How To Keep Deer From Eating Plants – Garden Deer Protection For Plants

Deer can cause extensive damage to your garden as well as other areas of the landscape. Not only do they feast on garden veggies, shrubs and trees, but deer also cause damage by trampling plants and rubbing tree bark.

Trying to keep deer out of the garden can be frustrating to say the least but with a little know how and ingenuity, your efforts for garden deer protection could be well worth the trouble. Keep reading to learn a little more about how to keep deer out of garden.

How to Keep Deer Out of Garden

Figuring out how to keep deer out of garden areas may be as simple as installing fencing around your perimeter. Suitable fencing is one of the best choices for stopping deer from entering your yard.

Of course, the type of fence you choose will depend on your individual needs- – including your budget. Although deer do not typically jump over 6-foot fencing, if threatened or chased, deer can easily clear an 8-foot structure. Therefore, regardless of the type, it’s still a good idea to erect something at least 6 to 8 feet high. High tensile and woven mesh fencing are both suitable choices for garden deer protection. However, the high-tensile fencing is typically more affordable.

Since deer will also crawl under or through openings in a fence, it’s important to check it often for damage, fixing any areas in need of repair. The fence should also be placed as close to the ground as possible, filling in any low spots that deer might take advantage of. An alternative to tall fencing is an electric fence, which may be ideal for smaller garden areas.

Some people even favor the “peanut butter” fence to keep deer out of the garden. With this type of electric fencing, peanut butter is placed along the top of the fence in an effort to lure deer. Once the fence is on and the deer come up to nibble the peanut butter, they receive a good shock. After being shocked a time or two, the deer eventually learn to avoid the area.

How to Keep Deer from Eating Plants

Sometimes fencing may not be practical. Therefore, protecting individual plants with garden deer repellents may be more effective.

For instance, one way how to keep deer from eating plants is to use tree protectors made from wire or plastic that can be placed around individual trees, especially young fruit trees and ornamentals. These should be at least 6 feet high for older trees.

Repellents are another option to keep deer out of the garden. Garden deer repellents are designed to deter these animals through unattractive tastes/odors or frightening noises. While some repellents are questionable, many can provide short-term relief. Since deer usually browse from the top down, repellents should be placed at the bud or new growth level. One of the most effective garden deer repellents includes the use of an egg mixture (80 percent water to 20 percent eggs), which is sprayed on the plants and reapplied each month.

Additional Garden Deer Protection

When all else fails, you may want to discourage these animals by removing some of their favorite plants—azaleas, hosta, lily varieties, tulips, maple and cherry trees.

Planting less preferred plants in their place may offer additional relief. Some deer-resistant plants include:

  • Conifers
  • Forsythia
  • Lupine
  • Yarrow
  • Lamb’s ear
  • Marigold
  • Delphinium

There is a fence around Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, but it doesn’t stop deer from treating the cemetery’s carefully landscaped acres like their private salad buffet.

Lake View Horticulturalist Robin Cannon has often seen deer lounging next to beds of geraniums in the 285-acre cemetery.

“All I can think is, those (geraniums) aren’t going to be there tomorrow” and they’ll have to be replanted, she said. “I appreciate deer for their beauty, but they make my job really hard.”

As Northeast Ohio gardeners get ready to buy vegetables, annuals and perennials for summer plantings, those in heavily deer-infested suburbs are asking themselves, why bother? They know the pain of planting a vegetable garden or flower beds only to see the plants reduced to shredded nubs by hungry deer.

There are things you can do to discourage deer from treating your yard like a salad buffet. Here are 10 easy, cheap ways to solve your deer problem. Read the tips in this story, and click through the accompanying photo gallery of deer-resistant plants to get ideas about what to plant.

The plants in the gallery and the tips below are from “Deerproofing Your Yard and Garden” by Rhonda Massingham Hart (Storey Publishing, $14.95).

Growing information for the plants pictured in the photo gallery is from Fine Gardening.

1. Use scented soap to repel deer. Drill a hole in a bar of scented soap, pass a string through the hole and hang the bar in a tree.

2. Stuff human hair in sections of old nylons, tie closed and place around the garden. Replace the bags once a month.

3. Mix one egg per cup of water in a blender, and let it ferment for several days. Add a clove of garlic to make it stronger. Pour or sprinkle over vulnerable plants. Or, stuff old stockings with crushed garlic cloves and hang them in trees or shrubs.

4. Try commercial products such as Deer Off, Deer Out or Liquid Fence. They must be reapplied regularly, and all of these products will be washed off by rain or watering.

5. Spritz plants with homemade hot pepper spray (1 gallon water, 4-5 tablespoons of cayenne pepper and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil).

6. Try chicken feathers, ammonia, scented fabric softener strips or fish meal. Bood meal/dried blood will keep away deer but may attract predators to your yard.

7. Put up a fence of deer netting. Create wire or mesh cages to protect individual plants, but be sure to cover the top of the cage as well. Protect trees from rubbing damage with protective trunk wrap, sold at garden centers.

8. Fill the entryway to your yard with plants that repel deer, including catmint, chives (garlic and onions), lavender, mint, sage and thyme. Move susceptible plants away from the deer’s main traffic area.

9. Create a deer barrier with solid hedges or trellises to prevent deer from seeing into your yard. They won’t jump where they can’t see.

10. Ripe fruit and vegetables attract deer. Keep fruit, corn and peas harvested, then till the corn and peas under the soil.

Bonus: Lists of plants that deer won’t eat should be taken with a grain of salt, because deer will eat anything – including rose buses and cactus – if they are hungry enough after a long or extra-cold winter.

Here are more online resources for ways to deter deer:


How to Stop Deer From Eating Plants

Over the years one of the questions I have been asked from prospective sellers is how do I stop deer from eating my plants? People ask of course because they want their yard looking its best.

Although they can be beautiful to look at, deer can be surprisingly destructive to your landscape. When you consider how much time and money goes into your landscaping, it only makes sense to do what you can to keep the deer away.

Fortunately, there are proven ways of minimizing the damage deer do to your plants. It may take some trial and error, but you can keep them away and enjoy a more complete and attractive landscape as a result.

Below you will find some of the best tips to stop deer from destroying your landscaping and plants!

Providing helpful info on how to prevent deer from eating your plants was inspired by a home I was selling last year in Franklin Massachusetts. The landscaping was always getting eaten by deer while the home was on the market.

The owner mentioned to me on a few occasions how he wished he knew how to prevent the deer from ruining the look of his yard.

Real Estate agents are constantly talking all the time about improvements that will increase a homes value with landscaping being one of them. It was easy to understand the client’s frustration with the deer eating all of the hard work they had put into creating a beautiful yard.

Three Most Common Types Of Deer

Before learning how to prevent deer from eating plants, you should know a little bit about the different kinds of deer species. In the U.S. the three most common type of deer are:

White-Tailed Deer

White-tailed deer can be spotted quite easily when they are running away from you, as their tails will be held high and you can see the white coloration of them. They are the smallest species among the major types of deer. They are most often found from Southern Canada to South America.

Black-Tailed Deer

The black-tailed deer have smaller tails than their white-tailed cousins. Their tails are tipped in black. These type of deer are often referred to as the “Pacific Ghost”. These deer are most often found from Central California to Alaska. Their entire lives are often spent roaming through brush and plantings located in the Pacific Rain Forests.

There are two subspecies of black-tails, the Sitka black-tail (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) of the Alaskan and British Columbia coast, and the more familiar Columbia blacktail (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) occurring from central California north through coastal British Columbia.

Mule Deer

Mule deer are most notable for their size, being much larger than either the white-tailed deer or the black-tailed deer. Their tails are not large, however, and are also tipped in black. While mule deer are indigenous to North America, they are most often found West of the Missouri River.

While they can be beautiful creatures to look at deer can create major havoc with your plants and other landscaping. You may even feel sorry for them in a harsh winter as they look to find a good food source. If you want your land looking it’s best, however, come Spring time, protective measures will be to make that happen.

Verify Deer Behavior In Your Area

To combat the deer in your area effectively, you are going to need an idea of their patterns and behavior. Most importantly, you are going to need to know what they like to eat.

You can take a walk around your neighborhood and observe different landscapes and plants.

It is pretty easy to spot the ones that deer find tasty, as they will be stripped down and looking much more miserable than the plants that the deer avoid.

Take note of the different plants and how the deer seem to respond to them. One of the easiest ways to avoid deer destruction in your landscape is to plant things they don’t like and to minimize the plantings that they do like.

Talk To Your Local Garden Store About Deer Resistant Plants

When you go to pick out your plants for your landscape, you can ask the local gardening experts what plants the deer tend to avoid in your area.

Although deer will eat just about anything if there is enough pressure, such as from predators or weather conditions, they do have their preferences. A local expert can tell you exactly what those are in your area.

Deer do tend to go for new growth, preferring tender plants to tougher materials. Deer also avoid most herbs that are stronger and pungent, such as oregano, chives, lavender, rosemary and thyme. Deer resistant plants include:

  • Elderberry
  • Barberry
  • Oregon Grape
  • Spruce
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Foxglove
  • Rhododendron
  • Iris
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Heather
  • Salal

The list of deer resistant plants is much more extensive than this, but you can see that there are some plants that you can use that will be less likely to be eaten.

To achieve the best landscape, you will need to choose plants that will grow well in your area as well, which is why talking to local experts is the easiest way to plan your deer-resistance landscape.

Here is an awesome resource of deer resistant plants. This is as complete as a list you will find. Use this as a guide for purchasing landscaping that will keep the deer out of your yard!

Ways To Deter Deer From Your Landscape

Below are eight more tips on how to keep deer from eating your landscaping. Use some or all of these tips to ensure that the deer do not ravage your plants and garden this winter.

Avoid planting too many tasty treats.

The more delicious, ideal deer food you plant, the more you will have to fight them off using various methods. Eliminating deer from your yard is virtually impossible if you are in an area popular with deer, so you will need to make some compromises in what you plant.

Plant the plant’s deer love close to home.

Deer don’t want to get too close to people. By keeping the desirable plants close to the house, you can keep an eye on them and run out if you see them being eaten.

Plant a border of strong smelling perennials.

Deer follow their noses for food, which means you can often trick them using the right plants. If you plant a sufficient amount of strong smelling plants, such as rosemary or lavender, it can throw off the deer’s sense of smell and drive them away from your more desirable plants.

For those who love the ease in which perennials continue to bloom year after year, here is a guide to deer resistant perennials. These are great flower choices to keep the deer choosing your yard as their home base.

Make it uncomfortable with thorny foliage.

Deer are tough, but they are still vulnerable to sharp thorns and other unpleasant feeling foliage. If you add plants with these kinds of features near the plants that the deer like to eat, they may avoid them.

Make your delicious plants less visible.

If you make it harder to see your garden using bushes and trees that deer do not eat, the deer might not be as likely to venture into your yard.

Get a scarecrow.

Although you might not like the way it looks, a scarecrow can be effective at keeping deer away. They are naturally timid animals so that a humanoid shape can be off-putting to them. Here is how to make a scarecrow keep deer out of your landscaping.

Fence your landscape in.

If you are willing to invest in a high fence of at least 8 feet or more, you should be able to repel deer from your garden. You will need to make sure there are no vulnerabilities in the barrier, though, with no large gaps where the deer can squeeze through and a height that is tall enough that they cannot jump over.

Consider commercial repellents.

Some commercial deer repellents and tools can be somewhat useful for keeping deer from eating your landscaping. You can purchase a sensor that will spray a sprinkler at the intruders, or you can buy a spray that smells quite bad, which will deter the deer. These may or may not work in your situation, but can be worth trying if other methods fail.

These are some of the best ways of preventing deer from eating plants and destroying the natural look of your landscaping. This Old House has even more advice on how to keep deer from eating your plants. There is some great advice for keeping deer out of your yard!

If you are like me and just hate the thought of winter, you could always pack up and head south where the deer issues are not quite as prevalent! You would, of course, need the best ways on how to sell your house in the winter where there are exceptional tips for selling in this season. Either way, I wish you all the best in keeping these pesky critters out of your yard.

Additional Home Selling and Maintenance Articles Worth A Look

  • How to winterize your property via Rochester Real Estate Blog.
  • How to prevent ice dams via Massachusetts Real Estate Exposure.
  • Inexpensive ways to make your home sell faster via Raleigh Realty.
  • Making a home more appealing via Selling Warner Robbins.
  • Home features that improve value via Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Real Estate.

Use these additional resources for keeping up around your home. Whether you are selling now or sometime down the road, a well-maintained home is what many buyers expect. Keep your home value up by following sensible selling and maintenance advice.

About the Author: The above Real Estate information on the how to stop deer from destroying your landscaping was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 28+ Years.

Are you thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.


Deer Fencing Designs – How To Build A Deer Proof Fence

Even the occasional deer can wreak havoc on your tender garden plants. They will even girdle trees by stripping the bark from the trunk which can damage the health of the plants. A deer proof garden fence needs to be high enough to prevent the animals from jumping over and visible enough to surmount their poor depth perception. If repellents aren’t working, think about building a deer proof fence.

The Rules on Deer Fences

Deer are elegant and graceful creatures but these attributes fall short when they have been in the garden eating your prize plants. Look on the internet and deer fencing designs abound, but many of the ideas are expensive, ugly or take special skills to erect. Attractive deer proof fencing takes a lot of materials and contractor know how. Single strand electric fences or simple deer mesh are fairly easy control options. Multiple line electric fences and 8- to 10-foot tall wooden deer proof garden fences are better options for high populations but more time consuming and costly. Learn how to build a deer proof fence that works and doesn’t break the bank.

Deer can jump quite high and are able to leap over many obstacles to get to a food source. They don’t obey signs and they are usually not repelled by common remedies

such as human hair or chemical deterrents. Any structured fencing needs to be at least 8 feet high, as this is the distance a white tailed deer can jump.

Wire lines and deer netting can be lower, but netting should be tilted to prevent the animal from barreling through the material. Their first impulse is to go around or under an obstacle but need drives their response to different deer fencing designs. Before you commit to building a deer proof fence, observe the animal’s behavior to see if they are jumpers or sneak around items. This will help you decide if electric, netting or permanent wood or wire is the best way to keep out the animals.

Basic Deer Fencing Designs

Single strand electric fences are simple to erect. Once you have the wire installed, run it to posts set into concrete at intervals of about 5 feet. Single strand electric is useful when deer populations are low. Run the strand 30 inches off the ground and mark the fence at intervals with bright tape. You can in doctrine the animals by smearing peanut butter on aluminum on the fence. The animal will be stung and, hopefully, learn to stay away.

One of the more common deer fencing designs is to use deer netting. Use streamers to warn deer of the presence of the fence and keep them from running through. Wire fencing is also an option and should be installed on sturdy metal posts and at a height that will prevent jumping.

How to Build a Deer Proof Fence That Lasts

Attractive deer proof fencing takes a bit more time and money than wire, netting or a single strand electric fence. For high populations of deer, use multiple electric wires at 10, 20 and 30 inches from the ground. If your deer are especially sneaky, use 2 electric fences. The inner fence should be set at 50 inches from the ground and an outer perimeter 38 inches from the inner set at 15 and 43 inches.

A lovely wood fence is a big commitment and can be costly. These need to be at least 8 feet high. If there is already a standard 6- to 8-foot fence, install additions to posts and string wire across the top to prevent jumping. Make sure a wooden fence is tight and doesn’t allow the deer to see the other side. Sometimes this is as much a deterrent as the fence since they don’t know what goodies might be on the other side.

Deer fencing protecting newly planted grapes.

Deer can be a real problem in a yard or garden. If deer are still eating your plants despite using deer repellents and switching to deer-resistant plants, you may want to consider installing a deer-proof fence to keep them out.

Deer fencing isn’t suitable for every yard, and be sure to check local building codes and neighborhood covenants before installing any fence. Fencing for deer doesn’t have to be extremely expensive or unsightly, however, and there are a number of types of fencing and methods of installation that can work.

Here are the basics on how to add a deer fence in your yard.

A privacy fence is the most effective type of deer fence.

How to Build a Deer Fence

The most common effective designs for a deer fence are:

    • Tall Fence: An 8’ high fence is considered pretty much deer-proof and is tall enough to prevent even a frightened deer from jumping it. The fence is even more effective if deer can’t see through it.
    • Slanted Fence: A 6’ high fence can be effective if it’s slanted outward (toward the deer) at about a 45° angle. Deer will hesitate to jump over it due to both the height and distance.

  • Double Fence: Two fences spaced a few feet apart, regardless of height, can also work. The deer won’t like being caught between the fences, so they will avoid attempting the jump. You can also do this with two rows of electric fencing set about 3’ apart.
  • Electric Fence: If you’re able to maintain it, an electric fence can be a great deer barrier. Even a strand or two of electrified wire can keep deer away, as long as it’s always turned on. Start with one strand of electrified wire about 30” off the ground. If deer are still getting in, add strands about a foot above and below the first one. Monitor the garden, and continue adding strands about a foot apart until the fence is effective against the deer. Electric fencing is less visible and easy to move when working in the garden. Keep in mind, though, that it’s customary to bait the deer to lick the wire in order to teach them to stay away, which may be seen as cruel.
  • Modified Fence: If your garden already has a shorter fence that isn’t working, try modifying it by adding an extension to every second or third pole with mesh or strands of wire stretched between them. This will add height without changing the look of your original fence. Another option is to add a second fence near your existing fence.

Deer Fence Materials

Mesh fencing for deer.

  • Privacy fencing: If appropriate and affordable, an 8’ tall privacy fence is probably the most effective choice. Deer won’t jump it since they can’t see what’s on the other side.
  • Mesh fencing: For larger areas, use 8’ mesh stretched between tall metal fence posts. To keep the mesh from sagging, run a taut wire at the top of the posts, and attach it to the mesh to support it. Mesh can also be attached to trees at the edge of the woods for a less noticeable appearance. Mesh fencing comes in a variety of materials, including metal wire (most durable and most expensive), polyethylene-coated metal (expensive, but more attractive), and polypropylene (least expensive, less durable, but less visible).

Deer Fence Tips

Mesh fencing is almost invisible.

  • Complete Enclosure: A fence only works if it completely encloses your garden! Blocking only the deer paths will just prompt them to learn new ways in. Make sure gates are secure and as tall as the fence.
  • Landing Zone: For added deterrents, add obstacles just inside the fence to make the deer reluctant to land there.

Further Information

  • Effective Deer Fences (University of Vermont Extension)
  • Deer Control in Home Gardens (West Virginia University)
  • How to Prevent Deer from Damaging Plants in Your Yard (video)
  • How to Use Deer Repellents to Prevent Damage to Your Yard (article)
  • How to Landscape Your Yard with Deer-Resistant Plants (article)

Our deer-proof fence is easy to install and doubles as a poultry fence and triples as a trellis on the inside the entire way around!

Prince of Wales Island is known, among other things, for it’s Sitka Black-tailed Deer population. The deer are extremely naive and often wander by as we are having coffee on the beach or working outside. When we bought the place it came with Lucy the pet deer. Everyday she would come up onto the deck for her piece of bread and a scratch behind the ears. Over the years her fawns had fawns, which had fawns. . . which all considered our place their home ground. The family resemblance in the photo is only coincidental!

Deer can jump high and they can jump far, however they cannot jump high and far at the same time. The various deer fence designs take this limitation into consideration. There are a number of designs for deer-proof fence; Angled fence with 8-10 strands of electric wire, double fence, which is essentially a second fence stacked on top of the first fence, and the simple design that follows. Since materials get barged up from Seattle, then transported 90 miles to our town dock, then into the skiff, around the point and up the bank, we needed a design that required a minimum of materials sourced off-site, and was relatively quick to erect.

While I cut, trimmed and carried the cedar posts, my daughter dug the post holes. After I placed the posts in the holes my wife filled them in and tamped them down. Then my daughter and I tacked the 5′ 2×4 welded wire to the outside of the posts with electrical staples. Then I braced each post from the inside with a cedar 2”x4”. Three foot cross members were screwed to the posts and braces with 4″ screws. The two inside runs that form the trellis are old 12-2 electrical wire that I repurposed. There was almost enough wire for the outside run as well, and I finished it off with old 3/8″ yellow poly rope. If using something more difficult to see, such as heavy monofilament fishing line, it would be a good idea to tie some type of flagging to make it more visible to the deer and other animals.

The two inside runs of wire are 1′ and 2′ away from the fence. The outside run is 1′ away (hence the 3′ cross member). To top it off I strung a run of 12-2 wire about 14″ above the fence wire. The low spots that created a gap between the fence and the ground were taken care of by wiring a length fence wire along the ground. The final touch is a run of electric fence running waist high on the outside to keep the bears out. The electric fence is powered by the strongest solar fence charger on the market. Strips of aluminium foil baited with peanut butter were hung from the electric fence to train the deer and bears to keep their distance.

The inside trellis will be used for any number of peas, beans, grapes, etc. . . It has been two years since the fence went up and so far no deer (or bears) in the garden. The fence is effective as by the time the deer walk up to the fence the outside strand is overhead. They see the other strands and do not want to jump from farther back and risk getting tangled. It also helps that we have established deer foods such as clover, vetch and native berries outside of the fenced area for dining pleasure.

December is deer month
How will I know if I’m looking at a Muntjac?
The Muntjac deer is the smallest British deer, barely the size of an Alsatian, and often mistaken for a small dog or a fox. Its coat is reddish brown and it has white patches on its chin, throat and rump. The male Muntjac has small antlers (a maximum of 15cm long) and long canines projecting as tusks. Female Muntjacs have no antlers – instead they have tufts of hair – and their tusks are much shorter.
Muntjacs are about 90cm in length and stand about 45-52cm tall. They weigh about 12-15kg. They can live up to 19 years.
Are they native to Britain?
No, Muntjacs were introduced to Woburn Park, Bedfordshire, and to parks in Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire in the early 20th Century. Since then many escapees have reproduced and expanded their populations, so the Muntjacs you see in the Cambridgeshire countryside are really on the run – but don’t turn them into the police – our boys in blue have got better things to worry about.

Ah, how sweet am I? Photo courtesy of BBC Wildfacts

Where should I look for a Muntjac?
Muntjacs prefer to live in woodland – often quite dense, so they can be quite difficult to spot – but they sometimes turn up in large gardens, so you might be lucky enough to see one in your own garden. They haven’t ventured very far north, and we have quite a dense population of Muntjacs in the Midlands and East Anglia.

What do they like to eat?
Muntjacs are browsers, and feed on ivy, bramble, coppice shoots, flowers and seeds, also fruit, nuts, dead leaves and fungi. They sometimes cause damage by stripping bark from trees.
What are their habits?
Unlike many other species of deer, Muntjacs are solitary, but small groups may sometimes gather at feeding areas. Once they find a habitat they’re happy with, they usually stay there for life. Muntjacs bark when disturbed, which is another reason why they are often mistaken for dogs. They are active both day and night, but they usually feed at dawn, dusk and in the middle of the day.
The British population of Muntjac has been estimated at 40,000 animals, increasing at approximately 10% per year.

Magnificent Muntjac facts – things your mother never told you…

Most of the Muntjac deer in our region are descended from escapees from Woburn Park.
Remember the classic film ‘The Great Escape?’ Well, it’s almost certainly based on the mass escape of Woburn’s Muntjacs.
You can almost imagine them trampolining over the fences, digging under the wire and scurrying into the woods, disguised as other native deer species.
Oh come on, just use your imagination a bit!

You can find out more about Britain’s mammals at BBC Wildfacts or BBC Life of Mammals or The Mammal Society.
The Mammal Society’s Winter Monitoring Project is also looking for volunteers. It wants to know more about the future of different species. People who take part will be asked visit areas near to their homes to monitor mammal activity and look for any signs of mammals, like footprints or droppings. The Society – the only group dedicated to the study and conservation of all British mammals – says the initiative will help it learn more about different species in the UK, and provide important information about the state of the British countryside.
Get more information from The Mammal Society website or by ringing 020 7498 4358.
November is…. hedgehog month >>

Muntjac Deer


Muntjac deer, also called the mastreani deer, is a group of small deer found mainly in Southern Asia. The name Muntjac originates from the Sudanese “mencek”, which means small deer. Muntjac deer is also widely known as the barking deer, due its unique cry that resembles the bark of a dog. This group of deer consists of 12 known species and several subspecies, with unique features like small antlers and canine tusks.

Fea’s muntjac in the jungle of Thailand? Image credits: Sainam51/

It is quite easy to distinguish between males, females, adults and young ones of the genus Muntiacus. Male muntjac deer are larger and muscular than the female muntjacs. They have small and straight antlers that can grow up to 10 to 15 centimetres in size. The muntjac antlers re-grow after they are shed yearly during May and June. The new antlers are grown out completely between August and September. Females don’t have antlers; instead, they have a patch of fur on top of the bony knobs on their head.

The canines are longer and clearly visible in males, while, in females, the canines are small and mostly covered by their upper lip. The young ones grow quickly and can reach the size of an adult in just one year, but the adults have more muscular and sturdier bodies.
Like all deer species, muntjacs have eyes placed on the sides of its skull, giving them a wide range of vision to spot predators. It also relies on its sense of smell to spot predators or to find females. Along with all the basic senses, the deer also uses a special sixth sense, known as the vomeronasal organ. It is located in the upper side of the deer’s mouth. This organ is used to detect chemical scents left by other animals. The muntjac especially uses this organ to find females in oestrus. The muntjac deer buck lifts up its upper lip and allows air into its mouth, in order to sense chemical scents left by female muntjacs. A wild muntjac deer is estimated to survive for up to 10-15 years in its habitat while individuals in captivity have been recorded to live for up to 20 years.

Wild encounters are extremely rare due to its shy nature? Image credits: Erni/

Muntjacs are small deer, with sizes ranging between 45 to 70 cm amongst different species. The giant muntjac is the largest of all muntjacs and an adult can weigh up to 60 Kg. However, on average, a muntjac deer weights anywhere between 10 to 20 kg.

Species and Distribution

There are 12 known species of muntjac deer. They are Indian-, Black-, Bornean yellow-, Gongshan-, Roosevelt’s-, Reeves’-, Fea’s-, Giant-, Truong Son-, Leaf-, Pu Hoat- and Sumatran muntjac.
Below the basic different features of all species are described including where they can be found and its conservation status.

Female indian muntjac? Image credits: Hugh Lansdown/

  • Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjac)
    The Indian Muntjac is found in Southern Asian regions of India, Nepal and Pakistan. It is also commonly known as the red muntjac due to the rusty colour of its coat. The population of this species is of least concern to the IUCN, as they flourish in numbers in their habitat.
  • Black Muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons)
    The black muntjac is widely known as the hairy-fronted muntjac and also as the red-headed blue muntjac. The species gets its name due to its dark colour and unique red hair on top of its head, between the ears. The black muntjac can also be identified by its long tail with white hair on both sides. This species of muntjac deer is considered vulnerable and highly endangered with only a few thousand individuals remaining in the wild. The main threats are habitat loss due to human occupation and hunting. Due to loss of habitat, the black muntjac is restricted to eastern China, western Zhejiang, North-eastern Jiangxi and northern Fujian. Even though the population is seriously vulnerable to the threat of extinction, there are no active conservation measures being carried out in its range.
  • Bornean Yellow Muntjac (Muntiacus atherodes)
    The Bornean Yellow Muntjac gets its name due to its yellow-orange fur. It is found on the Bornean Island and in parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. This species is of least concern to the IUCN, as they flourish in their range. However, human activity in its habitat is causing dropping numbers. Biologists estimate that the species can be listed soon as under threat for this reason.
  • Gongshan Muntjac (Muntiacus gongshanensis)
    The Gongshan Muntjac gets its name due to its range of habitat, the Gongshan Mountains. It is found in north-western Yunnan, Tibet and northern Myanmar. It was long believed that the hairy muntjac found in the north-eastern India was the black muntjac. However, extensive genetic studies, later on, revealed that they are Gongshan muntjac. Studies are ongoing and the species found in Arunachal Pradesh is yet to be understood completely.
  • Roosevelt’s Muntjac (Muntiacus rooseveltorum)
    The Roosevelt’s barking deer was discovered in 1929 in an expedition conducted by Theodore Roosevelt Junior and Kermit Roosevelt. This species of muntjac was under dispute due to its resemblance with two other species in its range. However, it is smaller than the common muntjacs. It was proposed that the Roosevelt’s muntjac is actually a subspecies until 1999 when extensive genetic studies proved that it is a species on its own. Due to the late discovery of this species, its population status and habitat range are still being studied by biologists. IUCN listed this species as “data deficient” for the time being.

Reeves’ Muntjac or Chinese muntjac? Image credits: Erni/

  • Reeves’ Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
    Reeves’ Muntjac, or Chinese muntjac is native to Southern China and Taiwan. They are named after John Reeves, a British inspector from the East India Tea Company. The species was introduced in various parks in England in early 20th century. From that time muntjacs in England have, since escaped, spread widely in woodlands of the country. As they breed throughout the year, their numbers have increased largely. IUCN listed this species as of “least concern”, due to their capability to reproduce and flourish rapidly.

Fea’s Muntjac? Image credits: Super Prin/

  • Fea’s Muntjac (Muntiacus feae)
    This species is named after zoologist Leonardo Fea who spotted this species first. The Fea’s Muntjac is also widely known as Tenasserim muntjac. It is native to Thailand and parts of Myanmar. It is quite similar in size to the common Indian muntjac but has a slightly darker coat. The population of Fea’s muntjac is under study. Especially due to the shy behavior and montane habitat of this species, very few is known about its range and distribution. The IUCN listed this species as “data deficient” and demands more information and research concerning this species.
  • Giant Muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis)
    The Giant Muntjac is the largest species in the genus Muntiacus. It is found in the Annamite mountain range, also known as the Truong Son mountain chain, situated in Vietnam. It is twice as large as the common muntjac, capable of reaching a shoulder height of up to 70 cm. A fully grown adult can weigh up to 60 kg. This species was only discovered in the 90’s last century and has been under study since then. Their population is listed as “endangered”, by the IUCN. Hunting and loss of habitat are the major threats for this creature. It has a very small global range of habitat. Only little is known about its habitat preferences and distribution, which makes it extremely difficult for researchers to carry out effective conservation measures.
  • Truong Son Muntjac (Muntiacus truongsonensis)
    The Truong Son Muntjac is also known as Annamite muntjac, because it lives in the Annamite mountain range. Opposite to its neighbour, the giant muntjac, the Annamite muntjac is one of the smallest of all muntjac species. An adult Annamite muntjac weights only between 11-15 kg. Due to its small size, it is also widely known as pygmy muntjacs or pygmy deer.
  • Leaf Muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis)
    The leaf muntjac is another small species of muntjac found in north-eastern Putao, Myanmar. It is also known as Putao muntjac or simply, leaf deer. It was discovered only in the late 90’s last century and hence, very little is known about this animal. Unlike other muntjacs, both males and females of this species have long visible canines, and the fawns bear no spots at all. They stand around 50 cm tall at shoulder height and adults weight up to 11 kilograms.
  • Pu Hoat Muntjac (Muntiacus puhoatensis)
    The Pu Hoat Muntjac was discovered in 1997 in the Pu Hoat region of Vietnam. Since then, the species has been under study by biologists. The small deer is extremely hard to spot in the wild. Due to this, very little is known about the species and its population status. DNA studies show that it is closely related to M. Rooseveltorum and M. Truongsonensis, indicating that the Pu Hoat muntjac may be actually a subspecies of any one of the mentioned two species of muntjacs. Pu Hoat muntjac is temporarily listed as a different species, as long as strong evidence of its relativeness to the other two species is not obtained.
  • Sumatran Muntjac (Muntiacus Montanus)
    Bones of the Sumatran muntjac was discovered in 1914 in Sumatra. The bone specimens looked different than any known species of muntjac. However, a living Sumatran muntjac was not spotted until the 1930’s. It is sometimes referred to as a subspecies of the common muntjac or Muntiacus muntjac found in India. Due to lack of information, there are numerous taxonomical disputes and contradictions on the Sumatran muntjac. IUCN listed the situation as “data deficient”.

Note: The entire muntjac deer tribe is one of the oldest known animals, with fossils that date back several million years ago. However, wild encounters are extremely rare due to its shy nature. The above-mentioned species are well-known to researchers, but there are ongoing studies that may change their taxonomy in future. As there are many species and subspecies of muntjacs in Asia, only thorough examination can determine their correct taxonomic status.


Muntjac deer prefer temperate deciduous forests, scrublands and woodlands. They like to be in a habitat with lush vegetation close to the ground. These deer are strictly herbivorous and can be seen munching on tender leaves, fruits or grass, whenever they are active.

Muntjac deers like to be in a habitat with lush vegatation close to the ground? Image credits: Thousandlies/

They prefer woodlands that are close to water sources. Some species of muntjacs are capable of flourishing even under unfavourable conditions, especially due to their adaptations to handle or survive their habitat. They can reproduce any time of the year and quickly increase their numbers. The group can adversely affect the habitat by overgrazing if the habitat lacks predators of the deer.

Muntjac deer crossing water? Image credits: Sainam51/

When it comes to predators, muntjacs are facing many of the toughest predators on the planet. In its range in Asia, the muntjac habitat consists of top predators like tigers, leopards (snow leopard, clouded leopard), wolves, jackals, crocodiles and large pythons.

These apex predators have sharp senses and unmatched strength, enabling them easily to hunt small deer like the muntjacs. However, the muntjacs’ small size helps them to stay hidden in the low-lying bushes to evade predators.

Reproduction and Lifecycle

The muntjac deer doesn’t follow any specific breeding season. They can breed round the year; females give birth to a single fawn, occasionally twins. Females reach sexual maturity earlier than the males, at an age of 7 to 9 months, while males can become sexually mature between 11 to 12 months after birth.

Young ones can reach the size of an adult in just one year? Image credits: Erni/

Throughout the year, males search for females in their territory and try to mate with them. The gestation period lasts for up to 230 days or approximately 7-8 months. The fawn is small and has visible spots on its coat. Females stop lactation, once the fawn is 7-8 weeks old. Fawns have a good survival ratio, helping the species to flourish in numbers. Under favourable conditions, a muntjac deer can live for up to 15-20 years. The female is capable of breeding again within a few days after giving birth, which means, a doe can give birth to a new fawn every 7 months.

Behavior and Communication

Their nature of interaction with the habitat is yet not fully understood. Wild muntjacs are spotted active during the day as well as during the night. However, individuals in captivity tend to show a crepuscular behavior. Muntjac deer are solitary grazers that occasionally form small herds of 4-5 individuals. They patrol their territory, in search for food and mates. Females are often seen with a fawn, and their territory overlaps with several other territories of surrounding males. Males are not very aggressive, but they like to keep separate territories. They usually tolerate other muntjacs, but fights can occur when a female is at stake. Male muntjacs fight with their antlers and can cause serious injuries to each other. They also make use of their long canines, which can tear flesh like a dagger.

Muntjac/Barking deer at a lake? Image credits: Super Prin/

The barking sound of a muntjac deer is an alarm call to alert nearby muntjacs about a potential threat. The muntjac deer call can be heard regularly at dawn and dusk, indicating that it can be a mode of communication as well. The bark is very similar to the sound of a groaning dog or a fox. Fawns and females squeal for their communication with each other. The muntjac is not a very smart creature but, assisted by its senses and survival skills, it is well capable of flourishing in its habitat.

Population and conservation

Muntjac deer are found in Southern Asia and parts of China; some species have been introduced in the United Kingdom as well. Collectively, the barking deer tribe is flourishing due to their rapid reproduction rate. They can reproduce any time of the year and are capable of raising their numbers quickly. However, when each species is taken into account individually, only a few are actually seen flourishing. Species like the giant and black muntjac are under threat due to loss of habitat, predation and hunting. Due to their rapid reproduction rate, they often come in conflict with the local population.

As result of the habitat loss, muntjacs raid farmers’ fields? Image credits: Girish HC/

Muntjacs can raid fields and cause severe damage to farmers’ crops. As a result, these deer are often received with hate at places where human activity is nearby their habitat. Road traffic is also one of the major killers for muntjacs. With an increasing number of vehicles, many road kills occur when the deer tries to cross the road in search of food.
Due to lack of information about their particular habits, it appeared extremely difficult for researchers to implement appropriate conservation measures.


The muntjac deer is the oldest known member of the deer family. Fossil records indicate that the species must have come into existence over 30 million years ago. Very little is known about the ancestry of muntjacs. The earliest known deer-like creature is Protoceras. Protoceras did not have antlers but had horns and their physical structure was very similar to modern deer. Muntjacs are one of the earliest known deer species that bear antlers.

The Indian muntjac (image) and Fea’s muntjac share a common ancestor? Image credits: leungchopan/

Dicrocerus Elegans is the oldest known deer that could shed antlers like muntjacs. Fossils of Dicrocerus Elegans indicate that the animal roamed on earth over 25 million years ago. It is thus speculated that small deer like the muntjacs or tufted deer must have evolved from the Dicrocerus Elegans. Other fossils also indicate that the deer species experienced a split approximately 7 to 10 million years ago; the Cervinae split from Muntiacinae. Cervinae went through many physical changes over the course of time while the Muntiacinae remained unchanged. Muntjacs of the Miocene era were smaller than modern muntjacs. Molecular data reveal that the common Indian muntjac and Fea’s muntjac share a common ancestor while the giant muntjacs are quite distinct. Giant muntjacs are closer to Reeves’ Muntjac, than any other species of muntjac deer. Evolution of the muntjacs is still being studied and new discoveries are being made. Hence, the exact story of its evolutionary history is not yet written today.


  • Though muntjac deer is one of the oldest known species of deer, it is also one of least studied species.
  • Muntjacs are one of the smallest species of deer on the planet.
  • They can reproduce any time of the year.
  • Females can mate in a few days after giving birth.
  • Muntjacs shed their antlers every year.
  • Muntjac deer is producing a unique cry that resembles the bark of a dog
  • Its bark is often misunderstood by locals. The groaning sound gives rise to many paranormal stories around the region.
  • Though herbivorous in nature, their long canine teeth may cause serious damage in case of fighting.
  • On average, muntjacs weight only around 10 to 20 kilograms.
  • Though they are hunted by top predators like tigers, crocs, pythons, leopards and humans, muntjacs have survived for over 25 million years on our planet.

Roses And Deer – Do Deer Eat Rose Plants And How To Save Them

There’s a question that comes up a lot – do deer eat rose plants? Deer are beautiful animals that we love to see in their natural meadow and mountain environments, no doubt about it. Many years ago my late grandfather penned the following in his little grade school Friendship Book: “The deer loves the valley and the bear loves the hill, the boys love the girls and always will.” Deer do indeed love the beautiful succulent growth they find in those meadows and valleys, but they cannot resist a rose garden if there is one close by. Let’s learn more about roses and deer.

Deer Damage to Rose Bushes

I have heard it said that deer look at roses like many of us do fine chocolates. Deer will eat the buds, blooms, foliage and even the thorny canes of rose bushes. They are especially fond of the new tender growth where the thorns are not so sharp and firm yet.

Deer usually do their browsing damage at night and occasionally you may see deer eating roses during the day. According to published information, each deer eats, on average, 5 to 15 pounds of plant material taken from shrubs and trees each day. When we consider that deer generally live and feed in herds, they can do an astounding amount of damage to our gardens, roses included, in a short amount of time.

Where I live in Northern Colorado, I cannot count the times I have gotten phone calls from fellow rose-loving gardeners in total despair about the loss of their entire rose beds! There is little one can do once their roses have been munched on by the hungry deer except prune down what is left of the damaged canes. Also, pruning out the broken canes and sealing all the cut ends may help.

Watering the rose bushes with a water and Super Thrive mix will go a long way in helping the roses recover from the major stress of such an attack. Super Thrive is not a fertilizer; it is a product that provides essential nutrients to the bushes at a time of great need. Do not apply large amounts of fertilizer, as the roses need some time to recover. The same is true after a hail storm or other like events that cause significant damage to rose bushes.

Deer Proofing Roses

If you live in an area that is known to have deer close by, think about protection early on. Yes, the deer do love roses, and it does not seem to matter if the roses are the popular Knockout roses, Drift roses, Hybrid Tea roses, Floribundas, Miniature roses or the wonderful David Austin shrub roses. The deer love them! That said, the following roses are considered to be more resistant to deer:

  • Swamp rose (Rosa palustris)
  • Virginia rose (R. virginiana)
  • Pasture rose (R. Carolina)

There are many deer repellents on the market too, but most need to be reapplied from time to time and especially after a rainstorm. Many things have been tried as deer repellents over the years. One such method involved hanging bars of soap around the rose garden. The bar soap method did seem to be effective for a while, then the deer seemed to get used to it and went ahead and did their damage. Perhaps, the deer were just hungrier and the scent of the soap was no longer a strong enough deterrent. Thus, the need to rotate whatever form or method of repellent used is important to achieve maximum protection.

There are mechanical gadgets on the market that act as protective deterrents, such as timed or “electronic seeing eye” items that cause a sprinkler to come on or a noise when motion is detected. Even with the mechanical items, the deer get used to after a while.

The use of an electric fence placed all around the garden is probably the most helpful deterrent. If it’s not tall enough, however, the deer will jump over it, so a trick of baiting them to the fence may be used if desired, which involves the use of peanut butter spread lightly onto the electric fence wire while it is turned off. The deer love peanut butter and will try to lick it off, but when they do so, they get a little shock that sends them in the other direction. A Rosarian friend of mine in Minnesota told me about the electric fence and peanut butter trick that he calls this the “Minnesota Deer Trick.” He has a great blog website located here:

In some cases, placing dog hair or dryer sheets around and through the rose bed has worked. Just remember that changing it up is important to its effectiveness.

Another method of deterrent protection to consider is planting a border around the rose bed of plants known to repel deer or are resistant to them. Some of these include:

  • Astilbe
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Coreopsis
  • Columbine
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Marigolds
  • Dusty Miller
  • Ageratum

Contact the Extension Service where you live or a local Rose Society group for more helpful information specific to your area.

Preventing Deer from Eating Roses

Question: Preventing Deer From Eating Roses

September 6, 2007

Tips from the ThriftyFun community for preventing deer from eating your roses.

Human Hair

To keep deer from eating plants: a friend goes to beauty shops and gets the hair that has been cut and takes it home and hangs it on fences around the plants. They do not like the smell or something to do with the human hair.

Shrimp Shells

A friend of mine goes to the coast and buys a lot of fresh shrimp to resell. He says that the shell peeled off of boiled shrimp and also the scraps they have from deheading and packaging the shrimp keep deer out of his garden. Sounds like an expensive deer repellent to me though, I would go with the human hair trick Advertisement

by Ladonna

Wolf Urine

The landscapers in my area had trouble with deer eating all the saplings they had planted and used wolf urine. I got it at a hunter’s store. I’ve used it to keep cats out of my yard. If it rains, you must re-apply it. If you accidentally get it wet when watering your lawn, back up quickly. It really stinks. Do each corner of your yard and then just the odd drop or two around the perimeter. Worked for me!

By Marianne

Several Ideas

The only thing I know of besides fencing out or shooting the deer is a repellent such as Predator Urine or Irish spring soap hung in things like panty hose or mesh produce bags in and around the rose beds. Also maybe a Large Yard Dog would discourage them.


Expert Advice

“Noise-makers and flashing lights, including loud radios and motion detecting devices startle deer, but the reaction from your nearest neighbors may startle you as well. Strong-smelling soaps and human hair hung in bushes did not work in CSU tests, but bars of Irish Spring soap “planted” on stakes kept deer out of my rose garden successfully last year, until my dogs ate them and spent several days foaming at the mouth. Advertisement

The best way to minimize deer damage is to plant “deer resistant” plants, and avoid plants that deer favor. A number are water-conserving as well. In general, deer don’t care for plants with fuzzy leaves or those that taste bitter. They avoid poisonous plants instinctively.

Annuals with good deer resistance include ageratum, ice plant, pincushion flower, verbena and zinnias. Perennials to select include Apache plume, most of the artemesia and sagebrush family, bleeding heart, clematis, coneflowers and daffodils, delphiniums, foxglove, wild geraniums, iris, poppies, peonies, Russian sage, tansy and yarrow. For shrubs and trees, try ash, barberry, box elder, bush cinquefoil, butterfly bush (buddlia), cotoneaster, currants and gooseberries, euonymous, forsythia, lilac (though my deer love them), mahonia, and viburnum. Species roses, shrub roses and old garden roses are more resistant to deer than tender hybrid teas, and far hardier. Plants deer especially dislike include catmint, chives, lavender, sage, spearmint, thyme and yarrow-all useful and easy to grow in this area.”


Carole Williams


By ThriftyFun

Deer Repellent Recipes

Here is a couple deer repellent recipes:

Dried Blood Repellent for Deer and Rabbits

Dried blood should be available at your local garden store. It is a biproduct of cattle beef processing. It comes in a powdered form and is effective for discouraging deer and rabbits from eating your plants.

Egg Deer Repellent

Deer don’t like eggs! This recipe is easy to make and fairly inexpensive, it calls for 18 eggs. You can also make small batches.

If you have any advice, post it here!


By Stefan (Guest Post) September 9, 20070 found this helpful

Years ago, I lived on Catalina Island (off the coast of L.A., Calif.) where deer were constantly destroying my roommate’s roses and small fruit trees. We tried hair, urine, soap and all kinds of things to no avail. Finally, we tied several cans together in bunches all tied to a trip line that surrounded our garden just outside our sliding glass door.

A couple of nights later I heard something outside the door and flung open the curtains. There was the deer that had somehow climbed over our trip line. I startled it and it took off, this time, catching the trip line dragging the line and cans banging behind it, chasing it and its buddies for several hundred feet. We about died laughing and we never had deer problems again! Reply Was this helpful? September 17, 20070 found this helpful

This was in my local newspaper just the other day: chunks of deodorant soap. The effect will last for a week before the soap has to be replaced. If you have a Walgreens in your area try there, they often have deodorant soap on sale 4/$1.00.

Reply Was this helpful? February 26, 20170 found this helpful

We live in the foothills of the Allegany mountains in the US. The product we use is an all-natural solution whose main ingredient is Coyote Urine called Deer Repellent Packs.

It has got to be the easiest product to use… just hang it on the plants/areas you want to protect for up to 90 days use.Reply Was this helpful?

Answer this Question…

All gardeners in the history of gardening know the challenge of deer control. I can still hear my mom whipping open the sliding door and clapping her hands to scare them away from our tomatoes. There’s no denying it: Deer find your raised beds full of vegetables just as tasty as you do — and your roses, geraniums, and daisies happen to be the perfect dessert.

But instead of spraying chemicals on your garden, try one of these other DIY ways to gently discourage deer, and maybe even bunnies and mosquitos, too. Keep in mind though that these critters learn quickly, so try rotating a few different methods for best results.

Add these plants.

fbxx/ Getty

This spring, consider surrounding your garden with a thick layer of plants that have a strong aroma, like lavender or marigolds. “Deer are reluctant to walk through lavender as the smell stays on their legs making it hard for them to sense predators,” says gardener Sally Morgan. “And the unusual smell also interferes with their ability to find food and assess their environment.”

Similarly, Lisa Orbin, a gardener of 10 years, explains that deer dislike the astringent smell marigolds gives off. “Basically, they don’t smell good enough to eat,” she says. You don’t have to go crazy, but the more plants, the better (and the prettier). In addition to circling your garden, try potting a few plants to sprinkle around your yard. Feel free to mix in other fragrant herbs, like mint, oregano, or catnip as well.

Sprinkle some soap.

J Callender / EyeEm/ Getty

Every spring growing up, I’d watch my mom cube bright green Irish Spring Original soap and skewer it into the ground around new plants. She’d adjust the height of each wooden skewer to just above the budding plants, deterring deer from munching, and allowing early plants to mature. Sometimes, she’d use a long-grain grater and shave the soap around seedlings before they appeared.

“The best part, is soap lasts for about a month,” she explains. “It only disintegrates when it rains, doesn’t affect plants, and also helps dehydrate any aphids or bugs that may be lurking in the soil.”

The tallow in the soap helps keep deer away, according to the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science, so you don’t have to go with Irish Spring. Many highly fragrant kind can help keep your flowers from becoming deer candy, but steer clear of bars containing coconut oil, which may actually attract them.

Make this invisible fence.

Getty Images

Maybe the most obvious way to manage deer is to fence off your garden. But you don’t have to be a carpenter or compromise the beauty of your plot. Horticulturist and plant expert Gene Lorainne uses just a few rows of clear fishing wire to keep the deer away from her garden.

She stakes the perimeter of the garden with a tall piece of wood (about 5 feet high), then starting 2 to 3 inches from the ground she strings a row of fishing line. She repeats this three more times, placing the rows of fishing wire about a foot apart.

The result: a tall, almost-invisible fence. “The deer can’t see the cords, so they won’t attempt to jump over either,” says Lorainne. This way, you can keep them out and still gaze at your pretty little patch of heaven.

Spray something smelly.

Image by Chris Winsor/ Getty

Another way to deter deer from munching on your garden is spraying an unappealing scent. Garden hobbyist Mary R. has been making this homemade (rather stinky) spray that helps keep deer out of her garden for over 15 years.

In a gallon jug, she mixes 1 cup of milk, 1 egg, and 1 tablespoon of dish soap and fills the rest with water. She keeps the gallons out in the sun during the day to get the aroma flowing before she sprays.

“I spray most nights, so I’m not in the yard when it smells the worst,” she says. It’s not harmful to plants and it also keeps ground critters from her yard. Consider mixing in some cut up hot peppers for extra deer-deterring power.

Make some noise.

Getty Images

“By simulating unexpected sights and sounds, you are triggering the deer’s main defense against prey,” says Dr. Leonard Perry, a professor at the University of Vermont’s Department of Plant and Soil. For instance, by stringing up CDs around your garden, you’re creating a motion that deer are not used to, and they will spook.

Another effective visual is creating a white flag about 10 inches long and five inches wide that resembles a white deer tail. “They see this ‘tail’ move, but no deer, and they often get spooked and flee,” he says.

Hanging up pie tins and aluminum cans creates both an unusual visual and sound. “Some gardeners swear by talk radio,” adds Perry, which is another sound tactic you may try. For these to work, it’s crucial to rotate which method of spookiness you use around your garden or the deer will get used to it and continue nibbling on your plants.

How to Keep Deer from Eating Your Stuff


I have a lot of things to say about keeping deer out of yards and away from tasty flowers and trees. At the same time, there is ONE thing that really gets things done …. but I won’t talk about it till the end!

The creative ways that people have attempted to control deer seem endless and in the end they aren’t generally effective, at least not for long. In my experience, the best method (outside of the ONE) is to keep spazzy dogs that like to chase deer. Of course, the dogs have to be outside 24/7 – none of this stuff where you bring the dogs inside.

Sepp Holzer doesn’t have dogs, so he uses scarecrows and does a lot of stuff to put up with the deer and a lot of stuff to try and dissuade them.

And then there are fences. On one of my podcasts I discuss deer control, sharing Toby Hemenway’s perspective that it is all about deer pressure.

For instance, if you have a six foot tall fence with deer “candy” inside but no candy on the outside, they will jump the fence. If there is candy on both the inside and the outside of the fence, they likely won’t bother with the fence. If the deer pressure is high, you better get an eight to ten foot tall fence.

I posted a message on the permies forum sharing a quote from Toby on this very topic. I think it is worth sharing here as well:

If there’s anyone out there who has had good, long-term luck with any of the gentler methods, particularly in the West where the mule deer are even more aggressive than the eastern ones, I would love to hear of it. But I rankle a bit at suggestions of “sharing” and the implication that we fence builders are unaware beings living on some lower ethical plane, unless those suggestions are backed up with experience.

Deer have as strong a desire to feed themselves and their young as any other animal. They are intelligent and persistent. It is is contrary to nature to ask deer to deny themselves a good food source that is easily available. I’m not sure that the human concept of sharing is something that hungry deer subscribe to; otherwise why would they take every single apple on every tree, every lettuce plant, every raspberry bush?

I designed a hedge with deer food like wild plums, cherries, etc on the outside, and grafted varieties facing our house. This was an enormous investment in sharing the place I lived. Worked great for about 3 years. Then the deer discovered the better food on the inside, and stopped eating the wild stuff. They broke through it to get to my fruit trees.

I tried peeing to mark the territory, religiously renewing the spots nearly every day. Hah. I tried talking to the deer. I set up special places for them to feed. That just attracted more deer. I planted borders of things they didn’t like to eat. They trampled them on the way to the food. I interspersed non-edibles among edibles. They ate the edibles. Sometimes a method worked for a while, but only, I observed, when there was ample wild food. In the scarce season, they came for my garden. That’s the truth about nature awareness: they are very aware of where food is, have all day and night to look for it, and will not voluntarily go hungry. Why would they?

I consider myself a good animal communicator, and as sensitive and compassionate, and as good a pattern and life-cycle observer as I can manage. I tried every single method of sharing/hiding/protecting etc. my food crops as I could think of. I read all the books. In the long run, I lost many young fruit trees–the deer simply broke them down. I had gardens completely ravaged, berry bushes torn out of the ground. The only thing that actually worked was a stout fence, supplemented later by a dog. I loathed the idea of a fence, but my choices finally became: continually lose my food supply or build a fence.

Learn how to keep the deer from eating trees, flowers, and food in your garden. Photo by TylerLudens.

The summary up to this point is, if you have low deer pressure, all sorts of goofy things will work. But if you have high deer pressure, the only thing that will work is an eight to ten foot tall deer fence. But I have one more point to make.

Bone Sauce

I first learned about bone sauce (aka bone salve) from Sepp Holzer.

On the first full day of a class that he led, we toured a farm where the animals had wiped out nearly all growth. The land owner’s intent was to get a fresh start. So, the land owner ran animals in there to eliminate all of the weeds and … well …. everything. Then the land owner wanted to come in and plant new stuff. Sepp was very direct and did not mince words: He did not approve.

Sepp pointed out how only the trees were left, but since animals had nibbled at the bark so much, he called these trees “standing dead.” Sepp then told us about how he makes a sort of bone sauce that he puts on trees and will keep the animals from nibbling the trees forever.

“What? Forever?” “Decades.” “It can’t possibly last that long” “What can I say, it lasts that long.” – and this same discussion was rehashed a few times and Sepp stuck to his guns. Decades.

The process: first, you start with a cast iron kettle and bury it a bit and put a cup of water in the bottom; then fill another kettle with bones, put a screen over it and then plop the bone kettle upside down on the other kettle; pack clay around the edges to make a good seal, pile up some dirt and build a big fire over the whole thing.

Keep the fire going for an hour or two and then let it sit for a day. Then collect the nasty gunk from the bottom. Apparently this smells awful. Smear a little of this around the trunk of any tree and animals won’t ever touch that tree.

Hear Sepp speak to this himself:


Paul Wheaton is is the tyrannical ruler of two on-line communities. One is about permaculture and one is about software engineering. There is even one for Missoula. Paul has written several permaculture articles starting with one on lawn care that he presented at the MUD Project 17 years ago, including articles on raising chickens, cast iron and diatomaceous earth. Paul also regularly uploads permaculture videos and permaculture podcasts. In his spare time, Paul has plans for world domination and is currently shopping for a hollowed out volcano in the Missoula area, with good submarine access.

See all of Paul’s contributions to Make it Missoula here.

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