How to protect pine trees from deer

022 - Preventing Deer Damage to Your Trees and Shrubs

Deer/human conflicts have increased due to growing deer populations, limited resources and suburban development in deer habitat. In winter, deer often browse in residential landscapes. This can be reduced by selecting unpalatable plants, protecting woody plants with burlap or trunk protectors, and using deer repellent. In extreme cases, deer can be completely excluded with a fence.

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Mule deer habitat example

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are the most abundant big game animal in Utah and are found throughout the state. Mule deer have specific forage requirements and are selective in their feeding behavior. In the wild, they rely heavily on shrubs like willows and dogwoods that grow in sunny, disturbed areas. The feeding they do on these woody materials is called browsing and the plants are sometimes called browse. Natural browse may be less available than in the past because much of the traditional mule deer winter range along the Wasatch Front and elsewhere has been replaced by pavement, homes and cultivated landscapes.

Mule deer spend summers in the mountains and, when food is scarce in late November, move to the foothills that border the valleys where most of us live. Sometimes the plants available for deer to browse in these areas are not adequate to satisfy the nutritional requirements for wintering mule deer. When natural winter browse is limited, the consequences for mule deer survival and fertility can be serious. Therefore deer may heavily browse ornamental shrubs and trees in winter, causing conflicts between mule deer and residents.

Deer damage may also occur in the summer, particularly during droughts when some native plants are water stressed and become toxic. In such cases, continuous protection may be needed to avoid yearround damage.


To reduce mule deer damage to landscape trees and shrubs, you need to physically exclude them from individual plants or entire landscapes, use unpalatable plants in your yard or garden, or temporarily protect plants with deer repellents.


Fences provide the most reliable method for controlling deer damage. To be effective, 10 foot tall fencing should be installed around sensitive areas. Positioning a fence outside the canopy edge of low-branching hardwoods or just beyond the bottom branches of conifers will prevent most damage. A common use for fencing would be for protecting an entire orchard. Fencing should also be tight to the ground so that deer cannot crawl underneath. 

  • Fences ensure that mule deer cannot browse on enclosed plants.
  • Fencing can protect plants from deer damage for many years, assuming gates are closed and fences are maintained.

  • Construction and maintenance costs may be prohibitive.
  • Fencing may not be aesthetically pleasing to you or your neighbors.

Tree Protectors
Homemade drainpipe tree protector

In the fall, male deer often rub their antlers against trees to remove the velvet layer that coats them. This rubbing can cause large scars on trunks and branches and can cause permanent damage. You can use tree protectors to guard trees in your yard from such damage. There are many kinds of tree protectors. They are made of polypropylene tubing, woven-wire mesh cylinders or other materials. You can even make your own by cutting a plastic drainpipe down one side and sliding it over the trunk.

  • Tree protectors are affordable and effective at inhibiting deer damage to tree bark.
  • Tree protectors may be left on year-round, providing that they allow for normal tree development.

  • Tree protectors may not be aesthetically appealing.
  • With small trees, the deer may just push over the entire protector and tree.
  • Trees may be so small that their foliage is contained in the protector and the foliage and stem may not develop normally.
Shrub protector

Shrub Protectors

If browsing deer are causing damage to shrubs in your yard, you can wrap individual shrubs with burlap, layered plastic or inexpensive snow fencing. 

  • Shrub wrapping is an affordable, quick and effective way to prevent deer damage to individual shrubs.

Shrubs protected by burlap
  • If you have many shrubs to protect, this may be a time consuming and labor intensive task.
  • You must unwrap shrubs at the end of the winter to allow for healthy plant production.
  • Again, aesthetics may be a problem.

Plant Native and Unpalatable Species

It is possible to discourage deer browsing in your yard by selecting native woody plants and shrubs or other plants that are unpalatable to deer (see list on page 5). You can arrange a “fronting border” of unpalatable plants around the perimeter of your yard to discourage deer from entering the property. Some effective fronting border plants are: cleome, zinnias, firs, hemlocks, pines, spruces and junipers. 

  • Native plants that are unpalatable to deer may use fewer resources like water and fertilizer and require less maintenance because they are specifically suited for the local conditions.
  • Native species provide habitat and food for other wildlife and birds.

  • Switching out non-native plants for native, unpalatable plants in your yard can be time consuming and costly.
  • Planting native and unpalatable species may limit your plant selection options when planning your yard or garden.
  • Sometimes native plants are not readily available.
  1. Gather seeds from native species that are unpalatable to deer. There is a list found later in this article. 
  2. Scarify seeds. Scarification means removing or breaking through the hard outer coat of a seed to promote germination. This process can occur naturally in animals’ stomachs and bird gizzards, but may be sped up with human intervention:
    • File seed coats with a metal file. You also may crack them gently with a knife or hammer. -or-
    • Soak seeds in boiling water and remove them when water cools to room temperature.
  3. Scarify seeds. Scarification means removing or breaking through the hard outer coat of a seed to promote germination. This process can occur naturally in animals’ stomachs and bird gizzards, but may be sped up with human intervention:
    • Mix scarified seeds with an equal volume of a moist medium (i. e. sand, peat moss). Store in a closed container in a refrigerator; check often to ensure the medium is moist. The time required for this step will vary with species, more info can be found in the USDA Forest Service’s Nursery Manual for Native Plants: A Guide for Tribal Nurseries, which can be found online.
  4. Sow seeds under favorable conditions (i.e. after danger of frost has passed) and keep moist until well established. Cover the seeds with soil to a depth at least equal to the size of the seed.


Some repellents have been shown to be effective deer deterrents. However, you must apply repellents in above-freezing temperatures and reapply every four to five weeks or after precipitation. The most effective repellents contain eggs, preferably putrid eggs. This is found in the brands Deer-Away Big Game Repellent, BGR Spray, BGR mix, Deer-Off, and Deer Stopper II* (*mention of a specific brand of deer repellent is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement by USU Extension). You also may make your own (see below).

  • Deer will often avoid plants sprayed with repellents containing putrescent egg solids for up to six weeks.
  • When applied every four to five weeks, repellents can be a suitable alternative to other mitigation techniques.

  • The cost of deer repellents may be prohibitive if you have a large area to protect.
  • Reapplication can be time-consuming.

Homemade Deer Repellent
  • 1 egg*
  • 1 quart warm water

Combine egg and water in blender, blend, and strain with cheesecloth or nylon (this will prevent the mixture from clogging spray bottle). Place mixture in spray bottle and apply to foliage. Reapply when new growth appears or after precipitation.

*Possible additions to try per 1 quart bottle:
1 tsp. hot pepper oil, 1 Tbl. Tabasco sauce, ¼ c milk, 1 tsp. cooking oil, or a few drops of dish soap.

Has your birdfeeder become an unintended deer lure?

Consider these tips when maintaining your birdfeeder at home:

  • Place feeders at least 6 feet off the ground or snow surface.
  • Use feeders that are not easily penetrated by deer; i.e. tube feeders, hopper feeders or cagestyle suet feeders.
  • Secure fencing around the feeder to prevent deer from eating spilled birdseed.
  • Avoid using cracked corn, black oil sunflower seeds or seed mixes that attract deer to feeders. Instead choose thistle seed, suet or hummingbird nectar.

Native and Unpalatable Plants List
Deer Palatability Scientific Name Common Name
Low Abelia grandiflora abelia, glossy
Low Fallugia paradoxa Apache plume
Low Fraxinus anomala ash, singleleaf
Low Nandina domestica bamboo, sacred
Low Berberis (Mahonia) spp. barberry
Low Leucophyllum spp. barometerbush
Low Justicia californica beloperone
Low Buxus spp. boxwood
Low Encelia farinosa brittlebush
Low Eriogonum spp. buckwheat
Low Buddelja spp. butterflybush
Low Potentilla spp. cinquefoil
Low Potentilla fruticosa cinquefoil, shrubby
Low Potentilla glandulosa cinquefoil, sticky
Low Potentilla arguta cinquefoil, tall
Low Cordia parvifolia cordia, littleleaf
Low Daphne spp. daphne
Low Cornus sericea dogwood, red osier
Low Calliandra spp. fairy duster
Low Ribes grossularia gooseberry
Low Ilex spp. holly
Low Ilex aquifolium holly, English
Low Agastache urticifolia hyssop, nettleleaf giant
Low Simmondsia chinensis jojoba
Low Lantana spp. lantana
Low Lavandula spp. lavender
Low Arctostaphylos spp. manzanita
Low Arctostaphylos patula manzanita, greenleaf
Low Arctostaphylos pungens manzanita, pointleaf
Low Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus rabbitbrush, yellow
Low Kerria japonica rose, Japanese
Low Rosmarinus officinalis rosemary
Low Salvia spp. sage
Low Caryopteris x clandonensis spiraea, blue mist
Low Rhus spp. sumac
Low Ericameria laricifolia turpentine bush
Low Yucca spp. yucca
Low Yucca baccata yucca, banana
Low Yucca elata yucca, soaptree
Med Prunus armeniaca apricot
Med Vaccinium caespitosum bilberry, dwarf
Med Rubus spp. blackberry / raspberry
Med Symphoricarpos orbiculatus coralberry
Med Cotoneaster apiculatus cotoneaster, cranberry
Med Cotoneaster acutifolius cotoneaster, Peking
Med Cotoneaster horizontalis cotoneaster, rock
Med Ribes spp. currant
Med Ribes aureum currant, golden
Med Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea elderberry, blue
Med Lonicera utahensis honeysuckle, Utah
Med Kalmia microphylla laurel, alpine
Med Syringa spp. lilac
Med Caragana arborescens peashrub, Siberian
Med Phlox subulata phlox, moss
Med Phlox diffusa phlox, spreading
Med Ligustrum spp. privet
Med Rosa nutkana rose, Nootka
Med Rhus glabra smooth sumac
Med Viburnum opulus snowball bush
Med Symphoricarpos oreophilus snowberry, mountain
Med Spiraea x vanhoutte spirea, bridalwreath
Med Vaccinium scoparium whortleberry, grouse
Med Salix discolor willow, pussy
High Prunus fasciculata almond, desert
High Berberis thunbergi barberry, Japanese
High Cotoneaster dammeri cotoneaster, bearberry
High Frasera spp. elkweed
High Euonymus spp. euonymus
High Pyracantha spp. firethorn
High Forsythia spp. forsythia
High Laurus spp. laurel
High Pinus mugo pine, mugo
High Antennaria dimorpha pussytoes, low
High Antennaria luzuloides pussytoes, rush
High Chaenameles japonica quince, Maule’s
High Rubus idaeus raspberry, American red
High Rosa spp. (cultivated) rose
High Prunus pumila sandcherry
High Viburnum spp. viburnum
High Taxus baccata yew, English
High Taxus cuspidata yew, Japanese
 Low  Fraxinus spp  ash
Low   Fraxinus americana   ash, white 
Low   Betula spp.    birch
Low   Cedrus spp  cedar
Low   Populus fremontii  cottonwood, Fremont’s 
Low   Populus angustifolia  cottonwood, narrowleaf 
Low   Pseudotsuga menziesii  Douglas-fir
Low   Abies spp.  fir
Low Ginkgo biloba ginkgo
Low Celtis spp. hackberry
Low Crataegus spp. hawthorn
Low Yucca brevifolia var. brevifolia Joshua-tree
Low Juniperus communis juniper, common
Low Juniperus monosperma juniper, one-seed
Low Juniperus osteosperma juniper, Utah
Low Sophora secundiflora laurel, Texas mountain
Low Acer platanoides maple, Norway
Low Acer saccharinum maple, silver
Low Acer circinatum maple, vine
Low Cercocarpus montanus mountain-mahogany
Low Quercus spp. oak
Low Pinus spp. pine
Low Pinus aristata/longaeva pine, bristlecone
Low Pinus thunbergii pine, Japanese black
Low Pinus flexilis pine, limber
Low Pinus contorta pine, lodgepole
Low Pinus edulis pine, pinyon
Low Pinus ponderosa pine, ponderosa
Low Pinus monophylla pinyon, singleleaf
Low Cercis spp. redbud
Low Artemisia spp. sagebrush
Low Picea spp. spruce
Low Picea pungens spruce, blue
Low Picea engelmanni spruce, Engelmann
Med Alnus incana ssp. tenufolia alder, thinleaf
Med Prunus amygdalus almond, flowering
Med Fraxinus velutina  ash, velvet
Med Betula occidentalis  birch, water
Med Acer negundo  boxelder 
Med Catalpa spp. catalpa
Med Cupressus arizonica cypress, Arizona 
Med Abies lasiocarpa fir, subalpine
Med Abies concolor  fir, white
Med Gleditsia triacanthos honeylocust
Med Lonicera spp honeysuckle 
Med Robinia pseudoacacia  locust, black
Med  Magnolia spp. magnolia
Med Acer grandidentatum maple, bigtooth
Med Acer palmatum maple, Japanese
Med Acer glabrum maple, Rocky Mountain
Med Philadelphus inodorus mock orange, scentless
Med Physocarpus monogynus ninebark
Med Prunus persica peach
Med Pyrus spp. pear
Med Prunus spp. plum 
Med Prunus americana plum, wild
Med Populus nigra poplar, Lombardy
Med Elaeagnus angustifolia Russian-olive
Med Salix spp. willow
High Malus spp. apple
High Thuja spp. arborvitae
High Populus tremuloides aspen, quaking
High Juniperus scopulorum juniper, Rocky Mountain
High Pinus nigra pine, Austrian
High Pinus sylvestris pine, Scots

Photo Credits by Appearance in Article
  1. M. Schwender.
  2. Not available.
  4. Not available.
  7. Not available.
  8. M. Schwender.
  10. NBC News.

  • Baker, L. A. 2010. State Survey of White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman) Impacts on Residential Landscapes and the Green Industry of Alabama and an Evaluation of Commercial Deer Repellents. Thesis, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA.
  • Curtis, P. D., and J. R. Boulanger. 2010. Relative Effectiveness of Repellents for Preventing Deer Damage to Japanese Yews. HortTechnology 20: 730 – 734.
  • Hill, C., and J. Knight. 2006. Minimizing Deer Damage to Residential Plantings. Montana State University Extension Service. View it online. 
  • Jett, J. 2004. Deer Proofing Your Landscape. West Virginia University Extension Service.
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources. 2013. Bird feeding tips in areas with deer baiting and feeding bans.
  • Schalau, J. 2010. Deer and Rabbit Resistant Plants. The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension Service. View it online.
  • Soderstrom, N. 2008. Deer-Resistant Landscaping. Rodale Books, New York, USA.
  • Swift, C. E. and M. K. Gross. 2008. Preventing Deer Damage. Colorado State University Extension Service. View it online.
  • Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 2013. View it online.

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Published June 2013

How to Protect Trees from Deer

Deer are infamous for damaging trees and shrubs. Hungry animals may browse on leaves, pine needles, buds, or bark. But deer don’t just eat your landscape; territorial bucks can also kill trees by scraping them with their antlers. Young and recently planted landscapes are the most susceptible to these animal antics, so take steps now to protect your trees from deer.

Physical Barriers Provide the Best Protection

You have probably heard all kinds of ideas for how to protect trees from deer. Deterrents range from mothballs and heavily scented soaps to garlic and decaying fish heads. All repellants work to some degree, but deer can acclimate, or the scents can lose their potency following rainfall or irrigation.

One surefire way to keep deer from eating your pine trees and evergreen shrubs is to install a physical barrier. You have a few options, depending on the size of your property and your aesthetic preferences. Here are the top suggestions:

  • Install nylon netting over low-lying shrubs: Cover the plants with a nylon mesh screen, pinning down the corners with twine or zip-ties attached to tent stakes.
  • Wrap shrubs in burlap: Deer are a big threat to young shrubs in the wintertime. Encasing plants in burlap sacks doesn’t just cover up the tempting foliage; it also helps prevent the branches from bending out of shape during wet, heavy snowfall.
  • Surround plants with wire metal cages: The cages should stand at least six feet tall. Position them a few feet out from young trees or shrubs and support the cages with stakes. Even though deer can leap over a six-foot fence, they are reluctant to enter a small space, such as a fenced-in bed of rhododendrons or yews. Have a small plant you want to protect? Surround it with an old tomato cage, wire-hanging basket, or milk crate anchored with tent stakes.
  • Wrap trunks with tree wrap: Paper or plastic tree wrap protects young and thin-barked trees from buck rubs. Replace the wrap every few months to prevent moisture buildup or insect infestation.
  • Install a deer-proof fence around your entire yard: Conventional residential fencing can keep deer out as long as it’s at least eight feet tall. Other options include exclusion fencing, snow fencing, slanted outrigger fencing, and binder twine fencing. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has more information about constructing different kinds of fences.

Other Ways to Protect Trees from Deer

In addition to installing a physical barrier, here are other methods that have proven effective against hungry and territorial deer:

  • Remove plants from your landscape that deer are known to love, such as cedar, yew, rhododendron, maples, and roses.
  • Choose plants that deer dislike, such as those with fern-like foliage, fuzzy leaves, spines, or strong odors.
  • Spray vulnerable trees and shrubs with smelly, bitter-tasting deer repellent.
  • Remove food sources from your yard, including bird feeders and pet food dishes.
  • Install motion-detector sprinklers to scare deer away.

Protect or Replace Trees on Your Property

The goal is to protect trees from deer whenever possible. However, if the damage is already done, it may be time to remove and replace your trees. No matter your needs, The Grounds Guys® can assist. Our tree services range from pruning and pest care to reliable tree removal. With our help, your yard will be healthy and beautiful in every season. Contact us to request your free job estimate today.

Did you know? The Grounds Guys is a Neighborly company. Learn more about Neighborly’s community of home service experts at


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How to scare away deer from the site?

Deer are herbivores that can cause damage to the site. They love to eat vegetables and flowers, but also willingly eat seedlings of fruit and ornamental trees. Intruders are often complained about by gardeners whose crops are very close to forests. However, it often happens that they can travel quite a distance in search of food. What needs to be done so that the site is not destroyed by them? How to effectively scare them away? Why is soap helpful? Let's see.


The most common and probably the best way is to invest in a decent fence. Unfortunately, for the fence to be indestructible, it must be really high. The hunters say that the obstacle cannot be lower than 2.5 m, because a hungry deer can jump over it. Foresters argue that it is worth investing in an efficient forest grid.

Deer protection

Deer are very shy animals, so it's worth using it. You don't have to invest in expensive devices because there are cheap ways to contain them. Among cultivated plants, it is enough to drive in rods on which empty jars are to be placed; driven by gusts of wind, they make a characteristic sound. You can also place other items on fruit trees such as wind chimes or windmills. If, despite efforts, deer still visit the site, it is best to purchase special repellents from garden stores or online auctions; some of them have a range of up to 150 m.

Unusual ways to deal with deer

There are also special ways from deer that visit our sites. These magnificent animals have a sensitive sense of smell, which, combined with their shyness, can be used with success. It is enough to put objects that are inextricably linked with a person. What will be useful? Sweaty clothes - a specific smell will effectively prevent frequent visits. You can use human hair; it is enough to put them in stockings - this will effectively deter hungry deer. However, it is worth remembering that the “human” smell evaporates quickly, and from time to time items need to be replaced. Another proven method is to distribute scented soaps on the site. Just cut a few cubes and place the particles between the plants and around the fence at a distance of about 3 m.

natural methods

Although deer are not picky, there are plants that are not their delicacy. It is worth knowing which of them can be planted on the site, and thereby get rid of the frequent visits of guests. It is best to place on the outskirts of the site. Inedible plants for deer are: sage, lavender, begonia, daffodils, irises, marigolds, zinnia, boxwood, pine and spruce. In addition, these animals do not like intense aromas, so several heads of garlic or onions can be laid out in the garden. It is also worth hanging hot peppers on the fence; after eating them, they will associate your site with an unpleasant taste. It turns out that spraying egg slurry will be quite useful in the fight against deer. It is easy to prepare a safe and natural remedy: six eggs need to be mixed with two liters of water. Such a mixture should be used on the site. However, it doesn't work all the time; you should repeat the above procedure from time to time.

Other Methods

If none of the above methods help with deer, you should invest in an "electric shepherd". The wire should be placed at three different heights: 25 cm, 60 cm and 100 cm. Touching such a fence will cause a gentle effect on the animal; this will effectively deter them and discourage future visits. Proper installation creates a magnetic field that is not perceived by humans, but will prevent deer from attempting to approach the site.

Deer and bloodsuckers: ways of salvation - Politics

Tundra. Photo of Olga Pokrovskaya

This topic is not quite the Arctic, but definitely the taiga North. My first expeditions happened in the late 1980s in central Taimyr. There was a forest-tundra, June-July - summer. From that time, the memory of first impressions remained: I remember that there were even a lot of mosquitoes, not very pleasant, but in the village where I worked, at each door there was a tin trough with a smoker - smoldering logs (doors are usually open during the day) and - chintz curtain. Then I saw that this is a mandatory rule for the taiga zone too. Just on her, at the beginning of 19The next stage of my expeditionary life came in the 1990s - Western Siberia in the Surgut region. There, when you float along the river on a motorboat, the mosquito is not terrible, but walking through the taiga and swamps at first brought me into a state of horror: this is an element in front of which you feel absolutely helpless - you can only be saved in the house. When the expedition ended and I got used to mosquitoes and ended up in Surgut, I discovered that despite the fact that there are hundreds of times fewer mosquitoes, they are much more intelligent and biting.

In the summer of 1693, a Moscow merchant foreigner (Dutch) Izbrant Ides, traveling through Siberia to Beijing as part of the Russian embassy, ​​discovered that the Upper Angara Evenks (taiga zone) - men and women go naked and cover themselves only with a leather belt three palms wide. It would look like a fiction, but at the beginning of the 19th century, Evenki, who lived on the right bank of the Yenisei between the Angara and Podkamennaya Tunguska, wore similar skirts in the summer. At the beginning of the XX century. they were still in use among the Tokminsky Evenki - the inhabitants of the upper reaches of the Lower Tunguska. (Ethnographers believe that these skirts were borrowed by the Evenki from local Ket-speaking residents.) But the most interesting (and convincing) thing here is that these Evenki (seen by Ides) held pots with a smoker in their left hand.

The Khanty have a myth about the origin of mosquitoes - in it the hero kills a forest witch, and so that she does not resurrect, he dismembers her body, rips open her stomach, and mosquitoes appear from there. The Nganasans (who never met the Khanty) have the same story - in it the hero kills the giantess. Both of them belonged to the category of cannibals, that is, enemies of the human race. As a memory of themselves, they left us these small bloodsuckers. Nganasans live in the forest-tundra, mosquitoes do not annoy much there, but once upon a time, judging by toponymy, Nganasans lived in the forest zone in the east of Taimyr. This myth has probably been preserved among them since those times. And among the Chukchi and Eskimos - the peoples of the natural Arctic - I have not come across such myths.

In the summer of 2000, I worked on the southern coast of Vaigach Island, on the border of the Barents and Kara Seas. The Yugorsky Shar Strait, which separates the island from the mainland, is only eight kilometers wide. On the island there is a constant wind of such force that you feel a hum in your ears, but you get used to it pretty quickly. When the wind stops, a couple of mosquitoes can land on you, but here they are so weak that they are not even able to bite through the skin.


He probably suffers from bloodsuckers in the taiga much more than a person. For him, bloodsuckers are also an element from which he can try to escape - like in winter from a snowstorm. Actually, this is one (or rather, two) of the important reasons for the movement of Nenets, Komi, Dolgan and Yukaghir reindeer herders from the forest to the tundra in spring, and from the tundra to the forest in autumn. Therefore, for the taiga reindeer breeder (who does not leave the taiga in summer), the mosquito season is one of the most difficult seasons of the year. A small herd can scatter in panic horror from a mosquito and a midge, and then you have to look for the fugitives, putting an unknown amount of time and effort into it. But the deer is a herd animal. The larger the herd, the less likely it is to scatter. Therefore, in summer, poor reindeer herders unite their herds among themselves or with one of their rich neighbors. As in the case of a snowstorm, a herd of domestic reindeer, as a protection against bloodsuckers, arranges a “carousel” - endless circling in one place in the form of a dense ball of animals, in which reindeer move all the time - from the periphery to the center and back.

Deer circling. Illustration from the book "Atlas of nomadic technologies".

For such a "carousel" you need at least four hundred heads. And for this, a level place must be found, but it does not last long, otherwise it will be completely trampled down, and then it will take years to restore it. So did, for example, the Sym Evenks: at the end of May they united - for the season of mosquitoes and gadflies they moved into pine forests with good sites. (Bor is a pine forest on the sand, it is completely blown by the wind.) Up to ten or more families gathered there. The reindeer stayed in the camp during the day, and in the evening they scattered over the reindeer moss.

Another place of salvation is reservoirs. You can climb into them up to the very nostrils and take a break from annoying flyers, and the water also softens the bites. This is also used by wild deer and elk. Therefore, the summer season for the taiga hunter is always the extraction of meat food.

The third option is open spaces with a strong wind that can blow away mosquito clouds - this is the tundra or bald rocks high in the mountains, they are used by the Tungus taiga. Not all of them (and not everywhere) have deer. If there are no deer, then they hunt on foot. In June, the Northern Baikal Evenks migrated up the rivers to the rocks to hunt red deer - these wild relatives of domestic deer also save themselves in the mountains in summer. The Upper Lena Evenks with a small number of domestic deer also spend part of the summer in the loaches - to hunt roe deer and wild deer, but then they go down to rivers and lakes to hunt moose and wild deer from a boat. The Vitim-Olekma Evenks did the same, they had quite large (by forest standards) herds - from thirty to a hundred heads or more. In summer, in the bald mountains (on the Vitimo-Olekminsky plateau), they hunted tarbagan and musk deer, until the lichens (which domestic deer feed on) dried up there in mid-July. In the loaches, their seasonal association took place - up to 10-15 chums gathered for one camp. From mid-July, these Evenki descended to the middle reaches of the Vitim and Olekma. Evenk reindeer herders with large herds (they are called Orochons), living in the spurs of the Dzhugdyr - the Yablonovy and Stanovoy Ranges, summer passed in the mountain tundra, rich in reindeer moss. They also descended from there when the reindeer moss dried up, but this happened at the end of September.

Plan-scheme of a typical Evenki summer camp, 1989. 1 - tent, 2 - flooring for storing pack bags and harness, 3, 7 - horizontal hanging poles, 4 - storage shed, 5 - bonfire, 6 - smokestacks, 8 - skeleton plague (used as a bath), 9 - dryer for meat. From AASirina's book "Katang Evenks in the 20th century".

But there could be other strategies for spending the summer with domestic reindeer. So, at the beginning of the 20th century, Evenks with large herds of deer appeared on Podkamennaya Tunguska. In the summer, they took the deer to the sources, to open moss spaces and left them there unattended, while they themselves roamed along the rivers with the necessary number of pack deer.


There are no loaches in Western Siberia, but there are many reservoirs, and in the interfluves, taiga can be replaced by tundra. But most of the local taiga residents with their deer there are not inclined to a nomadic lifestyle - they live in seasonal huts.

Once I was lured into the taiga by my artist friends who took an order from the Nizhnevartovsk Combine. The plant needed a picture of local traditional life. The helicopter landed the artists at the summer camp of the Agan Khanty. When, filled with impressions, they returned from their business trip, I saw a deer barn in their sketches - a long log building in the forest, under a gable roof, without windows and a door, and around - deer. In such sheds, the Khanty arrange a smoke-smoke - a space of a square meter fenced with vertical poles, where damp aspen, rot and moss smolder. Moss is specially collected, and for this there is a tool resembling a hoe - a pine bough with a part of the trunk in the form of a spatula. In Western Siberia, not all taiga reindeer herders used reindeer sheds. The larger the herd, the larger the shed should be for it. Although there were farms with a large herd and several sheds. The traditional "barn" reindeer husbandry ends on the right bank of the Yenisei among the Kets and Forest Enets, who have already lost it by now. Farther east, at the beginning of the 20th century, such sheds (similar to those of the Khanty) were built by the Yakuts, who were engaged in reindeer hauling.


Behind the Yenisei, the mountain taiga begins and the Tungus reindeer herding culture prevails with a frequent principle of movement and the absence of large stationary buildings (with the exception of storage sheds). Here smokers for deer are bred in the open air.

In the summer, when moving to a new camp, the Evenks first of all arrange smokestacks. Chimneys are always placed under a natural canopy of tree crowns and always opposite the entrance to the tent at a distance of 15-25 meters from it. This is a bonfire surrounded by poles placed in the form of a cone. Circle - with a diameter of one to one and a half meters. The length of the poles is usually from half a meter to a meter in length. The number of poles is from ten to twenty-four. For a herd of 40-50 heads (Tungus deer minimum), 10-15 pine logs (4-5 m long and at least 25 cm thick) were required daily as firewood for a smoker.

Smokehouses in the Evenk camp. From AASirina's book "Katang Evenks in the 20th century".


The reindeer smoker is a taiga invention. In the tundra, it is simply dangerous, because it can lead to a fire that is extensive in area. At the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century, the Chukchi reindeer herders with their huge herds reached the lower reaches of the Kolyma. For local residents, this turned into a serious environmental disaster, because as a result, the wild deer that fed the entire population left. In order to somehow survive, the local Tungus and Yukagirs began to be hired by the Chukchi as shepherds, not knowing the behavior of large semi-wild Chukchi herds in the tundra. V.G. Bogoraz, who worked there at that time, writes that on the Alazeya River (the next large river to the west of the Kolyma), Tungus shepherds, grazing the herd of a rich Chukchi, surrounded the herd with fires, burned the entire pasture and harmed half of the animals.


There is one more species of bloodsucking insects, which remains a headache for reindeer herders to this day, regardless of geographical conditions (except, perhaps, the island Arctic). This is a gadfly. He is very interested in the domestic deer, because under his skin the gadfly lays its larvae. In addition to the usual pain, the deer from these larvae lose weight, get sick and may die.

The back of a deer with gadfly larvae that have penetrated subcutaneously. Photo by Leonty Chuprov

The Nenets and the Yukagirs (independently of each other) found that the gadfly was most attracted to the white skin. Therefore, in the summer, during the water season, all the inhabitants of one or another camp (near the Nenets) or united (near the little-deer Yukagirs) gathered, spread white reindeer skins on the ground and, armed with planks, killed all the gadflies that flew on them. The result of such a hunt looked impressive, but the benefits from it were small. Nganasans smeared white deer with ashes, “repainting” them in a gray suit. In the 19th century, the Komi reindeer herders, who put their occupation on a commercial track, saw that the deer skin spoiled by the gadfly had a lot of holes and was not suitable for sale. Then they bred a breed of deer with a black skin, and this partly solved the problem.

Another solution turned out to be the time of the spring exit to the tundra. The Komi at first built their reindeer breeding on the Nenets model, but then they discovered that if you wait until the snow melts and walk on last year's grass, which is gradually replaced by fresh, then by the time the gadflies appear, the deer will already work up a layer of subcutaneous fat, and the larvae do not live in it .


Oddly enough, a person, albeit with difficulty, but can get used to coexistence with bloodsuckers. After my first taiga expedition, I asked the mentioned artists: - Did you know then that you were going to mosquito hell? No, no one told us about it. - Well, how did you survive? - I had to get used to it. – How long were you there? - Yes, a month.

With a domestic deer, it is different: in an inhospitable natural environment, it requires constant care (like a domesticated animal, forced to obey the limited capabilities of a person - for example, its speed of movement with all its property). As a result, a special community of man and animal arises, complex forms of their coexistence.

Author: NV Pluzhnikov, Ph.D. researcher at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology named after N.N.Miklukho-Maclay RAS


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Kreinovich E.A. From the life of the tundra Yukagirs at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. // Countries and peoples of the East. — Issue XIII. M., 1972, p. 56-92.

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