We knew the first year would be the hardest for the little balsam fir that we set out to mark a corner of our property. It survived being planted when the ground was still frozen. It made it through a very dry spring, then a soggy early summer, and then another dry cycle. The surrounding hay grew taller than the tree, yet Terry, our neighbor, managed to not hit the fir each time he mowed. Things looked good until a buck decided to use it for his rub.
Bucks use trees to rub the dry velvet off their antlers, and at the same time strengthen their neck muscles for the sparring matches to come. We have had rubs on trees in our woods- they usually look like a truck has backed into the tree, with the bark blasted off a one to two foot section of tree trunk. I’m not sure how much stronger this buck is for rubbing on a limber 5-foot fir trunk- maybe that is step one of his resistance training.
The bark is polished off of the trunk all the way around, so the upper part is lost. We will see if there is a new leader that starts up, and a new trunk develops. If so, we will have to help it out with a fence to keep some of the hazards at bay.