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.
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"...
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.
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.
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.
I seem to be missing a picture above, the apple tree getting too wide.
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.