Almost everyone with a yard or garden has heard at least one old wives tale about easy DIY methods for keeping deer off your property. And of course, they are always “guaranteed” to work, and yet when you try them they fail. Here are a few of the reasons why the “tried and true” approaches don’t work.
An old classic deer repellent is a little bag of human hair. The idea is that the smell will scare deer off because they are afraid of people. Seems reasonable enough except that most deer aren’t all that scared of humans, especially those that live around residential areas in the first place. So don’t bother saving up your discarded hair bits. They likely won’t help. Neither will the similar trick of using human urine around the borders of your yard. Deer just aren’t that afraid of people.
Perfumed Soap Shavings
Another scent-based deterrent idea is to make up a little package of strongly scented soap pieces, and hang that to protect your garden. A deer does have a very keen sense of smell, and a blast of Irish Spring can be disorienting for a moment. But simply disliking a scent isn’t going to create a strong enough response to keep deer out. This is particularly true if they already know that there is food in your yard.
A more high-tech approach has hooked a garden sprinkler together with a motion sensor, to give any trespassing deer a cold shot of water when they walk into your yard. Yes, this can work extremely well and will certainly drive off a deer once it gets sprayed. The problem is that you have to have everything positioned just right, and there can easily be technical glitches that would disable the entire system. It’s also quite difficult to use this kind of arrangement over a large area, unless you happen to have a sizable deer-repelling budget to pay for many lengths of hose, sprinkler heads and multiple motion sensors.
Not really an old wives tale, but a simple fence can be a waste of time. Unless you put a load of effort (and materials) into your fence it likely will not work to keep deer out. You should plan for a fence that is at least 8 feet in height, or the average deer will just hop on over it. That’s quite high, and will be an expensive project to put up, not to mention it will spoil your view.
Your best bet is to stick with the scent-based products, but choose one that triggers a strong and guaranteed reaction in deer. Deer-repellent packs use coyote urine, and they do spark a powerful response to keep deer at bay.