Understanding the Differences Between Deer Damage Solutions – Deer Deterrents

Whitetail Deer In Yard

Deer In Yard

Many homeowners in suburban settings in North America are facing a big problem: deer and the damage they cause to their gardens and landscaping. Wild deer have become more adapted to the areas around human dwellings in order to exploit the rich sources of food there including cultivated yard and garden plants.

In a natural setting deer are among the most beautiful creatures in nature, and anyone who loves watching wildlife can speak to the calm beauty of deer feeding in the forest. In your backyard, however, deer may not be quite so appealing or welcome. They are destructive creatures that can, within a few hours, eliminate all the hard work you put into your garden. Once they have decided that your yard has the food that they want, keeping them out can be challenging, but it is not impossible. The most common solutions to the problems caused by deer fall generally into three categories that include

  1. Deer Deterrents
  2. Deer Repellents
  3. Deer Barriers

What is a Deer Deterrent?

To make the best decision about which category of solution are best suited for your deer problem, it may be important to understand the characteristics of each.  The remainder of this article will describe in more detail that category Deer Deterrents.

A deer deterrent restricts or hinders the animal by affecting their sense of touch, hearing or sight.  That means for the deterrent to be effective the animal must:

  • Come into contact with it
  • See it
  • Hear it

Examples of deer deterrents are:

  • Electrified fencing
  • Automated sprinkler systems
  • Flashing lights and/or alarms

The cause of action of a deer deterrent is to supply the deer with negative reinforcement in the form of direct physical discomfort (i.e. a mild electric shock) or through causing the animal anxiety via a startling mechanism (i.e. water spray, surprising sound or light)

Deer Repellent Packs

All Natural, Easy to Use Deer Repellent Packs Keep Deer Away

Deer deterrents can be very effective and may be enhanced when combined with other deterrents or a solution from another category such Deer Repellent Packs.  If a deer deterrent is being considered, there may be value in deciding as a homeowner what are you willing to live with to keep your yard safe from deer? After all, you may not want to live with alarms or flashing lights going off every time a deer comes into your yard, however, an automated sprinkler system may fit will with your lifestyle.  Below descriptions of several common deer deterrents and the positives and negatives for each:

Sounds and Light Deer Deterrents

Sound and light deterrents includ auditory and visual scare devices, usually equipped with motion sensors that trigger the device when a deer comes near. An example that uses both sound and sight would be the Deer Chaser which flashes a light and plays FM radio when triggered. The deer are
startled by the unexpected noise and flashing light.


  •  Does not harm the deer.
  •  Harmless to the environment
  •  Generally harmless to pets and humans in the household, though the light and noise may cause anxiety in some domesticate animals.


  •  Noises and flashing lights may be annoying to neighbors, preventing use in urban settings.
  •  Deer often become accustomed to the noises and/or lights and realize that they will not be harmed, which renders the device useless over time.

Water Sprinkler Deer Deterrents

Devices like the Scarecrow Motion Activated Sprinkler spray the deer and the immediate vicinity with water when the deer comes within range of its sensor. The water jet both startles the deer and causes mild discomfort if hitting the deer directly.


  •  Harmless to the environment.
  •  Harmless to deer and household pets.


  •  Deer may become accustomed to the spray, realize that it is harmless and therefore its effectiveness diminishes over time.
  •  May be more expensive to implement than other solutions.

Electric Shocks as a Deer Deterrent

Specially constructed fencing that is supplied with an electric current that will deliver a mild shock to the deer. Electrical fencing may be “baited” with peanut butter to encourage curious deer to touch the fence so that they know to avoid it in the future.


  •  Cuts off access and prevents damage to plants (acts as a barrier as well as a deterrent).
  •  Usually harmless to deer.
  •  Minimal environmental damage.


  • Electrified fencing can be expensive.
  •  May not be aesthetically pleasing to a homeowner
  •  Electrified fencing can pose a danger to household pets
  •  Deer may not be discouraged by electric shock and may still attempt to go under or over the fence.

In general, deer deterrents can be effective against some deer populations and may be less expensive and intrusive that are deer barriers. However, they may lose effectiveness over time and thus may require ongoing reevaluation of strategy to assure peak performance.

Please check our other blog posts to learn more about deer repellents and deer barriers and how each may fit into your deer solutions strategy.

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