05/30/08 — Walnut Creek neighbors riled by farmer's anti-deer device

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Walnut Creek neighbors riled by farmer's anti-deer device

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on May 30, 2008 1:50 PM

Charles Wade needed to chase the deer away from his young tobacco crop near the Wayne-Lenoir county line.

His solution -- a propane-powered "scare away" canon that fires blanks at the wooded area along his field.

It works, Wade said, saving him from another round of planting tobacco at $3,000 a pop.

But nearby neighbors -- including the village of Walnut Creek -- don't much like the sound of canons in the night, authorities say.

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"We are in a dilemma out here, sort of a catch-22 for me," Sheriff Carey Winders said. "This is the only recourse he's had to protect his crops, this device.

"But yes, still, we're having a lot of complaints."

The complaints about nighttime canon fire were so frequent that Winders took a personal visit to Wade's tobacco field.

The sheriff said Wayne County Commissioner Bud Gray fielded numerous complaints about the canon.

Walnut Creek Village Police Chief Delisa Staps said she had heard complaints, too.

But Wade and his son, Chuck -- who still helps his father out with the farm in addition to other work -- say the neighbors just have to wait it out a little longer.

The Wades think it will take just another three weeks of canon blanks to get their crop to a crucial point.

"(We would) just ask the neighbors to bear with us for a few days," Wade said.

Deer like to munch on tobacco crops when they're young and tender, he said.

But after a little growing period, they eventually lose interest, Chuck Wade said.

"Once they get some size on it, they'll leave it alone," he said. "Once it (the tobacco) gets enough time to get big, they'll be able to sleep easy again."

The Wades have tried many other things to keep the deer away, they said.

A few methods included lining the field with human hair from the barber shop, spraying the young plants with an egg mixture and stick-and-bag scarecrows.

The elder Wade said the reason it's taking a bit longer to grow tobacco this year is the weather, which is part of this year's problem.

"Cold nights we've been having, the tobacco's just sitting there," he said. "We need some nights where you kick the sheet off of you in the bed. That's when tobacco grows."

Apparently, the noise of the canon has been enough for some folks to kick off the sheets -- Wade reports nighttime visits to his field.

"Last night ... somebody had turned it off," Chuck Wade said, adding that he could see the footprints around the crop.

And field workers reported the deer took advantage of the quiet night, the Wades said -- the workers reported seeing 20 deer around the field.

Neighbors don't just turn off the canon -- they also leave notes, make late-night phone calls and phone authorities, the Wades said.

"We've gotten several phone calls during the night," Charles Wade said. "Everybody's been pretty nice. Except for one neighbor."