Trees and Deer

  • buckybadger
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 6730
    #2237943

    I just received the annual bulk tree order form for 2024 from the local soil and water conservation district.

    Every year I try my best to plant trees but my success rate is not always the greatest due to deer. I’ve tried the bulk bunches of red pine, white pine, Norway spruce, and assorted maples. Deer just seem to treat them like a buffet and I’m lucky to keep 1/3 from being eaten or mauled by young bucks each year. For those planting trees, what are you doing to keep deer away? Some of my brainstormed strategies are listed below but I’m open to ideas.

    -planting fewer and larger trees (more expensive, but capable of putting tree guards on them.

    -snow fence around individual trees with far fewer planted (labor and time intensive)

    -plant even more trees and just accept that 5% reaching maturity might be too lofty of a goal

    -bring the local CO out and get some ag tags (have no need for venison, but could maybe get some local youth some easy shooting and experience)

    -try different types of trees (maybe there are some that deer leave alone)

    -take time to mow around everything real short once a week, take regular ATV rides through them, do anything possible to deter wildlife from the immediate area (not sure I have enough hours in a week for this to be realistic unless I really dial back the numbers)

    -wife’s solution for the ones on the homestead property = get a dog that has run of the immediate 40 by the house (a pet is not a fight I’m willing to give in on yet)

    Dan
    Participant
    Southeast MN
    Posts: 3376
    #2237944

    Physical barriers are what’s worked for me. I lost quite a few trees for years from pines being turned into food or rub lines. I don’t plant the volume of trees you’re talking about but the ones I do make me constantly acquiring more fence posts and Fencing.

    I also came close to losing two new apple trees last winter. With all the snow we got, the deer were essentially able to walk about two feet above normal ground level by some of my trees, and the fencing around my apple trees went through a massacre, but fortunately they didn’t do too much damage.

    I’m sure a lot of options work in various ways, but physically keeping them out is the only way that’s worked for me.

    Dutchboy
    Participant
    Central Mn.
    Posts: 15513
    #2237945

    Since you have no interest in things that work (dogs) it leaves you with……….

    1) Plant 100 trees a year for the next 10 years hoping to get your 5% return.

    2) Fence off a area every year for you tree planting.

    Losing trees to Deer, disease, lawn mowing is just part of getting your yard the way you want it.

    buckybadger
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 6730
    #2237948

    When you guys say fencing, are you talking snow fencing around individual trees, or fencing off an entire area?

    I don’t care enough to run an acre of high fence at a time to keep deer out. I’d maybe entertain driving x3 posts around young trees and snow fencing them though

    Dan
    Participant
    Southeast MN
    Posts: 3376
    #2237952

    I mainly use garden type fencing. I buy rolls at menards and cut to fit around a tree, with 3-4 posts per tree. In a few spots where I’ve run out I’ve used some thicker plastic fencing I’ve had left over. I honestly think snow fencing would work just fine too, of it’s taught the deer will meet resistance and move on.

    All this gets to be a fair amount of work and lots of money spent on fencing. Plus the DNR recommends trees 3-5 years old get 15-25 gallons of water a week. So especially with these extreme dry periods we’ve been having the last few summers, multiple days a week in filling up buckets and driving the SxS to water them. Lots of work but the labor and fencing cost is just the cost of protecting my investment. I’ve got too much time and money into some of these trees to keep losing them. And I know you know this but it’s just part of the country way of living, which is what we chose and I’m good with that.

    Krh129
    Participant
    Posts: 124
    #2237957

    I’ve gone away from the seedlings and plant a little larger tree most SWCD have potted trees, I order from Morrison Co as an fyi. So I plant fewer but my success rate has gone up.

    I use a product called Plantskydd on them, the spray not the pellets and that has worked really well for me. I carry a bottle around and spray them 2-3 times a year when I am out and about until they seem to be big enough to make a go of it on their

    Krh129
    Participant
    Posts: 124
    #2237958

    Own

    jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 367
    #2237968

    I am in your area Bucky and I only plant Norway pines for that exact reason – as deer tend to not touch. I’ve planted about 15,000 trees total and gave up on Whites when about 2,000 trees into my 20 year – 20,000 trees planted quest.
    The last two years I planted a couple hundred wild plum trees and I spray them when budding with this stuff I get from the Gerkens store in Wabasha or Lake City. Can’t remember what’s in it but the stuff works fantastic (god it smells terrible).

    buckybadger
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 6730
    #2237973

    The Norway pines definitely get left alone moreso I agree. My issue with them is they get the disease or whatever it is where needles start turning brown then shortly after massive parts of the tree die. I like whites because they’re the fastest growing, but man the deer feast/scratch on them first for sure

    jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 367
    #2237977

    Knock on wood I haven’t had that issue yet. Actually been pretty lucky that way. One thing I don’t do either is mow, etc. around them. I do have probably a 1,000 whites that are growing and all the trees I just let them go. I figure they get 3 or 4 years bring transplants before they start popping over the taller grass/weeds. I personally thinks this helps them during droughts also as they stay shaded and don’t burn up in the sun.

    Just keep a planting! I said I would keep doing this till I physically can’t. It is amazing what it has done for not only wildlife – but my conscience also!!

    jimmysiewert
    Participant
    Posts: 367
    #2237980

    One thing to also remember Bucky is join the Frontenac Sportsmans Club! We spend up to $2,000 annually . Members pay half and the FSC pays half. We buy directly from the state nursery

    isu22andy
    Participant
    Posts: 1193
    #2237982

    I’ve know guys to use 3 seed sign posts and wrap them with chicken wire . Put mulch around tree so it doesn’t grow up tall with weeds/grass . Not sure how many your planting though.

    tswoboda
    Participant
    Posts: 6941
    #2238020

    For individual trees I’ve had 100% success with 3 posts and then AFW 7 strand coated leader wire for the fence material.

    Probably would have used snow fence or chicken wire but thee FW vetoed those options since these trees are in our backyard. I didn’t fence the first year we planted and lost every single 3-5 year old tree in about a week.

    MX1825
    Participant
    Posts: 2715
    #2238032

    Sorry bucky I can’t help you with tree protection.
    I found some tree supports at a landscape center that I liked. I needed a dozen. Copied the label and Googled it. Bought them for less than half from a Company called Forestry Products out of Alabama I think. They have a whole catalog of different tree supplies. I thought reasonable prices. Might be worth a look.

    brandyman
    Participant
    West central MN
    Posts: 201
    #2238058

    To keep the deer away from my little trees, I used cheap fence posts or steaks and a bulk roll of 30 lb test mono fishing line. Just wrap the line around the posts a few times. The deer can’t see it and it does not look as bad as a snow fence.

    glenn57
    Participant
    cold spring mn
    Posts: 9750
    #2238065

    From my experience, spread this miloganite fertilizer around. They hate that stuff

    TheFamousGrouse
    Participant
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 10676
    #2238094

    I get the question about planting trees on hunting properties a lot. It’s a great thing to do but it’s way more cost and labor intensive than most people think.

    And the number one reason it’s cost and labor intensive is that deer will chew on anything you stick in the ground unless you protect it.

    To have any success at establishing trees with reasonable efficiency you have to put hard wire around them and you have to protect the trunks against bark eating animals like rabbits.

    I’ve been establishing apple trees and crabapple trees at my property and it’s taken years just to get 10 of them started into a reasonable size. I put a 6 ft wolven wire circle 5 feet high around every tree I plant. Plus the trunk gets a PVC protector.

    buckybadger
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 6730
    #2238097

    Thanks for all the ideas.

    I think my main focus is going to be reducing the number I plant and doing more “babysitting” of them.

    I’ll plan to use posts and put 4′ high chunks of chicken wire in a circle around everything I plant. I also have seen people suggest leaving the wire an inch or two off the ground at the bottom to allow weed whacking as needed? I’m not sure if that’d create more rabbit opportunities though? The other good idea shared was to lay down some tyvek or weed barrier around the base of each one to limit weed growth nearby early on.

    If I dial it back to x25 White pines, x25 Norway pines, and a half dozen larger maples (1″ in diameter) per year….I should hopefully be able to manage them a little more closely and get them all staked with chicken wire. These ~50 trees will all be about 400′ from the house and garage, so watering will be less of an issue. I have plenty of hoses to eliminate carrying of buckets.

    As for the hunting land and isolated parcels, I may just take a year off rather than spreading myself thin with planting. That area seems more suited for the “plant 1000, and hope 5% make it to maturity” strategy.

    Dan
    Participant
    Southeast MN
    Posts: 3376
    #2238104

    Ah, weed whacking. I’m sure you feel the same pain I do Bucky. To trim the weeds/grass around every building, fence, tree, etc. it takes me well over an hour. Roughly 3 1/2 hours to mow my lawn while I listen to a podcast but it’s that damn trimming that annoys the heck out of me. Anyway, and I meant to include this in my post yesterday, I put my fencing up in a way where it isn’t too hard to open up to get into the area around the tree. When I snip the big roll of fencing I’ll try and leave a little so I can just bend one of the wires to hold it in place when closing. When I get to trimming or need to step in to water them I undo my makeshift “lock” and go in. Several times throughout the summer I’ll completely pull the fencing back and weed trim every thing so it looks nice. Again, it’s a ton of work consuming hours of your time on nearly a weekly basis, but I want future habitat, wind breaks, and good-looking trees in the future, so as far as I can tell this is the only way for me to do it myself.

    I think you’re on the right track with the posts and chicken wire, just be conservative on the fenced in area you create. Like I mentioned, at least in my experience, when we get a few feet of snow that the deer can walk on they’ll try and lean in as much as they can to nibble and they’ll cave in some fence in the process. Keep the fencing far enough away that they’ll meet enough resistance and not be able to reach and they’ll move on to something else.

    CaptainMusky
    Participant
    Posts: 17452
    #2238105

    My dad hung wind chimes in his apple tree and that keeps the deer away.

    buckybadger
    Participant
    Upper Midwest
    Posts: 6730
    #2238146

    Ah, weed whacking. I’m sure you feel the same pain I do Bucky. To trim the weeds/grass around every building, fence, tree, etc. it takes me well over an hour. Roughly 3 1/2 hours to mow my lawn while I listen to a podcast but it’s that damn trimming that annoys the heck out of me. Anyway, and I meant to include this in my post yesterday, I put my fencing up in a way where it isn’t too hard to open up to get into the area around the tree. When I snip the big roll of fencing I’ll try and leave a little so I can just bend one of the wires to hold it in place when closing. When I get to trimming or need to step in to water them I undo my makeshift “lock” and go in. Several times throughout the summer I’ll completely pull the fencing back and weed trim every thing so it looks nice. Again, it’s a ton of work consuming hours of your time on nearly a weekly basis, but I want future habitat, wind breaks, and good-looking trees in the future, so as far as I can tell this is the only way for me to do it myself.

    I think you’re on the right track with the posts and chicken wire, just be conservative on the fenced in area you create. Like I mentioned, at least in my experience, when we get a few feet of snow that the deer can walk on they’ll try and lean in as much as they can to nibble and they’ll cave in some fence in the process. Keep the fencing far enough away that they’ll meet enough resistance and not be able to reach and they’ll move on to something else.

    Would a 5′ diameter or so do it around the trees?

    None of this work is happening yet this Fall/Winter, but I’m going to get a plan laid out and ready and walk the area so I know roughly how many trees for sure I need/want.

    mojo
    Participant
    Posts: 559
    #2238219

    Some sizes of this hardware cloth/fencing material on sale for Cyber Monday at Amazon. The 24″ x 50′ for $23 is a great price.

    I can’t get the link to post in any form. The item to search for is:

    308247B

    Dan
    Participant
    Southeast MN
    Posts: 3376
    #2238721

    Would a 5′ diameter or so do it around the trees?

    On young pines where the fence is higher than the tree yes, for sure. Some of mine might be even a little closer. As the apple trees I planted 2 years ago have grown a little I bet the fence is a good 3 feet away from the trunk in every direction, maybe even more. I want to keep them from nibbling as much as possible.

    nord
    Participant
    Posts: 649
    #2238763

    My neighbor who worked for the DNR recommended this,Plantskydd.It comes in a powder that you have to mix with water and spray it on the trees. I got it from our county Soil&Water office.I have arborvitae that the deer have all but destroyed. I took five trees out this fall. This is my first time trying it, so we will see next spring if it works.

    duh queen
    Participant
    Posts: 547
    #2238885

    I’ve been using concrete reinforcing mesh for years. Once it rusts a bit, you can hardly see it around the trees. my trees are all protected by a hoop of the mesh reaching out an average of 5 ft from the trunk of the tree. A single stake is all that’s needed to anchor it. And I can easily move it for mowing/pruning/picking.

    Onthewater
    Participant
    Posts: 218
    #2242353

    I’ve been using concrete reinforcing mesh for years. Once it rusts a bit, you can hardly see it around the trees. my trees are all protected by a hoop of the mesh reaching out an average of 5 ft from the trunk of the tree. A single stake is all that’s needed to anchor it. And I can easily move it for mowing/pruning/picking.

    The 5 foot tall concrete mesh is what I’ve used also. There is no way on my side hill, and the amount of deer that will do whatever they can to eat, that 1 post would do the job. I’ve got 6′ diameter fences around my trees with a thick layer of mulch to keep the watering down and weed away. This is what I would suggest for the trees around your house. It would be a lot of work and expense for the hunting land

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    Dan
    Participant
    Southeast MN
    Posts: 3376
    #2242364

    Onthewater I had to do a double take because I thought you had taken that picture from me. That’s pretty much exactly what my setup looks like, although my fencing probably isn’t quite so robust, it’s metal but more like garden fence.

    Jake Thelen
    Participant
    Medford, MN
    Posts: 66
    #2242415

    Have you seen the tubes Babe Winkleman uses on his property? The deer and rabbits can’t get at the tree and the tube forces the tree to reach for the sky. In like two years you have a tall spindly tree, that they cannot reach the top of. Seems to work. Check it out

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