Deer Me!

Bob Weingarten is best known to Westporters as a house historian. But he’s also very interested in the land around local homes.

Bob doesn’t care if they were built in 1720 or 2020. If they attract deer — who may be very cute, but eat plants and carry ticks — he wants to help.

Here are a few preventive measures. 

First, there’s deer netting. It’s not aesthetically pleasing. But, Bob says, it helps.

Several people told Bob that placing soap near plants that deer love will prevent them from munching. He says the jury is out on this method.

Bob has been told that deer are afraid of foxes. He placed fox photos in areas where he’s seen deer. No word on whether they fall for this ruse.

Bob says that deer jump over his and his neighbor’s back yard fences. Bob placed this owl there, which seems to work.

Here — together — is an owl and foxes. The animal kingdom is ganging up on deer.

Right next to the owls on hardware shelves, Bob found deer repellent. It’s less environmentally friendly — but it can work.

(Photos/Bob Weingarten)

What’s your go-to deer prevention strategy? Click “Comments” below to share.

33 responses to “Deer Me!

  1. Danbury Mall escalator music

  2. Land mines.. these herds of deer need to be culled. They just cause damage and are a danger to anyone driving.

  3. Susan Iseman

    The spray works – if you remember to use it. It’s really just a mix of stuff they apparently dislike- pepper, cloves, egg, etc. Agree they are so dangerous – we hit one on I-95 on Thanksgiving Day last year. It was a miracle we weren’t killed as cars whizzed by us.

    • Actually, you don’t hit deer — they hit you. I was a passenger in a car on the Merritt Parkway when a deer leaped out of the woods, and slammed into the side. Unbelievably scary.

      • Peter Barlow

        I was driving on I-95 near Westport one day when a deer started to cross the road in front of me. I couldn’t slow down because a Greyhound bus was right behind me so I speeded up. The deer hit my right rear fender but continued across the road in front of the bus. I could see in the mirror that the deer made it all the way across the highway.

  4. Michael Calise

    Hunting works!

  5. Stacey Henske

    We use the company DeerTech, now owned by Save A Tree. It is a deer deterrent system that uses ultrasonic units that emit sounds that are piercing to deer, but unnoticeable to humans. (Well most humans, as some kids seem to notice) The motion sensor triggers the sounds when deer are close, which makes them run away from our property. The company also visits monthly to treat with natural scented products which deer don’t like, and the combination definitely works as we see the deer walking towards our property and spook and run away.

    • Caryl Beatus


  6. Mark L Yurkiw

    We don’t have a problem with deer eating our flowers. My wife successfully grows 10’s of thousands of flowers over the course of the spring, summer, and fall seasons outdoors. First, she has a tulip festival with thousands of tulips, next come thousands of peonies, then huge displays of hydrangeas, after that an incredible display of thousands of Zinnias. Between all these to fill the gaps of colour she grows many other displays of flowers. We have flowering hostas that are so big they look like mutants, Yes, here in Westport! We don’t put up a deer fence, we don’t buy deer repellent, fox pictures, soap, or fake owls. Sorry tried all that it doesn’t work. We do have deer and all the other beautiful hungry creatures that roam freely right through our gardens.
    By now you either think I’m fibbing or are waiting to hear the ‘secret’. OK, I just wanted to make sure you have been doing the hard work of gardening and have earned this very simple solution. Here are your Instructions- take ONE RAW EGG and stir it into one gallon of plain water. Be sure to stir it very well so there are no large particles of egg in the water and it’s well mixed. Put some in a spray bottle and spray liberally. That’s it! all organic solution and it works. Come see the proof.
    Start spaying when your plants break the ground and are young and tender. Spray again just before they begin to flower. She will spray during the course of the season if she sees evidence of deer munching and occasionally during the season. This is a deer specific solution, the other creatures will take their share of your garden. I asked a life long Westport farmer, Greg Belta, what he does. The answer was; “I plant a large enough patch of land so that the creatures eat the edges and we get the middle. All gods creatures need to eat”. Few in Westport have that much land to dedicate. This doesn’t solve your tick problem but we don’t see many because all the properties around that surround us spray for ticks, thank you, neighbors. If you want to know how to keep your mosquitoes, ticks and other insects to a minimum naturally ask Dan to post another story about them and if I see it I’ll try and write back..
    Please wear your masks in public, even if you don’t believe it helps. When you do you show you care about your neighbours. Your health is your only wealth.

  7. Bob, you don’t have to turn your place into a spooky outdoor flea market to fend off deer. As it happens, a local company has named its all natural animal repellent product after you. Bobbex-R works great but be advised that if your downwind neighbor is having a nice outdoor dinner, it’s best not to choose that time to apply this uber stinky stuff. Not that I know anything about that.

  8. I’ve tried Bobbex and other deer repellants. The deer just think that it’s dressing on their salad. The day after I sprayed my hosta garden, it was totally demolished, right down to the ground. Fortunately, my other plants don’t interest them.

    • Whether it’s a homemade mixture or a store bought concentrate (like Bobbex-R) you need to reapply every 10 days. On day 11, Bambi will eat your stuff for sure.

      • Morley — as I said in my post, this happened the day after I sprayed.

        • I knew this would happen. The deer are messing with us by posting under Bobbie’s name. Nice try!!!

            • Mary Schmerker

              The deer just like messing with all of us. We have used various different methods. The commercial “deer off” can be rendered useless after a heavy dew and always after rain. We find that right after the fawns are born more things are eaten. We are not sure if it is the mothers looking for additional nourishment or the fawns trying out foods. At least in our climate, Gulf Coast of Texas, there are a few flowering plants that are toxic so we try to concentrate on those. Frankly I am not sure if they survive in colder climates. Salvia and Lantana are two. I can’t believe that I am typing this over my name for everyone to read but we understand that human urine works well. We have NOT tried this method. Once upon a time I did have a recipe for homemade deer repellent. We gave up on it for the same reason we gave up on commercial repellents. If I have it I will post it separately. By the way, squirrels and rabbits can also munch on your favorite flowers. Good Luck!

  9. Apply ‘Deer Solutions’ which is an all natural cinnamon-based liquid works well and remains longer than any other deer repellent I’ve used in between rainfalls. I highly recommend it!

  10. Tried everything for 20 years. i have had a deer fence for the last 12 years and it’s the only thing that has worked. Obviously it doesn’t work for every property or when a tree falls on it and every deer in the area stop by for the buffet.

  11. K.F. Spearen

    They’ve become Bold as Hell “” They walk around my neighborhood without any fears .. Sometimes they eat the plants at my front garden , while my 90 pound German shepherd is growing and barking at the storm door …

  12. Bob Weingarten

    Just a word. What seems to really work is the owls – I have three. Since placing them, two in the front lawn and one in the passageway from the real to the front, I haven’t seen any deer on my lawns. I probably shouldn’t write this since we all know when what happens when one says something!

    Mark, I will try your egg mix. Say hello to Wendy.

    • Peter Barlow

      When I was in Westport we used to put owls on our boats to keep away gulls. It helped.

  13. A 12 ft deer fence around the property and a gate across the driveway entrance is the only thing that’s worked for me – for over 20 years now. It’s a big investment, but no deer can get in. The gate is essential because without it, the deer could walk down the driveway and began their feast. My gate opens for cars and there’s a button for people.

  14. Kathryn Coster

    I too have tried various methods to keep deer from coming to the plant buffet…currently I am using a product called ‘Deer Out” and having great results. It is all natural, has a peppermint scent and lasts a relatively long time, even through rain storms…can be bought on Amazon. Read an article once that suggested we plant things they don’t like to eat instead of waging war to protect what they do like to eat. I know that eliminates some of our favorites but maybe a blend of the two would lessen the battle…

  15. Rosemary Milligan

    I have been sprinkling black pepper (lightly) for years and have had no problems .

  16. Kristan Hamlin

    I put 8 ft fencing around my whole backyard to keep out the deer, which works beautifully. But I still had squirrels, which had carved out an architectural marvel of a cave in a large oak tree, which was their Tora Bora from which they launched terrorist raids on my vegetable garden. In response, inside the 8 ft walls, we built a 10 ft high fence around the vegetable garden. We then enjoyed extraordinary tomatoes, of nearly a dozen varieties, for years.

    Then flying squirrels discovered the veggies, and now fly over the ten feet fencing, take a bite of each tomato just as it ripens, and then leave it there, half eaten, seemingly to taunt us.
    I used to think that flying squirrels were only something from the Bullwinkle cartoon. But they are real; they are cunning; and they are gluttons.

    I’ve now been reduced to this:

  17. The spray that I have found that works is homemade (created by the guy that owned Daybreak Nursery). Mix Hot Sauce (Tabasco or stronger) with egg (for emulsion) add water. Shake well before using and store in a cool place. When consistently applied twice a week it is the one thing I’ve found the deer never get used to. Have not lost a tulip or day lily in 10 years (when I remember to follow my rules)

  18. I’ve had good luck with “water scare crows”. They’re similar to a lawn sprinkler with a motion detector. If it detects motion within about 20 to 25 feet, it sends a noisy burst of water for a few seconds. I bought several over the years from a company in Canada called Conn Tech and was very happy with the product and their customer service. Unfortunately, I heard that the company was bought out by Ortho and the product now gets so-so reviews. This spring I bought a similar product from Orbit. It seems to be very well made but I haven’t deployed it yet since the deer in my area (about 20 miles east of Westport) seem to have disappeared (thanks to the coyotes??).

    The one problem with these products is that you need to run a hose across the lawn. Also, you have to be careful to turn them off before walking around the area or you will get an unexpected shower of cold water!

  19. The only thing that works is a fence. If they are hungry enough no matter what you spray they are going to eat your plants.

  20. Elisabeth Keane

    An ancient deer trail crosses my property in a lightly wooded area. Deer love tulips and hosta so I planted daffodils. Long ago, the deer family demolished my cherished border of ancestral hosta despite my diligence and best efforts. Replaced it with a stone border. Rocks are Connecticut’s state flower, right? Avoid standing downwind when you spray Bobbex. The Daybreak Tabasco concoction (did Evan Harding create this?) as described above by J. Graves sounds worth trying on some of the shrubs although it will not deter the two does and two bucks from eating at the bird feeder. All bucks who eat at the bird feeder are named Lucky Buck as long as their antlers do not become entangled in the ports of the feeder or the shepherd’s crook that supports it. Squirrels are normal suburban and woodland inhabitants and very entertaining; two (Pat and Bob) are especially acrobatic and are, perhaps, my property’s version of Cirque du Soleil. Even chipmunks eat at the feeder. The red foxes do not eat at the feeder but frequently pause for some water. Many birds including cardinals (Cardinal and Mrs. O’Connor) are daily visitors. Recently, a neighbor passed the alert that the coyote is back.

  21. Mark Bachmann

    Cute idea about the fox photos, but I assume Mr. Weingarten is joking here, Our local deer seem to fear nothing!

  22. Deer repellent spray works very well but must be reapplied every 2 weeks or after heavy rain.

  23. Bob Weingarten

    Mark, I’m not joking. I heard years ago about foxes and deer. This could be just folklaw, just like owls. But I’m not taking chances. I’ve used spray but don’t find them good since, as everyone says, you need to spray every few weeks – and I’m not up to that task!

    But I’ve noticed after putting up my owls that the deer have not come into my front yard, which they did, before putting up the owls.