Tell me about your best deer scare devices

Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)July 5, 2012

I am looking for some deer scare devices to add to my arsenal. I have been doing pretty good with Deer Out spray supplemented with the occasional Plantskydd this year, but if I get a big rain or miss something with a spray the deer will jump on in. I already have some electronic zappers that are on poles, but they only protect single plants. I want something that will scare them real good.

I have ordered one motion activated sprinkler since I hear they work pretty well. Konrad, I was really impressed with your string-activated dropping weight thing and I expect I could make something like that.

I would also be interested in something to shoot at them that would be legal and humane. My impression is there is nothing really worth it since either it doesn't scare them enough or its not humane (or legal). Unfortunately I live in a city and cannot legally shoot deer on my property. I can't even pay anyone to do it, and the state govt just laughed at me when I asked for their help.


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Are you able to shoot bb's? It's not loud and won't injure the deer. Please be sure to just aim at their flanks cause you can still blind the deer. I have heard of people going to their local hair cutting place and asking for a bag of hair to sprinkle on the property as well but I doubt that human scent would scare them off as they seem pretty brazen already.

I am not sure how big your garden is, but what about an electrified fence? They make some good decoys that move you could place around the garden....have seen them used for geese.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:22AM
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Dogs. Nothing better. When our elderly dog died, the deer sensed it within days and started coming closer. The lower limbs of two apples and a pear got chomped. Two weeks ago we got new pups from the Humane Society with just the right mix of genes, and already the deer are hanging back. I gather the fallen apples twice a day and throw the bad ones down into the deep woods where the deer can eat their fill.

We also use deep bramble thickets to deter deer from the back side of the garden. They won't jump or go through a 12-foot deep thicket of blackberries and black raspberries. Another deer entry point is blocked by a dense stand of stinging nettles. We mow the corridors we want the deer to use, which also seems to be useful. We keep the human paths narrow, and I place pieces of sheet metal roofing over the main path to deerville. They avoid it because it makes so much noise when they step on it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Nu2, I have thought about BBs but have heard they don't really work .. deer just come back the next night from what I have heard. I would like to hear if it has actually worked for anyone.

I am in a suburban neighborhood with children around and don't want to put up an electric fence. Since the deer come only at night I could in theory set it up to electrify at night only using a timer. That has been in the back of my mind, as has fencing in the whole yard with 8' deer fence.

Any decoy will not work for deer, they will get used to it.

What I am looking for is motion-triggered devices that scare them well enough to keep them away.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Found this.....might be helpful

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 9:54AM
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My dog...............once we got the dog, the deer vanished and have not been back for two years.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 10:24AM
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I have about one acre in welded wire fence,bought at Lowe that is 60" high in 100 feet roll($80.00 a roll).The tric for me is that i planted Keria bushes close by the fence area. These plants grow about 4 feet high and 4 feet wide and that discourage them from jumping over. You can use anything as long as you want(climbing roses,forsythia,rose of sharon etc). I use keria because with one plant you can expand with water sprouts easely.This set-up is going on 6 years now with not a single problem.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 11:02AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

My Black Lab takes care of deer tracks were everywhere before got him. I use 2 radio's on 5 acres Blackberries tune into Trucker station at night country western in day time they want feed with loud but will travel in area. A Dog take care 350 to 500 feet 600 to 700 they want work.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 11:25AM
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The only thing that works for me is electric fence or else ugly wire fencing. The neighbor kids won't touch the electric fence more than once, and it doesn't harm them any. The nighttime timer would be a good idea, too, but the deer don't necessarily restrict themselves to nighttime nibbling. Electric fence isn't practical for winter, so I also need the ugly chicken wire or woven wire fencing. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 12:18PM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

Scott, I 2 strands of electric fence around the orchard and garde. I baited the strand with peanut butter. When they lick or sniff the peanut butter ZAP. I baited the fence for about a week. It seemed to work for me.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 12:33PM
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    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 1:41PM
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Speaking of "Scare" devices, a Deer's inborn fear of predators may be an excellent line of defense.

The main ingredient in Shake-Away's Deer Repellent is Predator Urine. Deer's strong sense of smell picks up on the scent of a predator from a long way away. This product can be applied easily right on the ground around the area you wish to protect.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shake-Away Deer Repellent

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Nobody is trying scares I guess? All the other options are hard for me to do in my suburban setting. My dog loves nothing more than chasing deer down, but people don't leave dogs outside at night where I live. We used to let our dogs roam and they would regularly be picked up by someone thinking they were lost.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 4:01PM
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I haven't tried this one, but it's a variation on the motion-activated sprinkler: plug a boom box into the motion detector and place speakers around. A specially made tape or disc (footsteps on gravel, dog growling, a child learning the violin or flute) might be fun. In other words, pretty much what gator rider suggested but set up so that it came and went with the deer. I don't know what a deer's hearing range encompasses but I suspect it's much better than ours and it might be possible to annoy them with very high notes- above 20 khz- especially if the noise appears to come randomly from various sources. (Might drive your dog nuts, though.)

Good luck,


    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 7:43PM
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This is what my fence look like, the keria bushes right in front of the wire fence, that is only 60" tall.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 11:38AM
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It's a lot easier and cheaper to fence in the dog than to fence out the deer. fwiw, I have seen a lot of dogs run right through the underground fence that shocks them via their collar. When they are chasing something, it's hard for them to stop. 4' woven wire will keep in most dogs.

And of course the dog will cause some damage of its own in the garden, but typically less than the deer.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Mark, there was a high frequency motion triggered animal scare device I saw on Amazon. If you read the reviews the success on deer is very mixed. So it will probably not work on my highly acclimated deer. Louder sounds I can't really do since my neighbors are sleeping 50-100' away. Lots of constraints. So far I am definitely trying the sprinkler scare, it sounds like it works well but the problem is it only covers one path and I have too many access points to my yard (street is on three sides). It will at least keep the deer off their current favorite spot. I am considering putting up an electric fence which I electrify at night. I don't have problems in the day ever, the deer stay far away since there are too many people about. Only once did I see a deer during the day and I heard it got run over a few hours later. We do have an electronic fence for the dog but my dog is too energetic, he would run right through it if there was a deer nearby. Fencing in the whole yard for the dog I don't want to do, it costs a lot and looks ugly.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 1:12PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


You are going to fight this forever or until you build a fence. I've got deer trails right next to my fence. About a dozen go by twice a day. They move into town late afternoon and out in the morning. I've had zero damage in 8 years. Same deal in CA.

Build a fence and screen it off as persimmon Bob shows above.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 1:38PM
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Agree that fencing is the way to go if feasible for your location. Our sun is next to the driveway in a sloped clearing in the woods. If I did it all over again and there was sunshine elsewhere I'd fence it all away from trees & deer.

We've tried many tactics over the years. Things work, but only for awhile, so you have to try something new.

This year our new trick was adding bloodmeal in pantyhose bags tied to plant supports or the electric fence posts. I was fine with it until our little Pomeranian dog got one off the support & chewed on it. Yucky! Still keeping the deer away is worth it.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 2:06PM
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myk1(5 IL)

I don't know why you are worried about an electric fence and kids. I was, and kids presently are raised around electric fences, getting your friends to get zapped so you can laugh at them is a pastime for country kids. When I was raised around them they were quite a bit different where they would grab hold and not let go for what seemed like an eternity. Now they have much faster cycles so it's more like your choice on when you are free from the pain.
The only thing an electric fence injures on kids is their pride. If they pee on one they'll only wish they were dead.

A single strand electric will not keep deer out either, if it would corn farmers would be very happy. Training the deer by baiting the fence is the way. You don't want them to learn how to jump it to avoid the shock.

You're not going to auto-scare a deer for long. They're wired scared. If there's no real threat they'll eventually figure it out because they'll continue testing the threat to get your fruit.
When I'm bowhunting from the ground and they notice me on a stalk they challenge trying to get me to show my hand. Because I don't take the bait there's no threat. Even if I was a coyote and took the bait and gave them a run for their life they're not going to go away, they simply change their pattern to avoid the coyote's pattern.
If they went away and stayed away because something scared them they would have nowhere to live because everything scares them.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 2:36PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Mykl, I am in a city not in the country. Its a different world when it comes to electric fences, they are common in the country and non-existent in the city. For all I know its not even legal to construct one, it would not surprise me.

I agree deer are hard to deter, but there is plenty of food in the neighborhood and I just need to make them decide its less fearful elsewhere.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 4:08PM
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I just bought some deer scram. Hope it works. I think I had a deer just passing through doing some munching on my trees. I do have some a small area of woods near my orchard and house, but hoping he just moved on.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 5:02PM
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scott I live in the country and no one here flinches at a gun shot or 50. If the shot comes from inside the house my dogs are wagging their body's and bouncing at the door for the "go get it signal". If I lived in the city I would put up a life sized deer target for a bow. use a 45#recurve and shoot the target a few times a week. The neighbors will get used to it and not notice when the target changes. One neighbor seems to visit if he hears only one shot. "You don't happen to have a little extra deer stake you know how my kids love it".

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 6:30PM
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myk1(5 IL)

I wouldn't be surprised if it's illegal for an electric fence, especially on a coast. But there's no basis for such fears. It's like the fears about shock collars and dogs (electric fences are MUCH worse).
It also wouldn't surprise me if they were legal because there are suburban pet versions.

I wanted to get a livestock version for kids (they've moved), although I was going to put it up so it looked like it was for my dogs. I wasn't going to check the city laws figuring "Oh, I didn't know that, I'll take it down." generally gets you off with a warning the first time for things like that.
I know the parents were the type that would've laughed at the kids and then try to get them to shock themselves again. :)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 12:16AM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

This works pretty well. It scares away just about anything!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 2:31AM
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The thing I know about animals is the acclimate quickly. I had a coyote come into my lamb pen a few years ago and kill 80lb lambs 2 nights in a row. that was with 3 dogs raising cane. I put up a halogen yard light and radio on full volume. effective for 3 nights then another dead lamb.After night time patrols, extra fenceing dogs tied nearby and 6 more dead lambs I finally caught him in a snare, a 22 bullet in the brain finally solved the problem.

I am not saying shoot the deer. I am saying vary your deterrants. your deer out spray, a radio even at a low volume, hair from the barber shop, some blinking christmas lights, human urine, a couple of scare crows, wind chimes, fluttering cds. All of these will give a deer concern and deter them if they have a more comfortable alternative, but only if they are not present long enough to learn they are no threat. swap and change. Motion activated devices work better as they are a sudden change, instead of allowing the deer to assess the threat at a distance and decide that dining by christmas lights is devine or that it actually would like to listen to a little CCR during desert.
An electric fence is pretty safe, except for the fact that if little John gets zapped, some indignant parent and a sleezey lawyer will claim great physical angish and irrepairable mental scarring. enjoy the battle with the deer.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 2:48PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I fought the fight with the deer here for years. I am in a private community with acreage and with that came the deer. I tried deterrents both chemical and hot pepper based. They work some but unless you want to apply them every few days they won't work. I tried the motion activated water sprinkler and they do work very well but I have 100's of fruiting plants so unless I wanted to buy 50 of them at $60 a pop that was not going to work. Growing up on the farm the way was a .22 bullet placed in to the abdomen....they die a slow cruel death but not in the pastures. I could never do it but it was very effective. The cure here was a fence......48" with a riser above that of barbed wire at 5' and 6' 100% cure.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 4:22PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Bamboo rabbit you are right on the local coverage of the sprinkler. I'd need six of them to cover the whole yard. Still, it will be good to keep the deer on their toes and its not hard to move it every few days to add to the general fear level. I also got more of the Plantskydd which is good to throw in to mix things up. Deer Out has been working 100% up until a rain on what I spray on it, the problem there is keeping diligent on the coverage.

I checked around about the electric fence and could find no law against it, but the Maryland state site says not to use it in suburbs.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 6:41PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

A homebuild shot devise I put up in the veggie garden every year, [used to in the orchard when trees were small].

shot caps, triggered on a trip-line with fishing line.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 11:32AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

An 8 foot deer fence, or if you don't like the looks, or if it is against the law, you can do as well with two 4 foot fences, 4 feet apart. My son put them in several years ago as his property is next to a wildlife preserve, and has had no further problem. The fences he made look like split rail and if noticed at all are quite attractive. Al

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 11:50AM
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alan haigh

I live with deer in my orchard and nursery and sometimes my place gets a bit crowded with these uninvited guests (that's also how they refer to me). This is not an answer to your scare quarry or anything you don't know about, but what I do is protect individual trees when they are young in a small fenced area and once they get above the browse line I occasionally protect young trunks from bucks and keep all trees trained above the browse line.

I'm on ladders all day during much of the year pruning anyway so no biggy to harvest a lot of my fruit on one. In our private conversation about squirrels you were thinking about changing the configuration of some of your trees to baffle them from squirrels (4' of straight trunk before first branches). Once you do that it's not much more of a deal to protect from deer.

I do reduce the amount of munching on lower branches with a homemade repellent of eggs and soap in my nursery but tire of spraying during the season so eventually the deer help me train the trees up. My smallest trees are fenced in my veg garden to be moved after a couple of years to deer world.

Where you live this might be more difficult because of the lack of hunting. Bucks are the most aggressive feeders and go up higher. They even sometimes buck trees to knock off high fruit. Here I seldom see anything but small, young bucks.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 1:37PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Oh the deer do get hunted here, by this four-wheeled species. You probably have some hunting where you live as well :-)

Seriously, the various hazards tend to take out the older deer here and I usually see young deer only. Once I had a big buck, he was browsing much higher than the smaller deer.

I put up my activated sprinkler last night and noticed it went on at some point in the night. I'm going to be moving it around regularly, keeping the deer on their toes. I had a greenhouse water timer unit I put on it so it won't accidentally spray me during the day when there are no deer.

Al, I have 1000' of 8' deer fence that I have been sitting on if things get too bad. Its a pain having the whole yard fenced in but I may be going there. I already have one side fenced, its the woods side that deer usually come from.

Konrad, I wonder if the sound of the metal alone would scare them enough. I don't want to make too loud a sound but the metal falling would cause the ground to shake I bet.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 2:48PM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

konrad is the master of home builds!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 12:41AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

This probably won't apply in this case, but it's my story. When I had my cabin out in the boonies for 12 years, I fed the deer, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, etc. in one area, and I grew my garden in another area only about 100' away. This might sound strange, but I think that the animals were so used to eating the corn, etc. that I put out every day for them over there, that they never came over here and bothered the garden. Never used a fence or anything. Maybe I was just lucky. My cat did damage using it for a litter box, and I did have 1 groundhog problem one year. In short, my best deer scare device was a food supply somewhere else.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:02AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

When growing up on the farm with a large productive garden, we had a neighbor with a pet deer. He raised the deer from a fawn and had a bell around her neck. When dad would see the deer munching away at our vegetables he would be furious and give the neighbor his what for, at the same time running off the deer. The deer owning neighbor had a small vegetable garden surrounded by a high fence. Fortunately as the deer matured she traded her bell for a buck. Al

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 10:36AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

As Moe said to Curley, "Does the deer have a little doe?"

Curley replies, "Yeah, two bucks, nyuk nyuk."

Sorry couldn't resist.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 10:53AM
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mjmarco(Zone 6 Upstate NY)

Irish Spring Soap, cut it in quarters and hang it with string in the tree. Last forever and it worked for me.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 9:58PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

>>Konrad, I wonder if the sound of the metal alone would scare them enough.I would think so, you could also put a empty tin or paint can with a hole in it on the bottom. If you use it in winter and have snow it might get to be a problem from building up on top. I used to have my set up in winter also in the orchard when trees were smaller and worked pretty good.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 1:36AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Thanks Konrad. I think I need to go to Home Depot and find what I can buy for cheap to make a bunch of fishline-triggered hammering things.

I'm too late for the soap, the deer have moved in. I should try it in a spot at least, one something I am more concerned about. It might cause them to prefer other locations of my yard. I am noticing how they are switching to less desirable things now that I have most of the good stuff with protectant on it -- the peach shoots are now getting munched on, they prefer about everything else to peach leaves.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 10:18AM
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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)


I having a good luck with Bounce dryer sheet. The deers don't like the intense smell. They stay away from my new graft tree with Bounce taped to the trunk.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 12:09PM
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