Deer Me!

In early spring, buck deer love to use trees as scratching posts to scrape the velvet off their new antlers—scraping off the tree bark in the process. This can stunt the tree’s growth or even kill it, depending on the severity of the damage.

After years of frustration and practice, I’ve come up with a lot of tricks for keeping those beautiful, brown-eyed bruisers away from my trees and shrubs. But I have to admit that the only surefire way to keep them out of your yard is to put up a fence. Or, better yet, two fences that are at least 5 feet high and 4 feet apart. The reason: Deer can jump high, and they can jump far, but they can’t do both at the same time. So use that deficiency to your advantage if you can.

But if you don’t have the time, inclination or money to erect a fence, don’t give up hope. Smelly substances like deodorant soap, unwashed socks, and human hair are classic deer deterrents, and for good reason: They work well—that is, as long as you keep the scent from washing away in rain or snow. Here’s how to do exactly that:

STEP 1. Tuck your deterrent of choice into an old pantyhose toe or a mesh onion bag, and tie the pouch closed with a string.

STEP 2. Poke a hole in the bottom of a 12-ounce foam or waxed-paper drink cup.

STEP 3. Tuck the pouch into the cup, pull the sting through the hole, and tie it into a loop. Then fasten the loop to a tree or shrub branch, and you’re good to go. Your smell emitters should keep their deer-chasing power for about a year, right through rain, sleet, snow, or dark of night!