There are few phone calls that I dread as much as the one from a customer whose tree trunk has been rubbed by deer during the night. They wake up to shredded bark and want to know what can be done. Unfortunately, if the damage has gone deep enough to damage the vascular tissue, trimming off the loose pieces of bark is about all that can be done. This type of damage is NOT REPAIRABLE! The tree is not able to “grow” new vascular tissue.
This is the most preventable damage to your tree that there is. All it takes is a little knowledge and foresight.
Young trees are more susceptible to damage than older trees, which have thicker bark and are not generally damaged by the bucks. Any tree that is young enough to still have fairly thin bark should be protected.
“The Rut” refers to deer breeding season, which takes place roughly between October 1 and February 1 in Central Texas. Bucks use their antlers to “mark” their territory, often at the expense of the bark of young trees. ALWAYS protect young tree trunks during this period to avoid irreparable damage to the vascular system of the tree, which is just under the thin bark.
Use a trunk protector that allows the trunk access to air.
The black corrugated sewer pipes that I have seen some people use keep moisture next to the bark and can open the trunk to damage by fungal organisms as well as borers and should NOT be used.
Fencing with 2″x 4″ openings or specific trunk protectors such as those pictured at the top of this page are ideal for protecting your young trees, and should extend about 4 feet up the trunk.
Do yourself and your young trees a favor, and protect them NOW to avoid damage this winter. Since fall is a great time to plant trees, if you have deer in your area, ALWAYS protect the trunks at the time planting. It only takes one night for the bucks to find your new tree and do irreparable damage.