Deers are beautiful animals, but when they’re eating your vegetables and defecating on your property, it’s a different story. To help you to keep them away, I’ve put together this complete guide on how to get rid of deer.
There are many different effective ways to get rid of deer. You can scare them off with light and noise, use electronic or spray-based repellent systems to deter them or install fences or wires to keep them out. It may even be as simple as removing attractants or making changes to your garden to make it a less inviting place for the deer to graze.
It’s fairly easy to get rid of them, but the best method for you will depend on the nature of the deer problem and your own personal preferences. I’ll be showing you a few different methods for dealing with deer damage below. Just read on and I’ll walk you through it.
How to Get Rid of Deers in Your Yard
Deers are very sensitive animals that are easily startled. As such, the easiest way to get rid of deer in your yard is to scare them off with flashing lights or loud noises.
If you have a flashlight, try shining the light on them and blink it a few times. You can also use an air horn or a whistle to make a loud noise that should frighten them off. Even just yelling loudly can spook them.
Obviously, if they’re interested in your yard, they may just keep coming back. To prevent this, you can try hanging shiny objects (like CDs and aluminum foil) from your trees, or installing wind chimes. The lights that reflect off these objects and the noises they make should be sufficient to spook the deer.
Motion-activated deer deterrent systems are even better. It’s possible to buy and install sensors that emit high-pitched sounds or flashing lights whenever deer enter your yard.
The only problem is that, while these systems work well for a while, deer will get used to them eventually. After a couple of weeks, deer tend to stop being spooked by the lights and sounds, which is why it’s important to change your deterrent method regularly.
With that in mind, let’s look at some other, arguably more effective ways to keep deer away from your garden.
How to Keep Deers Away from Garden
There are lots of different ways to keep deer away from your garden. Here are some of the best methods:
Remove Deer Attractants
The best and most humane way to keep deer away from your garden in the first place is to remove whatever it is that’s attracting them. Here are some common things that attract deer to your garden:
- Bird feeders— deer love to eat the seed and corn in bird feeders. If you don’t want to get rid of them, put them inside at night or install a mesh cage around them.
- Certain plants— red clover, chicory, orchard grass, and high-protein crops like peas and corn all attract deer. If possible, don’t grow these types of plants in your garden.
- Tall grass— deer like tall grass as it provides cover from predators. If your garden is overgrown in parts, it may be attracting the deer, so keep the grass short if possible.
- Apples— sweet-smelling apples are irresistible to deer, and they have a very good sense of smell. If you have an apple tree in your yard, it could be the problem.
Motion-Activated Sprinkler Systems
Motion-activated sprinkler systems can be very effective at keeping deer out of your garden. They use sensors to trigger sprinklers to go off whenever deer step into your garden, thus spraying them with water and scaring them off.
Unfortunately, just as with light and solar systems, sprinklers will only work for a couple of weeks. They’ll eventually become used to it or learn how to avoid it. Sprinklers also freeze up when it gets cold, which makes them unsuitable for use in the winter.
Spray Your Plants/Yard
If deer are eating the plants in your garden, a great way to keep them away is to spray your plants with something the deer don’t like. Commercially-prepared deer ‘odor sprays’ and ‘taste sprays’ tend to work well, just make sure they’re safe to use on your vegetable/fruit plants/trees first.
You can also make your own homemade deer repellent spray using either hot sauce or eggs.
For the former, combine roughly equal parts water and hot sauce together in a spray bottle and apply them to your plants. Deers are sensitive to the capsicum and should avoid the plants.
For the latter, beat 3 eggs together with around 4,500 ml of water and use a spray bottle to apply it to your plants once a month. Apparently, the smell of the egg mixture is similar to rotting meat and acts as a deterrent to deer as they associate it with predators.
What Are Deer Afraid Of?
Deer are afraid of lots of things, I’ve listed some of the main ones below.
Deer are afraid of predators – it’s in their genes. As prey, they’ve evolved to fear biological predators like wolves, coyotes, bears, lions, and hawks and will stay a long way away from anywhere they suspect they might be.
As such, a simple way to get rid of deer is to make it seem like a predator is nearby. Try buying coyote or bobcat urine and putting a few drops around your yard. Deers have a very powerful sense of smell and will be able to pick this scent up from a great distance and avoid the area.
If you have a dog, letting it out in the yard often should also make the deer steer clear of the area. If you don’t have a dog, try scattering dog hair around the yard instead to give off the scent, or putting up a fake silhouette of a dog to act as a decoy. It will work kind of like a scarecrow, but for deer.
You can also buy moving decoys of predators like owls and coyotes, which tend to be very effective.
Loud, High-Pitched Noises
Deers have sensitive hearing and are easily stated. They’re particularly sensitive to high-pitched noises. Sounds like whistles and air horns usually spook them. You can also try playing loud predator noises like dogs barking and growling to scare them
Deer are animals that like to be able to make a quick getaway. They don’t like terrain that seems difficult to navigate and will avoid it. For that reason, a good tip for getting rid of deer is to add levels to your yard by adding sunken beds, slopes, terraces, or stairs.
Deer usually won’t attempt to jump on them or climb them unless they’re really desperate.
Enclosed Spaces (& Very Open Spaces)
For much the same reason as above, deer don’t like enclosed spaces. If they feel like it might be difficult to get out of somewhere, they won’t go in.
They also don’t like very open spaces without cover. They like to stay hidden and out of sight of predators, and favor terrain with tall grass and lots of shelter. If your yard is kept neat and tidy and doesn’t offer a lot of cover, deer might be afraid of going in.
How Do You Keep Deer from Pooping in Your Yard?
The only way to keep deer from pooping in your yard is to keep them out of your yard in the first place. Deers defecate often, especially when they’re eating. If they’re in your yard, you can be pretty certain that their droppings will be too.
Use any of the methods we’ve talked about above to keep them out of your yard and you won’t have to worry about their scat.
How Do I Keep Deer from Eating My Arborvitae?
Deer just can’t get enough of arborvitae trees. They’re one of the deer’s favorite meals and one of the only sources of food during wintertime. The rich piney scent they give off is irresistible to them.
Not only that, but a lot of homeowners use arborvitae trees as a border to their yard, and, as the deer naturally seek out cover, they’re attracted to the safe enclosures this creates.
Fortunately, there are some ways you can stop deer from eating your arborvitae trees without necessarily having to get rid of them completely. Here are some things you can try:
Hang Bars of Soap from the Branches
Believe it or not, soap is actually a very effective deer repellent – they don’t like the smell of tallow that is found in most bars of soap. As such, a great way to keep deer away from your precious arborvitae trees is to hang bars of biodegradable soap from the branches or sprinkle shavings around the base.
Just make sure you don’t accidentally use soap with coconut oil in as this can have the opposite effect – deer love the smell of coconut oil!
Create a Physical Barrier
You can also create a physical barrier to the deer by wrapping your arborvitae trees in netting, burlap, or mesh. Try to cover the trees up to at least 8 feet so that the deer can’t reach above it.
If you don’t like the look of netting, you can also try stringing up a fishing line around 2-3 feet above the ground around the trees. The barrier confuses the deer, stopping them from eating the trees. Plus, the wire is so thin that it isn’t an eye-sore.
Plant Western Arborvitaes
Deers don’t like all types of arborvitaes. Western varieties like Green Giant and Spring Grove arborvitaes aren’t that appealing to them and are fairly deer-resistant. Try to plant these varieties instead.
Note: deer will still eat almost anything if they’re starving, so this method might not be 100% effective.
What Smells Do Deer Hate?
Deers have an incredible sense of smell that humans can’t even begin to imagine. We have just 5 million olfactory receptors in our noses, whereas deer have almost 300 million.
As such, they can pick up scents from at least a ¼ of a mile away. As such, if you’re trying to keep them away from your garden, scent-based deterrents can be very effective.
Smells that deer hate include:
- Hot peppers
- Dish soap
- Rotten eggs
- Predator urine
- Blood meal
How Far Away Can Deer Hear?
Deer are biologically built to detect predator sounds. They’re very sensitive to sounds that aren’t normal to their environment and range suspicion. However, despite that, their actual hearing range isn’t all that different from a human.
Based on recent research, deer can detect sounds of low-to-moderate frequency in a similar way to humans but can hear high frequency sounds slightly better. We hear best at frequencies between 2,000 and 5,000 hertz, whereas deer hear best at 3,000 to 8,000 hertz.
The jury’s still out on exactly how far away a deer can hear you, but it’s probably not as far as you think. The reason so many hunters have stories of how deer bolted when they heard the click of their rifle is probably either down to the deer’s sense of smell or simply because those sounds are not normal in forest habitats, so they raise suspicion.
How Can I Keep Deer Out of My Vegetable Garden?
There are lots of ways you can keep deer out of your vegetable garden. Here are some of the most effective methods.
Build a Fence
Put up a fence around your vegetable garden that is at least 8 feet high. Deers shouldn’t be able to jump over a fence of this height. If you want to be extra careful, build 2 fences around it with a gap of around 5 feet between them. This creates an enclosure and deers are predisposed to fear enclosures as they don’t like to be trapped.
Keep it Close to Your House
Plant your vegetable garden as close to your home as possible. Deers don’t like to come near humans so they’re less likely to risk eating out of your vegetable garden if it’s near the walls of your home.
Plant Deer-Resistant Plants
Deers don’t like to eat plans that are hairy, prickly, furry, or very aromatic, like foxgloves and rosemary. Plant some of these in your vegetable garden to keep deer away from the more appealing plants.
Do Pinwheels Keep Deer Away?
Noise-making devices and brightly-colored decorations like pinwheels can scare deer away, but they may only work for a couple of weeks as the deer may get used to them
Can Humans Get Diseases from Deer?
There may be certain diseases that humans can get from deer. Transmission of these kinds of zoonotic diseases is often caused by direct contact, oral ingestion, or contact with contaminated bedding, material, or feces. As such, hunters and people that handle deer carcasses are at more risk.
Here are some tips to protect yourself from contracting diseases:
- Handle deer safely to avoid injury.
- Wear gloves whenever you’re touching deer or deer scat
- Don’t eat or drink when handling deer or deer materials
- Always wash your hands after coming into contact with a deer or deer scat
Note: I’m not a doctor, veterinarian, or medical professional. Please make sure to do your own research if you’re concerned about getting diseases from deer.
What Diseases Can You Get from Deer?
I’ve listed some of the diseases you can get from deer below.
Deer Parapox virus has been found in red deer in New Zealand, and infections in humans have been reported in the US. Both cases of humans being infected with Deer Parapoxvirus involved deer hunters who had dressed infected deer carcasses with open sores on their fingers. This goes to show the importance of wearing gloves when handling animal carcasses.
Deer Parapoxvirus can cause scabby crusts on hands, ears, necks, faces, and lips.
Escherichia Coli Infection (E. coli)
- Coli is a well-known type of bacteria that can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, and other nasty symptoms. Deer can become infected with disease-causing E. coli when they graze in cow pastures.
This bacteria can then pass from deer to humans through fecal-oral transmission. If a human comes into contact with infected deer stool and then accidentally ingests the bacteria they can become infected. That’s why it’s important to properly wash your hands if you’ve handled or been near deer scat.
Lyme disease can cause a circular red rash, headaches, extreme fatigue, pain, and other nasty symptoms. It can be very serious if left untreated. Humans can contract the infectious disease after being bitten by an infected tick.
Ticks that pass on Lyme disease are called ‘deer ticks’ as deer play host to adult ticks. While deer themselves don’t carry Lyme disease, they do help to spread the disease by carrying infected ticks into urban populations.
Leptospirosis can cause reproductive failure, anemia, and other diseases. Deers can become infected with the disease and shed it through their urine. Humans can then acquire the same infection if they accidentally ingest it after coming into contact with contaminated deer urine.
Is Deer Poop Dangerous to Humans?
Deer can carry harmful strains of E. coli, which can also be present in their feces. As such, deer poop can indeed be dangerous to humans as it can spread this dangerous bacteria. That being said, you don’t necessarily have to run away from deer poop, you just need to exercise reasonable precautions.
You can minimize the risk of becoming infected with E. coli by making sure you use protective equipment like gloves when handling or cleaning up deer poop. You should also practice good hygiene and always sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Can You Get a Disease from Deer Blood?
You may be able to contract diseases including brucellosis if you come into contact with infected deer blood. Hunters are at higher risk of contracting these kinds of diseases and should make sure to follow best practices to minimize these risks.
Always make sure to wear appropriate protective gear including eye protection and latex gloves when handling deer carcasses and avoid direct contact. Wash your hands (with soap) as soon as possible for at least 20 seconds after you’ve handled a deer carcass, and make sure to thoroughly clean all tools and gloves using a suitable disinfectant.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare