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DEER: Do deer visit or live in your backyard?

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 8:12 am in deer.

Buck with new (velvet) antlers browsing in backyard. Photo by Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, CA
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It is quite common for deer to visit your backyard to feed on flowers and vegetables in your garden.

I have also received reports that deer have even been born in backyards. That’s why I now call our backyards — The Urban Wilderness.

Because of this, I’d like to do one of my quickie little surveys about your local deer. I’d appreciate it if you can take a few moments to write down your answers (under comments at the end of this blog) to my brief questions below. Please include the city and state where you live. Thanks.

Young doe in backyard. Photo by Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, CA
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** 1. Do deer visit your front or back yards? How often?

** 2. What do the deer do in your yard?

Young fawn in backyard. Photo by Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, CA
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** 3. What do they eat? Have you figured out a way to stop them from eating your plants?

** 4. How do you feel about these visits?

** 5. Any other comments?

Buck with new (velvet) antlers browsing in backyard. Photo by Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, CA
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Thanks for helping us find out more about these interesting creatures. Be sure and browse through what others have had to say. You may find their comments helpful. /Gary

Backyard buck checks out tasty-looking blossom. Photo by Mike Gordon, Walnut Creek, CA
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19 Responses to “DEER: Do deer visit or live in your backyard?”

  1. Cindy Milina Says:

    Good Morning Gary,

    Thank you for wanting input about the fauna in our neighborhood. As I love to look at the new fauns with their moms and regal dads old enough to have antlers, I am not very happy that they frequent my yard and eat everything. They say ‘Deer proof’ and ‘Deer resistant’ but those remedies do not work. I will answer you honestly in the hopes you can provide those living in open space, some things we can do to.

    The deer (all of them!!!) come into our yard EVERYDAY.

    They eat everything and anything, contrary to what we read or hear. They have even munched on a dwarf oleander on our hill.

    NO, we are not very happy, because we live in an area with open space and we have no fence around our 1 1/2 acre property, YET!!!

    We have tried home made remedies to no avail, purchased commercial, retail and animal potions and even asked my husband to christen the plants with his own potion, again to no avail.
    It seems, sometimes, they may leave some plants alone and you come out the next morning and it’s gone.
    I think I would prefer gophers(we planted eveything in cages) and Turkey over voracious deer.
    If there is anything you can help us with, it would be greatly appreciated. We live in Stonehurst, in the Alhambra Valley in Martinez with all creatures big and small and we really do not want to put up a fence, but I love to garden.(at least we don’t have to hire a gardner, the deer take of that for us!!!!)

    Thank you,
    Cindy Milina

  2. Julie Dempster Says:

    Deer come through our yard morning and evening(no fence). We live a couple of blocks west of the Berkeley Rose Garden on a very busy street. They eat their way through on their way to other yards. Sometimes they sleep here during the day. Every year we have babies and one year instead of just passing through the twins had a game of tag. It was a real treat to watch. They pretty much eat everything but the weeds. They frustrate the heck out of me because they eat everything, but then you see those babies…Around here we call it the Bambi syndrome–hate ’em but then you see them and go “ah, how cute”. Last year we had a very amorous buck with very large antlers basically hold a doe hostage in our yard. Wouldn’t let her go anywhere. It was a little scary walking out your door and having him stare you down..


  3. Ruth Says:

    Deer come into my back yard in Hercules during the driest months. The back yard faces the open space toward Franklin Canyon. I have seen an occasional deer cross the street in front, but rarely. In the back yard they have eaten rose bushes, vincas, impatiens, and a small citrus tree. I tried “liquid fence” repellant, but it smelled so bad it repelled ME, and it was very expensive, so I gave up and planted irises. They show no interest in irises, azaleas, or bougainvillea. I plant colorful annuals in hanging baskets, so the deer can’t get at them.

  4. anne chavez Says:

    we live in the unincorporated hills of san leandro. we used to have deer a plenty about 2 years ago but now just an occasional sighting. Too many automobiles I think.

  5. Nancy Schick Says:

    We have deer coming into our front yard—back yard is fenced– every day, mainly in the evening. They even come up on our front steps to eat plants from our containers. They eat violets, lily blossoms, morea,camellialeaves and grass. I really enjoy seeing them and keep my favorite plants in the back. One year before we had a fence a fawn was born under our deck. We live in Moraga on Arroyo Dr. with the nearest cross streets Sullivan and Ivy and we left a path around our fenced back yard so they could reach the open space areas.

  6. Barbara Says:

    I’ve lived in the Shannon Hills area of Martinez for the past sixteen years. Behind my house it’s nothing but hills. I’ve had fox, coyote, mountain lion, and the basics: skunk, opossum, raccoon, snake, gopher, gopher, gopher–sorry, keys got stuck–etc. Deer? Once.
    Wanna swap? I’ll give you a gopher. Respond in the next 10 minutes and I’ll make that offer **FIVE** gophers for just one or two deer. I’ll even provide a three month supply of various forbs to assist these cute little guys during their transition to their new back yards!

  7. Jeannine Gendar Says:

    Deer go through my yard in downtown Martinez (near Rankin Park). Sometimes they stop and eat, and I occasionally see one sleeping in the dust out beyond the back fence. I don’t often plant vegetables, but last time I planted tomatoes I learned that they like to eat them. In spring they don’t eat very low to the ground, but by the time things start drying out they’re willing to bend down more for their food. Haven’t found a way to keep them from eating plants, but most of what I plant is native and just gets bushier after being chomped.

    There are plenty of low fences and open areas for the deer and other creatures to move around in, but I’ve also seen them walking down the middle of the street in the wee hours, and up people’s front steps and on their porches.

    I love it that they’re around. Once a doe had fawns in the next-door neighbor’s backyard and they were around all summer.

    And if Barbara runs low on gophers she can have some of mine.

  8. Gary Says:

    Jeannine: Maybe we should have a “Gopher Market” where people can bring their gophers and we can make trades.

  9. Pete Beck Says:

    hi Gary. i live on the Pleasant Hill / Martinez border, near Hidden Lakes Park, and we get deer in our yard all the time. this time of year it’s mostly for the shade and a safe place to sleep, but also because the apricots in our trees are ripening. years ago i gave up trying to shoo them away – heck, the trees produce too much for me to eat anyway.

    the deer have been staying with us in the spring and summer for years now and we love it. this year i’ve seen three distinct groups of visitors; a doe with two spotted fawns, two young adults, and one adult male. i think that the two young adults this year may be the two fawns that we had last year ( i always love the reaction that we get from friends when they look out our kitchen window and find a deer dozing on the hillside nearby. :) the deer are always welcome to share our yard, as are the rest of the wildlife. (except for the gophers…) :)

  10. Barbara Says:

    “And if Barbara runs low on gophers she can have some of mine.” Thank you, Jeannine, but Barbara has adequate stock and supply.

    This is a strange year. I’m being raided by mutant gophers who have acquiesced into believing that gopher alarms are a merge of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld with Dvořák’s Symphony No. Nine in E Minor.

    Resorting to a gopher smoke bomb was futile. (Two things that I did discover: 1. NEVER light the wick on the side of the patio opposite from where the gopher holes are located; 2. Read the instructions first.)

    I am ignoring the fact that my back yard was newly sodded last year. I now spend a couple of mornings weekly shoveling back in the dirt. :(

  11. Kaaren Smith Says:

    We live in lower Emerald Hills, Redwood City across from a wooded area on busy Jefferson Avenue. We installed gates which we only closed at night. Now we have deer entering our well planted front yard all day long, even when I am in the garage, right nearby. Have seen 2 fawns enjoying our roses and 2 doe that are the ones that keep returning relentlessly. They have devoured all our apple buds, so no apples this year. They have nibbled many of our rose bushes, tomato buds and zucchini leaves. Have even gotten to backyard veggies, by leaping over the gate, mostly eating tomato buds. We don’t want them eating our many plants, yet I feel sorry for them if they are that hungry, or maybe they just like our gourmet spread. It is the only one in the area. I wish I had the funds to buy deer food and place it across the street in the safe wooded area so they do not risk being hit by cars. I worry each day one will get hit. So, we have taken to closing the gates all day to deter them.

  12. marc stahl Says:

    Hi Gary,
    for the past 2-3 weeks i have had a baby fawn practically living in my yard.i say it was born about a month ago, and as others have stated the mother deer leaves it for hour during the day, and then comes back for it in the evening to nurse it. within the last couple of days another fawn began showing up in my yard.the fawns do not do too much damage to our plants in the backyard, but when the mother deer returns it usually eats our plants. when will these deer leave my yard for good? we live in Oakridge, NJ which is northern NJ if you were wondering, and there are plenty of animals to deal with up here. my other question was, will I have this problem every spring and summer with does leaving their fawns in my backyard? if it continues i will have to get my backyard completely fenced in. please help!

  13. Mike Gordon Says:

    The deer have been coming through my yard for 40 years or more. I’ve lived here 30 years. I have seen doe give birth, buried several from what demise I couldn’t tell, they were too far gone. I saw a vulture up under the trees one day as I was sitting at my computer, eating something, a dead deer. I have cut sections of my fence out so they can get through after seeing a small fawn try to follow it’s mother over a 6′ section of my fence, mom made it easy,an uphill jump from a standing start, the fawn got caught with it’s leg through the wire. Luckily it freed itself. I have found they don’t eat fern, I have lots! Mike Gordon

  14. Cherie Abramowitz Says:

    Hello Gary,
    I would love to tell you about the deer in our backyard.
    We have several deer visit every few hours all day long.
    Our house was built along side a deer path. When I discovered this,we started putting corn in a small well to show them that we were friendly and it worked. Mother deer bring their babies up from the path to nibble on the tree branches while they eat the corn; its so beautiful watching them play on the back lawn they are quite comical. We have deer of all sizes now. We have been here in Port Deposit MD for 4 yrs and just recently bucks started coming up also.
    Of course we have a million pictures of them the most we have ever had at one time was eight.
    We also have a few fox, 2 raccoons, a large groundhog,
    cottontails and the most beautiful assortment of woodpeckers. I saw in my All Animals july/aug issue that I could post my property as urban wildlife sanctuary and was wondering how to go about this. My goal since becoming a home owner was to do everything I could to encourage them to live on and around my property. Wildlife makes me feel healthy and I know they are safe here.
    Thanks for allowing me to share ~ Cher

  15. Ikie Karageorge Says:

    Hi,Garry i live in Roanoke Virginia and i have seen a few deer come in to my nabiors,andf my yard.I love hunting and fishing(please dont take this affencive to people that hate hunting)but i will not try to shoot them because i have taken a hunters safty class,and i will get my license next year.But i have just seen them eat only grass.A lot of deer come in the winter and i see them walking(running)in the woods beacuse the trees have no leavs on them.But i only live about 400 yards away from the woods. THANK YOU, IKIE KARAGEORGE

  16. Debby Hicks Says:

    We moved to this house in Grand Rapids, Mi in December of 09, so we did not start seeing all of the critters until the springtime. We live right on the precipice of a hill with a creek directly below us and we have a plethora of wildlife from ducks, groundhogs, deer (with their lil’ bambi’s)racoons, geese, chipmunks and the occasional woodpecker. We planted a huge garden and to thwart their efforts at inhaling our foliage, we feed them everyday in a large trough filled with corn, sunflower seeds, peanuts, carrots, oats and sometimes we add some blackstrap molasses for a real treat. It must be working because we have not nary a deer make a dinner of our treasured garden. The trough sits just 20 feet or so away from our kitchen window and it is such a treat to watch the baby ducks, deer and groundhogs come so close. This is nature and wildlike at its best!

    Deb Hicks

  17. michelle Says:

    1.Yes, We have two does and two fawns that visit our back yard (in Orinda) morning and evening, and sometimes in between. Our back yard is unfenced and along with other neighboring backyards, creates a sort of corridor where the deer roam.
    2. Mostly wander about, looking for food. We have a tree that sheds quite a bit and they are great at cleaning up the downed leaves. Sometimes we see them sleeping under our redwood trees.
    3. Downed leaves, some weeds, some of my plants – mostly roses, salvia, mallow, and rose of Sharon, I try to keep deer resistant plants in the area they can access, but the Liquid Fence seems to work fairly well for the few fruit trees they’ve decided to snack on.
    4. Love them. Once in a while a few days will go by without a visit and I start to worry about them.
    5. We worry that they are getting enough to eat, but do not want to feed them. We’ve thought about putting some source of fresh water out for them, and would like to know what you think about that.

  18. jeff Says:

    I live in Castro Valley, near the lake. I have about 20 to 30 deer walk through my property every day. I have over half acre on a hillside with no fences. They will even come up to me when I stand totally still. We have bucks a plenty and babies every year. Today I looked out my kitchen window to see a deer lying down, which is quite common. But this deer did not move, upon further inspection I noticed that the deer was dead. First dead deer in the 8 years I have been here.

  19. Sue Says:

    I live in St. Louis County, MO (Ballwin), not really near any significant woods (large park is probably 7+ miles away). We started having a doe in our back yard on Father’s Day 2012 (6/17)for about 5 hours, and she came back almost every morning and several evenings for about a week, then it seemed to slow. I was told her fawn was the next street over. On Monday of this week (7/9), we had 2 fawns in our back yard – they came back on Wednesday morning (and evening) and this morning (Fri 7/13). Wednesday evening and this morning, the doe also came – got to watch them nurse this morning. Generally, they had left by 8 am, but this morning they left early and were back by 7:30 or so – still there according to a neighbor. I have put water out – and a couple of times an ear of corn out (hesitant to put food out too much to make them dependent). The doe does eat from my bird feeder. They are fascinating to watch and I hope they keep coming, but pray they stay safe – we are not far from a very heavily travelled road/hwy. Should I try to feed them, mostly they are eating growth near back fence – have only eaten my flowers twice (and then we had a “talk” :)

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