Oh my, deer!
I should run for office.
I could campaign and win just based on deer control. How do I know that – well I have been running a grass roots poll for the last two-years. My stats tell me so.
Every time I am at a social gathering the subject of deer somehow pops up, Montgomery County deer to be specific. We all have our stories but after we share them my tag line is I should run for office – on deer control. Everyone within earshot tells me they’d vote for me – doesn’t matter if they are a Tea Party-est, Democrat or Reagan Republican. I got their votes. They just want someone to do something about them.
I rode 300 miles on my bike over 4 days last October. The group I was with started in Western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh – rode along the old Western Maryland railroad line now known as the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP Trail) up and over the Eastern Continental Divide and then downhill to Cumberland MD then onto the C & O National Canal all the way to Seneca MD. The course was 300 miles of woods and wilderness. We started at 6:30 A.M. and ended some days at 5 P.M. I did not see one deer until I drove into my Darnestown MD neighborhood, four days after I left.
You want to know why? It’s because they all like living here.
No natural predators, no western MD/PA hunters, the food supply is good and for the most part they are alert enough to know how to handle the local traffic.
Deer, in my neighborhood are like moving lawn furniture. They move from one yard to the next – free and easily – just standing there erect as cars slow to look, maybe honk the horn or just to wait till all 12 of them cross the road to the other side.
Twenty years ago my next-door neighbor Marty, who owns a lawn service out of Poolesville, told me that once they begin to feast upon the flora – they remember and return. I never heeded his word, stubbornly planting hosta and various other summer plants that just continued to attract the deer. I finally wised up and starting cutting back tree limbs, removing plants, planting pachysandra, or other types of yucky tasting stuff that the deer just lay upon.
But, deer are smart.
First off, they have got to be on the top of the animal kingdom intelligence pyramid here in MoCo. I mean come on; why else would they move here but for the schools and those lush Potomac lawns. These pleasant MoCo people just love to protect and feed them.
Secondly, they have great sensory retention. For instance I have sprayed at least 2 metric tons of Liquid Fence on my plants over the past decade – no matter the season – and Sandy and Sam (yes they have names) know and remember that I sprayed this foul mess on something good to eat. So they wait till I forget, or it rains, or it wears off, then they sneak back at 1 A.M. in the morning to feast on whatever I sprayed a few days before. Liquid Fence is just a smelling signal to them – which means hey dinner can wait – let’s try the Smiths down the street till that smell wears off.
Lastly, they can’t read! Yes, you read that right – they can’t read. Which means to you and me that the next time we go to Lowe’s, Home Depot, Johnson’s Flower Center or Benke’s ete. etc., don’t believe in what YOU read. THIS PLANT IS DEER RESISTENT. Deer can’t read that! They don’t know better. But you should. The only thing deer know is that they can’t resist eating anything green or budding or hanging from a limb. Yeah, it might be yucky tasting to them for a while but eventually they bite and chew if they are hungry enough.
I have seen deer eat pine needles, rhododendron, and magnolia leaves when it is cold and they are hungry.
Occasionally, sadly more often, a deer succumbs to a meeting with a Chrysler. The county has long ago given up trying to clean up that mess and has employed Turkey Buzzards. The nice thing about these guys is that they are not on the dole to the county. They just wait it out and dine when the aroma is just ripe enough.
I used to travel down MacArthur Boulevard passing the Old Anglers Inn. It’s the Turkey Buzzard Starbucks. These scavengers officially known as Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) would prance around the dumpsters out back looking for scraps at Old Anglers until an unsuspecting Chrysler hits a deer or ground hog or fox further down MacArthur. Then the buzzards take off and circle the deceased for the next five days until there are only remains. They also range across the Beltway over into Virginia or up the Potomac.
An unofficial survey performed by my exploratory campaign managers – Yleakot & RoadRNR Associates has found that the buzzard population has exploded in the Potomac Valley region and attributed this aberration to – what else – you guessed it – budget cuts.
So, you ask what is my plan – what would I do – to help the county turn the corner to better manage these moving pieces of lawn furniture. Well, I have tried various hair-brain proposals out on unsuspecting party guests – and the only solution that resonates with them is – to have a roundup. Yep, a roundup.
So, I am playing with the idea of bringing in cowboys from the southwest and maybe even gauchos from South America and would have them herd MoCo deer north beyond Frederick further west towards the Allegheny Mountains and the Appalachians.
As for the poor Potomac Valley Turkey Buzzards – well they just have to make do with what remains.