Deer Oh Deer

A blog on how to protect your garden from hungry deer.

With the lack of natural predators and human hunting, Deer populations have soared in the Bay Area. But the natural balance seems to be recovering in recent years. We hear Coyotes every night howling from the hill tops that will eat the sick and week deer and help keep the deer population healthy. And the deer population is healthy. And hungry. And all over the place.

But that means growing a garden is more difficult. In one night in some places, 12 hungry deer can come in and eat everything you worked so hard planting and caring for to the ground. It is not fun waking up and seeing all your hard work gone. I love nature and wild life, but I also like to garden. I don't want the deer gone, just out of my garden.

Over the years I tried everything and spent a lot of money on sure fire ways to keep deer out. From Coyote urine to Dog and human hair, to you name it, nothing worked. Not even when I got a German Sheppard dog named Cody. At first he kept them out. But it took about a week for the deer to learn they could outrun him easy, and they just kept 20 feet distance between themselves and my dog and ate away. Cody just gave a bark and gave up after a while.

I bought a deercrow, which was a sprinkler that sensed when something was there and shot water all over them. It was expensive and someone swore by it. Again at first it worked, but it took a week until the deer learned it was just water and got a nice shower for free as they ate my garden. And they told the other deer not to worry, and more came. It did get a couple people wet though who ventured in my garden which was fun. But it failed keeping deer out.

I was told long ago a deer fence is the only way to really keep deer out, short of planting only deer proof plants. I doubt that though, because up in Fort Bragg the deer are big and eat everything. One house had one little pathetic rose plant in a steel cage, and even that was bent up as the deer tried to get it. Remember, if you can break a fence down or get through it, you can bet a deer can.

So I was done spending money on sure fire ways to keep the deer out and decided to build a deer fence. They don't have to be big eye sores that makes it look like your yard is a prison or your 'e some kind of paranoid person living in a compound. And it doesn't have to be really expensive, though the bigger the better, because deer can jump. They can hit a wall and jump up 15 feet that I have seen on a cliff face. Not sure how high they can just plain jump, but I was told a 7 foot high sturdy fence is standard.

We have a big yard and it took a lot of though and planning for our fence. I used trees where I could with just chicken wire and reused steel poles there. Other places had some natural barriers I used. But some places I had to build the whole fence. It was some 400 feet of deer proofing I had to do. But you can just fence off the place you grow your garden. I have plants all over so I wanted to protect the whole yard. I've found they eat everything just about except rosemary and a few other plants.I used pressure treated 4x4's and 2x4 rails. The first four feet of height of the fence is covered by steel wire fence, and the top 3 feet by just stretched wires. It looks pretty cool I think. The gates were the hardest part. My best advice is to look up how to build a deer fence on the Internet and go from there. It would take too long to explain how in this blog.

So far so good on our deer fence. But we will see when the things they really like start growing, like tomatoes and peppers. Keeping Wild Turkeys out will be a lot harder. They fly right over the fence when they want in. And we have about 20 resident wild turkeys on the property and predict many more by Spring, as 16 of them are female and 4 males, and you know what that means.

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