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The Time My Dad Declared War On Deer


My dad has always had issues with the deer that live in our backyard.

Every year, his carefully tended beds sprout, look nice for about one day, then are mercilessly mowed down by a horde of ravenous deer. They clip each tulip and plant neatly with their teeth; it looks as if a scythe has reaped the entire lot. The deer come right up to the house and munch on our flowers while watching us eat breakfast through the windows.

In an effort to save at least a few of his precious plants, my dad has tried just about everything. He hung Irish Spring soap from each branch, which did nothing whatsoever. He began peeing on all the bushes, heading outside several times a day to “water the plants.” The idea is that your are marking your territory with your urine, but the deer didn’t seem to care.

He applied cheesecloth and bird netting to our raspberry bush, which didn’t work for deer OR birds. They actually seemed to work together, with the birds carrying off enough of the netting that the deer could feed more easily. He applied dried blood all over the place, which was supposed to scare off the deer. You can buy this blood meal at any hardware store, but what IS IT? Cow? The blood of virgins? The label does not say.

Obviously, this didn’t work either.

He strung up fishing line attached to poles, which were supposed to keep the deers’ long legs from marching around willy-nilly. But he didn’t build this fence tall enough, and the deer simply grazed over the top of the boundary.

The deer would walk over our frozen swimming pool in winter, and their sharp hooves would tear holes in the cover, which meant we had to buy a new one every year. My dad got worried that a deer would eventually break through the ice and drown in our pool, so he installed a super-tough cover at great expense.

Our dog Lily, a 75-pound golden retriever, was terrified of the deer, and so was no help. My dad would sometimes let her out anyway when the deer were around, in the hopes the deer would bolt, but Lily would just stay at the door, whining and pawing to be let back in. He then went out himself, armed with rocks, but the deer were completely unimpressed. I imagine they were actually laughing in their tiny deery heads.

My dad has since given up, and simply refuses to plant anything anymore. Annual bulbs still sprout, and are cut down before they can even bloom. Most of our landscaping near the house has been removed so that the deer at least keep their distance. This is a battle we realized we simply couldn’t win.

However, he is still fighting the good fight against the moles in our yard. Back when I was living at home, he would proudly show me the corpse whenever he caught one in a trap. The mole’s pinched face was barely visible behind it’s comically oversized paws, and its midsection was, of course, squished into a bloody pulp by the trap. Lovely.

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