Tag Archives: urban deer

Rutting Season

There is a distinct odour in the air. Not a pleasant one. It reminds me of the smell of a billy goat – – I remember that bouquet (?) from the farm. We kept dairy goats, mostly nannies. Of course, every herd needs a billy.

ws Deer Antlers vs fencing 1
photo by SVSeekins

Our billy (like any billy goat) always emitted an odd scent, but in rutting season it became particularly stinky.
Deer are like that, too.

Today C spots the buck first. The male deer is just exiting the gate at the far end of our garden. I’m not surprised to see him – we could smell him coming. ‘Tis the season.

What does surprise me is his unusual outfit. His antlers are festooned with… something?
It’s hard to tell what…

I pull out the cell phone & carefully try to get closer. Deer–especially bucks– are uppity at this time of year. Sometimes it’s just safer to zoom into a photo after the fact… so here’s a closer look at the same photo:

cu Deer Antlers vs fencing 1
photo by SVSeekins

Crazy, eh? It’s a bit blurry, but it looks like a shovel handle (with no shovel) is hooked over one of his horns!

ms Deer Antlers vs fencing 3
photo by SVSeekins

As he heads across the street, he gets a little closer. It’s still really hard to tell what this mess is all about.

The shovel handle swings from his antlers as he walks. That must feel so awkward… but he isn’t limping or having trouble holding up his head. Why doesn’t he just lower + shake his head until the handle slips off?

ws Deer Antlers vs fencing 2
photo by SVSeekins

He sees me watching, but he doesn’t seem bothered by me – bucks are often cocky that way. I daren’t face him directly – he’d interpret that as a challenge.

I’ll bet he has a headache, but he doesn’t seem fighting mad or even ornery… so, in hopes of getting a better view, I follow him.

He strolls into Friendly Neighbour’s yard & heads to the quiet corner the local herd prefers. I don’t see anything much as he walks away, but finally, he turns a bit to the side.

What is all that extra stuff obscuring his antlers? It doesn’t look like hedge trimmings – which is C’s guess. Bucks are notorious for thrashing antlers along tree trunks and through shrubs.

ws Deer Antlers vs fencing 2
photo by SVSeekins

My best guess is someone installed deer netting along their hedge this spring & the new growth obscured the fine mesh. Perhaps this fellow tried to walk through & was caught up in it? The tangle has trapped the shovel handle where it hangs…

Or maybe that mesh was protecting a tasty vegetable patch that he just couldn’t resist? I’m so curious… What’s your guess?
How did he get so tangled?
& How will he ever free himself from it?


Hungry Deer

It wasn’t unusually cold but this must’ve been a looooong winter for our local deer. They’re feeding on things they don’t even like.

species tulips - browsed by deer,
photo by SVSeekins

Gardeners know that deer like tulips.  But the smaller species tulips have always been safe.  Not this year.  Check this out: in a plot of a dozen botanical tulips- only 4 blooms survive.  It looks like a deer snacked on leaves, then came back a few days later to taste-test the flowers. The flavour must be pretty bad because someone didn’t clean his plate.

laurel browsed by deer
photo by SVSeekins

Each winter the deer get hungry enough to nibble on some of the broad-leaved evergreens. This laurel has never been chewed down like this before.  There’s a toxin in laurels, so deer avoid it most of the time.  I’ll bet this browsing session caused indigestion!

variegated yucca browsed by deer
photo by SVSeekins

Even variegated yucca is looking tattered & much worse for wear.  In our garden, the deer always take the bloom before it opens, but the leaves – – they’re so sharp  & tough & stringy!!  Good grief.  Aside from the toxicity factor, how is it even palatable?

I’ll bet the herd is glad the spring growth is on its way.

But then again…
Even in the growing season, the deer on Mt. Tolmie have taken to eating Lily of the Valley.  They never used to do that.

Licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza,Polypodium occidentale, Polypodium vulgare subsp. occidentale, many footed fern, sweet root, , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

We used to have lush licorice fern in the yard.  Now it’s barely holding on.

There must be some other reason than the scarcity of winter.  I reckon it’s because our urban herd is growing, as is human density.  This dynamic presents some challenges:

  • Housing is taking up a higher percentage of space in a city lot.
  • In turn, that increased housing is reducing the size & number of gardens.
  • There are more & more urban deer – – grazing on fewer & smaller gardens.
  • The deer are getting hungry.

I’ve improved some of the caging around our garden beds.  I’m not much of a fan of that look, but it’s better than naked shrubs & dead perennials.  It’s getting more difficult to decide which plantings to leave exposed.
I still enjoy seeing wildlife in our neighbourhood.
We’re both caught between a rock & a hard place.




Fernwood Snowdrop Meadow

How often do you stop mid-errand to admire a roadside garden?   I did just that the other day.

galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Cycling along Haultain in Fernwood, on the way to downtown Victoria, I’m caught off guard by a snowdrop meadow.  I pull over & take a closer look.

The meadow runs the whole outside length of the fenceline.  AND as it is a corner lot, so it runs along  Forbes street, too!  There was even a mini meadow on the wee boulevard right at the crosswalk. 🙂

galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The patches of snowdrops are interspersed with patches of daffodils.  This winter meadow will morph into an early-spring meadow in another few weeks.

On closer inspection, I recognize Calendula (Pot Marigold), too.  Even with our summer droughts, they’ll flower all summer & well into the fall!

galanthus, snowdrops, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

All three are deer resistant.

The calendula will self-seed a crop for next year as well as feed the birds.

These folks put care & attention into the city boulevard beside their property.  (Can you see him painting his fence in the distance?)

In my mind, this meadow has so much more going for it than the regular grass lawn.  I’ll bet the bees & other beneficial insects like it a whole lot more, too.


other snowdrop patches I admire: