Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Deer 1--Tree 0

As you might expect, based on the title of this blog, there's a back story.

Last Friday, I went out to rake leaves (yes, my autumn obsession). I raked several neat piles, muttering under my breath about "neighbor's leaves that blow into my yard" and then carried the leaves to the curb.

I offer this photographic evidence, and ask--which side do you think is my yard? and which, my neighbor's?

I mention this Friday chore only to pinpoint a time.

On Saturday, I looked out a back window and thought--that's odd. Why does the small Engelman spruce look so odd? So I trekked outside, and here's what I found.

Several deep gouges in the soft earth.

Many broken branches on the lower half of the tree.

And a gouge on the trunk of the tree.

Apparently, our neighborhood deer, or at least one of them, had issues with the tree. Or, more likely, used this little tree to rub velvet off its antlers. I didn't see the deer, but the evidence is quite clear.
The frustrating thing for me is that I have never seen these deer. Several neighbors have, and my husband and our dog encountered them one evening. We live in very suburban area, in a development that is almost 30 years old. We have lived in this house since 1980, and have NEVER seen deer, until this year. It is evidence of over-building and urban sprawl, that the habitat deer formerly occupied has been destroyed, and so they move into more settled areas.
So, for now, deer--1; tree--0.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, I came home to find my neigbor--I'll call her Phyllis--raking leaves into piles. I was so overjoyed that I went right over and volunteered to help her carry them to the curb. I have learned that leaves left in piles tend to blow into my yard--so I may as well transport them now, as later.


Beverly said...

I remember visiting some friends in Cincinnati several years ago. They lived in a suburban area that was very developed, but they had deer get in their garden.

I thought I heard someone say the other day that the deer were really overpopulating as well. When I was driving in Virginia, I saw two deer (dead) on the side of the road.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I have seen these guys do this in the woods but never hear about them doing the rubbing in someones back yard! Interesting for sure!

JeanMac said...

We are in semi-rural area -lots of deer. They even eat roses - thorns no problem:)The orchardists around here erected 12' fences and I think it helped - deer just go the the unfenced orchards.

Pam said...

I've seen these dear rubs in the woods, but never an anyone's yard. Urban sprawl is making it difficult for a lot of animals.

Love the story about the leaves. Three quarters of our yard is surrounded by a 75 foot bank, so ALL the leaves from the bank come down into our yard. Yeesh!

Anvilcloud said...

There are deer around here and we spot one every now and then, but we're getting developed too and seeing them less.

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't rake your leaves - leaving them on the ground gives the grass much needed nutrients when the leaves decompose in the spring and cuts down on the amount of (sometimes harmful) fertilizers and other crud you need to use to keep your lawn green. Natural/green lawn and property care is the best thing you can do for your environment if you live in a suburban area - especially if your area is now effected by wildlife such as deer. Where there are deer there are rabbits and other little delicate creatures.

LauraHinNJ said...

I wonder what the deer looks like!

denverdoc said...

I thought of you as I raked leaves the other day, you and 'Phyllis' that is. I carefully demarcated my property line, highlighting the unrakedness of those rakes, my neighbors. But...I've got a catalpa tree, huge, and they have locust trees, not so huge. Catalpa leaves are big, brown, dusty, ugly, and thickly carpet both our lawns. Locust leaves are teeny, yellow, and dot each property. So my question, suitable for a game of Scruples, am I the keeper/raker of the stupid catalpa leaves? Leaf for leaf, I've got more locust leaves than they've got catalpa.

At least the pondering amused me as I worked. No way am I raking their lawn, even though the wind blows leaves from me to them, on average.

No leaving leaves unraked in Denver. So dry here, they'd never decompose; silly bluegrass turns to yellowgrass if no one bothers to deleaf it. One could well ask what on earth we're doing with bluegrass lawn in the desert that is Denver.

RuthieJ said...

Hey Donna,
What you've got there is a deer "scrape" made by a fairly large buck. The deer will come and use his antlers to wrestle that tree trunk and the branches just above. By doing this he leaves scent markers on the tree and branches (to advertise his studly presence). Then he scrapes the ground with his hooves and 'pees' on the dirt (again an advertisement). His hope is that a doe will happen by and also leave her 'pee' marker, and eventually they will meet.
The size the tree trunk that's all rubbed up determines the size of the deer's antlers--big trunk = big deer (his antlers will go around the tree).
During the "rut," those whitetail bucks are showing up in places they normally would never venture into (like suburban backyards). I've had a couple small trees damaged in my yard this fall too. Thanks for sharing those great pictures.

KGMom said...

Most interesting to hear all of your stories about deer encounters. I know the deer have been in my yard off and on through the summer. I planted hostas and some other shade tolerant plants along a stand of evergreen we have at the end of our property. Well, all the shade plants, excepting hostas, were eaten down to the ground.
And now the tree scrape (thanks Ruthie for the explanation).
As for allowing leaves to go unmulched--Anon, whoever you are--you know, you could sign a name--I have previously posted how ALL the leaves from my three neighbors blow into my yard. It is really not possible to allow all the leaves to mulch. I do mow over some of the early leaf fallings, so there is a good mulching effect already.
It seems we all have seen the effects of animals losing habitat to ever-encroaching humans. We MUST find ways to live in harmony with all of nature.

Mary said...

I've never encountered a deer and I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments - especially Ruthie's. Deer are much like dogs! LOL!

You made me giggle about the neighbor's leaves. My husband used to fuss over the mess, too. Now he just mows them over until the tree are bare.

Cathy said...

Wow. That's pretty neat having something so wild right in your yard. Ruthie's explanation is really fascinating. Thirty years ago I'd see deer tracks in our neighborhood. Sadly - no more.