Deer are notorious for being able to decimate a garden. These cute but hungry pests will eat the leaves off a tree and the flowers off a bush, but what they really love are vegetables, and pumpkins are one of their favorites. If you have a pumpkin patch and a deer problem, you will need to protect your pumpkins from the deer. Otherwise, the clever animals will wait until the pumpkins are ripe and eat them right off their vines. The best way to keep deer away from pumpkins is to employ several methods of protection around the pumpkins.
Build a fence around the entire pumpkin patch--but not just any fence. According to the experts at West Virginia University, deer will try to go under or around a fence before jumping over it. Still, they can easily leap over a standard chain-link fence. For that reason, an electrical wire fence with horizontal wires spaced at 10, 20 and 30 inches off the ground is recommended for use around pumpkin patches in areas with a heavy deer population.
Cover the pumpkin patch with a tree net (sometimes sold as bird net). This is an excellent option if a fence is too expensive or difficult to install. It is easy to water your pumpkins through the net. Note that a determined buck can use his horns to hook the net and toss it aside, however.
Plant marigolds around the perimeter of the pumpkin patch. This is an attractive way to keep deer away from your pumpkins, as deer do not like the scent of marigolds. This method can be used in conjunction with other methods.
Apply a chemical deer repellent to the perimeter of your pumpkin patch. This is another method that should be used in conjunction with a fence, marigolds or netting, as the repellent tends to wear off quickly.
Hang mesh bags of human hair (visit your local barber shop for some freebies) or pieces of soap cut from solid bars near the pumpkins. Hang them on the fence or, if you don't have a fence around your patch, insert wooden stakes into the ground in and around your pumpkins and tie the bags to the stakes. The scent of human hair and soap (any brand) is said to repel deer, according to experts at Oregon State University.