In Montgomery County, most newly planted trees must be protected from deer. White-tailed deer damage young trees in two different ways:
- They eat, or browse on the trees especially the twigs and buds; and
- The bucks, or male deer, rub their antlers along the trunk, or stem, and scrape off the tree’s bark. The deer are instinctively rubbing velvet, or skin, off their antlers.
Both browsing and rubbing by deer kills trees. Therefore, protecting your trees is important.
One of the easiest way to protect newly planted trees from browsing is to plant trees that are taller than 6 feet. Deer may still eat some lower branches but they will not be able to reach the top of the tree allowing the tree to continue to grow.
For smaller trees, install chicken wire or deer netting around each tree or groups of trees. The wire or netting should be at least 5 feet tall.
There are several ways to stop bucks from rubbing the trunks. The best protection is to install a cage around the tree trunk using heavy-duty plastic mesh. Chicken wire will also work. The mesh or wire should be at least 4-feet tall and anchored to the ground so the deer cannot push it out of the way. Another way is to install two pieces of 4-foot rebar on opposite sides of the stem, or trunk, and as close to the trunk as possible.