Fruit trees are deer magnets. Not content to simply dine on fruit, leaves and smaller limbs, mature bucks rub their velvety antlers on the trunks of fruit trees. Destructive debarking occurs from September through November. Barring deer with 12-feet-high fencing is highly effective, but costly and often impractical for residential fruit tree owners. The sensible solution is to make trees so unattractive that deer will search for food elsewhere. Decorate your trees with stinky stuff that aggravates their sensitive noses. Homemade deer repellents use smells that deer dislike, including rotten eggs, garlic, deodorant soap, dead animals, blood and human scents.
Put an egg into each of several white plastic shopping bags. Smash the eggs and hang the bags from tree limbs. Rotting eggs repel deer with a dead animal odor. Replace as needed, typically about once a month. Rotting eggs give off strong sulfurous odor, which seems to be the most effective deer repellent.
Cut the legs off old pantyhose and put a few fresh garlic cloves in each. Crush the cloves and hang a garlic sachet from each limb of your fruit tree.
Drill holes in bars of deodorant soap and hang them from your fruit trees.
Ask a local barber or hairstylist for hair clippings. Cut old cotton rags into 6-inch squares. Pile a generous pinch of hair and a couple tablespoons of blood meal onto the center of a square, gather the corners together and secure with a rubber band or string. Hang the little packets from the fruit tree limbs. Replace every week or two, or following a rainfall. Legs cut from old pantyhose work great for this, too.
Scatter hair and sprinkle blood meal in a wide band just beyond the tree’s canopy line. Deer aren’t likely to cross this stinky barrier. Replace once weekly or immediately after it rains.
Wrap affected tree trunks with layers of carpenter’s cloth or chicken wire to protect the bark from antler rubbing.