Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Why didn't the hunters kill Bambi too?

I'm thinking about taking up bow hunting.

Why?

Because how else am I going to take care of the millions of deer that live in Virginia and who apparently think my yard is a five star restaurant that caters to their particular taste buds?

Just to refresh your memory, I do not live in the country. I live in the city. Admittedly, a city with a population of only 40,000, but a city nonetheless. There are houses all around mine. Roads. Cars and other moving vehicles. Barking dogs. Yet there are deer in our neighborhood.

And they love my yard. They love, love, love it and all flora within it. Except for the damn hollies the previous owner planted and which I cannot get rid of. But that's another story.

And it's not just my yard -- my neighbors are getting these visitations too. One of my neighbors had a buck come at him in broad daylight in his own front yard.

But some days it feels as though I've been the topic of an ADB (All Deer Bulletin):

"Attention! Attention all deer! Jen has just planted several dozen expensive daylilies in unusual colors. You are encouraged to check out the new flowers and judge them for their flavors."

In an effort to beautify Jenworld, I have over the years planted literally hundreds and hundreds of plants. And it appears that much of what I have planted is the favorite food of Bambi and his relatives. Hostas. Daylilies. Azaleas. Gladioli. It's as if I've set out gourmet chocolates on a tray and said, "Here, help yourselves." And the deer do. I hate 'em, the furry beasts. They're basically oversized rodents.

They also have been known to eat plants that they supposedly don't care for. One year, they ate my tomato plants down to the earth. My peppers too, including the jalapenos. They've even nibbled on my roses.

I once found myself outside, in the rain, cussing furiously, as I set up barricades around an apple tree I had just planted and which had clearly been chewed on by one of those white-tailed fuckers. When I came inside, Pete looked at me curiously and asked if I was okay.

Two weeks ago, I planted a lovely flowering cherry tree. About eight feet tall, which is a respectable height, but the tree is still a sapling. A baby. Definitely still fragile. A couple days ago, I thought the tree looked somehow different, but I shrugged and went back to planting asparagus. Then, I noticed a broken branch. I scratched my head, because I didn't remember any intense winds, and went back to watering my herbs. Yesterday, however, I was faced with reality: The tree was leaning to one side and there were hoof prints in the mulch around it.

I'm going to have to learn how to hunt. I wonder if I can get Graceful and Elegant to eat venison?

I've tried a lot of things over the years to keep the deer away: A motion sensor that blasts water. Wolf urine. Human hair. Wrapping fishing wire around trees because deer supposedly are spooked by filaments and other fine threads.

One of my neighbors actually mixes up a nasty potion that we lovingly call "The Concoction." It contains, among other things, eggs and milk, which go bad pretty quickly. Barbara sprays it around her yard, which then reeks for days afterward, which makes it awfully hard for people to be around.

After much research, I came across something that does seem to repel deer: Irish Spring soap. I buy it by the case at Sam's Club and just toss it (still in the wrapper) around the plants I want to protect. Under my hosta leaves, around the daylilies, tucked into the branches of the azaleas. I have no qualms about going high either, and will very soon be tying soap to the cages surrounding my tomato plants.

But my yard is almost a half acre and I have more than a dozen different flower gardens, some of which are very large. No matter how many soaps I toss out, I inevitably miss the one plant that deer are suddenly attracted to. Plus, it looks rather stupid to have soap all over the yard. Whenever I have people over, some clueless person (usually a man), dutifully picks up the soaps and brings them to me, as if it were some sort of bizarre accident that I have soap everywhere.

In the movie "Caddyshack" Bill Murray plays a character known as Carl, who is the groundskeeper for a golf course. The entire bane of his existence is a gopher that digs tunnels everywhere and mucks up the turf. As the movie progresses, Carl becomes increasingly deranged as his attempts to catch the furry animal fail. There's one really great scene in which he's making explosives that look just like little bunnies and squirrels and he's muttering crazily to himself the entire time. By the end of the movie, he's blown up the entire golf course -- and the gopher is still alive.

I'm definitely going to get a bow and arrow. I can use the girls' treehouse as my hunting blind.

Call me Carl.

1 comment:

Happy Working Mom said...

Wow, what a pain! We live in a city too and have deer. I haven't planted my garden yet, but I have a feeling I'll be dealing with the exact same thing!