I live in a region of the north east USA (eastern shore of Maryland) that has a high deer population and despite management efforts to the best of our ability our regional deer population is quite challenging to keep up with. We have massive agriculture that helps feed these animals and when you combine that with impenetrable swamp and marsh cover, it’s a recipe for population explosion; among other factors. It is a tuff chore but we do our best.
When I started full time in the Land Management business 7 years ago, one of the initial challenges I faced with respect to warm season annual food plots (soybean, corn, Lablab, etc) was deer over-browsing. For the small scale food plotter, high deer numbers and browse pressure can be just like flushing your money down the toilet in these conditions. You spend hard earned dollars on quality seed, fertilizer, fuel and time yet the deer wipe your plot clean before it even has a chance. Now in fairness, isn’t that really what food plots were intended for? Perhaps, but wouldn’t it be nice to see how aggressive and productive your food plots could be if the deer did not feed on them? Well, I want to tell you about something that has not only changed my business completely as a professional land manager. But has helped put more high quality-much needed food in the mouths of wildlife during the most critical time of the season…winter!
For me personally this story began years ago when one of my clients said he would love to get away from sorghum or millet in his impoundment ponds and get corn to grow in there for waterfowl shooting. But the challenge here is the deer would never leave the corn alone long enough for it to make ears and mature. Ironically I had just read an article about the Gallagher Portable Electric Fencing Systems (GPEFS) and decided to dig a little deeper. After a nice and informative phone discussion with Greg Miller of Gallagher I shared the ideas and strategy with my client, got approval from my client and moved forward with a well thought out plan to protect the corn planted ponds.
The 3 ponds were drained, dried out, worked up, fertilized and planted in roundup ready corn. We installed GPEFS’s around two of the ponds and left one of the ponds unprotected “for the wolves.” Additionally, we planted 3 acres of corn adjoining one of the ponds and left that unprotected. Let me also note that next to these ponds we have alfalfa and soybean fields, all as part of our deer management program on the property. And again, this exact planting plan had been implemented before with failure due to deer browsing.
Just days after I installed the systems I received a call from Greg Miller, my Gallagher representative, saying he was in the area and would like to stop by and inspect the systems. We met and not only were they installed correctly, he went around and tested the volts and pointed out where to look for weak spots and how to additionally protect from stubborn deer. He was able to answer additional questions I had about the system and prep me for maintenance, etc. As someone in the business of providing customer service myself, I felt this was amazing customer service!
I can tell you that from the time I installed the fences to the day they were pulled in November, not a single deer had breached the systems and the corn grew to 8 feet in height! And, they would have easily pulled 200 bushels to the acre had they been harvested! Each pond was 3 acres and when you do that math, which adds up to a LOT of food provided for the cold season. And when it comes to proof, you could clearly see evidence in the dirt. There were tons of deer tracks leading up to the fencing that would tell the story of a deer getting zapped then spinning away and running. Everything (and I mean everything) outside the fence that was not protected was wiped out by deer! And to top off that success, thousands of ducks and geese were able to use the protected ponds and my client enjoyed an amazing waterfowl season! Ultimately both my client and I were very, very pleased with the investment and the results.
From that year to the present, we have been using miles upon miles of these Gallagher Portable Electric Fencing Systems for our clients and without them the likelihood of success with our warm season annuals would simply not exist. Or at least, not nearly to the level of success it is today. In fairness, there are some stubborn deer areas here that don’t respond to the fencing as well as others. But we found that simple steps like peanut butter on aluminum foil tabs every 50 feet or survey tape streamers every 25 feet work extremely well at training the deer from staying away from the fence. Another way to help train the deer is to leave some crops outside the fencing. This gives them an option and avoids breaching the enclosure.
The bulk of food plotters out there today are planting at small scale. How small? Most are planting half to 1.5 acre plots and when you plant warm season annuals like corn, soybean, lablab, etc you can easily watch the deer over-browse those sized plots to nothing. The Gallagher Portable Electric Fencing Systems can now take that small time plotter to an entirely new level of plotting and the amount of food and forage saved or produced is huge. Whether you want to protect corn ponds, clover, soybean, lablab or any other high-graze target item, this fencing system will absolutely protect your investment and pay for itself the first year.
The Gallagher Portable Electric Fencing Systems can be used over and over for many years, which in turn, stretches the initial investment. The materials used are much higher in quality than you would find in other similar brands and the customer service from Gallagher is second to none. Discovering Gallagher and implementing their system has simply been a major boost for my land management company and I can now maximize investments and show the full effect of high quality seed and how it impacts our wildlife positively. I strongly believe that anytime you can give back more to our wildlife, it is a win-win for the wildlife and the customer!
*You can find out more about Gallagher Portable Electric Systems at http://www.gallagherusa.com/
Posted by Mali Vujanic