Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dang it, Bambi!

I'd been testing out some deer spray recently in my front beds.  I was optimistic it would work just as well as the glowing testimonials on its website indicated.  I did note in reading that most of them were filed from the upper East Coast states.  No matter, New Jersey or Texas, whitetailed deer are whitetailed deer, right?


As of last Thursday I'd only had a chance to put out one first coating of stench.  It's how this particular spray works reportedly, coating the plants and leaving the area around them redolent of Eau de Run Away!

It worked on me.  As soon as I got the spray everywhere I thought it should go I knew I wanted to get away.  Far away.  If a deer nose is any more sensitive than mine, the deal would seem to have been sealed.

The back of the bottle promised the smell would fade to fall under human nasal reactivity levels but remain strong enough to repel the deer.  The instructions advised spraying should be repeated every week for a month, after which the protective effects ought to last out the season, rain or shine.

Just as promised, the morning after the afternoon I'd sprayed the residual smell was barely there, and by the end of a full day in the sun, I didn't notice any smell at all.

Cue our recent torrential rains.

I'd wanted to give the spray a fair trial which meant I needed to get out and re-coat all the areas I was interested in protecting.  I knew this would be especially crucial after getting between 4 and 5 inches of rain in the last round of storms.  Ideally I should have gotten that second coating of spray down yesterday (which was Friday) but life intervened.

"Saturday!"  I thought to myself.  "Tomorrow morning early I will get out and spray the beds.".

Fast forward to this morning as I was lying in bed idly trying to decide if it would be better to have my morning coffee  or go out and spray first before enjoying my coffee at leisure.

But it was Saturday morning, officially the start of a new weekend, and there was just no contest.  Coffee first won hands down.  As the drip coffee maker was chorgling out it's "I'm wrapping it up guys, get your mugs ready" noise, I glanced out through the glass insert in our front door at the areas designated for my aprés-coffee Spray Session the Second.

And that's when I saw her.
So gardener lady, these are the areas you want to protect?  Right about here?  Here where I'm lying down right now?  
A large doe, situated not 18 inches away from the Jewels of Opar plant babies I was getting ready to spray, lying down actually slightly pressing up against one of two small pointy agaves I'd recently transplanted there in hopes of preventing exactly that.  She was calmly chewing her cud, looking like she'd been comfortably situated there for quite some time.

I opened the garage door, grabbed a broom and then whacked it on the driveway hard, making what I hoped was a noise close enough to the alarm the deer send each other by stomping when they spot anything that might present any danger.

It was only after the doe got up and ambled off that I noted this guy, who had also been bedded down, just a few feet away in the ground cover on the far side of my daughter's parked car.

He had been shadowing his lady, (or his lady-to-be?).  Far from being alarmed by my presence, he stepped carefully over to where the doe had been bedded down, and thoroughly checked out the scent she'd left behind, before moving down our drive.
I honestly believe this had nothing to do with the potential efficacy of the deer spray.  The instructions clearly stated it would take more than one application to establish a base coating even under dry weather conditions, and we've surely had the opposite of that recently.

The sad truth is, these beds have been hosting this doe (or others in her herd), and on occasion her babies,

OK they are cute, but they are cute eating machines.
and now apparently, her boyfriend wanna-be.  That grazing and associated bedding down out front has been going on for years.  I'm guessing it might take more than an intermittently applied bad smell to overcome that sort of natural history especially just now, in rutting season.

Actually?  According to the map (and yes of course there is one - you mean you don't follow the Rut Report?) our area is currently about half-way through the "pre-rut", and moving towards the "seeking and chasing" stage.  Which is pretty well supported by what I observed this morning.

Hope springs, however.  As soon as I got this post up I went back out with my spray bottle to apply another coat of Deer No More (not the real name) on the area.  So far there is no reason to think the spray doesn't work just as promised when it is used as directed.  Time will tell (and so will I).  Stay tuned....

UPDATE:  I did in fact get out and spray all the plants and the generalized area I wanted protected from deer browse.  For the record, not a single plant suffered further nibbling damage.  Yes, the deer were sticking around, but more importantly, while here they did not seem inclined to treat our landscape as an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

I put another coating on the plants I'd like to keep off limits, and though it is supposed to rain again next week, I'm going to continue using the spray at the recommended intervals and see if we achieve ongoing deterrence.  Frankly, Bambi and his lady friends are welcome to chill out here occasionally as long as they leave the leaves (and flowers and branches) alone!


Tina said...

They are cute. I can say that, living in a part of Austin that doesn't have any of those darlings. Before you curse me though, I'm about to spend many digits of dollars repairing the damage to my roof that four juvenile raccoons (they're cute too)recently inflicted. They decided that between the roof and the solar array was a dandy place to bed down during the day. I won't mention in this comment what I call them now, but formally, I always called raccoons 'garbage eating varmint,'. Hope your spray works!!

TexasDeb said...

Tina, I am sad to say we get raccoons here too. We are an equal opportunity varmint magnet I suppose.

I can't imagine how noisy that must have been to have an entire litter of raccoons up above. We have squirrels using one section of our guttering as a predator proof runway (they somehow keep getting up under the screening that is supposed to keep leaves out) and it sounds like tiny buffalo up there.

I can only imagine what you call them (I know what I'd be calling them and I'm just polite enough not to write it out here). Thanks as always for dropping by!