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July 30, 2013 2 min read

Deer are not dears when it comes to the gardens they destroy with their insatiable appetites and antler rubbing. Their pesky behavior has many a homeowner exclaiming “Doh! A deer!” whenever one is spotted near their precious garden plants. However, deterring deer is not difficult, and there are a variety of effective ways to keep the deer away, with surprisingly little effort.

The best deer deterrent is one made right at home, and it has only one main ingredient: an egg.

Since deer are vegetarians, they will instinctively avoid eating plants that have the odor of eggs on them. To mix up the solution at home, the most efficient way is to crack an egg into approximately one gallon of water. The volume of water can be decreased in order to make it stronger. Once made, that solution should be sprinkled onto any plants that the deer have been attracted to. The deterrent should be reapplied after each rain, after watering the yard, or once new plant growth appears. If sprayed onto edible plants, the fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before consuming.

One can experiment with any of several versions of the egg and water mixture, and homeowners should try a few in order to discover the mixture that works best for their particular situations. Recent research and fieldwork has found that the best deer deterrent is the one that contains putrefied egg solid. To make this, cook (hard boil or scramble) the egg before mixing in the water. Eggs can be quickly cooked in a microwave safe coffee cup or measuring cup sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray. After mixed into the water, the mixture should be left outside for about twenty-four hours so that is starts to putrefy. This putrid smelling deterrent will keep deer, rabbits, and even voles, from eating the leaves on which it was sprayed.

Several other variations are sometimes said to help this recipe work even better, but none as tried and true as the simple egg and water mixture. Adding a few teaspoons of vegetable oil or canola oil will help the mixture adhere to the leaves. Adding hot and spicy ingredients, like chili powder, garlic powder, or cinnamon, is sometimes said to provide an additional deterrent for the deer.

Finally, it is important to remain alert and reapply the solution when it is washed away by rain or watering the plants. The deer deterrent must be reapplied regularly in order for it to work. Until deer become conditioned to stay away from the garden without repellent, and until they have established new feeding habits, the repellent must be applied right away after rain or watering, and after new growth appears.

Before long, the deer will locate new places to eat, especially in the warmer months when plant food is abundant. Since deer are habitual animals, they will soon be in the habit of avoiding the sprayed yard, and so the need for reapplication of the deer deterrent will become less urgent and needed less frequently.