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The Fence Post

Deer Fencing Strategies

October 11, 2012 | by Don Hillis

deer standing in field

Integrated Pest Management Strategy

Deer prefer to eat plants with soft leaves and fruit. It is not unusual for a deer to go through 5 to 10 pounds of plant matter a day. Some of their food sources include fruit trees, rhododendrons, maples, and oak. Once deer establish a pattern of behavior it is very hard to break. However, this scenario might have been avoided using an Integrated Pest Management strategy. For instance, some of the methods for reducing deer damage are population control which involves hunting, trapping, and introducing contraception to reduce the herd. Hunting is less expensive. But most areas have communities that are more tolerant of deer and the damage they cause and are against hunting them.

Reducing Damage

Education is vital for preventing and managing deer problems. Understanding the biology and ecology of the species of deer in your area is important in finding alternatives that could reduce the damage caused by deer. You should be aware of the areas they gather in and the times as well as the size of the herd. Learn the identity of the plants and vegetation that they prefer. This information can prove helpful in selecting a method for controlling damage. Before selecting your method, try to have a goal in mind of what you want to accomplish.

deer pointing forest

Height vs. Electricity

Repellents can be used on plants to discourage deer from eating them. They work by affecting the smell or taste and making it difficult for deer to eat. Sometimes, deer will still eat the plants if they are hungry enough.

Scare devices or noise-making devices that are produced using gas exploders, dogs, blank gunfire, and fireworks.

Fences are the most popular control method. Fences are usually limited to small areas such as orchards, gardens, high-value crops, or areas where deer are particularly abundant.  There are two general categories: passive and active exclusion.

  • Passive exclusion fences are woven wire fences that are too tall for deer to jump. They are at least eight feet high since deer can normally jump anything less than eight feet. A well-designed and effective fence will consist of 12-foot posts placed at 40-foot intervals and set to a depth of 4-feet, with woven wire attached to the posts. The bottom of the fence should be at ground level.
    • Two 4-foot widths of wire fencing joined one on top of the other and attached to the posts can be used to keep deer out. You can also use an 8-foot tall deer fence. If a taller fence is desire, a strand of high tensile electrical wire can be strung above the woven wire.
    • A fence that slants away from the area to be protected is a very effective design as well. These particular structures are often permanent and can protect an area year-round and should last at least twenty years. This method is recommended for areas that have recurring problems with deer damaging crops.
  • Active exclusion fences use electricity to keep deer out of an area. The smell or appearance of the fence attracts the deer but when they touch the fence with their noses, they receive an electrical shock. This conditions the deer to avoid the fenced area. These fences are less expensive to construct than exclusion fences but are sometimes less effective because hungry deer can learn to jump over them. These fences also require more maintenance.
Most fence structures will help limit damage to individual trees. Position plastic mesh tubes around small saplings. Place cylinders of welded wire mesh at least six feet tall around larger trees to protect from antler rubbing by bucks.

When you have the right fencing system in place to protect your orchards or plants, you can be sure the “buck” stops here!

Deer and Wildlife Fence

deer behind fence

Topics: deer fence, galvanized, fixed knot

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