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Keeping deer away from orchard  RSS feed

 
Posts: 77
Location: Appalachian Mountains
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James Whitelaw wrote:W/ 6 acres being transitioned to veg & fruit, fencing is an important topic we are still struggling with, so appreciate ideas being posited. We haven’t made any decisions yet. In addition to deer there are birds, bugs and small varmints to contend with as well.

One possible idea we’ve been mulling is guardian robots 🤖 ...waiting for laughter to subside...seriously, we are already seeing autonomous sentry robots patrolling malls and such, why couldn’t small robots be deployed to patrol and chase off deer, birds or whatever. We watched a public tv piece on growing blueberries and they had recordings of small birds in extreme distress that apparently does a good job of discouraging blueberry hungry birds.  I’ve thought those hand wavy plastic balloon things they deploy along roadsides might be adaptable to deter birds. We have Northern Goshawks and owls who are a good help with keeping chipmunks and such in check.

A small device, either mobile or stationary, could upon detection of an approaching deer would display a pair of red flashing devil eyes and a blood curdling growl (pity any lost inebriated hiker who happens upon the protected field late at night).  For persistent deer who suspect the robo-wolf isn’t all its seems, perhaps a paintball shot at the deer could seal the deal. Obviously stationary guardian devices would require a larger number, but would be cheaper and easier to make.



I think I remember reading about a robo-wolf they are using in Japan, with the flashing, red devil eyes and blood curdling howl plus growling.  Expensive, but I think they are already doing it.  Sounds like a good idea, but they might get habituated to it and then ignore it. 
 
gardener
Posts: 2153
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I'm imagining a heat seeking drone that has a defined territory.  When it senses something big enough to worry about (rabbit, deer, etc) it takes off and chases it out of the territory and returns to its charger.  Red lights at night would be awesome...  Camera during the day to see which neighbor is stealing your parsnips..
 
Posts: 13
Location: Near Libby, MT
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The robot idea is interesting. I will take it to Zero Uno Zero, the robot guys here in Libby MT. They construct robots out of junk and are very creative. Meantime we are using, with limited success, the solar powered preditor eyes that flash red next to my bittersweet. Solar powered owls intended to scare pack rats away from my tomatoes are sort of helpful. I sometimes find large branches of tomato plants in and next to pack rat nests in the wood pile. My only real answer, so far, is severe fencing.
 
Posts: 57
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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We should ensure these robots are designed specifically for the animals requiring deterrence - this means things like red flashing eyes may be useless (most animals do not see red or, most colors as they are colorblind).

Further R and D may be required before further prototype development continues...although I personally vote for an R2D2 type design, on tracks as opposed to wheels, armed with water spraying and high powered fans, or compressed air "cannons" that create allow for targeted shots of water or "bullets" of compressed air....

HANG ON! How about a version of the greyhound racing "rabbit"? With the adaption of a motion sensor the thing would literally race circles around the protected area on a wire when triggered...add in one of those ultrasonic deer whistles so it screams like a banshee in "deer"...
 
Posts: 40
Location: Southeast PA, zone 6b
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Yesterday around 10am I looked out the window and saw 10+ deer in the woods - as usual, all of them on the other side (correct side) of the fishing line which is strung on the trees at heights of 18", 36" and 54". As I walked toward them they took off into the woods. As I poked around the yard a little later I heard a deer closer to me and and it ran back and forth for a bit before taking off. On its way out it busted the line at 36". Most likely this deer got inside the fishing line at one of the low spots. When I got closer, it ran up and down the hill along the "fence line" for a few moments before panicking and plowing through it.

I'm next to a state park and have heavy deer pressure every day. I've had the line up for about 2-3 months and this will be the third place where I need to fix a section. Two of the three sections were from me spooking a deer through it. I like the way it is performing. It's cheap and replacing broken sections is very easy. I planned to run baling wire if the mono filament didn't work, but I'm sticking with this for now.

If you want to completely stop deer, I think you you need a very tall and probably expensive and probably ugly fence. The mono filament seems to do a good job of "deflecting" or redirecting them - assuming the deer have ways to get around the area and other things to eat. They will occasionally get in though and that's why I have 16" diameter cages around most of my seedlings. I took this picture yesterday - it's on my lowest terrace and you can kind of see the 30# mono filament on the downhill side.


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Tree protection on bottom terrace.
 
Lorinne Anderson
Posts: 57
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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"Flagging" the line (flagging tape, mylar strips, Cd's, rags etc.) might help, makes it more visible, so there is less accidental breakage. Baling wire (metal wire) may be less prone to breakage, but may cut/injure deer harming them and attracting predators.
 
Mike Arr
Posts: 40
Location: Southeast PA, zone 6b
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You can actually see the line on this picture. Some say that the deer not being able to see fishing line is what makes it effective because otherwise they just jump over it. It's too early for me to make a judgement on that but I'd like to see how this plays out. I'm walking around the perimeter every day to observe what is growing anyway, so I don't mind fixing a section of line every couple of weeks if necessary.

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30# mono filament fishing line as deer deflector
 
Lorinne Anderson
Posts: 57
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Might be interesting trial if you had one section that was repeatedly being breached...see what was more effective.

BUT based on picture, it seems you are not on "flat" ground. I have found on the "upslope" you need to go higher with the line as the slope essentially shortens the height.

I recommend 4 strands minimum, spaced at 24 inches, but 8 strands is ideal, spaced every 12 inches, as it covers the fawns and young in their first year as they grow. That said we are on an island and our deer are pretty small compared to mainland deer.
 
Posts: 231
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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In terms of lights at night, there do exist boxes where some kind of timer (or proximity detector) controls when a bright LED gets lit.  Some people describing these things make up interesting stories, but I don't think their stories are correct.  I think what happens is that flash from the light removes the dark adaptation from the deer for a short period of time, leaving it effectively blind for a few seconds.  They cannot afford to not be able to see in the dark.

Many things to scare deer away, are gimmicks in a sense.  And after some period of time, they grow used to the gimmick and they no longer work

The Smithsonian has a series of articles out there, talking about the effect deer have on biodiversity of forest.  They are decreasing biodiversity, and the trees that are beginning to dominate now in forests is dictated by the deer.  That should be a reason for government to decrease how many deer they have on the land.

I think it is Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH are the initials).  They have a report presented before starting a research program on non-fence ways to start new trees.  A fairly long report, sorry I don't remember the number (513?  maybe?).  Tree debris around new trees was fairly effective.  Another thing was to surround the tree with something.  One of the somethings, was a thorny bush (broom?), I think that their choice was something considered invasive.  Another idea, was to get willow branches and surround the new tree with willow branches pushed into the ground.  At some point, presumably the willows could be removed.

Last year, I put 2x4 rectangular mesh on the ground around young trees, and the attached a 3 foot tall vertical cage that is 2x2 wide onto the mesh.  The vertical cage also had a layer of chicken wire attached to it.  The first picture is a cage with an apple tree that even though it is only 1.5 feet tall, needs a new cage as the old one is getting to be too narrow.

One of the trees I got last year, was about 2.5 feet tall.  It outgrew the 3 foot tall cage before winter, so I put a 4 foot tall cage around it that is 40 inches wide.  That pear tree is now pushing 4 foot tall, and so I am extending the 40 inch cage.  At the moment to 6 feet, but as you can see in the second picture the cage can extend to 8 foot tall.

Before freezeup last fall/winter, I decided to place wood chips around all the cages (I had some hay mulch inside the cages earlier).  Well, to replace cages or pull out un-needed cages, I need to get access to the wire mesh on the ground, as I used zip ties to hold things in place.  A rake only gets me to within a couple of inches, as then the tines engage the mesh on the ground.  Even though the chips have only been down less than a year, they are starting to break down and there are lots of earthworms in the chips.  I am also finding that ants have liked the wood chips as a place to call home.  I tried to get a picture of the angry ants, but they move too fast for the shutter speed.

The idea with the 4 foot extension, is to put in diagonal bracing on the inside to tie the two frameworks together.  The 2x2 boards on the bottom, project above the 1x3 rails by about 1/4 inch.  So the second layer framework has the 1x3 sitting about 1/4 inch lower than the 2x2 corners.

I am hoping that with time, I will not have to go to such extreme measures to protect trees from deer (by deer for myself, I mean mule deer and moose - elk are possible but I haven't see one).  I am looking at 2 solutions.  The first is the double fence, where the added second fence is a jackleg fence made from aspens.  But the real solution goes back to the beginnings of farming on the Great Plains - the osage orange hedge.  Should that hedge get to 12+ feet high, I think there are not going to be deer of any kind coming through the hedge.
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Gordon Haverland
Posts: 231
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Here's that SNH link:  http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/commissioned_reports/558.pdf
 
roberta mccanse
Posts: 13
Location: Near Libby, MT
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We use 50 inch high circle cages, about 50 inch diameter. A very pregnant doe knocked over two cages last week so we anchored all in the dirt with 6 inch Staples. Not easy as we live in rocky  soil. So far so good. Clever doe. This hadn't happened before in the five years we have been planting trees.
 
Gordon Haverland
Posts: 231
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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I happen to have a 90 or 100 pound roll of high tension wire for fencing (no barbs).  I think it is 12.5 gauge.  If you cut an 18 inch length of that, and fold it in half around a b bolt or something (rounded point), you have a 9 inch staple.  If you have a friend who has high tension wire, maybe you can get wire to make staples from him/her?

----

I seem to be missing a picture above, the apple tree getting too wide.
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roberta mccanse
Posts: 13
Location: Near Libby, MT
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Thanks for the idea. We end up poking the staples in by hand, looking for a spot that is relatively rock free and then pounding them in with a rubber mallet.

I realized that I mistakenly said that our cages are 50 inches high. They are actually 5 feet tall. I have to stand on a stool to dump mulch in around the trees. Easier than trying to undo the staples and then pounding them in again.
 
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