More trouble with Daphne

July 4, 2009

In an email retired MNR guy Brian Anderson suggested I protect my walnut seedlings by putting out a blood-scented bait to scare the deer out of the field.  Opening day of bass season produced a supply of fish carcasses, so I placed them around the field, producing immediate results:  within a couple of hours the fish-heads were widely dispersed as though a litter of coyote puppies had played with them.  From then on I saw no more damage to the seedlings in the back field.

Then came the episode with the spotted fawn E. T.’s  visit to our orchard last Sunday.  Yesterday morning over my pancakes I watched E.T. and Daphne’s Mom grazing in the neighbour’s soybean field, about six hundred yards away.  Fine.  No problem.

This morning after a heavy rain I looked over the walnut fields on the way to the woodlot, then settled into a casual mushroom tour on the Ranger.  I picked three different types of oysters, one in quantity, so now I need to determine if the things are edible.

On the way back to the house I looked down into the new 5 acre patch of seedlings, and there was Daphne, cheerfully munching on one of the priceless blight-resistant plants the butternut people entrusted to my care.  Yelling and waving my Tilley, I gunned the Ranger to the rescue across the 700 feet to the culprit and her victim.

Daphne was not impressed by my wild west routine.  She simply retreated into the tall hay about a hundred feet, turned and stared blankly at me.  I stopped by tree #WP92-23 and shut the machine off.  If you’re interested, #23 is located at


She raised her eyes and ears above the hay, looked at me and my Ranger, and slowly started to walk toward us.  Again, she walked up to about forty feet from me, licked her lips, chewed her cud a bit, and looked quite frustrated that I had put myself between her and her breakfast.  It doesn’t seem to matter to Daphne that the whole world around her is green with potential food for a deer at this time of year.  When she sets her taste buds on one particular tree, that’s the one she intends to eat.

She tried several circles downwind of the Ranger.  My one-sided conversation with her seemed more to intrigue than frighten her.  Growing a bit tired of the standoff, I tried dismounting from the Ranger to give her a scare.  She just did her gallop-into-the-tall-hay bit, then turned around and returned, tail held high, and gleaming in the sunlight from the dew on her flanks.

She’s a beautiful animal, but I couldn’t notice how, while walking in silhouette in the hay, she has moves a lot like a young Michael Jackson in his early dance steps.  That jerky, but fluid step?

So we’ve established that Daphne has a very strong will, fixates on a particular plant that she wants to eat at that time, has some decent dance moves, and that she’s also not very afraid of me.  The fact remains that she’s poised to damage a priceless bit of the Canadian genetic heritage, and the only way I could get her to give up on her breakfast in time for me to return for mine, was by running after her across a five-acre field until she eventually gave up and ducked into the woodlot to await my departure.

I guess the only solution will be to bait the butternut seedlings with fish heads and hope she develops a taste for Glen Baker’s soybeans.  Time to go fishing.  Now that’s a plan.  Thanks, Brian.

UPDATE:  July 11/2009

Another encounter with Daphne went somewhat better for both of us.  When I came upon her she was firmly ensconced in the middle of my neighbour’s wheat field.  She looked up at my approach, froze, and stared me down  until I grew bored and drove away.  Hey, she’s not eating my nut trees, so what’s the harm?  Hope you enjoy the wheat, Daphne.


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