When the Deer Move Into my Alberta Yard

We spent part of our winter in the sunny south. We returned to our Alberta home yesterday and were met with the carnage that happens when white-tailed deer move into a yard. Alberta

I beg your pardon, But I am eating up your garden.
– The White-tailed Deer –

Trampled flower beds, uprooted bulbs, deer scat

They had eaten all the tulip and grape hyacinth shoots, the top two feet of the raspberry canes, most of a honeysuckle bush and a cedar shrub. There may have been other plants that were up, but they became deer fodder too. The deer dug up and ate many of the bulbs and shortened the willow hedge by a foot or so. Their sharp little hooves chopped, diced and trampled most of the flower beds.

The sole survivors were the Daffodils. This specimen was nibbled on just once, then the deer left it alone. This is the first time in twenty three years that the deer have caused this much damage. Mostly they stay on their side of the fence. Sometimes a few juveniles will enter the yard in the summer and mow down a row of young beans, carrots or lettuce. I then embark on an attitude adjustment program, and they eventually decide that there are friendlier, quieter places to have lunch.

Hard winters, like this one was, caused them to ignore the danger that lurks inside my fence. My absence reinforced the wisdom of their decision. All that will change now. It is spring training time. The deer’s big bambi eyes will soon register looks of surprise, then amusement and finally concern as I assert control over my back yard again. They will have to go back to foraging on the hundreds of acres of woods and farmland on THEIR side of the fence.

It’s one thing if your hobby is to put ships inside a bottle, but a deer in the headlights!… That’s a real talent.
― Josh Stern, And That’s Why I’m Single –

How is your garden doing this spring? What ‘pests’ do you have to contend with?

25 thoughts on “When the Deer Move Into my Alberta Yard

  1. The deer (nor squirrels nor rabbits) have ever bothered my jonquil bulbs or the shoots. Everything else is fair game. I’m slowly learning which flowers/plants are unappealing to them. Moth balls help deter the rabbits (somewhat) and Liquid Fence (Liquid Stench as my son calls it) helps with all the critters. I just have to remember to reapply it after a rain…..and stand upwind of it when I spray it!


    1. Thanks for the ideas. I’m trying out a product called Bobbex. I should have asked one of my family to come out and spray for me last week!
      Bobbex has a very disagreeable smell – hopefully it will protect the yard until we can fortify the section of fence that they almost always hop over!


  2. My parents lived for 20+ years in a pine forest that was prime deer territory. Several of Mom’s neighbours put out little ‘nests’ of human hair to keep the deer out of their gardens – either save balls of hair that you remove from your hairbrush or find a barber or hairdresser who will save ‘scraps’ for you; put the hair into old nylon stockings and nail them to posts or trees around the perimeter of your yard). Another deterrent some of the locals swore by was bar soap (any scent, wrapped or unwrapped); again, slip the bars into old nylon stockings and hang them 10 – 15 feet apart. I’m not sure how effective these methods are, but they probably can’t hurt!


  3. We have every type of vermin imaginable. LOL! Deer, moose, bear, rabbits, snakes, beaver, etc. It’s a regular cornucopia of wildlife. We’ve only had the property a short time and haven’t tried to discourage any of the animals… yet. So far, I think the beaver are the most annoying.


    1. Wow, you really do have a lot of wild neighbours. I know what you mean by the beavers. We had them at the cabin, and everyone loved to watch them in the evening. That was until a beaver took down a tree in your yard – then they weren’t so lovable any more.


  4. My dad always has a fight with the squirrels… not so much for the garden, but they get into his bird feeders and make a mess or eat all the seed.
    I guess your garden was just too tasty for them to resist 😉


      1. They are small and probably more of them. When I lived at home we had a cat that chased them away. It was funny since she was an indoor cat, but a few times she would dart outside and chase them up a tree.


  5. There are lists of deer resistant plants online.
    Also, speak with the horticulture dept. at a local college. The college I work at has a huge garden area; veggies, flowers, all sorts of plants. We also have deer which live on the campus, yet none of them ever go into the gardens, which are not fenced at all. I asked the head of the horticulture dept, and she says she has a large variety of plants around the garden areas which deer do not like so the are deterred from eating! They will not even enter the area!


  6. I hate deer. I have neighbors who think they”re adorable and feed them (to my chagrin). I think they’re just Big Rodents. I’ve tried. Radios on all night. Movement activated water sprayers, lights. Soap. Dog hair. I even chase them. They run about 20 feet, stop, and look at me until I chase them further. Short of tying a dog to my garden or learning to bow hunt, I didn’t know what to do. I stopped putting in a garden for two years and finally got off their “route”. But I don’t know what you can do if they’re eating shrubs around the house. I have some coyote urine I bought at a hunting store. Don’t know if it’ll work. But I’m ready to try it.


    1. I know what you mean about chasing them. Now and then I encounter one that is not scared, and I end up beating a hasty retreat.
      We’re about due for a new fence. The new one will be higher, so hopefully that will slow them down a bit.


  7. I’m sorry about all that damage the deer have done – so frustrating for you. Spring is moving along very quickly here, and the most damage in my garden is being done by snails and slugs. There is only a little damage at the moment, but they will get into their stride soon enough and start demolishing things. I’m going to try not to use slug bait, but sometimes I just get so cross about them that I put the pellets down around my favourite plants. Over the last few years, if I buy anything new, I make sure it is something that snails and slugs won’t like.


    1. I’ve heard that a layer of sand around the plants will stop them. I’ve had a few years when the slugs were very bad, and some years when there were hardly any. I don’t know why, though!


  8. The rabbits trimmed two of the bushes in the backyard down to 4 or 5 inches, and then kindly left what looks like several pounds of rabbit fertilizer all around them. Sigh.


  9. Sad to say, I can identify completely. The Deer Wars have gotten more intense here in recent years. I’ve been using a granule product made with coyote urine (purchased at an Agway store). It’s been the most effective thing I’ve found– but not foolproof. One has to reapply it after rain, etc. Arrgghh! Battle on, and sorry about the carnage– mighty painful to see.


    1. Coyote urine – I think you could do a good cartoon about the collection process…
      I use a product called Bobbex which I mix with water and spray on the plants. It supposedly lasts through several heavy rains. So far, so good, though it is just as likely that the deer moved on to greener pastures in a different location.


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