Wildlife stalks the city

Deer across street 

I took this photograph yesterday morning, as the deer proceeded quietly along the sidewalk across the street from our house. (That's our car in the lower right, proof that this is not out in the wild woods.) The deer did look round at me when I stepped outside with my camera, but they didn't run off.

We always see a few tracks and droppings in our yard come spring, and now and then in winter we see the deer themselves, but this year they are bolder and more numerous than ever before. I'm hoping they don't become resident pests here in Bozeman as they have in Helena, where they've caused such problems that they've had to be culled–i.e., shot. They leap out from between parked cars, causing accidents, heart attacks, and divorces (because of all the cursing), but that's nothing compared to the damage they do to gardens.

I've largely lost my childhood horror of hunting; after all, that's an attitude easier to maintain in New York City than it is here in Montana where hunting is a way of life. I've eaten too much local venison and bison to retain much sentimentality about it. But tracking and shooting wild animals that have the sense to flee seems a far cry from shooting those that hang around trustingly in the backyard.

And I'll admit that I'm still a long way from bagging my own meat; I'm in awe of a friend (a fellow classmate from Carleton, in fact) who learned to shoot after moving here to Montana, and who just last year went out into the woods, shot her deer, butchered it herself, and put up a year's worth of venison in a weekend. This is way beyond me, even if knees were not an issue.

However, if anything could drive me to take arms against a "sweet, innocent, harmless, leaf-eating, doe-eyed little deer" (as it's so winningly put in My Cousin Vinny which you must see at once if you haven’t already), then this would be it: a threat to my garden. So if you find me pacing the alley, rifle in hand, you'll know what happened: the deer have made their move.

12 Responses to Wildlife stalks the city

  1. The deer are so lovely to look at but the fact that they eat everything in sight is quite discouraging –

  2. Indeed. That is gorgeous chard on your site, Mark. I want to look around and see what you do as an organic consultant. I suspect I could learn a few things–though unfortunately, some of what works in California simply doesn’t apply here in Montana!
    Thanks for stopping by.
    –Kate

  3. Lovely picture – but the first thought that went through my head was “Uh-oh!” Deer are loathed by gardeners here in the UK too, but I’ve never seen them walking down the street like that.

  4. Ah, we have been experiencing growing numbers of deer in Choteau as well. Whole herds bed down in neighborhoods with the most fruit trees–with unintended results: the buck will thrash all other trees near the fruit trees to mark them as “my food”. Old timers report, however, it’s not as bad as it used to be!

  5. Well it’s the casual stroll by daylight, Victoria, that’s new here in Bozeman as well..
    Welcome, Feed Store Girl! I’m so glad you’ve stepped into the fray, such as it is.
    (For those of you not from Montana, Choteau lies well north of Bozeman along the eastern side of the Rockies.)
    As for deer bedding down under fruit trees, I believe that my neighbor at the (north) end of the block, whose yard boasts three fruit trees, has seen evidence of this, but nothing in the area’s been thrashed, trashed, or otherwise destroyed that I know of. Apparently I’d better keep my fingers crossed.
    –Kate

  6. After several car vs. deer accidents in 10 years of Wisconsin driving, I came to regard them as “rats with hooves”. Put the hammer down, I say.

  7. They are beautiful animals. Too bad they cause so many problems.

  8. I’ve experienced deer visits to our garden. After them the yard looked worse than after atomic war.
    Almost everything would disappear, all your plants, berries…and labour
    Experimented a lot with different deer repellents. Here’s the one that worked real good for us:
    3 large eggs, shells included
    1 large clove of garlic
    2 cups of fresh green onion tops
    2 cups of water
    Put everything into the blender and liquify for 2 minutes. Add this mixture to a pail containing 2 quarts of warm water and melted deodorant soap such as dial.
    Stir together, then add two tablespoons of chili powder or cayenne pepper and mix well. Splash, spray, drip, or somehow paint the mixture on the plants.
    Be sure to get egg shells on the leaves. When used every two weeks it is effective year-around. Save some of each batch to “ripen” the next batch.

  9. Great blog you’ve got here. I submitted it to reddit and digg because I digg it! ha

  10. Lisa— Several is way too many. I assume you talk softly and carry a big hammer.
    SFaith— Isn’t it though? Such a pity.
    Welcome, gardenorganic. However did you come up with such a complicated recipe? I’ll try it if things get bad enough, but so far, the deer only patronize Bozeman in winter.
    Stihl Chain Saw–Ooh, you missed a punning opportunity: “…because I read it and dig it.” (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) And thanks, I think. (I’m unsure because I’m still trying to figure out what reddit and digg are. Remember me? the technologically unsavvy one? Check out the next post for the gory details.)
    –Kate

  11. I love snow and wildlife pictures like this. It makes me forget about all the insects during the warmer months. By the way, what insect spray do you use? I found some organic spray online, but wanted your input.

  12. Gorgeous animals they are but, geez get out of the way and stop eating my plants!

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