Common Name: White-tailed deer
Scientific Name: Odocoileus virginianus
- Adult body length (without tail): 4 to 6 feet
- Adult body weight: 50 to 400 pounds
- Coloration: Tawny above; white underneath, including tail
- Gestation period: 202 days
- Offspring: 1 to 4 young (at one time) per year (usually 1 or 2)
- Breeding season: October through January
- Birthing season: April through June
- Age at which young are weaned: 8 weeks
- Activity period: Anytime
- Range: Several hundred acres
- Primary foods: Leaves, stems and buds of woody plants, live bark, fruits, acorns, crops (e.g., corn, soybeans, grains, vegetables, alfalfa), weeds
Deer Pest Status
White-tailed deer have multiplied within their reduced woodland, prairie and wetland habitats to the extent that their foraging on crops and ornamentals results in millions of dollars in loss and damage to agriculture, commercial and residential landscaping every year. The large deer populations in Ohio state parks and municipal parklands, and their foraging impact on woody plants and wildflowers, is resulting in a significant threat to the ecological balance of these otherwise protected lands. Damage to woody ornamentals is particularly devastating in the winter, when food is scarce and conditions severe for the overly-abundant deer populations.
Deer are best excluded from farms, orchards, nurseries and commercial and residential properties through the extensive installation of wire fencing around these properties. Fencing can be made effective for excluding deer in two ways: (1) by being higher than a deer can jump (i.e., at least 10 feet tall) or (2) by being electrified so as to deliver a high voltage, low amperage electric shock when contacted by deer. Electric fencing types, utilizing posts 4 to 5 feet tall, and designed to repel deer are commercially available from a variety of manufacturers (for brands, enter key terms in an Internet search engine). Having one or more trained, large breed guard dogs on the property can be an effective way to keep deer away when only a few acres of land require protection.
Although not a method practiced by Varment Guard, where legal and safe, shooting deer is an effective way to reduce local populations, if the property owner is so inclined. However, the deer can only be taken in deer hunting season unless a special permit is secured from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources based on severity of need. Without a permit, and in season, the firearm of choice for this method is a 12-gauge semiautomatic shot gun for short range shooting. With a special permit, a medium- to high-powered bolt-action rifle fitted with a scope for long range shooting can be used. It is suggested that .223, .22-250, .243 and .30-06 caliber ammunition be used with the scoped rifle.
A variety of commercially-available deer repellents are available for application to the bark, twigs and new growth of woody ornamentals. Most repellents cannot be used on fruits, vegetables and crops due to their bad odor and taste to humans. Repellents may be based on soaps of fatty acids, fungicides, bitter compounds, predator urine or glandular extracts, irritating essential oils, garlic, capsaicin, putrescent egg solids and other agents. Some repellents that contain capsaicin can be used on crops according to product labeling. Few of these repellents retain their ability to discourage feeding by deer for very long. Therefore, reapplications will be necessary at intervals that depend on the product used.