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Deer managment tools

By Al Cooke, Extension Agent
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2005

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I'm enjoying the deer discussion on the Chatham Chatlist listserve, and that's the kind of comment I make when I don't have T-H-E answer. So in this case, maybe I'll comment about the discussion as much as about the topic of controlling deer. My strongest observation is that we seem to be a product oriented bunch. Whether it's a commercial product that we can spray on plants, or a non-commercial product that we can pick out of our hairbrush or that the hairdresser is saving for us, we seem to rely on a product that will solve our problem.

And that reminds me of people who call me for a different product (herbicide, insecticide, deer repellent, whatever.) because the one they used "didn't work." My general sense is that the products are simply tools and tools will not work. They are simply available for us to use, but we do the work. A screwdriver will not put the screw in the right place. You have to know which end of the hammer to use for which job, and the saw needs some kind of power source carefully applied. This very simple concept seems obvious with ordinary tools. But someone, somewhere, somehow has convinced us that products will do pest management for us and we can sit back and watch.

Pest management - whether it's deer, weed, or Japanese beetle - requires active and repeated participation from us. If the tool is a product, it must be selected for the targeted pest, used in an appropriate manner, and probably used again in a timely fashion. And no tool is likely to be the best tool in all situations. I live in a location where if I step out on the porch and fire a shotgun, the only reaction I expect is for the deer to raise that whitetail in retreat. For some of you the reaction might include blue flashing lights in your driveway.

I won't repeat what others have said about deer management. Whatever tools you use probably need to be used as part of a management strategy rather than as the total strategy. As any cattleman will tell you, even a fence needs to be inspected and repaired on a regular basis.

As gardeners and homeowners, we are attempting to keep nature (deer, weeds, Japanese beetles, etc.) at some distance. Rust never sleeps, and nature takes no vacations.

 
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