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The most common method for deer
is to apply peanut butter to strips of
aluminum foil, and drape them (sticky
side in) over the fence at about
40-inch height. By licking the tasty
treat they can smell, deer quickly
learn that the fence can hurt them,
and they keep away. Electric fences
can have limited effectiveness during
periods of deep snow (when the deer's
feet don't really reach the ground), but
there are designs that provide a strong
shock even in that situation, including
using a bipolar fence charger.
Repellants are short term tools that
can help deter deer from trees that
have no other protection. Some repel
by taste, and others do so primarily
by odor. Growers can hang soap bars
to deter deer feeding. Usually this is
done on young trees. Keep the soap in
its protective wrapper. You can drill
a hole through it and attach a loop of
string, or use a mesh bag to hold the
bar (still in its wrapper). The effective
distance is several feet. Do not tie the
bag around a branch, or it will restrict
growth. Instead, use a loose loop.
Soap bars are most effective if placed
about 40 inches high. Bars can last for
a year, sometimes longer.
There are also soaps that can be
sprayed on, like Hinder. Effectiveness
may be 2-4 weeks, and you'll have to
re-apply it after a rain. Big game
repellant is a commercial product made
with putrescent egg solids. It works
both by odor and taste. Most labels
say it is for use before flowering. One
application may work for two months
or more.
Capsaicin is available in several forms.
Do not apply it after flowering. You can
mix the material with an anti-transpirant
to make it last longer. The fungicide
thiram is a taste repellant. Some growers
use human hair bags as odor repellants.
Onion bags or similar mesh bags make
good containers. You might get some at a
local barber shop.
Landowners can sometimes
employ shooting to reduce local
deer pressure. Regulations vary from
state to state, and growers who suffer
serious losses can sometimes acquire
special shooting permits, even outside
of normal hunting seasons. Shooting
reduces damage partly by eliminating
individual deer who have learned to
feed in your orchard, and partly from
scaring away other deer in the local
Some orchardists use trained
dogs and " invisible fencing " to keep
deer out of the orchard. One major
impediment to using this in New
Making peanut butter bait with
aluminum foil.
Bar of soap used to repel feeding deer.
England is the very cold winter
weather. Many dog owners would
think it cruel to leave the animal
outdoors (even in its house) in very
cold conditions.
Sources of help
USDA Wildlife Services staff are
available to assist with a variety of
wildlife damage issues, including
voles. Their telephone number
for New Hampshire and Vermont
growers is 603-223-6832. For growers
in Connecticut, Massachusetts and
Rhode Island: 413-253-2403. For
Maine: 207-629-5181.
Two companies with experience and
helpful information on fencing and
bird netting options are Wellscroft
and Orchard Equipment Supply
Co. Wellscroft Fence Systems is in
Chesham, New Hampshire, and many
fencing options are shown in its
catalog online (;
phone: 855-327-6336.
Oesco is located in Conway,
Massachusetts, and has been very
helpful to many orchardists in
figuring out how to set up and what
to order for bird netting. Its website
is, and the phone
number is 800-634-5557. It also has a
detailed catalog online.
There are other companies that can
help, too.
Alan Eaton served as an Extension
state specialist/professor emeritus,
retired entomology and IPM state
specialist emeritus, University of New
Hampshire. FGN
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March 2022

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