DNR photo of deer

The crops are coming out, the wind is blowing, and the rut is on for whitetail deer. Deer are running across roads with abandon. We all have to be careful driving.

The chances of a driver in the northern states hitting a deer over a year’s time are about one in 75-100. October, November and December are the most common months for car/deer accidents.

It’s time to harvest deer.

I’m not a hunter, but I appreciate our responsible hunters. I enjoy eating venison sausage, too.

These beautiful animals give us both joy and consternation. A doe guiding twin fawns is a wonderful sight. How can these creatures do so much damage?

Gardeners were frustrated by deer eating their cultivated plants this summer.

In June, I interviewed a farmer who grew beautiful roses for his wife. Deer had come near the house and eaten the leaves off the rose bushes. The farmer strung wire and electrified it to keep the deer away.

He was not the only one who had deer problems this year.

Just ahead of Labor Day, I went to the Minnesota State Fair to work in the strawbale gardening exhibit.

Naturally, I used the Express bus service from Eden Prairie to get over to Falcon Heights/St. Paul. For $6, I got a roundtrip coach bus ride spanning 24 miles one-way (48 miles round trip) to reach the state fairgrounds, plus I didn’t have to drive in the Twin Cities.

When I told the woman sitting next to me that I was volunteering in the strawbale garden exhibit, she said the deer had eaten her Hosta plants – down to the roots. She had a friend dig up the remaining plants, because this woman didn’t want to mess with deer.

It seemed a bit strange to me – I’d never heard of deer eating Hosta plants before. I thought deer ate corn or soybeans, and in a pinch, grass.

Then I got to the state fairgrounds and found that a lot of people had issues with deer this summer.

It felt like every other person’s comments were that gardening had been poor this summer, and the deer had eaten everything. They were interested in Joel Karsten’s strawbale garden greenhouse design, because they thought it might hold up to wild creatures.

The design features a base perimeter of 2- X 4-inch boards. A cattle panel is bent to form an arch within that base. Plastic is put over the arch for the greenhouse effect. Strawbales are placed inside to compost in the spring and then provide a bed for growing seedlings. After it warms, the plastic is removed so the plants vine up the arched cattle panel. Would it keep deer away? I don’t know.

I think an electric fence is probably the best solution for gardeners, but not realistic for most people. Thinning the deer herd is a better choice.

Beginning in 2018, the DNR set a goal of harvesting 200,000 deer annually across Minnesota. Hunters harvested about 188,000 in 2018 and just under 200,000 in 2017.

Be careful when you’re driving this fall. Watch for eyes in the ditch, and remember that where there is one deer, there’s likely to be more. Thank you, hunters, for thinning the herd. Like the Native Americans taught us, thank the deer for providing good meat for the winter, too, and don’t waste it.

Sign up for our Weekly newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.