So for background, I live in the western suburbs of Chicago. My town has 34,000 residents. Since it's an older town, the lots tend to be larger than newer developments, about 5,000-10,000 sq ft in size. The towns here all touch each other, instead of having open farmland between them, and range from 23,000 to 148,000 residents, so they aren't small towns either. The nearest forest preserve where there ARE deer is a mile away, and we often see them on either side of the road eating or crossing to get to the wooded areas on the other side.
I put out pans of food for the squirrels , in hopes that they won't constantly be raiding the bird feeders, and I've had ducks in my yard too (all Winter this year), up to 80 every dusk, which eat the leftover corn from the pans. Now that it's mating/nesting season, I get fewer than half a dozen ducks visiting. But I've noticed that several times the pans are still empty in the morning - not every morning, but at least once a week. When the ground was soft, I discovered tracks left by the culprits - deer tracks, one larger set and one smaller, possibly belonging to a doe and fawn.
In the 28 years we've lived here, there have only been 2 other times that a deer has been seen on our street, and they were just passing through. These ones though seem to have decided my yard has some tasty treats, and stop by in the pre-dawn hours (one neighbor saw one going in my yard around 3 AM when she was taking her dogs out). Unfortunately I've never caught a glimpse of them myself.
I guess I don't mind them eating the leftover food, rather than having it go to waste, but they also have decided to eat my daylilies, hostas, and sedum. I was planning on getting my yard landscaping done this year, and as I don't want them eating all my new trees, bushes, and plants - and also don't want to be only planting ones deer don't like - looks like it's time to try to deter them before I start planting.
Wish me luck!!