The Suburban Deer

Deer Deterrents

Deer deterrents range from topically applied solutions (commercial or home-made) that deer find distasteful, to scare tactics (dogs, motion-activated water sprinklers, or scent lures containing urine from natural predators) and barrier methods.

The links below lead to articles exploring the efficacy of various deer-deterring methods, and sources for providers of commercial products. You will likely find it most effective to use a combination of methods on your property, but you'll need to experiment to see what works best for your particular situation.


Preventing Deer Damage
An overview of different deer-repelling methods, with an emphasis on fences and hunting. By John E. McDonald, Jr., Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Craig S. Hollingsworth, Department of Entomology, University of Massachusetts. From the University of Massachusetts Extension Vegetable Program.

Deer Damage Prevention and Control Methods (pdf)
By Scott R. Craven, an Extension Wildlife Specialist in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Scott E. Hygnstrom, an Extension Wildlife Damage Specialist at the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife at the University of Nebraska. An extensive and excellent overview of methods, with an emphasis on fences. Also includes a list of plants classified by likelihood of being browsed by deer, general information about the white-tail deer and its habitat, descriptions of commercially available preparations for deterring deer, and references. From The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management's Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage Handbook. PDF document; Adobe Reader required.

Deer Control Options (pdf)
Another excellent overview, by Lance Gegner, National Center for Appropriate Technology Agriculture Specialist. Published by ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. Includes references. PDF document; Adobe Reader required.

Deer Control
A brief bulletin from the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension discussing fences, several commercially available deer repellants (and a recipe for a home-made one), and the most effective method of applying repellants.

An Integrated Approach to Deer Damage Control (pdf)
Using repellants and fencing in conjunction with population management and monitoring as an effective means of controlling damage. A bulletin from the West Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service. PDF document; Acrobat Reader required.

Deer Damage and Control
An overview of deer repellents, many of which can be formulated from items found in the home. From the University of Connecticut Integrated Pest Management Program.

Deer Control in Home Gardens (pdf)
A discussion of the use of repellents and fences to deter deer, with an emphasis on topically applied solutions (both home-made and commercial). From the West Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Includes fence designs, references, and sources for commercially available repellents. PDF document; Adobe Reader required.

Low-Cost Slant Fence Excludes Deer from Plantings
A method of constructing a low-cost fence that has been proven effective as a deer deterrent. By Charlie O'Dell, Extension Horticulturist in the Department of Horticulture at Virginia Tech.

High-Tensile Fence-Do's and Don'ts (pdf)
Tips for constructing an electric fence. A West Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service bulletin. PDF document; Adobe Reader required.

Product Studies and Comparisons
Bills itself as an independent website that "Allow[s] consumers to educate themselves about deer repellents in a pressure free environment by bringing the Leaders in Deer Repellents & Wildlife Control together in a unified Portal of expertise on this topic." Much of the site, unfortunately, is under construction. Nevertheless, there is some good information about the active ingredients in deer repellents, a listing of deer repellent spray contractors in different areas, information on how to apply deer repellant yourself, and a short list of online retailers.

Deer Repellent Study
An efficacy study of various commercially available deer repellents, conducted by The Walnut Council, "an international association representing nearly 1000 woodland owners, foresters, forest scientists, and wood-producing industry representatives in 45 states and seven foreign countries."

Online Retailers of Deer Deterrent Devices and Solutions
Several varieties of deer repellant solutions and devices.

Deer fencing and deer-repelling solutions and devices.

Gardner's Supply
A good variety of deer-deterring solutions and devices — sprays and other scent repellants, fencing and netting, motion-activated water sprayers, and an electronic device that delivers an "effective but harmless" microshock — from a New England company. Articles on the retailer's website include 4 Ways to Protect Your Garden from Deer, Controlling Deer, Keeping Deer Away (customers' tips) and Animal Fencing Techniques.

Whatever Works
Garden and home pest solutions.
Deer repellent devices and solutions, including coyote and bobcat urine.

Individual Products: Fences

Benner's Gardens
"Virtually invisible deer fencing systems." A fairly elaborate website. In addition to information about the deer fencing the company offers, there are pages about Lyme Disease, the growth of deer populations, and alternative means of deterring deer, all culminating in the argument that deer must be controlled, and that deer fencing (and, of course, deer fencing from Benner's Garden) is the most effective means of doing so.

Wireless Deer Fence
A "safe and humane" fencing system invented by a veterinarian, the Wireless Deer Fence delivers a "harmless shock" to deer.

Individual Products: Ultrasonic Device

The DeerTech 880 Deer Deterrent System
Emits high-frequency sounds that interfere with deers' ability to hear predators, thereby making them wary of browsing in the area. From Nature Technologies, a company that supports, and whose product development is supported by, ongoing research by scientists at Princeton and Oxford Universities.

Individual Products: Selected Topically-applied Deterrent Solutions, Powders and Devices

One of the most popular and frequently recommended deer deterrent solutions. Manufactured by the Havahart company, which also offers electronic and water-spraying scaring devices on this website. Order online.

Deer Ex
An "all-natural" solution that is applied to plants to deter deer. Order online.

Deer Scram
Another "all natural" repellant, this one a powder. The site claims that the powder has the added benefit of being a "significant green growth enhancer." Order online.

Not Tonight Deer
A deer repellant that may be no more effective than any other, but its website sure is more amusing.

Plant Pro-Tec Units
Smelly garlic spikes that are supposed to repel deer. Order online.