Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review - Solving Deer Problems

I recently finished reading Solving Deer Problems: How to Keep Them Out of the Garden, Avoid Them on the Road, and Deal With Them Anywhere by Peter Loewer. I was attracted to this book because I know we have an abundance of deer around here, even though the dogs do a good job of keeping them scared away. Since our garden is some distance from the house, and therefore the dogs, I anticipate needing to employ some deer prevention measures at some point.

Unfortunately, this book was a disappointed. This isn't because of what the book is, or what it is not, but rather because of what it pretends to be. The first five chapters provide some good information about deer behavior, problems caused by deer, fencing options, and DIY deer deterrent methods. If the book ended there, it would have been a decent, although very short, at 105 pages, book on the topic. Unfortunately the author did not end there, but filled the remaining 142 pages with list and appendices that I found to be of little value. It is as if someone, whether the author or publisher, decided it was better to add a bunch of filler to the book in order to make increase the page count.

Chapter 6 is titled A Product Roundup, and is literally just a list of various deer deterrent products available on the market with a brief description of each. We aren't even given a review of the products, or a guess as to their effectiveness, just the manufacturer's description and a website address, some of which are not even still valid URLs.

Chapter 6 was at least short, unlike Chapter 7: Plants Unpopular with Deer, which goes on for 84 pages. Much like Chapter 6, this one consists of lists with summaries of each item. If the chapter had been dedicated to plants that deter deer, that would have had value, but it includes plants that deer just tend not to eat, which isn't much help unless a gardener decides to plant only things from the list. Dedicating 34% of the pages in the book to this chapter was overkill, to say the least.

The final chapter, Lions and Tigers and Voles, isn't even about deer. Instead, it focuses on other animals that are known to be common garden pests such as voles and chipmunks. I can't figure out what relevance any of the information in the chapter has to the topic of "solving deer problems".

After finishing the last chapter I was ready to put the book back on the shelf, never to be touched again, when I saw the appendices. Appendix 1 contains yet another list of plants, although this one is specific to California. Thankfully this is just a list, without the descriptions present in chapter 7, but it still takes up seven pages of the book. Appendix 2 is a list of Wildlife and Conservation Agencies in the United States, but I really don't need a book to tell me how to reach the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, although if you're curious, the web address is Appendix 3 includes text from a bill from Iowa, which the author says is presented so readers from other states can get an idea of the process of deer depradation permits. I think I'd rather just look up information specific to my state, rather than reading about the process for another. Thankfully, though, the permitting process for every state wasn't included in the book. The book ends with a 12 page index. Why, you might ask, does a 247 page book need a 12 page index? I guess when half of the book is made up of nothing but lists it is helpful to have a detailed index.

As you can probably guess, this isn't a book that I would recommend. While I can't suggest an alternative at this point, I'm certain there are better books on the topic available. If the book had been half as long, and priced accordingly, I might be more likely to recommend it.

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