Deer and forest landowners: a love/hate relationship


We live on 5.6 acres of rural property outside Forest Grove. We also have an 89-acre tract of family forestland in the Coast Range. Since purchasing our rural residence nearly four years ago, we have worked many weekends clearing brush and planting hundreds of Douglas-fir seedlings. Since it’s our home, we’ve also planted more than 100 rhododendrons and ferns, and have established two landscaped areas in the front yard.

We also have a large herd of deer – last count was 13 and growing – so we’ve given much thought to plant selection. All our landscape designs are considered “deer-resistant” by the nurseries that sell the plants and trees, but I laugh when I hear that term, as we’ve found that nothing is “deer-resistant” around our home, unless it includes a very high fence.

Still, we enjoy watching our deer herd, especially in the spring when the spotted fawns make their debut. But we also don’t like them on our property for the damage they do. Our plants cost a lot!

Deer eat everything, including most of our rhododendrons, vine maple, kinnikinnick and hostas, and they absolutely adore munching on our dogwood trees. Unfortunately, trying to scare them off the property doesn’t work, unless we chase them on foot, which I’ve been known to do more than a few times.

During the winter, the bucks come through and aggressively scrape our trees, rubbing their antler velvet, killing the small seedlings, damaging the bark on pine trees and snapping rhododendrons in half.

Last year, we installed a seven-foot fence around two acres of our back yard, saving the trees and landscaping inside from deer damage. And next weekend we’ll plant new seedlings to replace those that didn’t make it.

After several eye-to-eye standoffs with the deer, I think we’ve finally found a way toward peaceful coexistence. In the end, we’ll find a way to live in harmony on our hill.

Kathy Storm
Business Operations Manager


9755 SW Barnes Rd., Suite 210        
Portland, OR 97225        
Phone: 971-673-2944        
Fax: 971-673-2946

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