The 10 Best Deer Repellents
10. Messina Wildlife Deer Stopper
9. Fillixar Deterrent
8. Enviro Pro Deer Scram
7. Nature’s Mace
6. Deer Out
5. Eliminator Advanced
4. Bobbex B550100
3. Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit
2. I Must Garden Spice Scent
1. Soldier Sentinel
Keeping Deer At Bay: Choosing A Deer Repellent
Once a deer has taken an interest in your property, it can be an immense hassle to get them to vacate the area again. The problem is compounded when the deer arrive in numbers, and is further exacerbated if your property is rich in edible foods, flowering plants, and other flora you value for its looks or that you planned to eat yourself. A deer is easily frightened away by the sudden appearance of a person, but will return time and time again to feed on your flowers, foods, and shrubs -- not to mention the garbage you leave out at night -- if you don't give them a convincing reason to leave and not return. The solution to an unwanted ungulate guest is to use the right deer repellent.
There are two approaches to repelling deer and other pests: use a scent based repellent the animal will find so odious they will not be able to stand the stench and will look for other foraging grounds, or use a surprise based repellent device that frightens the deer away every time they come near, soon teaching the animals that your property is not a safe area.
If you choose to go with the scent repellent approach, choosing the right formula means assessing the habits of the deer you're trying to repel. If the animals only go after a small bed of flowers or edible plants, for example, consider one of the highly concentrated and long lasting formulas and apply it as a barrier to the limited area at issue. These powerful liquid formulas usually last weeks if not months, firmly establishing the treated area as unapproachable to deer (and rabbits and squirrels and other mammals at that). On the other hand, most concentrated liquid repellents are quite pricey.
Pellet style scent repellents are cheaper than liquid repellents and are perfect for spreading liberally around a yard or large planted area where deer are nibbling. You can distribute large amounts of these pellets across your property and repeat the process as needed until the deer no longer return. These pellet repellents require a bit more hands on effort, but are pleasantly affordable.
The other approach to keeping deer at bay is to use a mechanical device that scares them off. Some such devices use ultrasonic sound waves the human ear can't detect but that animals can't stand. The benefit is zero effect on yourself or your property, but know that other animals, like your dog, may be effected. Most such devices also use flashing lights which make them more effective at scaring deer, but which can also be an annoyance to humans. Motion detecting sprinklers are another great tool in your "fight" against deer, as no buck or doe who is suddenly blasted with water will soon forget the fearful experience. These sprinklers can be rather expensive, though, and require a water source and occasional recalibration and maintenance.
How To Make Your Property Less Deer Friendly
The best way to prevent deer from ruining your yard or garden is to prevent them from ever entering it. Erecting a fence too high for a nimble deer to jump means installing a barrier as much as ten feet high, which may be prohibitive for some properties based on ordinances, aesthetics, logistics, or cost. Large hedges can stand in for a fence, but they will take years to reach sufficient height and thickness to reliably prevent deer.
Basic yard and garden maintenance does much to dissuade deer from coming near. Keep the grass trimmed short and pick vegetables and fruits once they ripen. Also keep plants, shrubs, and trees properly trimmed and clear out underbrush, thereby reducing the number of spots in which a deer can hide or even bed down.
If you want to plant flowers or edibles without the protection of a fence, help to create a virtual barrier around the plants by also growing things like garlic, mint, and onions -- these are plants you can harvest and enjoy but that are unpleasant to the deer's nose and which can mask the scent of more alluring options.
American Deer: A Survival Story
While it's impossible to know exact numbers, experts estimate that the total population of deer in the region today known as the United States, just prior to first contact with Europeans in the late 15th Century numbered between 30 million and 40 million animals. As of an estimate assembled in 2014, there are an estimated 32.2 million deer -- including white-tailed deer, blacktail, and mule deer -- in the country today. Those similar figures suggest an uncanny population stability at first glance, but in fact obscure a dramatic story of decline and resurgence.
With the dramatic increase of deer hunting brought on by new settlement and then the subsequent rapid population expansion of the centuries intervening between the 15th and 21st, American deer population in fact plummeted precipitously. By the turn of the 20th Century, there were only some 500,000 deer left in America. The species faced a genuine threat to its continued survival. Fortunately, this threat was recognized by the United States government, which enacted the Lacey Act in 1900. It was the country's first federal wildlife law and it restricted interstate transport and sales of venison and hides (among other things), thereby slowing the unbridled harvest of deer. And it worked.
Soon supported by laws and new conservation departments that cropped up in dozens of states in the early 1900s, deer populations soon rebounded. The human population shift toward living cities that began largely as a result of the Great Depression eradicating countless rural jobs was yet another boon to deer populations. Suddenly the deer had newly uninhabited space in former farmland and pastures in which to roam, graze, and settle.
Above anything else, it is the deer's remarkable adaptability that has helped the species recover and flourish from the brink of collapse. Deer can live an entirely wild life deep in untouched forests, or they can survive in the suburbs and even in the cities mankind creates where once wildlife ruled. Today, even with as many as ten million deer hunters annually taking to the forests and hoping for a kill or three, deer populations remain robust and stable.