[NAFEX] Deer repellents???

Hélène Dessureault interverbis at videotron.ca
Thu Feb 26 19:16:53 EST 2009

A radio worked wonders for me. When the population is not too large, the usual deterrent works but when the population is very dense, which is what you are describing when you say that they actually sleep on the premises, then the pressure becomes hard to beat, and a radio is a useful deterrent. 

In my case, about two years ago, I had three groups of deers visiting on a regular basis in a cycle of 24 hours. That is hard to discourage. I even set up a tent to sleep in the orchard and being present, my dogs had better incentive to do the job of keeping them away...!

In the last two years, a radio has been enough (our deer population has been decimated with two difficult winters in a row). I use the radio equiped with a motion sensor that turns on the radio when a movement is detected. That worked fine when the population pressure is not too great. It does well at keeping the odd deer munching his way through your property. On my worst years however, the deers had learned the exact coverage of the motion detector and ate all the apple trees out of reach of the detection. In that case, a radio on at all time worked better, as they hear the noise and don't dare approach too close... 
If you are in a city environment, don't forget that your radio volume can be set very low as deer's hearing is much more acute than that of human. Chances are that you will disturb deers but not your neighbours.... Choose a dynamic station however, with lots of changes in tonality.

My best goes to you,

Hélène, zone 3-4 north of Ottawa

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Road's End Farm 
  To: North American Fruit Explorers 
  Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2009 11:33 AM
  Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Deer repellents???

  On Feb 26, 2009, at 10:29 AM, Jim Fruth wrote:

    Is there a deer repellent that really works?

  Lots of delicious stuff for the deer to eat, elsewhere in the immediate vicinity.

  Almost everything works better if they're not too hungry.

    We've got about 800 feet of fence that keeps rabbits and other small 
    critters out of the garden/orchard. Since 1994, deer have paid no attention 
    to our spread with the occasional exception of an individual taking a 
    short-cut through. That changed last Fall when they mowed the strawberry 
    bed, ate our winter vegetables and spent numerous nights sleeping on the 
    premises. Lately they have been walking up and down every row like they are 
    wondering what to munch on first.

    We are located in the city and zoning laws forbid high fencing and 
    electric fences. I'm afraid that they'll start munching when the leaves 
    come out. What do you suggest that works?

  While there's no fruit present on the strawberries: try scattering a little bloodmeal over the leaves. You don't need much, so it shouldn't cause an excess N problem; but you do need to renew it after each rain. Can't do this while they're bearing, of course.

  Depending on the vegetables, you may be able to do the same thing at some growth stages. If they get in the habit of thinking that your stuff tastes and smells like a slaughterhouse, it may work, for vegetables (and strawberries while fruiting) that you can't put the bloodmeal directly on, to make a line of it around the field; maybe some through the paths also, if it's a large field; you want the general area to smell of the stuff. (to a deer, that is; your neighbors aren't likely to notice.)

  If they've already gotten in the habit of eating in that area, and especially if there's nothing for them to eat elsewhere, the line-around-the-edges technique isn't likely to work; but even under those circumstances I've had some success in cases in which I could put the bloodmeal directly on the plants. If you start with strawberries first thing in the spring, and then when fruit starts to appear switch to the line around the edges, they may not figure out that there's none directly on the plants till after fruiting is over.

  Good luck --

  Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly 


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