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Understanding Deer
Old 02-17-2010, 09:59 AM   #1
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Understanding Deer

We live in Indianapolis, 4 miles north and 2 miles west of the center of the city in a heavily wooded suburban area. Also about 1500 ' from the main river that flows through town. Saw a few deer last year. Planted a garden last year and saw hoof-prints in garden, but they didn't eat anything. This year got up in the middle of the night (3am) to restoke the wood stove and take my nightly old-man whiz. There were 5 deer in my front yard taking turns at the bird feeder. They seem to come around nightly now. Have a patio/pool area totally enclosed by a 6' wood fence, but had hoof prints in the ice on the pool from when it was warm and ice was a little melted. My questions: I thought deer were daytime animals and slept at night-so what's with the 3am jaunts? I thought they ate leaves and tree-bark, not birdseed. I knew they could jump but these are pretty small deer and can't believe they could clear a 6' fence. Don't have a fence around my garden cause I'm lazy and frugal, but I'm wondering how my garden is going to fair this summer.
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:18 AM   #2
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Deer will eat almost any vegetable matter and are most active at dusk and just before dawn. A six foot fence would be no obstacle at all. We have white tail deer and a lot of moose around here and fences to keep them out are often 10 feet tall. I live in a very rural area; there are fewer than 9,000 people in a 900 square mile county and I am sure the deer outnumber the people. There are a number of ways to keep deer out of gardens. I don't garden but have lots of friends who do; they have told me of various plants and scents that work. Unfortunately, I don't remember any of them right now but I suspect a Google search for deer repellant would find lots. Good luck.
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Old 02-17-2010, 11:01 AM   #3
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Deer are frequent late night feeders especially when food is scarce.
We host a year round supper club that ranges in size from 9 to 15.
DW has tried many repellents and so far has found but one that is effective.
"Liquid Fence" (liquidfence.com) does a very good job so long as you apply it every two weeks. It really smells bad until it dries, so you need to plan accordingly. No patio parties right after application.
One of the downsides is cost. About $16 for 32 ounces. Cheaper of course, in the larger sizes.
I'm researching a couple of "home brew' recipes to see if I can get something less costly. We have a very large area to protect and it really gets expensive.
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Old 02-17-2010, 11:19 AM   #4
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The deer around our place eat almost any type of vegetation - except for barberry and evergreens. Liquid Fence works ok for me until it rains. Then I have to re-apply in a day or else.

Now I see them laying down in my front yard almost nightly - over my septic tank where the ground is warmer. They're pretty smart
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Old 02-17-2010, 11:45 AM   #5
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Wow, Liquid Fence sounds expensive. My ex-next door neighbor had a big garden with no fence. He saved up all his urine in gallon jugs (saved on the water bill on flushing too) and poured it around the edge of his garden and claimed it kept all the critters away---I wonder if that would work?
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Old 02-17-2010, 12:24 PM   #6
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My next door neighbor used liquid fence for their sizable garden. At the end of last growing season I asked him if it worked, and he said, "eh..so, so."
Deer ate all my moss rose I planted and were eating my tomatoes a couple years ago. I tried Ivory soap hung out and hair cuttings (all recommended) and they didn't work.

Then I sprinkled cayenne pepper all over the tomato leaves and that did deter them some; but, really, what worked was when someone suggested I buy blood meal. When animals smell the blood of another animal they seem to leave the plants alone.
The package said it lasts 3 months, but I found it lasts 2 months only; but, it works well. Try that...and there is no smell to it at all that we can smell at least.

(There are tons of deer herds here. I've seen them run thru ours and others lawns in the early morning when I wake up.)
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Old 02-17-2010, 12:27 PM   #7
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Deer around our place will eat evergreens as well later in the winter.
As said by others, a 6 foot fence is nothing to them. However, if they don't have a reason to make the jump, they will tend to walk around.
We don't feed birds in the winter as it attracts the deer and turkeys. We love the deer and the area we are in supports a few. But if they are getting fed it will attract a lot more to the area and then they will eat anything.
We had two neighbors (one on each side) feed them one year. And they fed them a lot.
We had a herd of over 30 making the circuit between the two yards (with ours in the middle). Many would bed down in our yard. Very cute, and fun to watch.
Then we saw them digging in the snow. Sure enough, in addition to bird seed, plants, tree bark, you can add GRASS to the things they will eat.
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Old 02-17-2010, 12:48 PM   #8
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Boy, Zathras, you're more patient that I am if you don't get upset that deer are hanging around your lot...unless you're in the country? They eat your plantings and trample your flowers. I used to think they were adorable but not any more.
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Old 02-17-2010, 01:36 PM   #9
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I'm fairly patient with the deer until they start in on trees.
I did plant a few burbarry bushes and they really don't seem to like those
Plants grow back, the veggies are protected (Deer Stopper by Mecina wildlife) and the deer (in moderation) are very cute
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:55 PM   #10
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The neighbor uses an ammonia solution. Maybe that is to keep away bears though.

Down in the big city where I grew up (Pittsburgh) the deer have moved into unbelieveably urban and people dense areas. They are living off of peoples shrubs.

Up here in the forest, getting tree regrowth after cutting can be a problem because of deer overgrazing. The love most hardwood species. Fencing seems to help. Like someone else said, getting in is not a problem for them but they will go around unless there is a reason to go in.

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Old 02-17-2010, 11:28 PM   #11
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My bro has a fenced back yard in a non-urban area. The deer jumped his fence with no difficulty. He put up some tall sticks on the posts and strung several passes of white string between them. They see the string and don't want to get entangled in it. Anyway, it keeps them out.
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Old 02-18-2010, 12:12 AM   #12
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12 gauge? OTOH, I have seen many places where you could just about hunt deer with a baseball bat because they stand there looking at you like you are trespassing on their property.
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Old 02-18-2010, 01:01 AM   #13
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12 gauge?
That wouldn't leave much deer left over for eating, unless the deer grow as big as elk up in Indiana.

Deer aren't necessarily diurnal or nocturnal, they vary their active periods based on a lot of different things in their environment. 3 AM is not weird for them at all, as evidenced by the photo from my game camera of Bambi and Rocky Raccoon having themselves a little party. Rocky is playing spin the wheel on my feeder motor and Bambi is patiently waiting for the corn to fall from heaven.
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Old 02-21-2010, 10:09 AM   #14
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One of the downsides is cost. About $16 for 32 ounces. Cheaper of course, in the larger sizes.
I'm researching a couple of "home brew' recipes to see if I can get something less costly. We have a very large area to protect and it really gets expensive.
OK, here's a home brew recipe courtesy of "This Old House."
I'm going to pass this along to DW. If she takes the bait, I'll let you know how it works.


When TOH design director Amy Rosenfeld built a house in Ulster County, New York, she heard lots of horror stories about deer ravaging local gardens. Then her neighbor Barbara Fornal, an herbalist, shared this recipe for "deer juice," which Rosenfeld applies vigilantly. "It totally works," she says. "When people come over, they're always like, 'How do you have hostas?'"
Here's how to mix up a batch for yourself:
1 bar of Fels Naptha soap
2 bunches of scallions, roughly chopped
2 heads of garlic, cloves separated
4 eggs
Chili powder, lots 1. Fill 1/2 of a 5-gallon bucket with hot water.
2. Shave soap into bucket to dissolve.
3. Place scallions, garlic, eggs, and chili powder in a large piece of doubled cheesecloth. Tie up ends of cloth tightly; use a wooden spoon to crack the eggs. Place pouch in bucket.
4. Fill the bucket with more water; cover tightly with lid. Place in shaded area. Let sit for 1 week.
5. Transfer in batches to a pump sprayer. Apply after each rainfall or every two weeks.
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Old 02-21-2010, 10:22 AM   #15
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Many deer repellents work for a while but if the deer are hungry enough they will ignore them. Also, the longer deer have been feeding in an area the less likely the repellents will work. The more deer there are also the less likely repellents will work.

Double fencing often works, maybe two four foot tall fences four feet apart. Or an 8 tall fence should work, but it has to be strong so the deer don't crash through it or under it.
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Old 02-21-2010, 10:39 AM   #16
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I also have heard good reports about double-fencing which can serve as a dog run, too. Might consider a gate on the outer run - heard stories of intrepid deer clearing that but then unable to get decent footing to get out again. Now you have a deer trap, so a gate is wise. Also, if you put the two runs too close together, the deer can clear both fences in one leap.

Down here, big alligators can climb a 5' fence. To protect pets, they recommend a 5' fence with an additional run of barbed wire on outward-facing brackets. Of course, your yard might start to look like Guantanamo.
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Old 02-21-2010, 10:52 AM   #17
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You all need to move to New Orleans.

No deer. No alligators (at least not in the city, though there are plenty nearby). Mostly we just have giant wharf rats and nutria, and now and then hordes of ravens as big as cats will descend.
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Old 02-21-2010, 01:05 PM   #18
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We have deer too. The only thing we found effective is a 'scarecrow', essentially a motion sensor that sends a pulsating stream of water in whatever direction you set. If is goes off too often (branches in the wind will to that) the deer will habituate to it.
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Old 02-21-2010, 02:46 PM   #19
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You can buy coyote urine to sprinkle around the garden, which seems to be a good deterrent.
Predator Urine - Free Shipping- Coyote urine, fox, wolf, urines, bobcat pee, Animal, Pet , Attractants, Boot Waterproofing is one source.
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Old 02-21-2010, 04:03 PM   #20
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You can buy coyote urine to sprinkle around the garden, which seems to be a good deterrent.
Predator Urine - Free Shipping- Coyote urine, fox, wolf, urines, bobcat pee, Animal, Pet , Attractants, Boot Waterproofing is one source.
I've got both coyotes and deer in my yard. Maybe the coyotes just aren't peeing enough.
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