For years I relied on my homemade mix of eggs and soap as my primary deer repellent in my nursery. I started sliding over to Plantskyd last season because of its touted longevity.
I’ve come to the conclusion the materials work similarly. I was hoping PS would provide more repellency beyond just what is coated to new growth but I don’t even think it lasts long on leaves sprayed. At any rate, for my deer, I get the same results using a couple of eggs mixed with some Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap and a gallon of water as with the high priced product.
While trees are in growth treatment needs to be done every couple of weeks or they start chomping off growth.
I used to get long term results with powdered blood mixed with water and hung from open containers (that blocked rain) but the stuff was just too damn disgusting.
I’ve had more trouble with deer this year than any other previous year. I tried a solution with one egg per gallon of water. It seems to work good. I haven’t had any missing leaves since I sprayed my most vulnerable trees that are isolated outside the main growing area. I see fresh deer tracks around the trees, but no hits.
Before I tried the egg solution, I tried hanging Ivory soap pieces. Apparently some soap bars, like original Ivory, are made from sodium tallowate. Sodium tallowate is derived from animal fat. The last time I’ve seen deer in the main growing area was the same evening I hung them up. This time their behavior was a little different. They had been playing this game with me for at least a month. I would leave my trees to go back to the shop to get some tools. I come back 5 minutes later and they are standing right where I was working just 5minutes before. It’s like they were watching me from the brush, waiting for me to leave. As I’m walking back, they don’t bother to leave until I get within 10 yards. They did this a bunch of times. The last time, after hanging Ivory soap, they bolted the minute they saw me. They even fled in the worst direction, across a road and through a large open pasture. I haven’t seen them during daytime since. It’s hard to say, but it does appear the Ivory soap bars made them at least little more nervous about their surroundings. That is an improvement, considering they were getting much too comfortable around human activity during daylight hours. They have deer like that in the housing project areas closer to town. The deer never leave. Can’t plant anything because the deer will mow it down. I don’t know how they tolerate it.
I used to shave Ivory soap bars into water and boil it to a liquid and add it to my egg mix. I just started using the liquid Bronners because it is easier, but I was concerned that the lack of tallow might make it less effective. But I added a little touch of Plantskydd to give it that death by predator sensation.
I think the common advice of using highly scented soap is misguided, and I believe I’ve seen research long ago that showed Ivory was more effective than Irish Spring.
Yes, you can get kill permits if you can show damage in my state. However, with sufficient control during the season, numbers can be kept more manageable.
If you are in an area where you don’t have zoning or other restrictions, a Gallagher-Style e-fence is probably the best deterrent I’ve found balancing cost and effectiveness. I do find it a lot less tasty than the bow and arrow method.
I actually am incapable of putting that much a dent in the deer population in my area and I would rapidly have more meat than I could use. What’s more, some of my neighbors enjoy their hunting and wouldn’t appreciate me making any real reduction in our areas “herd”.
Fencing is the obvious solution, but then I wouldn’t get to see my occasional bob cat, frequent wild turkeys and other wild life I love having around. I use the repellent because it is the best solution for me and posted this so others might consider using a home made mix instead of an industrial product. Of course, eggs are getting expensive.
No so with a Gallagher-style E-fence. It is a 3 dimensional style electric fence that is designed to play on both physiological and psychological of deer. Wild turkey, bobcats, and other wildlife move through it with ease.
The least expensive version is one strand of turbo tape on the outer fence that is twisted to flutter in the wind as a visual cue. The inner fence uses smaller diameter white turbo wire, one strand a little higher than the outer fence turbo tape and the other a little lower. The inner fence is 3 feet from the outer fence Deer have a problem with depth perception. While they could easily physically jump this fence but they don’t. Instead, they try to crawl through and the position of the wires (all hot) will give them a zap. The easily see the outer turbo tape which they associate with the shock. The inner turbo wire is smaller diameter and harder to see. They can see something is there but can’t see it clearly. One can also begin to train the them by adding some peanut butter on aluminum foil to the outer fence. Deer are curious and will often sniff and lick this…once per deer.
This system is often used with temporary step-in style posts to protect food plots during establishment and then are removed to allow deer to use the plots.
The only time I have seed deer break in to a properly constructed Gallagher style fence is when they are chased by a predator. This is the one time deer jump horizontally because jumping into the unknown is better than dealing with the known predator.
Some folks use a slightly more expensive design that uses 2 lines on the outer fence and 3 on the inner but I have not found this added cost is necessary. I regularly get pictures turkey and other non-deer animals inside the fence.
I came home from work today to see that a deer had walked across a bed of strawberries, eating all the tops, eaten all of the day lily flowers, eaten the top off of my largest Carmine Jewel (all of this years growth) and every tomato that was larger than a pea on 7 tomato plants. I was about a week away from my first cherry tomatoes and a few weeks from the others. Now it looks like it will be August for tomatoes if I can keep them out of them and my first Carmine Jewel cherries were probably just postponed a year. It (or they) obviously came through a suburban neighborhood in the middle of the day. Arghhh!
So I’m going to whip up some of that egg and water mix and get to it, but I was wondering what your thoughts are on using it on the actual tomatoes? Any possible issues eating them later on?
And would this mixture keep them off actual apples or are they just too tempting to deer?
What about scare tape, does that help?
Thanks for any insight. For now I’m just going to have a beer and weep about all those poor plants.
I grow all my tomato plants out of my fenced vegie garden area and rely entirely on egg repellent or whatever I’m using. I try not to get the mixture on the tomatoes but any bacteria in the mix gets killed by sun and dehydration I would guess. The deer prefer the young growing shoots and not the tomatoes themselves, fortunately.
Sorry for your frustrating experience. I know the feeling, although it has been years since deer have jumped my garden fence. I do suffer from their damage on a regular basis, often it is buck rubs against young trees in my nursery.
Thanks for the recipe Alan. I’ve been using Bobbex for a few years and it works really well (not suggesting you use it, as your concoction sounds like it’s working well for you and is less expensive, just mentioning the Bobbex works well).
Bobbex has very good staying power, so it’s not supposed to be used on bearing trees because it will impart an off-flavor to the fruit.
I’ve read somewhere where deer develop a taste for certain plants and if never allowed to browse them the plants are easier to protect.
In the past we’ve been fairly intense in applying the deer sprays to young apple, plum and cherry. This year many of these trees are bearing at the farm so we haven’t been applying the Bobbex. I’ve got quite a few small apple trees bearing, so I’ve been trying to “fool” the deer by applying the spray to just a few ends of the shoots (careful not to get any on the fruit). I’ve no idea if this will work. None of the apples are completely ripe yet (although Lodi are getting very close).
For some reason deer won’t eat peaches. I know you’ve mentioned you’ve seen them eat the foliage, but here, so far, they eat neither foliage or fruit. It’s really surprising they won’t eat the fruit. Maybe they don’t like the soft juicy texture of peaches.
Olpea, my deer do like peach foliage and all fruit tree foliage. They just happen to favor some things a little over others, but not enough to matter much. They are even drawn more to some varieties of apples than others. Probably based on how much protein is in the foliage.
Nothing has good staying power here because we probably have a good deal more pressure than you, judging from the fact they don’t eat peaches. As soon as new foliage is significant, about 2 weeks after spray, the deer begin browsing again an even seem to go into sprayed stuff a bit once they are started, but not enough to kill anything.
There’s more sugars than you think and animals actually taste sugar. In fact people are now using deficit irrigation to produce sweeter vegetables of all kinds. I like my carrots, cauliflower and cabbage as sweet as possible and am pretty good at identifying the sweetest cabbage and cauliflower via density in hand. Carrots are luck of the draw.
@alan, I need you to talk to my deer about eating the shoots and not the tomatoes. Although they were still green, it looks like they carefully nosed around to find even the tomatoes hidden down in the foliage and then just gave the tops of the plants a light trim for good measure. I can just imagine them poking through the foliage to get at them all. I ordered a sprayer and it won’t be hear for a few days, but maybe I’ll mix some of your recipe up and just spoon it around on some of the foliage to start.
@Brethil, thanks for the condolences. Somehow the deer knew which of my CJs I paid extra for to get in the bigger size in hopes of an early taste. Perhaps it found the lack of symmetry offensive and was just trimming it back to the scale of the others.
I agree that humans have developed vegetables with lots of sugar in the leaves and maybe also found some already that way in the wild (although I don’t see how that would be a good survival strategy for a plant). Plants tell me they want you to eat the fruit- just don’t chew the seeds.