DeerBusters.com's Guide to Controlling the Deer Rut
Sep 28, 2010, 10:32 ET
FREDERICK, Md., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Fall is a beautiful time of year that lifts the spirits of landowners. But it's also when trees are most susceptible to rut damage from bucks. Deer like to move around when it's cooler so the crisp dawns and twilights this time of year usually signal the rut is on. Defining the exact time for any given area or buck is difficult, but it's safe to say that rut season lasts from early September through November.
Bucks rub their antlers against tree trunks for two reasons: One reason is to clean off the velvety finish the antlers take on in summer. The other reason is to mark homeowners' trees as part of their territory. The bucks go all out, really thrashing and pushing against the trunk until they release their scent.
Fall may be the best time for bucks to make their mark, but it's the worst time for trees to suffer injury to their trunks. Winter is on its way and the last thing any tree needs heading into the first frost is an open wound. The trunk is more than a post to hold the tree canopy up; inside it is the life system for the tree. Most rut damage occurs from one to four feet up the trunk and lower stems. Younger trees, particularly those just planted, are the most vulnerable.
One way to protect trees from rutting bucks is to keep deer away from the trees, or at least the youngest ones. Vinyl rut guards go right around the trunks; they come in 24 inch or 36 inch heights to match a tree's size and maturity. Rut guards also help hold in moisture, which helps keep them healthy throughout dry winter months. "Simply wrap the guards around the trunk from the base up," says Jason Wiles, wildlife control expert and general manager of DeerBusters.com.
Deer fencing can protect the yard around a home that includes your favorite trees. It comes in several types, and the choice depends on how large, permanent and strong you want your fence to be. "If you're looking for fencing just to get you through rut season, choose standard perimeter fencing that's 'invisible,' or less unsightly in your landscaping," says Wiles. The standard fencing comes in rolls. "You can use it to create small, circular fences around the base of your tree during rut season," added Wiles. It's easy to install and handy to have around in case the same bucks come back hungry for fresh foliage in the spring.
If bucks are particularly aggressive or there have been past problems with aggressive deer around fruit trees, extra-strength perimeter fencing also comes in rolls. The corrosive-proof material stands up to bucks and is easy to install.
And once this year's trees are safely protected from rutting with vinyl rut guards or deer fencing, homeowners shouldn't rest too easily. According to the University of Illinois Extension Service, the territorial nature of rutting means bucks will likely revisit the same trees next year or the year after. The service's experts also warn not to try to ward off a buck; rutting bucks often are agitated and unpredictable. Visit DeerBusters.com for more information and tips on stopping deer rut.
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