Well it’s that time of year again — the deer are roaming and that means many of my trees are susceptible to damage from bucks rubbing their antlers along the bark. Every year I debate — to cover or not to cover. Bucks rub their antlers on young, flexible trees to remove the velvet that initially covers the antlers, to mark their territory, to attract receptive does and to warn away other bucks. Unfortunately that means that a tree is a target for several years. This particular tree has been in our yard for four years now.
So back to my initial question — do I wrap more and more trees every year? Problem is we have dozens of trees with more planted every year. And quite frankly, we live near deer. That means, well, living with deer. We have had on average one tree every year grazed by deer. Amazingly, trees are capable of healing a surprising amount of damage on their own and we have been fortunate not to have completely lost a tree yet. So my approach is to take my chances. Most trees will grow beyond the target stage, others will survive. I do protect some favourites, like my Nyssa Sylvatica that took me three years to source. I did protect this poor fellow, along with his match nearby, as deer can come back to rub on a tree again. If you want to protect your trees. wrapping them with a loose piece of galvanized fencing works best. Corrugated drainpipe or other plastic material is fine but remove it quickly in spring to ensure pests do not form nests underneath and limit spring thawing and freezing damage.
But, all in all, some damage is a small price to pay for creating an inviting environment, for both the man and deer I guess.