March 22, 2014


The only 100% deer barrier is an 8 ft tall

woven wire fence or solid wall. But they are both

expensive and very permanent.

An alternative is electrified fences. They rely

upon a painful shock to persuade deer to neither

jump nor penetrate a fence.

Because they aren’t physical barriers, electric

deer fences rely upon key deer behavior aspects.

Where they choose to feed, rub, walk and breed

are habits learned over time—a habit reinforced

every time they do it safely.

Suddenly fencing a deer herd away from an

area or trail forces the herd to break a habit

(by a fence) is critical if the fence is to succeed.

Once a herd’s pattern is broken, the change in

feeding/walking location is easier to maintain.

feeding sites, trails and rubbing trees.

Electric fences use pain to raise the “cost” (the

degree of risk and effort to use an area) and

persuade deer that it is safer and less frightening

to feed, rub or trail elsewhere. When they are

desperate they may risk the pain—which is why

you can’t keep out starving deer with electric

fencing if the site is their only food source.

make a decision to avoid them.

That’s why it’s important to identify deer trails

entering a new exclusion area and interrupt them

with something physical (e.g. a brush pile) where

the trail approaches the fence. Do this when the

fence is installed.

Why? The trail change makes them tentative.

So they move cautiously.

Why not? Because frightened deer don’t make

normal decisions. As prey animals they are easily

spooked into leaping over or through fences.

And once deer learn that they can jump the fence

without pain, they’re more likely to do so when

not frightened, a habit that’s costly to break.

Why not? The intent is to first change the

herd’s “habits.” So install a new fence around

a small area first. The local deer herd will

encounter it, learn to avoid it and instead feed

or rub in adjacent areas.

Leave it in place for 2 weeks. Then

progressively expand the enclosed area until

100% is protected.

Their world is black, white and shades of gray.

Therefore, barriers that contrast with their view of

the world are the most visible to deer—and likely

to get their attention.

It’s been our experience that electric fences

that fail for deer are usually:

• Installed at the wrong time (after the herd’s

habit is deeply ingrained).

• Managed without an awareness of how a

deer herd interacts with fences.

• What are scent caps? Metal pop bottle caps

attached to the fence that are baited with

scent to attract deer. It’s a Premier invention

that’s been copied by others.

• How do they work? Experience has shown

that scent caps encourage deer to have an

initial painful interaction with a new electric

as easy to apply.)

• How many caps? One every 50 ft in heavy

traffic areas (or 100 ft in low traffic areas).

• Is it hard to rebait scent caps? Baiting

involves turning off the energizer; walking

or riding the fence; twisting the cap upward,

squeezing a few drops of apple scent onto

the cotton inside the cap; and twisting the

cap downward again.

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