January 15, 2010

The Ungulate Menace

Outwitting Deer: 101 Truly Ingenious Methods and Proven Techniques to Prevent Deer from Devouring Your Garden and Destroying Your Yard

This book was written by: Bill Adler, Jr., a scarred veteran of countless battles of wits. He has shared his experiences through this and other books, including Outwitting Fish and How to Negotiate like a Child.

What is in this book: This book is a strategy guide for people willing to admit that Ungulates, including deer, moose, and elk, are their intellectual superiors and outmatched only by the diabolical cunning of the Ford F150 truck. Although "deer are very, very big squirrels"(p.4), their intelligence is not to be underestimated. Deer "may not be rocket scientists, [but] they are very, very good at doing what deer are supposed to do—find food. [....] To do it well, they need to overcome all obstacles that we humans put in their path—that is to say, outwit our cleverest schemes to outwit them"(p.165, emphasis from the author). Worse yet, deer are just as much of an eyesore as tramps and vagrants—and like the homeless, "they've even been caught eating fish in a lake, sleeping by the interstate, jumping off bridges, feasting on ornamental gardens, and sleeping under decks"(p.34).Definitive proof from the book that deer are just big squirrels. Click to read.
What is not in this book: Tips for beating deer at Mah Jong or Canasta. The book's advice ranges from appeasement, suggesting that you "use plants such as alfalfa on the outskirts of your yard to keep deer full and happy"(p.60), to scorched earth, telling you to "empty your vacuum-cleaner bag on your flower bed"(p.170) or "ask your city or town to build a highway through your backyard"(p.171), but they are all deer management techniques for gardeners. There is no advice for hunters, although readers interested in gratuitous animal cruelty will want to check out tip 66, "Attract deer to electric fencing by stringing it with peanut butter-smeared aluminum foil flags—one zap and they won't return"(p.170).

Would you recommend this book to Richard Connell? Yes. "Deer, after all, are enemies—enemies of those of us who garden for the joy of it, for relaxation, for food, for something fulfilling to do while our significant other watches sports on television"(p.51). Connell might want to rethink the plotting of "The Most Dangerous Game" since the unending struggle of man vs. deer makes Zaroff vs. Rainsford look like two kittens tussling over a bit of string.

Would you recommend this book to someone with a scat fetish? Maybe, maybe not. I think they're already following tip 10, "experiment with products like predator urine"(p.167), tip 64, "purchase predator urine and feces and place strategically throughout your garden"(p.169), tip 76, "get a hold of bear droppings and sprinkle throughout garden,"(p.170) and maybe even tip 78, "buy or beg coyote and/or wolf urine and leave sponges around your yard that are soaked in the stuff"(p.170). Like my crazy ex-gym teacher, I bet they're already following tip 81, "Urinate around the perimeter of your garden"(p.170).

Photo of witty deer by JACK MARSCHALL/CITY OF PARMAWhat was interesting about this book? This book is part of a series on outwitting various subjects. Bill Adler, Jr., and his wife have formed an agency to develop other titles in the series to help readers with topics including Outwitting Constipation and Outwitting Cats (although some may question the patriotism of their proposed book on Outwitting the Immigration Process). They are also looking for authors willing to write some of these books, and according to their website, Mr. Adler and his wife are very interested in help with Outwitting Sexual Problems.

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Keith said...

My home away from college is actually pretty decently deer populated (it is in New Jersey, no lie). We get herds of them, sometimes 20 or so at once, nibbling away and leaving crap all over the front and back lawn. My mom enjoys watching them even though they have left her entirely unable to garden, since they are also demonstratively adorable. Maybe I could do her a favor and apply the lessons I have learned from Bitterly Books in real life by just peeing everywhere though.

Bitterly Books said...

Is deer crap really that much of a problem? Like, is it better or worse than navigating a comparably-sized cow pasture?

It sounds like you're due for an interesting conversation, though. "Look, mom, either the deer pee everywhere, or I do.

beth said...

This is all well and good, but how exactly do I outwit a coyote or wolf to pee on a sponge? Didn't see that one on the Adler's website! And what an extensive list of topics to outwit (I thought you were making up Outwitting Constipation, but it's there!) Maybe I'll write one for them - it'll give me something fulfilling to do while my significant other is watching sports.

You are so very funny - I enjoy your take on the non-fiction no one else wants to read :)

Keith said...

It is more that deer are plagues of locusts that devour all garden plant life that causes the real harm here. The threat of deer crap has made me ever reluctant to venture further from my porch though.

Bitterly Books said...

Thanks, Beth! You always say such nice things. As for the sponges, I guess you could try dressing like a coyote nurse and telling them it was part of a coyote prostate exam? I don't really have a lot of ideas.

Keith, have you thought about rubber boots/waders that you could use to walk around the yard? You could just hose them off when you were done. Of course, it may not be worth the trouble, depending on how important you think it is to go out into the garden.

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