Dogs do work that soap, hose, hair don’t

Dogs do work that soap, hose, hair don't by Bob Karolevitz Deer always generate mixed emotions at our farm.

We think of Walt Disney�s Bambi as we watch those magnificent animals prance across our lawn.

�Who can shoot something as beautiful as that?� Phyllis says, not considering the damage that they do in places like Rapid City.

Thank goodness there is plenty to eat around our place so they don�t nibble at our flowers. It�s what they have done in our kids� orchard in the adjoining acreage which bothered us.

The bucks girdled the apple trees with their rubbing, and the does feasted on what new shoots they could reach. Our son-in-law did everything he could do to chase them away.

Phyllis and I got into the act by saving the small bars of soap which we brought home from the motels we stayed in during our trips. The Garritys � Jan and Pat � then drilled holes in them � the bars, not the motels � and hung them on the trees like Christmas decorations.

Somewhere they had read that the smell of soap would keep the deer away. It didn�t.

Then they heard that the scent of human hair would work. So they collected the clippings from barber and beauty shops which Jan sewed into small pouches made from bits of old panty hose. Like the bars of soap, these were also hung on the periferal trees.

It then became my job to pick up worn panty hose at the used clothing center. Oh, how the gals there got a big charge out of my periodic visits.

�There he comes again,� they would giggle, not knowing what I was doing with all those sacks of ladies� underwear. Who knows what they talked about each time I left?

One thing is certain: it didn�t do my reputation any good!

It also didn�t keep the deer away. Phyllis and I once counted 40 of them leaping over the fence heading for the orchard. It was an imposing sight watching them clear the impediment with such ease. If only that had been the end of it, but it wasn�t.

For several years I got a big-game hunting license to go after the culprits. I bought a 30-30 rifle, even though I had sworn off weapons like that after service in the infantry during World War II. The few deer that I shot before giving it up completely didn�t seem to reduce the population at all.

Finally Pat found the answer. He buried a radio-signaled wire completely around the 3,000 trees as well as the strawberry and pumpkin patches. Then he got two dogs � a part-husky named Mac and a crossbreed German shepherd called Chase. These he fitted with a collar containing a transmitter which activated a shock for them when they got too close to the underground wire.

Their assignment was to stay inside the enclosure and to chase the deer away. It worked. Mac and Chase have done their job ever since. They�ve cleared the orchard of skunks, badgers and raccoons too.

They also freed me of my panty hose pickup!

We still have lots of deer, of course, but they don�t go near the orchard. Each year we allow a few hunters to go after the majestic quadrupeds in our shelterbelts and the rolling hills behind our barn � but Phyllis can�t wait until the season ends.

She still sees Bambi and Rudolph with the red nose in our little herd. She hopes they die of old age.

� 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz

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