the comments which of my friends were urban dwellers and which were rural dwellers, e.g., "I love deer, what are you crazy?" (Obviously, this is from my friend on East 68th Street in Manhattan.)
"Deer are the very bane of my existence." (Guess where this friend lives? Down the road from me.)
"Coyote urine," wrote another friend. "My husband Jamie swears by it."
And to that I say, "If he stands by it, so do I."
"We have always had dogs, and NEVER any deer problems," wrote another "friend." "Our beautiful gardens stay beautiful!"
First of all, don't even tell me about your beautiful gardens. Second of all, your dogs haven't seen anything until they've seen the totally unfazed, bark-unfettered deer in my back yard. My beloved corgi, Willis, once went running up to a deer and barked incessantly. The deer blankly looked down, dismissed Willis, and kept munching away. Deer can be very nervy in my neck of the woods.
"I just bought fox urine," revealed another friend boldly. "I can't believe I just admitted that. Anyway, it's organic."
A fisherman friend wrote, "Try a 30/06."
I thought that was some sort of nitrogen-phosphate fertilizer that can be picked up at garden centers. When I Googled the digits, I learned that a 30/06 is a rifle.
In an independent research, I learned that tying bars of Irish Spring on short posts does the trick. (Do it now before the deer set in place their new trails, which they do every spring.) The soap looks dorky hanging in my garden (and stirred an expression that bordered on both bemused and frightened from the mailman) but the strong odor is, indeed, keeping away the deer. And when it rains... well then you're in for a treat: your whole neighborhood will smell like it just took a shower.
The smartest thing is simply not to plant varieties that attract deer. In the meantime, like a fool, I will continue putting out the pansy buffet every spring. I simply can't help myself. What's the phrase? "Beauty doesn't last forever." This is especially true for my poor pansies.
In the night, I can almost hear their murmur, "No deer. Not tonight."