Living with deer.
"Deerproof Your Garden," published in the July/ August GRIT, hit a nerve. Not because I don't sympathize with gardeners; finding ways to keep the deer away from our vegetables can be challenging. But just because deer enjoy tasty food doesn't make them our "enemy." On our farm, we take a much different approach. We call the deer in, not run them off.
Each spring, we plant a wildlife smorgasbord--sorghum, milo, millet, oats, sunflowers, foxtail, wheat, clover and chufa--a combination guaranteed to lure deer. Our refuge has become a safe place to make their beds and raise their young.
We feel lucky to be living alongside these beautiful creatures. A perfect example of grace and agility, they are poetry in motion as we watch them frolic and play. Nothing compares to the peace and quiet of an afternoon spent in our tree stands as the sun goes down and the white-tailed deer come out to feed.
Of course, we realize the deer population must be controlled, but there's a right and wrong way. The most logical approach is through legal hunting. According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, 122,000 deer were reported harvested in our state alone last season. Although we hunt and enjoy delicious fried tenderloin on occasion, deer bring us much more pleasure alive than dead.
Our goal is to keep deer where they are wanted and out of places were they are considered pests. When we create a natural habitat for them, deer are less likely to fall prey to busy highways and heartless poachers.
A lot of work and sacrifice goes into our efforts, but the rewards never end. We give to the deer, and they give back to us. Whether it's a newborn fawn or a trophy buck, we never grow tired of watching them. For us, living with deer works.
LINDA C. DEFEW