My deer rant


Keeping deer off of a food source depends on a lot of factors including the availability of other quality foods and perceived risk. They also habituate quickly so once they get in once, it is harder to stop them a second time. Yes, they are limbo artists. I doubt barbed wire without juice would do any better.

There are lots of “light” techniques from sprays to fishing line to miloganite that make accessing your food source less attractive to deer. The level of effectiveness really depends on the factors I first listed.

A high fence (10’) is effective, a Gallagher-Style e-fence is effective a 5’ solid fence that deer can’t see through is effective. The right dog can be effective. Everything else may or may not be effective depending on the other factors.

Just to give you a little example. Before I used the Gallagher-Style fence, I tried one of the ribbon systems that uses an olfactory deterrent on the ribbon. I figured I’d try the cheap route since I could re-uses the step-in posts with a Gallagher-style fence if this attempt failed. I applied the solution to the tape weekly at heavy doses. Again I only protected a small section of the soybeans I had planted.

After a few weeks, if you took a picture you would swear the system worked great! Beans outside the fence were browsed heavily and a fraction of the size of the beans inside the fence. After the deer pretty much polished off all the beans outside the ribbon, they got bolder and started breaking inside the ribbon and eating beans. Once they learned that the olfactory deterrent did not represent real danger, they completely ignored it. Before long you could not tell any different between inside and outside the ribbon.

This is just an example of how some low levels of protection can work very well for some folks in some situations and be completely ineffective for others under different conditions. As I said, in some areas folks even needed a 3rd higher line on the inside of the Gallagher-style fence to prevent deer jumping the fence. As the example someone gave earlier, it is even possible for deer to jump a 10’ fence under some conditions.


They will take a deer fence that isn’t pined to the ground and lift it up enough with their nose to crawl under it. They do it in about three seconds. A regular fence wont really even slow them down.


I had deer defoliate several trees overnight earlier this spring. The next day I put up a temp fence around my trees with fishing line. I added 2 strands. First was about 18 inches off the ground and the next was 36. I kept it like that for about a week and it worked. But I wanted something I felt would be more secure. I bought some 7’ heavy duty T-posts and a quarter mile spool of 18 gauge electric aluminum fence wire. All together I had about $80 in it and it’s worked great so far. I added 5 strands of wire approximately 10" apart. The top strand of fence is about 5.5’ tall. I’ve not electrified the fence yet. I built the enclosure so that all i had to do was buy a $30 fence controller and plug it in. Only problem I have had is that darn maple tree that fell in the storm and landed on the fence. Had to reset a couple of posts and retention the wire.


Scott, aren’t you in like a suburb of Baltimore? I wouldn’t think you’d have much deer pressure in a setting like that. I could see problems with smaller varmits like squirrels, rabbits, voles, and the like but not deer. Guess you are farther out than I thought.


No, the deer are coming further in than you thought :slight_smile: Each year deer come further and further into cities. The problem is the people in the outer burbs, they were pretty much cleaning up any deer a few years ago but fewer and fewer people see a freezer-load of free meat when they spot a deer in their backyard. My yard is particularly exposed as I can walk from the edge of my yard to wilderness miles away, without ever leaving the woods.


In our area I think we have less hunting going on so the populations kicking in an moving out.


Suburbs are the perfect whitetail deer habitat. They are a creature of the edges, and suburbs tend to have that sort of environment, especially with newer burbs featuring more trails and recreational areas ect (at least in the places I’ve lived).

I’m in a similar situation as Scott. I live on the edge of a trail system that connects with a major river corridor and thousands of acres of wooded habitat interspersed with low-density (expensive) housing.

I am currently have stalled the assault on my trees by soaking strips of old t-shirt in “Deer Stopper” which is a putrescent egg solids based repellent. I has mint and rosemary oil, but those are pretty much gone after the first day. I hang the strips next to branches that are close to my fencing.

Knock on wood… but it has kept the damage at bay for the last 3 weeks or so. I need to get back out to refresh the repellent but it is supposed to rain tonight.

Surround + Sulfur works for me also. But it has been way too hot to spray sulfur for 3 weeks now. I will probably be putting a coat of Surround on tomorrow for Japanese beetles.


Well, we live on a hillside cleared of trees decades ago, and our house is about 50 yards from the treeline. We’re actually not too far from a National Forest. So, we’re right in their “living room”, as it were.

Long time residents here said deer were rare 20 years ago, but have really exploded recently. I don’t know why, maybe their natural predators have been reduced. Just about everybody around these parts hunts in the fall, and the deer are still thick. We’re allowed 4 per season here, you’d think that would help.

I was outside in the tomato patch staking and mulching my plants this evening, and I heard several “snort” noises over by the fence line that separates our yard from the pasture. I smacked my palms together and thought I heard thumping up into the trees, then I heard more snorts up behind the house. So, you know who is wandering aboot.

My wife saw 5 deer over in our neighbor’s field this evening on the way to church, so this might’ve been what I heard later. She said they had a red tint to them, I assume they were white tail, but don’t know why their coats would be reddish, unless it’s a summer thing.

Yesterday she was over cooling off in the creek, and she said an aggressive doe almost charged her, until she started yelling at it. Our “watchdog” who was with her, did nothing, just ignored her. I don’t know what to think of that dog.


Not unusual this time of year as she probably had her fawn nearby . Came close to stepping on one the other day wile doing some apple thinning on a full sized apple tree.


Having grown up in AL, where the modern firearm season ran from about Thanksgiving to the end of January, with a month more of archery season before the firearms season - and bag limits of one buck per day, with a couple of weeks of ‘either sex’ season, where you could (potentially) kill both an antlered and unantlered deer per day… the measly little two week KY modern firearm deer season is a joke. You can’t kill enough of them.
Granted, I think the most I ever removed - and ate! - from the AL population, in one year was 8 (I think between me, my dad, and BIL, we harvested 22 off our farm that year), but I’ve looked out in my pasture here immediately after a fairly successful season - to see as many as 25 of the hooved rats.

Scott's 2018 Deer Repellant Plan

Totally agree. We need a high or unlimited limit for a few years to thin down the deer population. Once they are thinned out the lower limit can be started up again. It is my opinion that the number of hunters are less now and a lower limit might not ever need to be started again. Bill


Where we are in NE Kentucky, we are in hunting zone 3, which means we are allowed 4 total deer, with one buck max. If you’re lucky enough to live up in the N between Cincinnati and Louisville, or extreme W Ky, you’re allowed as many does as you want, and one buck max.

I went hunting last November for the first time since we moved up here a couple years ago, but didn’t get any. But, I have learned some of their movement, and the countryside around the farm. So, hopefully next season will be a little more successful.

Yeah, rifle season is really short (2 weeks in November). But, you do get about 5 months of bow season.

@Lucky_P, aren’t you in Hopkinsville? If so, you are in zone 1, which means unlimited antlerless deer for you!


I just hate deer… some got into my backyard last night and did a lot of damage. They ate two of my Carmine Jewel cherries back considerably, almost back to where they started this spring. They also ate some branches off my plums, some of my cucumbers, and some of my black eyes peas.

So frustrating…


We just planted some leafy veggies and cukes last week and they’re just now sprouting. But, that plot is unprotected right now, so guess I’m going to have to fence that plot in next. Plus, I’ve noticed some rabbits out there at night so I’m going to have to deer and rabbit proof it.

I had a nice 6 foot Winesap tree that I got from Lowes planted down by the corn patch. It sprouted all kinds of new leaves and even blossomed out some. It had sat out there for a couple weeks unprotected, and I guess I was hoping against hope that those varmits wouldn’t mess with it. I had even bought some fencing to put around it, but didn’t get to it immediately. Well, 4 days after I bought the fencing, the tree got pretty much stripped of leaves and blooms up to about 4 feet. I was furious, yes, at the deer, but mostly at myself for waiting too long. Now all 19 of my apple, pear and peach trees have circular fencing around them.

I was talking to a person who lives about 5 miles up the road from us yesterday, and he said he’s given up growing a garden because of the deer. Said it just isn’t really worth all the trouble. Can’t say I blame him. But, I’m going to still try, that’s one of the reasons we moved to the farm, to grow our own food.


The deer ate my Persimmon leaves off my new bare root trees. They ate one of my Carmine Jewel’s too!!! The Coons knocked most of the plums off my Satsuma plum, and bent the trunk to the ground. That was after they filled up on all my cherries that were left. I set a live trap to make it easier to shoot them. They stole the bate last night. I rebated it with peanut butter bread at 4:00 am but the chipmunks ate that today so more bate.


My 3-D fence around two acres of orchard makes it possible to have an orchard. The deer pressure here is immense, and that 3-D fence is 99 percent effective. It’s very cost effective, and the outer line is on pigtail posts so they can be moved for mowing. I would advise using a quality charger. We bought our solar unit from Premier Fencing. It’s more expensive that the Chinese makes, but will outlast them by years. We tried the cheap brands (carried at TSC) on our garden fence and they failed after one year.


I have been using the Deer Stopper and Plot Saver products for a few years, My property is a whitetail deer super-highway. 5-6 years ago, I planted what has come to be a 60 tree orchard. After some hearbreaking losses due to these animals, and trying several products,I found Messina through a Google search. Early on, when the orchard was young and consisted of fewer trees, spraying the trees directly was sufficient as long as I was faithfully spraying at 30 days or less. Once I discovered the Plot Saver concept and executed it properly, I can testify that for the last 3 years, I have suffered no damage from the time I install it late fall until early spring when I remove it for the “1st mow”.
It consists of fiberglass stakes/clips/nylon tape at the right height sprayed every 30 days.
Here are some pics before I took it down in April. Now I just spot spray if I see browsing. It will go back up in the fall. I’d leave it up, but I mow the orchard every week. My English Mastiff, Bowzer, hates deer. For what it’s worth. I don’t own stock in the company. One year, I was devestated. No issues since. ,


Your orchard is a model


Deer can do amazing jumps; they usually do not. I have only ten acres and have counted ten deer on my place at one time, and I would not be surprised if I missed a few more in the trees. I have had two bucks fight it out on my driveway. I tried planting a field in black walnut trees from the state conservation department and the deer turned them into shrubs. I fence all my fruit and nut trees individually until they are tall enough to take some browsing and then just use fence around the trunk to prevent buck rubs.

So, I have deer. I also have a garden that is about 60x60’. For many years now I have kept deer out of my garden using a five foot welded wire fence. That also keeps most raccoons and possums out unless I try to grow corn or melons. In that case, I add a hot wire a few inches above the welded wire and ground the welded wire. If I have any deer problems, I add a couple lines of nylon cord to get to about 7’ up and use marking tape flags to make it obvious to Bambi and her boyfriends. Could a deer jump it? Sure. One could even jump and hit the nylon cord without injury probably, but none ever has. Maybe Missouri deer are just lazier? Anyway, such a fence can be made somewhat pretty with good posts, or it can go up quick and easy with t-posts. The cords don’t require much support. Just some lengths of pvc pipe or whatever you happen to have wired to every other post. Lots of folks around here do something similar. Some use plastic milk jugs on the cords to blow around and get the deer’s attention.



Thanks Chad, for the plotsaver rec. I have seen this product at our local Southern States store. SS is a farm supply store chain in these parts. I will check into that product when I go to town. We have some garden plots starting to mature, and we need something more substantial and effective than the caution tape fence we’ve used in the past.

I agree with @ltilton, your orchard looks very nice. What are you growing in it? You mentioned you take the fence down now that you’re mowing. Doesn’t that entice the deer to come back and munch on your trees?

I wish our dog shared a disdain for deer like yours. He pretty much ignores them nowadays. I think he’s seen so many of them in his 11 years, that he just doesn’t care anymore about them.