The first day of fall season hits this week bringing cooler weather, crisp breezes, colorful foliage and apple harvests. Unfortunately, fall is also the season for deer rut. Rut generally lasts from mid-September into late November depending on the region.
Deerbusters.com, an industry leader with over 25 years of wildlife control experience, explained, “Rut is the fall mating season for deer. Bucks tend to go a little wild trying to attract does. While good for nature rut can cause major damage to young trees.”
During rut, bucks will rub their antlers on the bark of trees one to three inches in diameter, preferring smooth barks such as cedars, cherry, birch, mesquite, maples and magnolias. The rubbing helps remove the velvet from the antlers, and coats the twigs, bark, and leaves with the scent of the buck.
Rubbing of the antlers on the bark can gouge and strip the bark from the trees causing anything from minor cosmetic damage to girdling which is fatal for the tree. The damaged bark also exposes sensitive plant tissue that is then susceptible to pests and diseases.
In addition to the rubbing of antlers deer bucks will also put on a show of assertion by thrashing and battering against a tree. This can cause the tree major damage and has even been known to snap trees in half.
DeerBusters.com recommends using Vinyl Rut Guards to protect susceptible trees from rutting bucks. The Vinyl Rut Guards are easy to install by wrapping the guard around the trunk from the bottom up. “While, repellents are a popular deer control method which gets great results for deer browse we do not recommended them for rutting deer, since bucks become erratic and daring during rut,” says DeerBusters.com.
For closely planted trees deer fencing can be used to create small enclosures of multiple trees. Simple cut the fencing to the proper length and secure in place with rebar or angled steel posts.
It is best to protect young trees before any signs of damage since deer are habit forming and will continue to return to the same area doing more damage to already wounded trees.