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6 Deer Repellents: Homemade and Ready-To-Use Products

As we urbanize land on the edges of forests and meadows, homeowners face the challenge of co-existing with the wildlife without doing it harm and while ensuring their own safety. Often it is not carnivores that pose a threat, but such seemingly harmless animals, as deer. These Bambies can unwillingly cause road accidents or unintentionally enter your lot in search of food. At a minimum deer trample gardens and raspberry patches in spring but come fall, male deer attack people with both hooves and antlers. We will acquaint you with effective commercial and handmade deer repellents recommended by the scientists, describe these animals’ habits and will finally pick the six best repellents available in online stores.

Table of Contents:

How to Repel Deer According To the Scientists

White-tailed deer are widespread in North America, and they adapt easily to various habitats. Restricted hunting areas, reduction of wild predators and abandoned farmland only make it easier for their numbers to grow. Regular deer invasion can be controlled with various methods and especially designed repellents.

Habitat Modification. You can try altering deer habitat and make it less attractive for them. For instance, remove the shrubs to make them feel less safe. However, this method may be impractical due to the deer’s advanced ability to adapt to the environment modified by humans.

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Scaring. You can install a sensor device that will spray a water jet or turn on lights once it detects deer motion. Another device, an acoustic gadget, will effectively scare deer. These noises will equally affect other animals inhabiting the area. Does that work for you? Moreover, scaring is temporary, as deer can get used to such inconveniences quickly.

Fencing. If you are looking for long-term efficiency, create an artificial barrier or use an electric railing to fence off deer. This option is more preferable for large areas but can be quite effective at protecting a garden or hobby farm. See our other article for more info on this process.

Choice of Vegetation. Deer feed on leaves, grass, buds and berries and they have certain preferences. Keep them in mind when deciding which plants should be treated with a repellent. Read more below.

How to Repel Deer: photo

Selective deer shooting is an effective short-term control method. It cannot be used in many suburban and urban areas due to hunting restrictions. Many rural areas have less restrictive hunting rules where farmers and gardeners are able to defend their crops and feed their families. Something I have noticed is that deer want to devour my garden produce in Spring and Summer while hunting regulations usually allow hunting in the fall and winter. Therefore other methods are necessary in combination. Always check your local laws.

Which Deer Repellents Are Recommended By the Scientists

Most homeowners facing the task of deer control on their property prefer deer repellents that are sold or homemade. Scientific research confirms the effectiveness of the customers’ choice, though with a few special recommendations.

Maryland Cooperative Extension, University of Maryland College Park, Eastern Shore: have made the following conclusion after conducting three years of experiments with various repellents. They claim that commercial deer repellents had a significant effect on reducing deer browsing on ornamental plants. According to their study, even at sites with the highest deer pressure, repellents in many cases held damage in check for six to eight weeks. At sites with less deer pressure, 10 to 12 weeks of effectiveness was common. On sites with high deer pressure, repellents will most likely be effective but may require more frequent re-application (as often as every 6 to 8 weeks). This is a principle that the SPI Research Staff discusses frequently for a variety of pests and is an important mindset for the homeowner to understand – the more critters in the area or the more amazing the food source the more quickly the animals will overcome the deterrent. The best tools in your tool box are unpredictability and a cohesive multi-pronged approach.

Repelling Action

In general, repellents act on the taste and attractiveness of a plant to a deer. There are two types of such treatments: direct repellents and indirect repellents. Let’s discuss both.

Direct Repellents:

Direct Repellents repel through an unpleasant taste and often contain bitter components that should be applied directly to leaves and stems. The advantage, if you have noticed a particular favorite plant that is being targeted, is the ability to launch a targeted counter-attack. The disadvantage of this method is that a deer needs to bite the plant to taste its bitterness.

Indirect Repellents:

On the other hand, indirect repellents act through smell, appearance or the sound that they make. For instance, many repellents contain dry rotten egg dust, the smell and nasty taste of which help achieve desired effect. Dried Animal blood sends a false signal of a predator’s presence. As the University of Nebraska – Lincoln lab tests show,, scaring ingredients proved to be most effective. Such repellents contain predator urine, meat/blood protein or garlic.

Indirect repellents can protect a large territory if you spray it. They can contain particles of human hair, soap or slaughterhouse waste. Make sure you never spray the aforementioned substances over the plants you will later consume. However, several ingredients such as capsaicin (active component of chili pepper), castor oil, garlic oil, salts/fatty acids of ammonia are an exception – they may be used on food crops. To achieve best results, combine direct and indirect repellents and rotate products with different active ingredients after each use so that the deer do not get used to them.

Take into consideration the following factors when picking a deer repellent:

  1. Repelling action (through taste or smell)
  2. Effect duration
  3. Deterrent or repellent type: spray, concentrate, sprinkler or granules
  4. Price

As we’ve mentioned, in general, deer repellents act either through taste or through smell. The majority of treatments are sold as ready-to-use or concentrated sprays. The latter should be dissolved in the amount of water required to reach needed concentration in order not to damage plants. For instance, Plantskydd is sold as a dust while Deer Scram and Shake-Away contain granules that are to be placed along the lot perimeter to create a kind of a deer barrier. When considering the price of a product, remember that cheapness and value for money are not the same things. Ready to use repellents are, as a rule, cheaper, but they cover a smaller area, that is why concentrates that will cover a large territory for a longer time, are more economical. Be prepared with the appropriate sprayer for the concentrated liquid sprays.

Deer Repellents Active Ingredients Comparative Chart

As you will see from this chart below the effectiveness averages at a month on the low end. Choose the method that you are comfortable applying and be prepared to apply it regularly throughout the spring and summer.

Ingredient Action Duration
Capsaicin Castor Oil Taste For up to a month, depending on the precipitation
Garlic Oil Smell Repeat application after a downpour
Salts/Fatty Acids Of Ammonia Smell For up to a month, depending on the precipitation
Predator Urine Smell For about a month
Fish And/ Or Beef By-Products Smell and taste A month in winter and two weeks during the vegetation period
Thiram Fungicide-Based Products Smell and taste One-three months
Blood-Based Products Smell and taste One-three months
Putrescent Egg-Based Products Smell One-three months
Denatonium Benzoate Or Bitrex Taste One-three months

Homemade Deer Repellent With Garlic, Eggs, Pepper and Soapy Water: Tips and Recipes

If you check out the commercial repellents’ components, you will see that many of them contain such active ingredients as garlic and egg solids, which are usually always available in any household. That is why if you would like to save some money, homemade repellents might be attractive. Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor of the University of Vermont, notes that commercial repellents often contain pesticides or other hazardous chemicals while homemade treatments made of natural components that he used showed a decent result.

5 Easy Homemade Deer Repellent Recipes

However, you can face certain difficulties. Dr. Leonard Perry was critical of a repellent containing “five tablespoons of cayenne pepper and one tablespoon of olive oil, to one gallon of water”. He warns that pepper particles can clog the nozzle and repel useful insects. That is why this professor has invented a life hack: re-use soapy water as a repellent. Fatty acids that the soap contains will repel deer and your costs will amount to zero. Just like any other method, this one has a drawback: an ugly white membrane will remain on the plants’ leaves.

Here are a few recipes of homemade natural deer repellents:

Recipe #1. Hot sauce + eggs + garlic

Ingredients: 3 tablespoons of hot sauce, 3 raw eggs, 3 tablespoons of shredded garlic.

Recipe: blend the ingredients and add some water to dilute the mixture. Mix it with a gallon of water and spray your garden plants.

Recipe #2. Pepper + vinegar + ammonia + garlic

Ingredients: 4 tablespoons of a ground cayenne pepper, 1 cup of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of clear ammonia, 3 clean garlic heads, 1 cups of oil soap.

Recipe: Mix cayenne pepper with white vinegar and boil. Keep for one minute, and then filter the mixture with a coffee filter. Mix garlic with water and filter it again. Add ammonia and oil soap to both mixtures and then add 2.5 gallons of water. Follow by treating your garden.

Recipe #3. Egg + milk + soap

Ingredients: 1 egg, 1/2 cup of milk, 1 tablespoon of dish soap, 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.

Recipe: Mix all the ingredients, add a gallon of water and spray the plants.

Regardless of the ingredients used in your homemade concoction, filtering out any solids will make application easier through the sprayer.

Deer Repellent Plants

Have you considered planting something deer clearly dislike? Such as plants with coarse, ferny leaves, or with a strong smell and stiff thorns? In addition, the list of the food deer detest, in particular, includes Byzantine purifier, hellebore, catnip, lavender and wormwood. Although deer adore tulips, they avoid other bulbous plants. Perhaps you should consider the equally beautiful, but so unloved by deer, the narcissus? University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, Andrew Holsinger, believes that the damage can be significantly reduced if you sow proper plants “If homeowners have a selection of plant species that are favored by deer, they can expect frequent dinner guests in their garden… Often, some ornamental plants used in landscaping are preferred because they are fertilized and irrigated, making them nutrient-rich and moist,” notes Andrew Holsinger.

Deer Repellent Plants: photo

Avoid evergreen shrubs, like cedar, and yew tree, geranium, tulips, roses, azalea, clover, holly and elder. Protect those fruits and vegetables that deer love: nuts, apples, strawberries, cherries, persimmons, potatoes, lettuce, beans, broccoli and wheat.

Deer Repellent For Cars

In the USA, over 1.5 million of road accidents are annually caused by collisions of cars with deer on highways. This results in about $1.1 billion of damage to the vehicle and about 150 lethal cases per year. These figures are impressive enough to address this issue seriously.

White flags. As the researchers have discovered, the white-tailed deer perceive white flags as a signal of danger. This is due to their habit of raising their tails when they see a predator and thus exposing their white behind. In this way these animals warn their kinsmen of the hiding danger. The drawback of this method is that the fabric fades with time and the deer get used to this signal.

You can also attach a special device, such as a deer warning whistle that has been sold in the USA for over 20 years. Such a device makes an ultrasound noise at the frequency of 16-20 kHz when the vehicle’s speed exceeds 30 mph.

TOP-6 Best Deer Repellents & Deterrents

Deer Out 32oz Concentrate Deer Repellent

Deer Out will do the job without making you feel uncomfortable. The mint smell, loved by many people, will repel deer. Moreover, it contains natural ingredients only: peppermint oil, garlic oil, white pepper, putrescent white egg solids. Do not hesitate to apply it on any plant in your garden, including the ones you are going to eat.

Concentrate Deer Repellent: photoThis concentrate is to be dissolved in water, and the resulting 2.5 gallons will be enough to treat a territory of up to 10,000 square feet. Deer Out acts all year around and does not get washed off by rain. Nevertheless, repeat treatment will be required after a while.

The manufacturer promises three months of residual effect, but the users are not unanimous in this regard. Depending on the environment, the concentrate can act for about one month. After you use Deer Out, deer may return to your place, but an unpleasant mint smell will drive off any desire to taste your plants. This product is good value for money and is recommended by the National Home & Gardening Club as well as the StopPestInfo Research Team.

Price: Check the current price

Enviro Pro 1006 Deer Scram Repellent Granular with Dried Blood

Just like the previous deterrent, it does not have an unpleasant odor for humans and is made of natural ingredients. It is made of dried blood 39.3%, garlic 2.8%, and white pepper 2.8%, cloves 9%, and meat meal 54.2% and is available in the form of granules. It will be enough to cover up to 5,400 square feet. At the same time, Deer Scram has a competitive edge over a spray: it does not require frequent repeat application.

Deer Scram Repellent Granular: photoNatural granules are supplied in a large 25 kg bucket and do not contain synthetic additions. The repellent evokes fear in deer by emitting a smell resembling the smell of dead deer. It is preferable to locate the granules near a wooden storage, a stone mound, along the perimeter of the house basement, a hangar, in the garden, flowerbeds and next to the pond. Although the label says this product is safe for pets, the users recommend keeping it away from dogs so as to avoid digestion problems.

Price: Check the current price

Liquid Fence HG-80109 Ready-to-Use, Deer Spray

Its effect is apparent even before an animal tries the food and thus it preserves your crops. It is sold as a ready-to-use spray. Rain does not wash it off; it protects your flowers, trees, garden, vines and shrubs. It is safe for consumable fruit and plants, but, according to the users, it can discolor the leaves if applied directly on the plants. An Alaskan user recommends spraying not the actual flower beds, but the stone walls underneath them to prolong the effect.

Deer Spray: photoAs for the drawbacks, its coverage area is smaller than that of the previous items and reaches only 2000 square feet. Also, you wont be able to use it in New Mexico or Indiana as the sale of this repellent is restricted in these states.

Apply Liquid Fence on the plants and along their perimeter in dry weather. First repeat after a week and then do so on a monthly basis. The deterrent is made of eco-friendly ingredients, the active components are putrescent whole egg solids and garlic.

Price: Check the current price

Havahart 32 oz. Deer Away, Repellent, Ready-to-Use Deer Spray DA32RTU-2

Havahart Deer Away: photoThis new product rates quite poorly though we must investigate why. It comes down to its poor nozzle design! Its active ingredients are white pepper and garlic and they have a dual repelling action on deer: through taste and smell. Fruits can be treated with this repellent. This spray is a few times cheaper than that of the previous products, so why not give it a shot?

Price: Check the current price

Shake-Away All Natural Deer & Large Animal Repellent (Coyote Urine)

The granules’ active ingredient, coyote urine, creates an illusion of a predator’s presence in the animals’ eyes and thus destroys any desire for deer to enter the territory. However, this substance has substantial disadvantages.

Shake Away Repellent: photoTake a look at their website for some info on the manufacturer’s guarantee.  It is a natural product and could be an impressive addition to you multi-prong approach to pest control.

Spray the lot twice every seven days within the first two weeks, and repeat treatment twice a month for maintaining the effect. As a result, the deterrent will not be so cheap. The manufacturer promises that Shake-Away will cover about 1,500 square feet.

Price: Check the current price

Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler – Deer Deterrent

Water can also repel deer. Orbit Sprinkler has a great working deterrent option that proves its effectiveness, both in the daytime and at night. The built-in motion sensor and automated 120º rotation will be activated only when the animals approach your garden.

Electronic Repeller Orbit 62100: photoThe manufacturer has implemented smart technologies to reduce water waste and save battery life. You can use four AA batteries that will provide 7,500 sprinkles! The perks are not limited to these as Yard Enforcer can also be used as a regular spray for irrigating lawns.

To avoid any negative experiences, take your time to attach the hose tightly and correctly to avoid leaks! The SPI Research Team loves recommending this product for a variety of pests from birds to squirrels! The sight, sound and touch effect of the water jet keeps animals from adapting to its effects.

Price: Check the current price

Best Deer Repellents and Deterrents Comparison Chart

Product Type Active Ingredients Best Use
Deer Out 32oz

Concentrate Deer Out: photo

Concentrated Insecticide Peppermint oil, Garlic oil, White Pepper, Putrescent white egg solids. Dissolve in water and spray directly on the plants to be protected.
Enviro Pro 1006

Granules Enviro Pro 1006: photo

Granules Dried Blood, Garlic, White Pepper, Cloves, Meat Meal. Pour on the lot where animals can appear. Repeat application if necessary.
Liquid Fence HG-80109

Spay Liquid Fence: photo

Spray Putrescent Whole Egg Solids and Garlic. Spray along the perimeter of the lot directly on the plants to be protected.
Havahart Deer Away

Spray Havahart Deer Away: photo

Spray White Pepper and Garlic. Spray along the perimeter of the lot directly on the plants to be protected.
Shake Away Repellent

Granules Shake Away: photo

Granules Coyote Urine. Pour along the lot perimeter twice a week for the first fortnight, then repeat twice a month to maintain the effect.
Orbit 62100

Orbit 62100 Yard: photo

Motion Activated Sprinkler Connect to a garden hose and set the needed mode (day/night/always).

Repellent Use Tips

First and foremost, you should read the label on the manufacturer’s manual carefully, especially if the product contains pesticides or chemicals. In general, these repellents are most effective in winter provided that you begin in early November. During the other seasons, apply the products on the plants when it is not windy and during dry weather. Remember that even the most ingenious plan can fail if there is no alternative food source nearby and there are too many animals. An interesting observation is if only several households in the neighborhood use repellents, they will be effective, but if the entire community joins, the result will go downhill. Make sure you stay ahead of your neighbors and try a variety of these products for the best results.

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