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keeping deer out of your stuff

 
paul wheaton
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I get asked about this about twice a month.  And I keep reflecting on an excellent post written by toby hemenway .... which I've dug up and am sharing here:

----------------------------

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.


Toby
 
Jami McBride
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Ha!  I feel your pain.... I use fencing as the deer will not be reasoned with where I live either.

I am not sure I have any help for you.... but I'll tell you my experience and you can decide.  I live in the city limits and I use 'frustration' and 'fear' to repel the deer, raccoons, opossums and cats from my yard and garden.  All I have to do is make my stuff not worth the effort and danger and they will turn to easier fodder instead.

Repelling Deer:  I live on the edge of an uninhabited mountain and the deer consider my neighborhood their grocery outlet.  I have a 4' chain link fence, my neighbor on the left also has a 10' hedge - neither of these stopped the deer.  Also I noticed that animals have routine and patterns - they only jumped my fence on two sides.  So after much pondering I bought a pk of 50 surveyors stakes 1"x3' from the factory that makes them for $10 (they were $30 at Lowels).  I inserted a stake every 2.5-3' or so upside down into my chain link fence and poof the deer turned aside.  I only did the side the deer jumped over, but a year later I did the rest of my fence. 

Now the stakes would have fallen out if a deer had bumped into them, but the deer didn't even test my new fence.  Fear of Impalement is a huge motivator with jumping animals such as deer.  Maybe more so than 'fear of entanglement' which also works with deer to a degree (and chickens).  I only use 2' high deer netting to fence in my chickens. Of course I have the yard fencing as back up to this, and without predators because of my yard fencing I don't have to do more where the chickens are concerned.

I use 'Fear of' as the deterrent.  As you can see this is a balance between elements.  I'm sure I would have to modify my fences if I were the only grocery outlet    around.  I strive to reach my desired result with as little materials and effort as possible.  I find with the right set up you need much less to achieve the desired results.  So it's worth experimenting a bit to find the point that an animal won't chance it.  They know if they get wounded they do not have a hospital to go to.

If you have fencing already in place then putting pickets in your fencing is something to consider.... and your fencing doesn't have to be all that high with a little fear mixed in.  Or maybe netting along your hedging and pickets in the top. 

And... I don't know if I'd do this, but another friend in the country used to throw yard waste, fallen apples and such over their deer fence for the deer.  They said as long as they 'appeased the gods' the deer didn't jump their fence.  Their deer fence was 12' high. 

Of course there is also 'Fear of Dog' LOL - and I've always wanted to try a motion sensing high powered sprinkler - he he he, but I know I'd be the one getting blasted some how.  It would play out like an old I Love Lucy show I'm sure.

~Jami
 
Leah Sattler
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I sure feel for you guys with the deer problems. just yesterday I was visiting with a friend that used to live in Virginia. She was elaborating on the problems with deer eating all the flowers and ornamentals and gardens there. I don't think there is any shame in fencing to prevent damage to your food crops and tobys well articulated post is quite accurate. I like that he acknowledges that deer (and other wild animals) aren't concerned about us and we have to operate accordingly to protect ourselves and our stuff!

there are deer here but not near as thick as in some places. It is still something to talk about if we see one, not like they are wandering in plain sight or coming near the houses. they are also smaller here I am told and most hunting pics I see confirm that. we very rarely see a "big" deer here. I expect it is somewhat due to the warmer climate and I am sure less habitat. 

 
Brenda Groth
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we have white tail deer that live on our property year round..and in winter they sleep in our yard, day and night.

we occasionally have some "damage" but generally  there is so much food for them here..they just eat and don't damage things that they shouldn't mess with.

i don't exactly know why.

our neighbors had damage to their plants..but we didn't..they just come in and eat and leave.

I kinda wonder if is is cause i supply so many tasty things for the deer that they really don't feel the need to eat the other things..


i have hostas that grow under my apple tree, they eat the apples, but not the hostas.

i on purpose plant miniature hollyhocks for the deer when i saw that they really love them..i give them so many miniature hollyhocks that they seldom eat them enough to do real damage to them..which i wouldn't mind as they are very prolific self seeders.

they do occasionally overprune my chameocyparis ..and did kill some yews a long time ago..but i just don't plant yews anymore.

i have lots of fruit trees, and they don't eat them..the rabbits are more of a problem with the trees then t he deer are, as the rabbits will girdle the bark..so i have to wrap the trunks.

we do put up bird feeders with sunflower seed, and they'll come and eat out of and under them..but we are just careful not to leave seed out overnight (for them or the bear)..so they come all day long to the feeders and we talk to them and take their picures.
 
paul wheaton
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Jami,

Your post makes me think that a possibly even better approach is to set up some sort of snare near the house.  So you have lots and lots of good fence, and then you have the easy spot complete with a snare.  The deer jumps and is caught. 

Venison.

 
                    
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I have deer, elk, raccoons skunks, civitcats, weasles, owls....

its not just the garden goodies, ive lost cats to  owls right in front of my eyes, and had a dog dumb enough to tangle with a bobcat.
chickens feed racoons and skunks, rabbits feed weasles, its all nature in her glory.


fences. love 'em. dont mind the .22 either. but I also propagate chenopdium, nasturtium, plantain and dandelions in concentrations away from my chicken wired fenced annual beds. I do the same with ungulate browse.

all beds are surrounded with fences buried 12"+ deep. and 4'+ tall. I use them for legumes, curcubids and solanacea during the growing season. rabbits get low hanging stuff on the outside. its a trade off. cant eat the rabbits in the summer due to tularemia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tularemia) and other disease that im not familiar enough with the pathology of to risk eating the poor things...

the sapling fruit trees get doses of male urine, and occissional pepper plaster at the crown to prevent rodent gnaw if it looks like its becomeing attractive. i mix clay and powedered pepper seeds and brush it on. last until heavey rains, then do it again. if its raining, its not freezing and rodents typically  will  stick to greener, less exposed and spicy food options.

of course im in the wet west of the PNW, not the kootenai wilderness, so different strategies will apply...

around these four beds I have fencing 8' tall, but its mostly for show; the  narrow 4-6' gap between the outer and inner fences, combined with the leap height, makes the 'impale fear factor" high, and i don't have deer in there unless I leave a gate open.

until the elk came through. they tore up my weak double fence.

so i've buffered the bottom 4 feet of the outside fence with 8g pig wire with posts every 12 feet. now as long as I dont leave a gate open, elk bounce off the fence. theyve leaned in hard and stripped a few branches back, but no major fouls.

as for keeping raccoons out of our chook roosts and weasles out of domestic rabbit cages and pens... Ill start a new thread...

finally, the 4-6 wide runs will make great duck and chook runs, and there they will mow and eat bugs and do all the lovely thingsfowl critters do. cant wait to finish the new barn wing and kick this system into its next phase! and geese, btw, are great watchdogs as well!
 
Fred Morgan
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Even though there are lots and lots of deer around my father's place, he has no problems with them, nor any critter to speak of. He uses an electric fence. The trick is to put something shiny on it that will encourage investigation - aluminum foil works well. All it takes is an animal investigating an electric fence once with its nose to never want to get near it again.  If they are really sneaky, put peanut butter on the aluminum foil.  Can you imagine licking an electric fence. 

Deer are so rare in Costa Rica to be in danger of extinction - though we have some herds in on plantation - so tame as to be nearly pets. Deer are much smaller here too. Coyotes and wild dogs want to eat my sheep though. A shepherd with a BB gun and a good dog cures that. We don't really have a problem with animals in our garden though.

And electric fence is cheap and easy to setup - I don't know of anything that works better personally. Cows when hungry enough, will walk through a barbed wire fence, not an electric one. Oh, and get one rated for large cows. You won't thank me though if you ever touch it.  The way to test an electric fence is to pluck a piece of green grass and use that. You can feel the tingle when you touch the far end of it to the fence.

It might be a problem though in an urban environment, I think there are rules against them.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I read part of this article in the drugstore yesterday:

http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14849852

They know how to catch your attention!  It starts with:

76-year-old Dorothy Richardson of Euclid, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, discovered a fawn nestled in her garden. She picked up a shovel and beat it to death.


I guess if they are few enough and small enough, a shovel works OK? 
 
paul wheaton
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Deston,

How long has the buried part been buried?  Is it galvanized steel?  The reason I ask is that it is my understanding that this approach doesn't last long.

Elk tearing up fence:  I hear that moose are even worse.

geese:  Watch for ....  deer?

 
paul wheaton
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
I read part of this article in the drugstore yesterday:

http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14849852

They know how to catch your attention!  It starts with:

I guess if they are few enough and small enough, a shovel works OK? 


Wow!  And they fined her $500 plus 80 hours of community service! 

It sounds like a very challenging problem. 

I would think that it would be wise to have some sort of live trapping system followed by some means of quick, clean kill and to sell the meat to the local butcher shops.  It seems it would cost the towns nothing, and the people doing it would make some money.  I suspect that people would love to buy the meat to encourage getting rid of the pests.



 
                    
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killed it with a shovel?!?

I guess , lacking skillful means, I can understand that. Ive butchered enough animals that i can imagine far more human ways to slaughter locker meat... I hoe she does her *) hours at the food bank where she will probably qualify for the venison that they will hand out


geese make a racket when ANYTHING crosses into thier territory. Day or night. deer hate racket. Doesnt mean the geese'll chase it out, but they are tenacious with most equal and many larger 'intruders'. a beat down from a gander isnt fun if you don't speak a little fowl language yourself.

not recomended for children under 4.5 feet tall...

underground metal is doing fine but Im only entering season 3. so far no rabbits. mice still, drat, tis true, but no rabbits! and moles far less of a problem. I figure it will rot out in a few more years,

each 'pen' is  10'x20', with 2 4' wide beds along each length, a path down the middle. ive got 4 of these, for a total of about 600 sf of garden enclosed in the garden surrounded by full 8' fence around about 4000 sf; much of the stuff outside the cages are established perrenials, I do highly attractive annuals in the cages where I can place a veritable multi species obstacle course in their way. Ive been using perlite AROUND the cages as it seems slugs dont care for it so much (not as good as a copper stem wall, but cheaper and less reactive)...also, ive taken to using alot of pea gravel and sand around the cages where perrenials are established. the course soil drains a bit faster and is not as easy for the slugs to navigate.

as for deer, im thinking of opening a garden just for them. They can have all 500# of produce in exchange for one dumb buck. ill improve the gene pool, increase biodiversity and get a product all at the same time. 

one problem with urban deer: they are ussually half malnourished, small, and diseased. its the reult of rapid changes- while population is UP in urban areas, and the total count is at an all time high, rural deer populations have actually declined in recent years. urban deer, in adjustingto anew environemnt and much more diverse food source, are also faced with diseases vector increases due to population density and environemntal factors that dont exist in rural areas.

so, maybe catch them and take them to a petting zoo to fatten them up BEFORE taking them to slaughter.

IM only half rankling here; frankly, PETA can kiss this gun toting liberals tookus on this issue. im all for spaying an neutering and treating animals and pets compassionately, but im also holding office in a soil food web, and my door reads: LOCOMNIVORE.

 
Leah Sattler
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darn I guess I found it too late and I can't read the article. a shovel

I disagree that trapping them and selling them would cost towns nothing. you can't get government involved with anything and it cost nothing. there would of course be regulations and rules and trapping a deer without harming them and the cost of transport etc.. it seems like a pretty daunting and expensive task. not everyone enjoys venison either and even though I do I wouldn't buy more and encourage such inneffecient methods of control. I would rather pay for feeding stations with birth control or flat out pay bounties on them.
 
paul wheaton
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Shovel:  well a gun is probably not allowed in the city limits, so there isn't much left.

 
Leah Sattler
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gwen copied and pasted the article for me so I could read it. thanks gwen! my puter just refused that website

if they make things difficult for people to take care of problems themselves then
i think you must expect them to find a way to deal with it. the choice between a fine for shooting a gun where you aren't supposed to and a fine for killing a deer with a shovel is and interesting choice to have to make . I am sure qualified hunters would be a great help. people who knew how to use a gun safely. tree stands allow you to essentially aim into the ground. a great backstop just a few meters from you.  I wouldn't want any yayhoo firing a gun in urban areas but I think exceptions could be made. maybe requiring special training and licensing. unfortunatly laws are written and applied broadly and this is likely one of the unintended consequences of gun laws (and peta types)

 
Gwen Lynn
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Hey no prob, Leah! Always glad to help out! 
 
paul wheaton
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I suppose this would be a good time to add a few bits:

1)  dogs.  Nothing keeps deer away like dogs that like to chase deer.  Of course, the dogs have to be outside 24x7 - none of this stuff where you bring the dogs inside.

2)  Sepp 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. 

3)  REAL hedgerows.

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I don't remember seeing this thread before -- I had to chase deer out of my goat hay AGAIN this morning.  There were two actually in eating it, and two more just across the fence who had been eating it.  These are big, healthy mule deer.  They run in herds -- I've seen as many as twenty together, and we've had as many as eight at a time in our yard.  They aren't shy; they come right up to the house and I can get within a few feet of them.  Then they run off a few feet, then stop and look back at me like 'id you really mean that?"  LOL!  This morning they ran off a few feet, and I threw a chunk of 2X4 at the closest one and hit him on the ankle (I don't have a very good throwing arm, so was surprised I actually hit him -- it was a nice young buck) and he ran a few more feet and stopped again and looked back at me.  Guess I didn't hurt him very much.  Blasted long-legged rodents, anyway.  They destroyed half a bale of hay, and I can't afford to buy hay to feed the deer. 

I wouldn't beat a fawn to death with a shovel even though I do my own butchering.  I'd have a hard time killing a baby of any species (it's hard enough to kill the adults when it's their time).  But I can certainly understand why she did it.  We can't shoot at the deer here as the houses are too close together (acre lots), but if we had a place where it was safe to shoot them, I most certainly would.

I like the idea above about fencing small individual pens for little gardens -- the deer don't like to jump into small enclosed spaces.  That may be something to try in the spring.

Kathleen
 
                    
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motion activated sprinklers....youll need enough water pressure that it doesnt feel like rain, but a firehose. set timer to run for 3-5 minutes.

Ive heard it work in other applications, havent tried it myself....I should...
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Sprinklers won't work when it's freezing outside, as it has been here (down to five below a couple of mornings last week).

I forgot to mention in my post just above that my hay is surrounded by all of my chicken tractors (I turned the hens loose to free-range a couple of months ago to save time in the mornings), and the deer have been pushing these big wire cages aside to gain access to my expensive top-quality alfalfa!  Twelve dollars a bale.

Kathleen
 
Leah Sattler
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any bow hunters in your area? I would find it infuriating for deer to be demolishing my hay for my goats. thats just too many deer if they are that bold and hungry.
 
Brenda Groth
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guess I don't have that problem



 
                    
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oh yeah, its freezing. duh. ive been laid up with a back injury, so havent been to aware of 'outside' between meds and bedrest...

my fence scheme (above) works pretty well. even the elk go around it. but the orchard i wont  double fence antyime soon due to cost...

im not a fan of dogs, but im starting to agree with paul on the subject...
 
                            
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Well I know this has worked for me. We have a bad deer problem here! Even throw we can kill a deer aday! But in the area Im in is top of a Mt and It hunted good!

I found this to work all year round!

Fine some Old Red or Orange Cloths and Put Gun Oil on them. with Human Hair. Hang then near your plants! I change them out about 1 once a year. They advoid the area now! I had to set up 3 of them to keep them away. But works good.

 
Leah Sattler
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scent detterents are a really cool idea. dh set out a wick with deer pee on it. I was a bit skeptical but he said a doe walked right up to it to check it out. If a smell can attract them I'm sure a scent could deter them. at least around here. I gotta wonder though if those deer are already accustomed to stealing food from domestic animals and wandering around peoples houses if they have already become de- scent- sitized to normal scary smells.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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One very gentle method would be to stick to crops they don't browse on.

I just learned they don't like sesame foliage.
 
Leah Sattler
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along the lines of scent.....I recently read that menstrual blood is a deer deterrent. I guess it might have some potential. not sure its worth the hassle though.....
 
gary gregory
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I tried Milorganite several years ago but its a hassle and has to be re-applied so often I was over fertilizing.
 
Chelle Lewis
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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.

Tony


Seems to be important to have dogs no matter which animals you are trying to discourage from raiding.

carryion wrote:
Well I know this has worked for me. We have a bad deer problem here! Even throw we can kill a deer aday! But in the area Im in is top of a Mt and It hunted good!

I found this to work all year round!

Fine some Old Red or Orange Cloths and Put Gun Oil on them. with Human Hair. Hang then near your plants! I change them out about 1 once a year. They advoid the area now! I had to set up 3 of them to keep them away. But works good.
This is unusual.... how does it work? How many of these do you need to be effective? Does the red or orange have any special significance.... would - say - a white cloth...  not work?

Chelle
 
Jordan Lowery
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bright orange is what hunters are supposed to wear so they dont get shot themselves. im assuming along with the gun oil and the human scent. its enough for them to say "danger area!"
 
Chelle Lewis
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I wonder if the deer see colour. Not all animals see our colour range.

Chelle
 
Leah Sattler
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about color vision in deer....

http://www.atsko.com/articles/hunting/color-vision-in-deer.html

sounds like they are like "color blind" humans (if I am remembering correctly). gives some people a distinct advantage when detecting camo people and equipment.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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There are many varieties of human colorblindness.

Some women have one X chromosome with a gene for red/green colorblindness, and one with normal, 3-color vision genes. Female mammals express X chromosomes in a patchy way: cat fur pigment is carried on the X chromosome, so this patchiness is easy to see in calico or tortoiseshell cats.

If different patches of one retina (or different retina entirely) express different chromosomes, these women can end up with 4-color vision, in contrast to normal 3-color vision: I see red, green, and blue, but they also (with parts of their vision) see yellow light directly, where I would only see a mix of red and green.

The illusions behind color printing and TV are not nearly as convincing for women with tetrachromatic vision, and there are other things about color they can see unusually well. Oddly, the low-level neurology of color vision is still set up for 3 colors: the confusion is apparently sorted out at a fairly high level of brain function.
 
                                  
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new here, just found this forum, love it already. hubby and I are both bowhunter/gun hunters. The one thing I have found that will send deer running is the sound of metal on metal. That happens when your arrow hits some part of the tree stand, or your clicking the safety off of your gun. Trust me doesn't have to be loud at all! Just the slightest "ping" and they know someone has them in their sights. I was working in my blackberry patch this past summer and had a young buck walk right towards me! Must of looked like a crazy lady chasing it down the road. Few months later, sitting in my treestand, had another deer almost within bow range, and in moving my bow the arrow hit the stand, that little "ping" sent it running to the next county. My daughter had the same experience when she clicked the safety off of her gun. Made me think of something though. Used to have the neighbors cats use my gardens/planters as their personal litter box. Got the idea to set mouse traps in the garden. Would find the traps set off........cats stopped coming in the gardens. Thinking of using the same idea where the deer are coming into my fields. Rat traps are bigger......they might work.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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babayaga wrote:The one thing I have found that will send deer running is the sound of metal on metal.


Interesting. I wonder if some very quiet, very intermittent windchimes would work.

On the other side of the coin, I hear Kalashnikov owners often wrap string around the safety lever to quiet its operation. I wonder if some similarly unobtrusive padding might make hunting more successful.
 
paul wheaton
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I would guess that it is a sound that is different from the other ambient sounds.  So windchimes would probably do very little. 

Maybe it has to be a sound that is pushed out once every ten minutes or so.

 
Jami McBride
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In my opinion the problem with these systems are that animals are good at survival, and learn.  They figure out in time when something is real or staged.  So to my way of thinking one would need to 'program' the sound to play at unpredictable times and cycles.  Then it may of of concern and cause alarm in the deer.

How about a system to play a random mix of sounds from different CD's at different time intervals - I know..... to complicated.
 
                          
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How about a good airsoft apparatus LOL....Its working for me for now and plus makes for some fun while honing for the real thing when season comes around. They sure are surprised at night when they get hit by that piece of plastic.
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
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I've found that nothing works like a good ol' jolt of electricity.  Use temporary electric fencing (for livestock).  I put insulators on my main fence and the run the temporary tape around at 4 inches, 8 inches, 18 inches, 36 inches and 52 inches.  I power the tape with a battery charger that takes 4 D batteries.  It will run all season and deliver one heck of a jolt if you touch it. 

It has worked so well on deer, rabbits, coons, and my wrascally Danes that I don't even have to keep it powered after the first month in operation.  That first jolt leaves them respectful of that space no matter how yummy it is inside. 

 
Fred Morgan
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In one of the other plantations, we had a bit of a problem with coyotes, they even dug under the electric fence. Bacon tied on to the electric fence cured the problem.  Can you imagine what it must feel like to take a bite on an electric fence.   

I have yet to see anything I can't cure with a well installed electric fence, if you encourage the animals to touch it.

 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
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True, Fred, True! 

There was a time I had trouble with my neighbor's Aussie Shepard coming through the fence and harrassing our livestock.  It wasn't getting shocked by the fence because it's coat provided insulation.  So, we tied an aluminum pie pan smeared with peanut butter to our electric fence.  Problem Solved!
 
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