Deer antlering damage to my agave

The bucks have been at it again this winter, rubbing their antlers on agaves, yuccas, hesperaloes, and small trees throughout my neighborhood. I always cage my small possumhaw holly in early fall through early spring, but I was hoping I could get away with less structural deterrents (sprays and wireless deer fencing) for the woody lilies, like this ‘Green Goblet’ agave. Alas, no. Truly, the buck stops here.

So we pulled the rolled wire out of the attic, and I’ve belatedly wrapped this agave and a mangled giant hesperaloe. Note to self: do NOT wait until October next year!

The deer are pests, but still, I do feel sorry for this guy. I’ve been reading about him since early December on our neighborhood Facebook page, and last week we spotted him moseying down our street, with a net and a pole tangled in his left antler. How in the world he managed to do this to himself, no one knows. But according to the FB comments from concerned neighbors, the game warden and local wildlife groups say nothing can be done unless he drops from exhaustion, which doesn’t seem likely considering he’s still active and looks healthy after more than a month. Bucks drop their antlers in late winter or spring, so hopefully he’ll be free soon.

In my walks around the neighborhood, I’ve marveled that certain agaves, like this variegated one in a hell strip one street over, seem to escape deer damage every year. Maybe it’s just not on the usual deer paths.

The ‘Jaws’ agave by my front door has so far escaped antlering damage, perhaps because of proximity to the house or because I spray it with deer repellent from time to time. And the toothless sotol in the tall pipe is safe because of its height, and maybe would be anyway because its leaves are so pliable — i.e., less tempting to deer.

The deer are a pain. But thank heavens I don’t have elephants wandering around the garden.

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12 Responses

  1. I know your pain.

    We didn’t cage anything this year. The bucks didn’t appear to have velvet on their antlers. Guess that didn’t matter.

    They made a mess.

    Lesson learned.

  2. jenny says:

    I don’t know who to feel more sorry for: you, your agave or that poor deer. I think I have to say the deer because the others will recover but the deer probably not-unless someone feeds him and the coyotes stay away. We once had a deer with a broken leg but he wasn’t around for long. Aside, you plants look wonderful after that horrendous cold spell. Smart plantings.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Well, these plants look fine. But plenty of others look brown and sad, especially my beloved dianella, Mexican honeysuckle, and bamboo muhly. Hoping all will come back from the roots. —Pam

  3. Gerhard Bock says:

    My heart goes out to you. We don’t have to worry about dears where I love, but I know how much damage they can do.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      “dears where I love” — Gerhard, I don’t know if you were being punny or if autocorrect got you, but either way it was funny! Those dear deer — oh yeah. —Pam

  4. Kris P says:

    As much as I curse the raccoons and skunks here, I count myself lucky that I don’t have to face deer. I do feel sorry for the deer with the annoying headdress, though.

  5. Oh, poor deer! Poor agave! I hope both will be ok.

  6. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Yikes! Poor guy. Maybe this is his comeuppance for damaging your agave. Sorry that it now has scars.