Oh Deer!

The summer before last the deer rutted against many of the trees - causing a lot of damage. They also ate the new growth of some - and not others. They particularly liked our Pink Lady apple for some reason. ?

We are trying this before we invest in something that will surround the entire orchard area.

We want to net to keep the birds and squirrels from stealing - but I didn’t want to deal with all the tangled netting, so came up with this idea. Don’t know if it will work . . . but we shall find out. We’ll put the finer net over the top and secure it at the bottom of the poles. Luckily, we have lots of bamboo growing on our property and we are making use of it for the height. Tennis balls will keep the poles from going right through the netting.

I don’t know what deer will do to get to the trees. Probably ‘whatever they want to’. If they knock the chicken wire down - we’ll have to consider the investment of surrounding with fencing. But - that won’t keep out the smaller creatures, like raccoons and possum, etc. So - either way - we still have to use some sort of net - or bags.

Here is what I came up with. :laughing: :astonished: :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:
The larger, stronger trees have larger . . . stronger . . . poles.
P.S. - These 2 trees are very close to our house. We have not ever had deer intrusions so close to the house. Out further, we used chicken wire. It seemed more ‘off-putting’ than this black stuff.


I use that stuff on my actual fencing, 7.5’ tall with 4x4 corner/middle posts and T posts in between. What I like about it is that black is actually not an eyesore. Rather than try to lay a continuing roll I actually broke it into panels and affixed them between the posts, about 13~15 feet in length or so. This made getting it flat a lot easier not to mention that if one were to break I just replace that panel.


Don - can you post a pic when you get a chance? I like this black Tenax grid netting, too. This isn’t even the strongest one. I found it at Lowes, rather than having to order it. Some I’ve used before (the 7.5’ one) was folded and we found that difficult to deal with. This came on a continuous roll - not folded. I bought 2 50’ rolls so far. May bite the bullet and order the stronger one - taller, too. But it was very expensive.

This was my first ‘design’. I don’t even know if it will keep them off the trees. And all of this will be so annoying. We’ll have to release the cable ties at one end, to go ‘into’ the little corrals. I’m a bit past the point in life when I can climb under the deer net! (An awkward crawl, perhaps.) And once the bird netting is in place, it will be even more of a pain in the rear, to get in!

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@PomGranny Consider “Critter Fence”- nice looking permanent fencing with a one inch square opening option (the only maker I could find offering 1 in x 1 in permanent fence that’s coated so it’s not ugly). Combine with a few strands of hot and ground wires, a solar charger, ground rods and you’re set.


If you dont close that lower gap they will go under your netting. Deer are a lot shorter to the ground than you think, especially younger deer.


@TurkeyCreekTrees took the words out of my mouth. Last year, I put a 4’ wire fence around a bunch of young apple trees. I left a 4-6" gap at the bottom. The deer were very happy to slip under the fence in order to strip leaves. So I adjusted the fence to touch the ground. That worked well – they stopped trying to slip under and never jumped over. But I’m not sure it will continue to work well once the trees bear ripe apples. Deer can EASILY jump a 4’ fence and 6’ is also pretty routine. [There’s a Community Garden across the street where deer used to regularly jump a 6’ fence. Now there’s an 8’ fence which is jumped only rarely.]

As an example of deer vs 4’ fence, I put an arrow through a big 8-point buck last November, very close to the fence. The double-lunged buck ran 10 yards, took a hard left running along the fence for ~20 yards, took another hard left jumping over the 4’ fence twice (once jumping into the enclosure, once jumping out), then continued 100 yards before dropping.

A buddy has also had heavy fencing demolished by big bucks chasing does in the dark during rut.


I have trouble with deer eating my fruit trees, so I have individually fenced each tree as best as possible. Despite this, I have found that if the fencing starts higher than 1’ or so above ground, and or is not-rigid ( such as the plastic fencing vs. wire ) they will either push as far possible underneath, or press against the less rigid fencing to reach whatever growth is most convenient. I am replacing the individual fences with one to surround the entire area.

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I love it! ANd hope it works. Lots of work here…I never stopped being amazed at the lengths we will go through to get some fruit! haha


We had one visit from deer last year. Could see them on our security cam. I had considered making pepper spray, that I have used to chase off moles, to spray the surrounding foliage where deer enter our property but the deer never came back so I did not actually use this method.
If you can safely apply it without affecting your neighbors it may be a good choice. If a deer gets a good whiff of it, he will not stay for long and is not likely to return. A pepper mix like “Peppery Pete’s 7 pod Card” or just plain old Cayenne would be worth trying. However; be very careful to spray downwind and wear protective goggles and a mask when applying. Avoid windy day applications. Once it dries of foliage it’s not likely to bother people, but a deer that nibbles it will take a quick trip! You do not want to inhale this stuff while making or applying!
Kent, wa

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They say misery loves company, right @PomGranny? I was so excited about my first outdoor graft on our pear tree taking, and how healthy it looked 2 days ago. That night, I let the dog out around 1:30 AM to find 3 deer had happily destroyed the majority of the foliage on that tree, including the graft. Fortunately I have 1 more bud that took, but come on… They also obliterated my jostaberry (aren’t jostaberry supposed to be deer proof!?). To top it off, I’m pretty sure the top of the pear now has fireblight, so I have to trim the central leader to curb it. Time to prioritize my fence over the deck…

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We put wire around the bottom. (Took the photo before the wire.) But according to all of you, here . . . that’s not going to do it, either.
So, as I said before . . . we will most likely invest in fencing in the entire ‘Apple/Pear/Stone Fruit’ area.The deer don’t seem to like pomegranate foliage. And nothing has ever bothered the pom fruit. Maybe because they have mean thorns?

I just don’t want to do that before I find if I actually will get some fruit that ‘lives’ to mature to harvest . . . as we never have before.

Consider “Critter Fence”- nice looking permanent fencing

@hambone - I have looked at the Critter Fencing site. Very very expensive. But it is nice! (Is that your Fort Knox?) :smile: We passed a prison not long ago . . . and a solar farm . . . both fenced to the max. I was thinking, “That is what we need”.

8 feet. Good Grief.

I wish that small, individual solar units were available . . . to be able to hot wire several trees. I really don’t want to have to install a large area of fencing. But - it may be inevitable.

Thanks, everyone for all the advice.

@disc4tw -

3 deer had happily destroyed the majority of the foliage on that tree, including the graft.

Yes. They nibbled some of the new growth off of one of my successful apple grafts, too. The next night we rigged up a chicken wire contraption.

Final Thoughts.
We don’t like venison. But . . . As I type I am thinking of what venison-loving guys I know ? that can come and ‘keep watch’ some night very soon. They shouldn’t be difficult to find - ‘around these parts’.

To shoot them at night (legally), or outside of the established hunting season, you’d have to get a depredation permit from your state fish & game commission.
It’s crazy, but in some states - at least in the past - they did not allow you to take/use the carcass - you had to leave it where it fell. I guess this was to discourage ‘trophy hunting’ by spotlight or out of season, but seemed like a waste of a useful resource, to me.

Yes Critter Fence is my Fort Knox. I tried lesser measures over the years and finally declared war. Good luck.

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Though I hunt (and eat a lot of venison), in my area the deer population is so big that hunting cannot really make a dent. Remember, each healthy doe will have two fawns annually.

Also, killing one does not deter the others. Blood is not a deterrent, at lest not as much as tasty foliage and fruit is an attractant.

Fencing is the only effective option, IMO. At minimum, try 4’ starting at the ground. Wires at 5-8’ will also help, deterring attempts to jump. Supposedly wires placed at short (e.g., 2-3’) distance outside the main fence create enough uncertainty to deter.

p.s. In my experience, venison from a deer shot with a bow (and therefore well bled) is way less gamey than gun-shot deer. I served barbecued backstraps to a friend who accused me of having bought and served beef. In fairness, it was very much like a very lean, grass-fed beef.

Yep. You can’t kill enough of them to impact the population… at least not with the restrictions in place here (modern gun season is only 2 weeks).
I planted 12 acres of cover-crop wheat/rye/annual ryegrass in fields within view of the house last fall. Throughout the winter, it was not uncommon to see 50+ deer feeding in them every evening, and often at all times during the day. They kept it hammered almost to the ground until temps warmed and it the small grains really rocketed!

There’s a few plants that work as deer repellent. Lavender is one of them. But fences are probably more effective.

That’s the story but does it work at any distance? For example, I planted lavender just because I like it. I had a bed of it probably 20’ x 40’ roughly 30 yards from two white oaks. Did the lavender prevent the deer from congregating to eat the acorns? Nope. They just didn’t eat the lavender.

Maybe it’d work if you totally surrounded your trees with lavender.

Here, bow season runs from 9/15 to 01/31 – 4 1/2 months! There’s so many deer – and DEM is intelligent about herd management – that I can buy 4-5 doe tags and 2-3 buck tags. Together, a buddy and I routinely take 6-8 deer per year total, which is about all we can use. But most landowners won’t give permission for hunting, so there’s not a lot of hunting pressure and there’s probably 75-100 deer within the neighboring square mile. I get your point about 50+ deer. At certain times of the year, I can count similar numbers bedded nearby.

Many American suburbs are worse. You’d think it was the Serengeti – but without the lions.

Great planning and work! I especially love the tennis balls for the cover thats coming! I havent had much of a deer problem but then again I havent had much fruit!

I agree. The fencing has a nice look to it and doesnt stand out as much.

Going to put up my game camera near the trees before long. I will hook up the rain deterrent again this year on the side where deer tend to find their way in. Not much, but has been helpful in the past to curb habits early.

I really have to give this some thought this year and have been considering 3D solar electric fencing. Last year there were some excellent comprehensive posts on deer fencing and I might revisit it.

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I grew up in Alabama… bow season came in about mid October… ran a month past the end of modern gun season… which came in at Thanksgiving and ran til the end of January.
Limit was one buck per day… and later on, they added a 2 week ‘either-sex’ season, where you could (theoretically) harvest one buck and one unantlered deer per day.
Between me, my dad, and my BIL, we harvested 22 one season(7 were mine) off our property - all during modern firearm season.
One of my (now-deceased) childhood friends, whose family owned or farmed about 5K acres, who did nothing but hunt and feed cows(with rifles in the truck!) during deer season, killed 75 one season. Legally. But his deal with an establishment in town of trading one deer carcass for one case of beer was not legal, and once his father caught wind of it… he put an quick end to that!

My son, living just a block or two from downtown Silver Spring has had to cage everything in his backyard to keep the deer and rabbits from totally demolishing any fruit or berry trees/plants. While taking some leisurely walks with his young family last week, along the well-used Sligo Creek Trail, it was not at all unusual to see groups of 4-5 deer unconcernedly browsing not 20 ft off the trail, with no fear or concern about the people walking/jogging/biking close enough to easily hit them with a rock or stick.

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