Deer Conundrum – Love ‘em or Shoot ‘em

deerSUNDAY SMIRK: SHORT OF GETTING A SHOTGUN I have tried just about everything to save my pretty plants from being eaten alive by deer. Our place is swarming with deer, you see.

When Blue Eyes and I found this home surrounded by the natural vegetation of uninhabited land we fell in love with it. Even more charming to me, the nature lover was that critters were everywhere and our place isn’t fenced in so close-up wildlife sightings abound.

I’m talking coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, red tailed hawks, wild turkeys, rabbits, gophers, rattlesnakes, lizards, rats on steroids, huge foxes, tarantulas, black widow spiders and yes, deer. Lots of ‘em.

This place is a zoo and being a curious cat I’m constantly whipping out the WWII binoculars my dad pinched from a German Jeep during the war when he was just a boy in short pants. Can’t beat German optics.

I marvel at the families of deer tripping by my kitchen window, so charming with their adorably spotted bambis. When I tell my neighbor, Rose, how cute they are she smiles kindly and motioning toward her perfect fenced in garden, she says “yes, Esmée, I thought they were cute too at first, until I found out they eat everything…”

Hoooon-doggie, she waren’t kiddin’ Essy-Mae!

After countless hours of plant shopping without a clue at Home Depot I return home with my pickup, Consuela positively crammed with vegetation with which to beautify my garden. My prize is a very pretty little olive tree with six, count ’em, six olives. It was the only one they had with olives and I’m proud.

I’m going to turn this place into a jungle.

I hastily plant the olive tree and leave the other stuff for tomorrow. The ground here is so rocky I have to manually pile drive the desired planting spot with a pointy 5 ft long, 40 lb cast iron rod to smash and wedge the rocks out.

Quite the workout for a little Olive Oil lookalike. It makes me feel strrrong like bull.

deerArising the next day to admire my olive tree I am aghast… it is eaten bare and to add insult to injury, someone has munched off my six olives and spat out the pits at the base of my ravaged tree!

“Those damned deer!” I splutter and beat a hasty retreat to Home Desperate to get reams of deer fencing which I will circle around each of my tasty new trees.

Many work gloves and much pounding later my garden is about as safe as it can get now. And my biceps look pretty good too.

Over time I have come to a sort of ceasefire with the deer, I let them eat stuff that was already there before we moved in and heavily guard the other stuff.

Until I buy Hostas.

Everything is fine until I go away overnight and Blue Eyes emails me a photo titled “You are not going to be happy about this”. You guessed it, my Hostas were munched to the root. Apparently they are the mother of all deer candy. Grrrrrrr-rrrrr….

deerThat evening we zip out to our favorite vineyard for a wine tasting and just as we pull up to the winery my cell phone rings. It’s my other neighbor, freaking out because she’s left her gate open and an adolescent deer with a gourmet has come for dinner. My neighbor has very tasty plants.

The thing is, her dog has frightened the daring deer senseless. It’s tried to escape by jamming its head under her heavy duty deer fence and now it’s stuck… with the dog excitedly nipping at its belly.

What a conundrum… my mouth already watering for the delicious wine, something inside me says, “No, Essy-Mae, you turn around and get over there now. Save the damned deer.”

We arrive just in time, the deer’s front legs are so paralyzed with fear that once we free it, three days pass before the deer can walk away without its front legs collapsing. I make every phone call humanly possible to every animal rescue I can find. Some just offer to come and shoot it. Uh, NO WAY!

My latest effort to up the deer truce and protect my mangled Hibiscus is to purchase the much recommended spray. It’s like Deer-B-Gone.

Returning triumphant from Ace Hardware with the coveted spray I slip into a stylin’ turquoise velour ensemble in which to greet my honey home from work. I pop outside to quickly squirt my Hibiscus with the new trophy spray.

I should’ve checked the local meteorology report first. How was I to know the wind would shift like this in mid-spray?

Do you have any idea how vomitously vile this stuff smells? You cannot wash it off fast enough. Can you say ‘coyote urine’? Yech!!

I am literally gagging as I tear off my velour and make a mad dash for the shower.

When Blue Eyes comes home he cheerfully leans in for some sugar I involuntarily recoil. “What’s up, Baby?”, he quizzes.

“Do I smell like coyote ass?” is all I can say.


deerEsmée SJ