Living with White-Tailed Deer

Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Deer thrive in all sorts of environments including around homes, farms, and other developed areas. Their diet is very diverse, and they are known for consuming all sorts of vegetation around the home or in gardens. A physical barrier, such as a fence, is the best way to prevent damage. Read on for more tips on how to prevent conflict with deer.

Fencing/Physical Barrier

A physical barrier/fencing is always the best way to prevent deer damage to crops or gardens. For larger areas, a fence may not be practical, and you may need to try other options. Learn more about deer fencing options.



Many commercial chemical deer deterrents exist. These are typically applied to vegetation to give it an unpleasant taste or smell. The effectiveness of these products will vary, and it may be necessary to reapply them often, especially in wet weather. Many recipes for homemade deterrents can be found online, usually involving eggs, spicy sauces or other hot products, or soaps.

Noise Deterrents

Motion activated noisemakers or propane cannons are an option for deterring deer from loitering about the yard, but these will cause problems in developed areas. They should only be used in rural areas where the noises will not alarm nearby people or domestic animals. You may also use noisemakers, such as airhorns or whistles, to alarm deer when they come into the yard.


Any sort of foreign physical presence in the yard may be a deterrent to deer looking to enter the yard. Scarecrows, shiny objects hung around plants, or streamers hung across trails that deer use to enter the yard may be effective. Deer will become accustomed to these objects over time, so it may be necessary to rotate deterrents periodically.


It can be very enjoyable to watch deer in the yard, but if you're finding it difficult to keep your plants in one piece, you'll need to consider hazing deer from the yard. Consider frightening deer out of the yard when they come around or maintaining a consistent dog presence in the yard so that deer are never too comfortable around the gardens; however, never set your dog loose to chase wildlife. You may also consider motion activated sprinklers to frighten deer when they come into your yard.

Planting Less Palatable Species

Wild bergamots

If you find that your gardens are being consistently eaten down by deer, you should consider planting some species that are less palatable to deer. In general, plants that have a very pungent aroma, milky sap, or bristles, hairs, or thorns tend to better fend off deer browsing. If you would like to search for alternative planting options, search online for deer-resistant plants, but note that a plant being deer-resistant does not mean deer will never eat it, just that it's not usually preferentially selected by deer. Some good plants for the Northeast that are resistant to deer browsing include:

  • Bergamots and bee balms- Monarda fistulosa and M. didyma
  • Foxglove- Penstemon digitalis
  • Purple coneflower- Echinacea purpurea
  • Golden Alexanders- Zizea aurea
  • Milkweed spp.- Asclepias syriaca, A. incarnata, A. tuberosa
  • Blazing stars- Liatris spicata, L. scariosa var. nieuwlandii
  • Black-eyed susan- Rudbeckia hirta
  • Turtlehead- Chelone glabra
  • North blue flag (Iris)- Iris versicolor

Encourage Hunting

If you are experiencing issues with deer on your property and have suitable huntable land, consider encouraging some hunting on the property. To locate hunters, consider asking family or friends, contacting the town office, or contacting your local MDIFW Game Warden.

Learn More about White-tailed Deer

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