How to deter deer in the winter

Updated Nov 29, 2018


The snow is beginning to fall in some areas of the country, and snow can cause a variety of pests and problems – including deer.

Deer can cause a great deal of damage to landscapes, especially if more snow begins to fall.

“If snow is deep or stays on the ground for a long time, deer will be hungrier because food is more difficult to find,” according to an article from Michigan State University Extension. “It may be necessary to prevent deer damage to certain woody ornamental trees and shrubs even if the winter is not severe.”

Here are a few tips the Extension provides to help prevent deer from chomping down on your hard work:

Deer repellents

Repellents work when the weather is warm enough that the repellent still has its odor. The colder the temperatures, the more the odor dissipates. They only work if the deer are not starving.

Barriers for deer

Vertical barriers: Now is the time to put the posts in before the ground freezes. These don’t have to be wooden posts. They could be metal T-posts that are driven in with a sledge hammer or a fence post driver.

The fencing does not have to go up immediately, but getting the posts in is the most time-consuming. If deer are the only problem, using 4-foot tall woven wire farm fencing with rectangular openings could be all that’s needed.

An electric fence topping another fence can make believers out of the most determined deer. Mark your fences with pieces of flagging tape or strips of plastic to flip and flap in the wind to make the fence visible. A couple of jingle bells attached to the fence will also make the deer aware of something different in the area.

Horizontal barriers: These work on the principle of the cattle guards that separate fenced pastures in the western states. The cattle will not step on something that could ensnare their feet.

For a deer quickie: Place concrete blocks on the ground. Unroll and slide the fencing flat on top of the blocks. By creating a square or a rectangle around certain woody ornamentals, the deer will not step onto or into the horizontal fence. If the wire is chicken wire and they step on it, it will sink. If it is woven wire farm fencing, they cannot place their feet into the holes to walk in.

Place the fencing far enough from a tree that a deer cannot lean over and nibble a branch. This can also be done with the concrete blocks and old farm gates. The only time this does not work is if there is deep snow that hardens so much that the fence is buried and they can walk on top of it.

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