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Part-time Dog

 
Julie Helms
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
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Just wondering if you folks think this idea would work:

My dh has given the go ahead to convert a back one acre of our 6 acre pasture to a wooded area that I would like to build along food forest ideas. As I got all excited about planning this it suddenly dawned on me that it's never going to work because we are overrun with deer. They will probably eat whatever we plant as fast as we plant it. We see deer in our pasture almost daily. After researching what keeps deer away it looks like there are a lot of ideas that deter them somewhat but nothing is foolproof short of a really tall fence (which isn't going to happen at our place). And since the deer population in my area of PA is incredibly high, they are in constant search for food.

There is only one place we have never seen a deer on our property and that is in the backyard. We have seen them within 20 feet of the front door, but never out back. Out back is fenced in with a short vinyl picket fence and it is where our dog, a collie, romps and potties.

I thought what if I take the collie to that back acre for a few hours every dusk and let him run around in there amongst the beginning food forest. He is a house dog, so I wouldn't leave him there longer than that. But would his once a day presence and smell be enough to deter the deer for the rest of the night and early morning when they like to feed? I saw on a video of Joel Salatin that he talked about using a single guard dog on his farm. They rotate him around and he leaves behind him a "halo effect" that apparently keeps the predators away even when the dog is not there. The difference is mine is not a guard dog and predators aren't the issue here. I just need to convince deer to detour around my property!

Any thoughts on this?
 
Greg Hickey
Posts: 21
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A dog will be a deterrent. However just the smell of a dog without physical presence when they are moving, they will quickly wise up. If the deer population is heavy as you say. They will test the area at night to find out how much danger is in the area if they are hungry enough or the food is tempting enough. Last year I lived on a 22 acre fallow farm with several other houses on it. My neighbor had three dogs (two of the hounds) 50 yards from my window. They would keep me up most nights baying at the deer whom would come up to my back door to feed in the flower gardens. Bottom line, the deer were too tempted by the 'treats'; and learned the dogs, even their physical presence and threat, were not a surmountable issue. They adapted. Your's will too eventually. Keep changing the game to keep them off balance.

One great idea I have come across for deer and gardens are double fences. Deer can jump high (and that is an understatement.) But they don't like to jump far. They also are very risk averse because they know what an injury can do to their life expectancy in a predatory environment. A four or five feet fence around the garden with a four foot fence out a few feet, will keep them from getting the start they need to clear the inner fence. The outer fence need only be a highly visible strand of wire, two would be better. But it only needs to be a visual barrier to give them pause that running up to it and jumping early to clear it will get them caught in the second fence. Yarn, high vis tape, ballons, or reflective objects will do more than a 'tight' fence. Also visible 'interference' along the second fence top will also give them anxiety if they can clear the top.

What finally worked well for me in my experience above, was taking walks at night. By randomly 'patrolling' my yard at night (particularly before I went to bed) I kept the deer guessing. They were a lot less comfortable that humans had surrendered the territory at dusk. I even surprised a few by sitting at the base of a tree, very still, to watch stars on a moonless night. I gave them something to think about when suddenly a 'predator' spoke to them from the shadows while unaware. Take your dog for a walk at night out to the garden. Let him/her do their business before turning in. Change the times or nights, but don't surrender the area at night fall. You might even leave a dog blanket out on the fence for a day or two before you wash it. Just retain the element of surprise and you will have better luck with the deer.

You will never 'win' the battle with deer. Food plots are just too tempting. But you can give them strong encouragement to forage elsewhere. Good luck.
 
Julie Helms
Posts: 110
Location: SC Pennsylvania, Zone 6b
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Greg,
Thanks for all those great ideas. The area is already fenced in so it wouldn't be difficult to add a second inside "fence" (can't do it outside because it's already at the property line), especially if it's just a visual fence and not a full-priced fence.

Thanks!
 
                                  
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Someone on this forum (I forget who!) suggested using fishing line as fencing. A few separate lines at different heights after each other, apparently whoever it was had good results since the deer don't like not knowing what is touching them and apparently won't risk jumping it. Also (and this might be fanning the fire, not sure), what about planting nearby edible species that they might like or at least consider browsing on rather than risking the fence. Just a thought
 
Phil Williamson
Posts: 9
Location: NW Montana
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Julie check out this thread on Bone sauce and other deer repellents. http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/80/1805#87269
 
Jay Green
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My family have been keeping the huge deer population out of the garden for over 35 years with a single strand of electric fencing at 30 in. off the ground. No need for bad odors, shiny objects or marking the line....a single strand is enough.
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I'd just like to point out that Paul has mentioned, in podcast, at least, with reference to deer control, that one person's experiences in what is generally considered heavy deer population country might not have any bearing on another's. If there is bounty in the garden protected by a fence that they can circumvent, with howevermuch difficulty, and starvation without, they will even risk predation to avoid the certain death of starvation. If, however, the choice is a fenced-in bounty that can be accessed with great difficulty and the possibility of injury and, thus, death, or a change of venue and browsing among the raspberry/blackberry hedge on the outside of the fence that might mean a few thorns in the face but no death, I think they will take the compromise. I think, also, that if the food forest is planned such that the canopies of the fruit and nut trees, when fruit and seed-bearing, cast windfall over the fence and past the hypothetical fruiting barrier hedge, that planned sacrifice will encourage the deer to stay on their side. Or it will train them to feed there so you can bag a nice one in season .

-CK
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
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I haven't seen a deer in my back yard since we got our 20 pound terrier. Deer do NOT like dogs! And, the dog is a house dog but he goes out to relieve himself.

I assume that your food forest is fenced? I would hate to see your pet get hit by a car or shot by a farmer!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8977
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Here the deer come into the yard at night when our dog is in the house, or into one part of the yard when she's in another. Sometimes the deer seem to enjoy playing tag with her....
 
Jay Green
Posts: 587
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My outside dog is lonely, so he seems to welcome the presence of the deer. He will turn his head when they come, but he doesn't see them as a threat and will just lie there and watch them feed. When we walk in the woods and jump a deer he doesn't even acknowledge anything has happened, no more than he would if he saw a songbird. The deer seem to like him too and will walk close to where he lies to feed....sort of a keeping your enemies closer kind of thing.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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My alarm used to be set for 5am. Deer would jump the wire fence with hot wire strand EVERY MORNING at 4:45am. Start the horses running and the dogs barking. The deer were taking a short cut across my pasture. Lost my last 15 minutes of sleep and they often nicked the hot wire just enough that I would have to fix it. This was a seasonal problem and I never did get it 'fixed'.

My point? They weren't too worried about the fence, the hot wire, or the dogs. I guess I could have gone out there and shot them but in those days I was usually too tired to bother with such things.
 
danelle grower
Posts: 83
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The only thing I can say is try the fastest easiest cheapest first then try try again. There are just so many stories out there and who knows what will work for you. The others posts have great ideas. For us the so far fool proof method is blocking line of sight. Our deer will not jump to where they can not see where they will land. So a nice hedge row or tying up some old sheets or tarp any thing to block their view. That has worked for us. We used the sheets / tarps until the hedges/plant material were tall enough.

If you just need to protect trees putting up a cheap fencing around the individual trees might work for you. There would not be enough room for the deer to jump in to eat the trees nor would they be able to reach over. Cheap fencing or pallets put around each tree?

Good luck if all else fails learn how to cook venison.
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Hi all,

I'm with Danelle on this one. If the measures you've taken don't work, you obviously need to try something else. That being the case, why not start at the cheapest, easiest end of the scale and work your way up. I would suggest the living sight-line barrier, like a hedgerow or something as a long-term approach to what is obviously a long-term problem. If the hedge is composed of one or more fruiting trees and/or shrubs, then the outside of the barrier might provide them with incentive to stay on their side, so you only need to turn the ones that do make it through into venison. As far as cheap goes, if you need to deter them and anything else from specific trees or areas, try sepp's bone sauce recipe. I'm going to try it in my urban garden around the elm and cherry trees the squirrels use as highways, and atop the fence rails that they use, and maybe around the hugelbed I haven't put in yet. My goal to test the pest deterrent qualities of the bone sauce is to pour it on around the top and on the sides of the hugelbed and try to grow corn on top. The most success I've had with corn has been tiny little cobs almost the length of my hand that, one by one, get eaten right off the plant. As soon as there's no corn left, they chop the stalks. They don't even eat them. It's spite, I tell you.

Oh, and as to the title of this thread, there is no such thing as a part-time dog. There are only part-time dog owners (boo!).

-CK
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Oh, and my experience with deer stems from a couple of seasons when my brother and his girlfriend lived and worked at a cottage resort in the Haliburton area where she was taking a glass-blowing course at Sir Sanford Fleming. Its like the deer knew that the inhabitants were deer fans, without gardens or trees to protect, or guns, for that matter, and they just lazed out on people's front lawns by the dozens. They were a daytime traffic hazard. I wonder if there's a setup that could encourage the most brazen invaders to some stupid, fatal action that would preserve its carcass and alert you to the presence of fresh meat in on your property without pissing off the people that issue hunting licenses? It would be worth lots to be able to turn a garden pest into food .

-CK
 
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