Deer are major pests in areas with ready access to wooded areas. Deer will eat many kinds of flowers, trees and vegetables if left with free access to a garden. Deer jump well and learn quickly when presented with a challenge, making control difficult. There are many ways to control deer without hunting them.
Deer repellents work, says West Virginia University, by having an offensive taste or odor to the deer. Deer repellents are not always effective when used in areas throughout the garden. Sprays may work in one area while failing in others. Repellent may be expensive as well, because continual application is necessary, especially after rain. Repellents are effective when deer population is low, there is minimal deer damage and the area requiring the repellent is small.
According to website articles by Scott R. Craven of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Scott E. Hygnstrom of the University of Nebraska, damage to ornamental plants in gardens may be minimized by choosing plants that are less acceptable to the deer's taste. Harvesting crops as early as possible also prevents extensive damage to the garden. Lure crops, crops planted to lure away deer, can be planted in an area in surrounding woods or places likely to have deer to keep them away from the garden.
Frightening devices are available from home supply centers. It is important to take action with noise-making devices as soon as possible to prevent deer getting into the habit of feasting in your garden, as behavior patterns of deer are hard to change once established. Gas exploders that detonate at regular intervals are available, as well as gun shot fire, shell crackers and fireworks. Check local noise regulations before using frightening devices.
Wrapping for trees can be used in the garden to prevent deer damage. Plastic tree wrap and woven wire cylinders are available to keep deer and rabbits from eating bark while hungry during the winter months. It also prevents deer from rubbing their antlers against the bark when removing skin.
Fencing is a suitable deer control, but the extent of your deer problem should be considered before construction. Electrified fences are the most effective fence control, but this can be a costly installation for a few deer. The West Virginia DNR suggests modifying fences as soon as you notice deer getting through them, since deer pass such behavior on to their young.