Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Missing Hart

My game camera has recently confirmed a phenomena hitherto known to me only from warnings by traffic authorities.  We've all heard that the rate of car to deer collisions increase during the Fall rutting season on roads and highways.  I've got new evidence that deer to garden visits also increase in November.  In like fashion, plant damage from deer subsequently seems to increase by at least a factor of 10 during the same period.  I am gravely worried about the 'Conrad Ferdinand Meyer' in front of the doe at the left, because she seems to visit it over and over again, night after night.

I had previously captured only three visits of solitary deer to my garden up from April through early November.  In the most recent few weeks, however, it seems that the local large furry rats have been scheduling extra time to pose for portraits.  I've now counted 8 separating visits of deer to my garden over a 20 day period, at least two of them lasting more than an hour.  They come morning and night, most often about an hour before dawn or around three hours after sunset.  And the nibbling little fiends aren't coming alone anymore, they're bringing company.  Or at least they're bringing relatives.  This little mama at the right seems to be dragging her offspring around behind her, taking advantage of a two-for-one special feast in my rose garden.

I've also captured my resident rabbit, a fox, and a coyote on their nightly rounds.  The little rabbit sitting in the middle of this bed had better hope that the thorns of the surrounding bushes provide it some protection, because it is now playing in a dark and dangerous land, away from home long after the carnivores come out to roam in search of just such tender morsels of flesh.  This particular rabbit has been around all year, but I fear that it is unlikely to see Spring unless it modifies its schedule immediately.

The most garden-damaging culprit, however, has so far escaped my game camera, but it has not gone unnoticed.  This weekend, I found damage on the trunks of three widely separated trees in the garden; damage that can only be created by the rubbing of tender velvet antlers on the trees in preparation for combat.    Somewhere in my neighborhood, the father or uncle of the yearling fawn above has rejoined the herd, hoping for a repeat of last Winter's fleeting pleasure.  This little family has been missing its Hart, but I predict a sibling for junior will soon be in the works.  Just what I need, a population explosion among the browsers. 

When they attack my prized Sycamore, I view it as neither cute nor endearing, but as a declaration of war.  Perhaps, in similar fashion to this YouTube video that I have linked for your listening pleasure, I can just move the "deer crossing" signs to a neighbor's yard and the vermin will shift their migratory pattern and leave my garden alone.  Or perhaps not.  My other annual anti-deer measures, including the placement of chicken wire around the tree trunks and the furtive scattering of pungent repellent, are now in effect.  In fact, after realizing that the caller to the radio show in the aforementioned video probably also votes in important national elections, I feel the need to go create more deer repellent right now.  This is your benevolent naturalist, ProfessorRoush, signing off.  

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