Deer + Drought = Disappointment

Those of you who have a problem with deer might be surprised to learn that they are actually quite particular about something. That something is where bucks like to rub their antlers to remove the velvet. It seems they are especially fond of young, soft barked trees because their antlers are hyper sensitive when the velvet is shedding. Who knew?!

The deer at the farm have been considerate neighbors, but in late spring the heritage apple orchard turned into a popular “rub spot” for bucks. While this gives me something to watch as I sit on the porch, it’s not a form of entertainment I enjoy because it strips the trees of their bark. No good.

The young bucks affection for our apple trees coupled with a terribly dry summer resulted in the loss of several trees and those that survived produced a paltry number of apples. It’s a disappointment, but the garden is a great teacher in rolling with the punches.

If you are having a better apple year than I am I suggest making this rustic apple tart. I made it last weekend with some apples I picked up at the grocery store. I can only imagine how delicious it would be with homegrown fruits. You’ll have to try it and let me know!


  • ½ cup apple juice
  • 3 cups thinly sliced apples (choose a tart variety)
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup agave syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 premade piecrusts


Pour the apple juice into a sauce pan and heat until reduced by half.

In a large bowl combine the apple juice, apples, brown sugar, agave syrup, salt and cinnamon. Toss until the apples are well coated.

Lay one pie crust on a greased cookie sheet and crimp the edges to form a lip.

Spread the apple mixture evenly over the pie crust.

Top with a second pie crust. Pinch the edges to seal.

Sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon. Pierce with a fork to make vents.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbly.

17 Responses to Deer + Drought = Disappointment

  1. wonderful recipe I will try it this week. I have a wonderful apple tree producing some beautiful apples with just the right tart taste and prefect crisp snap I like when you bit into them. Thank you Allen

  2. Lina Fletcher says:

    Uhg….deer. I love watching their antics and interaction with my kitties, but they sure make me cross when they tromp through my garden and nibble on things. I have a large selection of ‘deer resistant’ plants, but I don’t think the deer always read the same books!!!

  3. Rhonda says:

    My sympathies on your apple crop, Allen. Meanwhile my dog developed a taste for cherry tomatoes this summer. And just broadened his palate with some of the precious few heirlooms harvested this week, that happened to be on the counter ripening.

  4. Betsy says:

    Allen, we in the JoDaviess County of Illinois have trouble with deer year round, but especially in the fall, winter and spring. We have lost many trees to the deer antler rub, until we started putting black drain pipe around them. We take it off in the summer, so that we don’t “bake” the trunks in the summer. So far, we have saved our beautiful maples we planted in the front of our home. Quite the lesson learned.

  5. dave says:

    Send or put some pics of those deer rubbing on your site or my email. thanks

  6. Judy says:

    Maybe if you planted rosemary around the base of all the apple trees it would repel the deer. A bumper crop of both apples and rosemary would be fantastic for fall and Christmas giving!

  7. Tamara says:

    Nice simple recipe. But when there’s cinnamon, I need nutmeg–my fave spice! I’m looking forward to using agave as a sweetener in some other ways too. Haven’t seen it locally yet though.
    As for apple crops, a grape vine wound its way to the top of my dwarf golden apple tree and the ripe bunches of purple grapes look great alongside the yellow apples.

  8. I didn’t have problems in NW Alabama with the deer damaging my fruit tress as I have 3 Border collies who love to chase things. However I did loose several fruit trees and a few young dogwoods due to the 13 yr cicadas. One of my pear trees I lost fruited for the first time this year. The oldest tree was a 10 yr old apricot. Mary

  9. Rafael Rodriguez says:

    We don’t have deer in Montebello, CA but nothing I do seems to help fend off insects in my apples. I have a 13 year old tree planted from Red Delicious apple seed. The apples have reverted to a former variety and are green with a slight red and gold hue when they ripen. Problem is I haven’t tasted but a few over the last two years. Ants and a tiny beetle-like insect get to them before I do. I have sprayed with an environmentally safe spray but it doesn’t seem to work.

  10. Cynthia says:

    We in Washington state have a huge problem with deer. The antler raking is horrible. Our solution has been to cover the lower trunks with chicken wire hooked around the lowest branches. We also make tripods of metal stakes around small trees. Very time consuming but it works. Unfortunately, the deer then start in on rhododendrons and other shrubs. We may have to go the dog route soon!

    • Darlene Freeman says:

      The deer use to break off our young trees until we placed chicken wire fences around each tree. Those without fruit got fences just around the trunks about a couple of feet out from the trunks. Those trees that fruit were fenced with the chicken wire ten feet out from the trunk on each side. These cages kept the trunks and limbs from being snapped by the antlers and kept the deer from eating the apples and other fruit. The blue jays get a lot of the fruit on the trees too large to cover with bird netting. So we planted more trees so there is plenty for all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>