Deer Repellants | Archives | Aggie Horticulture
Deer Repellants

1. Q. The deer are eating me out of house-and-home, horticulturally speaking! Everything I plant, those devils eat. I have tried hanging pie pans, spreading moth balls, distributing nylon-bagged human hair and using blood meal. Help!

A. Good news! I have the answer! It is called 270 - and - freezer - - shoot the little dears (deer) with a 270 rifle and put them in the freezer. When deer season opens get some of those plant fed deer to compliment your meal of fresh vegetables. If you are the non-violent type you may want to try a "new" deer repellent. In recent years, the use of Lifebuoy soap has been suggested as a repellent for deer. Last fall a trial was set up in Virginia where the soap was compared to barbed wire wrapped around the main stem of young apple trees. The soap was suspended from the main fork of the tree. After three weeks, none of the trees with the soap had been browsed, 30 percent of those with barbed wire were fed on, and 43 percent of the controls (no wire or soap) had been damaged. From these data, it appears that Lifebuoy soap (and possibly other brands - the more fragrant the better) makes a rather effective deer repellent in some cases and certainly rates a trial if this is a problem for you. If for some reason the soap doesn't work as a deer repellent, you can retrieve it for use as a body cleanser - - don't you wish everyone would?

2. Q. I thought deer would leave my shrubs and flowers alone during periods of adequate rainfall. Not so! These four-legged Bambi-devils are eating everything in my yard IN SPITE of the record rainfall and lush green growth of everything. What don't deer eat and what is the best repellant?

A. The Texas Cooperative Extension has a list of "least preference" landscape plants which I refuse to print anymore for fear of severe repercussions. The last time I printed the list some folks with severely ravenous deer indicated that the deer ate over one-half of the plants listed. The only plants I get a deer-won't-eat consensus are oleander, lantana and any salvia.

Here is something for you deer-desperation folks to try. Milorganite organic turf fertilizer--made from Milwaukee's waste- water treatment process (a.k.a. brewery waste)--has a distinct smell that seems to deter deer, according to researchers at Cornell University's Cooperative Extension Service of Dutchess County, New York.

Last April, researchers selected two sites in Dutchess County, both near wooded areas where the deep population is believed to exceed 40 deer per square mile. They applied the fertilizer on yews, hostas and tulips--a palette deer favor, according to local landscapers--using the label-recommended rate of 5 pounds per 100 square feet. They applied the product one to two times per month and after each snowfall in winter. Thus far, deer have generally kept their distance.

The fertilizer works on the premise of odor, and the odor will be more distinct during the growing season--in high humidity and warmer temperatures. (Fortunately, people can't smell the fertilizer once it's applied.) I have mentioned hanging Lifebouy soap in trees, making hair balls from barber shop clippings and decorating with clumps of tiger manure from the zoo. It takes a creative mind to outwit the Bambi multitudes. Maybe this Yankee manure named Milorganite will give you some relief.


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