Deer Cage

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)February 27, 2009

We discussed ways to keep deer from eating our newly planted trees in Spruce's 'Rope-a-Dope' thread, so I thought I'd share a picture of the first tree I've planted in one of my 'deer cages' - it's not very pretty, but hopefully it'll do the job.

I got my order from Pine Ridge Gardens the other day. It included a white oak, and I'd REALLY like for it to thrive! I planted it in the most open area on my property - lots of loblolly pines grew there before Katrina, but they were all uprooted or broken in two during the hurricane. I planted it in ground that's sort of at the top of the little stream that flows in the bottom of the hollow here, but it's elevated from the rest of the 'bay head' (or whatever you call it) and it doesn't stay wet, even in the rainiest weather, just moist. As usual with my orders from Mary Ann at PRG, it was a nice size, probably 3 1/2' or 4' tall, which isn't bad for $11.00 - you can't even get wite oak/q. alba at nurseries here.

I left about 4" open at the bottom on one side and put old logs there - if I need to water it, I can roll the logs away, and I should be able to get my hand under there to water it, I hope so anyway! You can barely see the tree in this picture, since the leaves aren't on yet -

When it grows taller than the chicken wire, I'll add more to keep the taller tree protected. Once it gets as tall as the poles, I'll take it all down.


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I can't clearly see from the pisture how tall your cage is. When I make my cages out of the cattle fencing, they are 47" high, and about 40" across. Just one or twice have I had a deer lean over the top and nibble something, so that should be high enough.

But, be sure you don't have a buck rubbing problem before you remove your cage. Here bucks will rub things up to 5 or 6" in diameter. When something is that large, they really don't scrape the bark off very much of the trunk, but they do some damage. Anything 3" or less they will completely destroy by rubbing.

Oh, by the way, in a discussion about buck rubbing a while back there was some disagreement about why bucks do their "rubbing." One person said it was to mark territory, another said, no, that it was to remove the velvet/skin over the newly grown antlers which itch during this time.

When I talked to the Wildlife biologist here last week about the "rope a dope" idea, I mentioned how extreme and violent some of the rubbing I observe is and asked him what was behind it. He said that the bucks rub for both reasons--to remove the velvet, AND for territorial reasons. The more violent and extreme tree destroying "rubbing" is the later rubbing they do, and that has to do with mating and their territorial instincts.

Anyway, your cage looks great.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 7:55PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Spruce, the poles are 8' tall, with about 18"-2' of each one being in the ground, and the rest being above ground. The chicken wire is 4' high.
Most of the deer that come around here are does and/or fawns, but I saw evidence of antler rubbing just yesterday on a young maple tree, so I guess a buck's been here, too. I'll leave the cage up until I'm sure the trunk of the little white oak is big enough to withstand bucks.
Is this the time of the year when they lose their velvet and rub trees? The evidence I saw the other day looked fresh.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 9:28PM
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Good question about the timing of the rubbing. While discussing my "rope a dope" idea, the biologist and I got very specific about the timing of the buck rubbing risk. Of course there could be some variation in timing from here compared to where you are. But for here, he said the first phase could start as early as the beginning of September--the velvet rubbing phase. This can continue for a few weeks (I am not sure just how long, exactly). Then late October through December the later phase--the mating/territorial phase. He said, and I pressed him on this point, that any rubbing here after the end of December is unlikely.

And the buck rubbing business may not be the same every year--it depends of the presence of bucks in your specific area, and their size and aggressiveness. One year there can be terrible damage, but then that year those bucks can be shot, and the problem the next year can be less. And vice versa--maybe one year you have no problem, but by the next season two or three bucks may reach maturity, and look out!! So, be careful.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:03PM
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I have been hunting and studying deer for a long time.
I can say that Whitetail deer will rub trees when they have hard antlers,from early Sept until they drop off.Some bucks drop their antlers in early Dec and I have seen bucks rubbing trees in late March.This will change the further South you go.
Bucks tend to rub trees near feeding areas where they encounter does,and in areas that they bed down in and feel safe during day light hours.

I am going to take a picture of my cages I will post later.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:13AM
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Another idea I haven't tried, but which would probably work, is to put two or three really strong (heavy grade for securing cattle fencing) "T" posts close to the tree. I don't like to pound in posts so close they could damage developing roots, but a post placed on each of three sides about two feet from the trunk should do the trick.

I have placed some very light grade metal posts next to a few trees to see what happened, but the bucks just hit them and bent them over--basically breaking them. But the really heavy grade "T" posts would be too much for them. I would pound them in up to the top of the flange--any further should not be necessary.

This will stop buck rubbing after the trees are tall enough to make browsing less or a risk.


The bucks here don't seem to have any preference for where they rub trees. I have about 4 acres mowed around my house, and they come up and just thrash to death anything they can get to, no matter how near the house or how far from any bedding areas or congregation areas!!

The "hunters" around here are completely incompetent--they never get anything, and I see the largest bucks with the biggest racks around here every year. I am not a hunter, but I could sit on my garage roof and get several big bucks with no effort if I were.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:49AM
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Heres a picture of the square cages I'm trying.
It sounds as if you have way to many deer,Maybe I should come down there and hunt some of them bucks.
One thing that might work to keep them from rubbing on bigger trees.Use some of that black plastic 5 or 6 inch field tile(much like a spiral tree gaurd),you can find it at a fleet farm type store.When they try to rub a tree with that on them,it should scare them plus protect the tree.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 5:46PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Your cage looks good, lpptz5a-5b - let's hope both our cages do the job!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 6:41PM
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