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Oh Deer

April 1st, 2010

There are people that think that deer are majestic beautiful creatures and stop their cars to watch them graze peacefully in the fields. Then there are gardeners who have lost entire crops of peas, blueberries, hostas and tulips to these giant rodents.

Here at Chiot’s Run my biggest garden pest is the white tailed deer. They gnaw off my fruit trees and blueberry bushes. My hydrangeas won’t bloom if I don’t wrap them because the deer find them super tasty. Last year they ate all my peas and every single tulip on the front hillside. Unfortunately we live in a gated community and all the land surrounding the community is owned by our property owners association. Hunting is not allowed on association property, so the deer have a safe haven and we have a herd of 10-12 that beds down about 100 yards behind our house. Of course they love it here because of all the beautiful delicious organic food grown in the gardens here at Chiot’s Run. If I were a deer or groundhog I’d live here too.

Until I can do something about them (like get hunting permission from the people that own the land outside of the association property), I chase them away. Although they’re no longer scared of me. I can go out and talk to them and they just stare at me, you’d think they’d at least thank me for the nice blueberry buds. These were about 40 yards away, I took this picture through my kitchen window. I’ll continue making little forts around everything trying to keep them out, my peas are under a conestoga wagon cover over the hoops in the raised bed their planted in. And I’ll have to live with daffodils instead of tulips and crocuses.

What’s the biggest pest in your garden?

45 Comments to “Oh Deer”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Oh Deer #wildlife #pests […]

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  2. Teresa on April 1, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Also deer. I use a lot of row covers.

    Reply to Teresa's comment

  3. Lisa Brown on April 1, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I hear ya, same here but more! Fortunately I don’t live in a gated community so lots of venison on the table this year!
    Something that works pretty well is liquid fence I think its called. Made with garlic and putrified eggs. It stinks bad but once it tries we can’t smell it but they can and don’t like it. Have to spray everything you don’t want them to eat. If you do it consistantly they will eventually think there’s nothing good to eat there. They haven’t gotten it all the way yet here. Good luck and love the blog.

    Reply to Lisa Brown's comment

  4. Julia on April 1, 2010 at 8:02 am

    That’s a bummer! I’m trying to think… a friend has the same problem, and he lines his fields with particular crops they don’t like. I wish I could remember which ones. I’ll try to find out.

    I don’t have too many problems once my seeds sprouts. Before they do, the little birdies eat up the seeds if I don’t cover them with chicken wire.
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Swimming Upstream (Recipe: Shad Roe with Braised Cabbage) =-.

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  5. kitsapFG on April 1, 2010 at 8:14 am

    I do think they are beautiful to look at – but understand they would be a royal pain in the butt to deal with. My biggest garden pests are voles, raccoons, and slugs the size of your deer (well almost!).

    Reply to kitsapFG's comment

  6. Dave on April 1, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I’ve dealt with the deer too and it’s frustrating to have them eating everything you’ve work hard to plant. Rabbits are another pest. I can keep them out of the veggie garden but yesterday one of them ate a little birch tree I’ve been growing. They just cut the stems with their teeth and left everything behind.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..One Thing, Then Another, Then Another… =-.

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  7. Sense of Home on April 1, 2010 at 8:51 am

    I noticed yesterday that something ate all my buds off my blueberry bushes, not sure the bushes will even live or put out new buds, I just planted them last year.

    I planned to go to our local nursery today to see if there is anything I can do to protect blueberry bushes, I had planned to plant several more this year.

    I think the bunnies are getting my bushes, since the bushes are still small they can reach the buds and we live in a town of 15,000+ and I have not seen any deer in our neighborhood.

    I hope I can find a solution, last year the birds got the berries because I wasn’t fast enough covering them and this year it is the bunnies. I love wildlife, but I also wanted to be able to grow my own blueberries rather than buying them at the store.

    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

    • Susy on April 1, 2010 at 9:52 am

      You can wrap them with cheesecloth or row cover cloth to keep the deer away.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Sense of Home on April 1, 2010 at 11:57 am

        Thank you Susy, I will give that a try.

        to Sense of Home's comment

  8. Michael on April 1, 2010 at 8:56 am

    The other day I stumbled upon this video about a farmer who turned to permaculture; his name is Sepp Holzer. Anyways, heres a link to the video , in it they talk about how along with his regular crops he also has plants that are a favorite of animals like dear and rabbits, this way the animals eat those plants rather than eating the plants that he doesn’t want them eating. I have no idea how hard it would be to implement something like this in your garden but who knows, it works for him ;).

    Reply to Michael's comment

    • Michael on April 1, 2010 at 9:03 am

      Oh yeah,

      and by “implement” I didn’t mean the whole permaculture thing (I’m not crazy you know) I was just talking about planting plants that might attract pests away from your other plants, jeeze.

      Reply to Michael's comment

      • Susy on April 1, 2010 at 9:42 am

        I’ve read about that, and certain plants you can use as a barrier fence. My problem is the size of my garden. If I plant a barrier fence or things for the deer, I wouldn’t have any room for things I wanted to grow. Definitely something I’m going to keep in mind and implement if I move somewhere with more land.

        to Susy's comment

  9. Becca on April 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Aargh! I feel your pain. I hear the only way to discourage deer is to build a very tall fence. We built raised veggie beds along our narrow south facing alleyway with no real room for a fence so I place ugly row cover over it all. For the non-edibles I invested in a jug of Bobbex. Smells like hell but so far my honeysuckle might actually bloom around my mailbox this year. One bonus of their constant “pruning” is that it has a strong root structure :).
    If they get my blueberry buds I will absolutely cry!!!
    They are no longer cute and graceful creatures when they take more than their share. I also joke that they would be the healthiest to eat, with all my organic produce!

    Reply to Becca's comment

  10. Ken Toney on April 1, 2010 at 9:02 am

    By far, deer are the worst pest I have on the farm. Whenever our guests see the dear they admire how cute they are, but I just see them as grazing pests that eat everything. I hunt them every year, and take my bag limit. But in the spring, their numbers keep increasing. So I have to use netting and liquid Deer Fence. I apply it once a month and it has worked so far.
    .-= Ken Toney´s last blog ..Clearing the Land =-.

    Reply to Ken Toney's comment

    • Susy on April 1, 2010 at 9:54 am

      Mr Chiots hunts deer on my family’s hunting land a few counties away. I always think of the deer eating my crops when we enjoy venison. He’s try to secure permission from the people who own property outside the association behind our home so he can hunt these deer.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. Mrs. Mac on April 1, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Our biggest free loaders are deer and moose … and let’s not forget the voles. We had to put up welded wire fencing around the garden .. held up with T-stakes. It’s not too ugly when beans or flowers are growing on it. I also plant five feet on the outside of the fence and fence that area off with just deer netting and 6′ wooden 1×1 stakes. The double barrier has kept the wildlife out of the garden. We had to experiment with different yard plants and get a list of deer resistant plants from our local garden center. Tulips are a favorite of deer … while they will leave daffodils alone.
    .-= Mrs. Mac´s last blog ..Do Not Say There’s Nothing To Eat =-.

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  12. kristin @ going country on April 1, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Slugs and snails. But there’s no law against hunting them.
    .-= kristin @ going country´s last blog ..Fashion for the Under One Set =-.

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    • Susy on April 1, 2010 at 9:54 am

      Lucky you- too bad you can’t eat them too :)

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. marcyincny on April 1, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Chipmunks are my real nemeses but as of last year, the slugs are firmly in second place.
    I’m pretty sure I would have given up long ago if I hadn’t found Tree Guard, now Deer Guard, repellent. It’s more expensive than other products but it’s more cost effective in the long run because even though it’s not detectable to humans, once the deer have tasted it the smell is enough to deter them. I spray a few things in the garden like the favas and the tomatoes before they bloom and then just a couple times on the fence rails. I can’t remember the last time I saw deer tracks in the garden.
    .-= marcyincny´s last blog ..Too Warm Too Soon =-.

    Reply to marcyincny's comment

    • Susy on April 1, 2010 at 9:55 am

      I’ll have to look at that stuff and see if it will work for my fruit trees. At least the deer never bother my tomatoes and they’ve never eaten a hosta here.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Melissa on April 1, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Oh, Suzy! That certainly stinks. We have a probelm with deer here, too. My grandfather, who lives just around the corner from us, installed a VERY tall fence around his garden (which backs up to a wooded area) hoping to deter them. No such luck. Those beasts can scale a 10 ft. tall fence! On the upside, we can hunt them when in season, and my brother has gotten a number of trophy deer while hunting behind the garden. Venison is so tasty.

    Fortunately for us, our propery doesn’t have any trees where the gardnen is installed and we have a couple of dogs who keep unwanted wildlife at bay. They live to chase the geese and ducks. It’s quite comical. They swim from one side of the pond to the other with the geese at a comfortable distance ahead of them. But do they give up? Never. : ) Melissa
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..This blog is moving… =-.

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  15. Melissa on April 1, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Oops. I meant to leave you a link to my new blog. I’ve moved. : ) Melissa
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..In Bloom =-.

    Reply to Melissa's comment

    • Susy on April 1, 2010 at 10:03 am

      Thanks for the new link!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Corrie on April 1, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Here in suburban Cincinnati, it’s deer too. And we definitely can’t hunt them. It’s becoming a huge problem in the parks (where I work) and they have started to cull the herds each winter and give the venison to the homeless shelters. In my yard I accept that some things will be sacrificed, and I do my best to protect the rest. The trick to the deer deterrents (Deer Scram, Liquid Fence, This One Works, etc) is to switch them up every few months so the deer don’t become accustomed to the smell/taste.

    Or you can do what my mom does, and go outside and throw rocks at them!

    Reply to Corrie's comment

  17. Jaspenelle on April 1, 2010 at 10:45 am

    My biggest pest? My toddler! Okay, no no, I don’t really mean that, he has only destroyed one tray of lettuce transplants this year… I live in the middle of town so we don’t have many deer and being surrounded by neighbors with big loud dogs decreases the likelihood of that occurrence even more. My feral cats in our neighborhood though, gah! I am always chasing them out of my raised beds (not that they are afraid of me anymore,) they love to camp out of the night under my row covers (nice and toasty there I guess) right on top my lettuce. Oh well, I suppose they keep the mice away…
    .-= Jaspenelle´s last blog ..How are you? =-.

    Reply to Jaspenelle's comment

  18. Michelle on April 1, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Oh my gosh…I would be beside myself! I thought I had it bad with slugs, snails and earwigs. Although I will say, those earwigs are vicious!
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Wednesday in the Word. =-.

    Reply to Michelle's comment

  19. Camille on April 1, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Six months ago, I’ve installed Nite Guard lights to stop coyotes from approaching my paddocks. The system emits a flash of red light, which mimics the eye of a predator, the unwanted animal either thinks it is being watched or that the territory is occupied. It seems to be working; I haven’t seen any coyote tracks in the snow since and my horses are less agitated. It is said to work to stop deer. It may work to protect your garden.

    Reply to Camille's comment

    • Susy on April 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm

      Thanks for the link. I’ll check this out, sounds very interesting. I’ve heard about using Christmas lights and other lighting methods.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Tree on April 1, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Aproach them about bow hunting if you know someone who bow hunts. For some reason people are less afraid of bow hunting than guns. If you do get permission to hunt them at least you will know some of their diet is organic :)
    .-= Tree´s last blog .. =-.

    Reply to Tree's comment

  21. Morgan G on April 1, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Lordy – deer, moose, toddlers? I guess I have it easier than I think over here. For me, it’s birds and aphids.

    For the birds, I turn empty strawberry baskets over seedlings until their tall enough to reach the “roof” of the basket fortress/cage. By then, the birds seem to forget about them.

    For the aphids, I released 1500 ladybugs into the yard a few weeks ago. I’ve got my fingers crossed that my ladies will patrol for me from now on. : )
    .-= Morgan G´s last blog ..What’s in the Bag? The Answer. =-.

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  22. stefaneener on April 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I second bow hunting, but also have heard about putting thin wires at deer chest height a few feet apart. They can’t see them but bump into them and are scared; can’t jump over them because they will just bump into the second one. Cheaper than 8′ tall fences!
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..Crazy Pretty =-.

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  23. Sense of Home on April 1, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I’ve been doing some more research on this subject and my State University Horticulturist suggested pepper spray and even provided a recipe for making your own. Here is the link:
    Sounds like it will work for my rabbits problem too.
    .-= Sense of Home´s last blog ..Herb Garden =-.

    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

  24. Leiah on April 1, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I totally sympathize, we have exactly the same relationship with raccoons. Unfortunately they not only destroy our produce but have killed 4 of our chickens over the last 9 months.

    I wish you luck in your battle with the deer and hope we are able to come up with a successful strategy to keep the raccoons from completely destroying our garden this year.

    Reply to Leiah's comment

    • Susy on April 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm

      Oh, so sorry to hear about your chickens. That must be terrible. Hopefully you figure something out.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  25. Amy on April 2, 2010 at 9:15 am

    A Raccoon was the only pest I had a bit of trouble controlling. It is no more. The old farmers in my area did not believe raccoons would kill chickens they were wrong he or she killed 15 of mine. Just mutilated them. At time of death he weighed close to 30 pounds ;)

    As for deer/ voles/moles/rabbits(which we have and keep penned up). Our answer are dogs and cats. We have had dozens of moles and voles brought to us by our faithful cats. As for deer they are not interested in communing with our dogs. They stay in our woods but come no further.

    Happy Easter!

    Reply to Amy's comment

    • Susy on April 2, 2010 at 9:37 am

      I’m hoping my new outdoor cat will help control the chipmunk population.


      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Leiah on April 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

      Wow 15 chickens, that’s horrible! I wish it were a matter of just one raccoon for us, we’ve trapped 5 of them so far. The forest rangers come and pick them up and tote them away, but soon enough more move in to take their place and it starts all over again.

      I suppose it is hard for someone to believe raccoons will attack chickens until your unfortunate enough to be presented with the evidence.

      We are going to try a combination of bull mastiff in the animal pens and yard and geese in the garden to discourage any more raccoon attacks. I’m glad you were able to resolve your problem, here we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

      Reply to Leiah's comment

  26. Kelly on April 2, 2010 at 9:27 am

    It’s deer for me, but thankfully our local’s mostly focus on the hosta’s and my asiatic lilies (they walked through the garden to get them – past the lettuce, even!), raspberries and rhubarb (isn’t that poisonous to them, too?). I had good luck last year with Irish Spring soap hung in the most likely places they’d come around – after that they left everything alone. We’ll really test them this year with the soap around the hostas. I hope it works!
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Beautiful Easter =-.

    Reply to Kelly's comment

    • Susy on April 2, 2010 at 9:35 am

      I’ve heard Irish Spring soap works well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  27. Beegirl on April 2, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    We’ve had extraordinary luck with a solar powered electric fence. One wire run waist high for deer and one low for ground hogs/bunnies. Ran an extension out to the apiary ~ then the orchard when we put it in last spring. They broke through the orchard once, but only chewed on my Jonathan apple tree. So far, so good this spring. Totally worth the money!! Plus easy to install and has lasted us a few years now. We picked ours up at Agway, but I’ve seen them at Tractor Supply too.. if you are interested…

    Good luck to you!
    .-= Beegirl´s last blog ..Italian Ladies from Georgia =-.

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  28. Beegirl on April 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    PS- the e-fence kept them out of the garden, but the MOWED my hostas to the ground around the house here. Our neighbor uses a motion-sensor-triggered water cannon to keep them out of his yard..
    : ))
    .-= Beegirl´s last blog ..Italian Ladies from Georgia =-.

    Reply to Beegirl's comment

  29. Janine at Rustic Kitchen on April 5, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I believe my woodchuck Jeff has burrowed under my favorite false cypress, so he’s enemy #1 right now, but I also have bunnies, raccoons and deer, who’ve gnawed roses to the ground and polished their antlers on a flowering quince.
    .-= Janine at Rustic Kitchen´s last blog ..Farmer Friday – Evergreen Lane Creamery, Fennville, Michigan =-.

    Reply to Janine at Rustic Kitchen's comment

    • Susy on April 6, 2010 at 9:35 am

      Love that you named the woodchuck.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  30. Raymond on April 19, 2010 at 3:17 am

    “I use Havahart’s deer off, and it keeps the deer away because it targets the keen sense of smell and taste they have. I got a good deal on it at They give you 10% off if you sign up for the newsletter.
    Here’s the repellent I use:

    Reply to Raymond's comment

    • Susy on April 19, 2010 at 9:53 am

      Thanks for the tip, I’ll check them out.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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