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4 Tricks To Keep Deer Out Of Your Yard (No. 2 Is Gross … But Works)

4 Natural Ways To Keep Deer Out Of Your Yard (No. 2 Is Yukky … But Works)

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It’s intriguing to watch a small group of deer prance through the yard, until they decide to stay.

I remember planting a small orchard of mixed fruit trees — apples, pears and peaches. They were saplings with a trunk about an inch in diameter and about five to eight feet tall. There were about 20 of them, and they weren’t cheap. Digging the holes, composting and watering required a lot of effort, but I considered it an investment in the future and I looked forward to the day of the first harvest. That day never came.

Over the winter, a small group of deer stripped the bark from every single tree – girdling all of them. By removing the bark around the circumference of the trunks, they had killed my young orchard.

Deer also can do damage to a garden, as they forage on tender plants and shoots.

But for organic gardeners and homesteaders, there is hope. Here are four ways to keep deer off your garden and property:

1. Simple fencing.

A high fence around any garden will keep a good number of animals out, including deer.  But when you’re planting individual saplings across a large area, a fence can be tough to do.

The solution for saplings is a cylinder of fencing about six inches in diameter buried at the base of the tree up to the leaf line. This will make it difficult, if not impossible, for deer to nibble on the bark. It’s a bit unsightly, but once the tree has matured for three to four years, the bark has hardened and is not as attractive to deer. At this time, the fencing can be cut away, but there’s still a chance they’ll take advantage. That’s where some other solutions become necessary.

2. Coyote urine.

Yes, you can actually buy coyote urine. It’s usually sold through the Internet, but some garden centers even carry it on their shelves. Coyotes are a natural enemy of deer, and their scent will repel them. Like many liquid repellents, it needs to be reapplied after a heavy rain. The urine is usually sprayed onto the bark of the tree from the base to leaf-line, but it’s obviously not recommended for vegetables in the garden. However, you could spray the stuff around the perimeter of a garden to create a barrier.

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4 Natural Ways To Keep Deer Out Of Your Yard (No. 2 Is Yukky … But Works)

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You should know that coyote urine comes with a catch. While coyote urine will repel deer, it might attract coyotes. Coyotes are wild dogs, and if you’ve ever owned a dog you know how much they love to mark their territory by lifting a leg when they pick up the scent of another dog. But there is an alternative.

3. The plastic coyote.

I’ll admit: I was alarmed the first time I encountered a plastic coyote. My neighbor had it in his backyard, and it was life-sized and painted to look like a real coyote.

My neighbor was a good friend, so I wheeled into his driveway to ask him about the coyote in his backyard.  He laughed and said, “You wanna meet him?”  I was a bit confused and hesitant, but as we approached this “coyote,” it occurred to me the animal was frozen in place. He said he bought it at a local hardware store to repel deer and other varmints. I asked if it worked and he gave me a very definitive, “Yes.” You also can find them on the Internet.

4. The hot sauce cocktail.

The good thing about the hot sauce cocktail is that it’s safe to eat on vegetables after they’ve been well-rinsed. This hot sauce cocktail also works great on tree bark. As you might suspect, it’s made of a mix of hot stuff you probably have in your kitchen. This makes any target for deer highly unattractive. Here’s my recipe and some of my favorite hot stuff.

  • 1 quart of vinegar (white or apple-cider vinegar)
  • ¼ cup of hot sauce. I like “Dave’s Total Insanity Sauce.”
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of black pepper

Combine everything in an empty milk jug and shake. Let the jug sit in the sun for three days and shake again. Add enough to a spray bottle to fill it, and spray liberally on anything you think might tempt a deer to taste. After one taste, they will stop and probably not return for a second sample. Here again, reapply after a heavy rain.

Final Thoughts

These solutions will not only repel deer but other critters and opportunistic varmints, too. Your response to the deer problem is directly related to where you live and the deer population. If deer are abundant, they will — sooner or later — cause you some distress. Pass the stress onto them, and consider these natural approaches to preserve and protect your hard work.

How do you repel deer? Share your tips in the section below:

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  1. Thank you for the timely advise as a group of five deer have eaten all the leaves off my sapling apple trees as well as eating the green arborvitae from ground to four feet up. I purchased more apple trees and will make good use of your suggestions

  2. to keep deer away from prized daylillies —human hair. about every 2 months , get my wife’s hair stylist to save a day or two worth of hair clippings and simply spread on/over the plants and bushes. deer do not like the human scent.

  3. I have had good luck with a plastic owl to repel rabbits, and plastic snakes for squirrels and other rodents. Just move them periodically so they don’t become statues. Statues don’t scare, but moving plastic predators do.

  4. One thing that people use is fishing line. Put a single strand about 3 feet high around an area. The deer can’t see it but they bumped into and get frustrated. The clear stuff works best for invisibility.

  5. I am posting from South Africa. This is not about deer, but dogs defecating on our very large lawn in Bloemfontein. An old big game hunter friend advised us to put some Lion droppings on the lawn. On our next hunting trip we brought back some Lion droppings, which we scattered on the lawn. Early the next morning we heard a dog literally screaming as he exited our lawn at the greatest rate of knots. Subsequently we got a regular supply of Lion droppings from our local friendly zoo. I have posted this for your amusement and edification.

  6. Just a heads up about coyotes repelling deer. We have at least a dozen deer on our property. They ruin our fences, dine on our garden and more. Yes, pretty to look at but pretty obnoxious animals. If coyotes were a repellent, we would have no deer. We have some beautiful and healthy coyotes living in the same meadow that the deer reside in. So, sorry to say, I wouldn’t count on coyote urine to discourage the deer. 🙁

  7. I’ve had good luck with a Remington 870.

    • I’ve often thought paint balls would be useful to identify the ones causing problems before you get out the Remington. The rule at my house is “If it grows in my garden it’seems mine to eat.”

  8. I fence in my gardens with 3 foot tall chicken wire, which requires posts every 10 feet. At each post I tie a 6 foot piece of bamboo on with twine. then I string twine at chest level and as far up as I can reach. Then I tie two pieces of any cloth onto each level of the twine. Haven’t had any problems for 15 years, and I have fawns born on my 3 acres every year.

  9. Try used cat litter. I break up the clumps and spread them around the edges of my garden. It also keeps the black bears from getting into my trash can.

  10. Used to have a rottie mix. and at one place we lived there were a lot of deer in the neighborhood. They knew the dog was tied to an overhead run, so they weren’t really afraid of her. If she was put out when they were in the yard, they would run a short distance away into the neighbor’s back yard, then resume eating. Some of them would also deliberately tease the tied up dog, by deliberately edging back a little closer. It was clear from their body language that they were having fun bothering the dog. Occasionally the dog run would break, so then they would run farther away, and so would the dog, and I had to stagger after her with my bad knees, to get her back home. I don’t think a coyote statue will work, at least not for long. Once the deer know it’s a fake, they will ignore it. Next time I cut my hair I will have to remember to save the clippings for my brothers to use at their place, as I can no longer manage to tend a garden anymore, but they have a garden.

    Off topic, but useful info. Get a hair clipper kit and learn how to cut your own hair. You will save a lot of money, and it’s not hard to do, and if you mess up, it will grow out and you can work on fixing it a little every 3 or 4 weeks until it’s fixed all the way, or until you need to cut it again.

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