Rich's Foxwillow Pines Nursery, Inc

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American Conifer Society, 2001

The Buck Stops Here

By Richard and Susan Eyre

We planted our first crop of conifers during the drought of 1988. The following winter the deer damage was extensive. The Pinus strobus, Thuja occidentalis and Picea abies 'Cupressina' were the hardest hit. We think they used the Pinus sylvestris as breath mints. Chub Harper observed the devastation and urged us to try a single strand wire electric fence for our second winter.

Our system is a low cost electric deer fence consisting of 4' steel posts (15' apart) connected by a wire charged with pulses of high voltage at very low current. The wire is baited with peanut butter on aluminum paddles hung along the wire. Deer love peanut butter and after they take one lick-the buck stops here! It is effective because the system is low in maintenance, low in cost and removable during the summer months. The fence is low and pets can move freely underneath. With appropriate gates installed along the walking path, humans have little risk of a shocking experience. Since we instituted the electric deer fence, deer damage has been reduced 95%.

It is important to check the fence for effectiveness and keep baiting the paddles with peanut butter. Also check for shorts in the wire. Downed branches from storms or heavy snowfall need to be removed to keep the fence on line. Whitetails prefer Skippy! (Just joking, generic peanut butter works well). By the way, the deer pruned Pinus sylvestris 'Fastigiata' have filled in quite nicely since the deer don't chow down on a regular basis. The following list from The American Nurseryman on what the white tailed deer love the most.

Taste Tested

A list of ornamentals white-tailed deer favor most (97) and least (0) during the winter foraging activities.

SpeciesRanking
Euonymus fortunei97
Taxus baccata84
Taxus cuspidata80
Taxus X media77
Taxus brevifolia77
Thuja occidentalis68
Rhododendron spp. (evergreen)47
Ilex crenata40
Ilex X meserveae38
Viburnum carlesii26
Juniperus virginiana22
Rhododendron X laetevirens20
Pyracantha coccinea18
Rhododendron maximum17
Rhododendron 'Exbury Hybrids'17
Ligustrum spp.16
Rhododendron carolinianum16
Malus domestica14
Cotoneaster spp.13
Euonymus alata10
Juniperus chinensis09
Elaeagnus angustifolia08
Acer palmatum07
Rhododendron spp. (deciduous)07
Enkianthus campanulatus07
Tsuga canadensis06
Pinus nigra06
Ilex glabra05
Prunus serrulata05
Betula papyrifera04
Tsuga caroliniana03
Chamaecyparis pisifera03
Philadelphus spp.03
Viburnum tomentosum02
Magnolia spp.02
Ilex cornuta02
Spiraea spp.02
Betula Pendula01
Leucothoe fontanesiana01
Kalmia latifolia01
Rhododendron spp. (evergreen hybrid)01
Syringa vulgaris01
Pinus strobus01
Cornus sericea01
Picea pungens01
Pieris japonica01
Amelanchier spp.0
Forsynthia spp.0
Cornus kousa0
Pseudotsuga menziesii0
Buxus sempervirens0
Ilex opaca0
Abies fraseri0
Cornus florida0
Crytomeria japonica0
Hisbiscus syriacus0
Picea abies0
Picea glauca0
Pinus mugo0
Pinus sylvestris0
Pyrus communis0