A Simple Deterrent for Deer

An Inexpensive and Easy Solution for Browsing Deer

About 10 years ago, we had a big vegetable garden that was about 40’x 40′. I planted several rows of bush beans in the garden that year and I got a bit obsessive, every day watering and waiting for those first sprouts of green to appear.

One morning I went to the garden, and there they were! I am always enthralled to see plants come up from seed! It’s such a beautiful and miraculous thing to watch.

The next morning, I went out to my garden and what did I see? Every single bean sprout was nipped to the ground. And there were deer tracks leading to and from those rows of beans! I was about fit to be tied!

We were headed to church that morning, so I steamed off! Once I got to church, I was talking to some of the ladies about the deer that had destroyed my young garden. One of the ladies told me about a secret trick she used to keep the deer out of her garden…

Using Rubber Snakes in the Garden

She told me to buy rubber snakes and place them out on the ground in the garden. I’d never heard of such a thing, but after church I went straight out and found them at the dollar store. They were inexpensive, and I bought several of them.

I went home and replanted those beans, in the same rows where I had planted them the first time. And I placed the snakes all around on the ground in the garden.

As soon as I saw the new beans sprout up, I made sure to place a few rubber snakes nearby on those rows.

The next morning, I went out and I was shocked by what I saw. The beans were still growing. There were fresh deer tracks heading toward the bean plants, but they turned away a few feet from my rows of beans and exited the garden!

I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least! From that day on, I have used rubber snakes in my garden every year.


Organic Seed Alliance Seed Saving Guide

Thanks to Linda Bacon for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We’re still getting the list of prizes lined up for the Spring 2016 Writing Contest. We awarded over $2,097 in prizes for the Fall Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

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This post was written by Anthony Tamayo


  • Marvin Weber says:

    Thanks for this great tip! I will definitely make this investment! Another deer repellent method I recently found out about is placing small containers of wolf or coyote urine around the perimeter of the garden, every 20 feet or so. These are covered with a can to keep out the rain. They are supposed to last a month or so. People have reported good success with this. Any experiences?

    1. bobbi mcc says:

      Coyote urine, dog hair and ferret poop will not deter the ground squirrels. Deer will probably dance around them.

  • Cheryl says:

    Tried a snake in the tomatoes to discourage the birds or squirrels, whoever was eating them and I think it helped. Wondering if it will work to discourage rabbits. Thanks

  • Boris Denissoff says:

    Yeah, rubber snakes. Got enough real snakes hanging out in the garden eating lizards, including coral snakes, ratsnakes, cottonmouths, and black racers. And I go barefoot. I have to look where I put my hands, also. Corals like to hide in the mulch. The rats just freeze, and the blacks look at me like they are trying to decide whether to run or chase me. Kind of like the drug dealers on the other side of the tracks. And of course, cottonmouths will chase you. But a couple more hawks moved in, and everybody just sort of lays low, now.

    1. jane says:

      where do you live? Yikes cottonmouth? I would be terrified, I live in Maryland.

      1. Boris Denissoff says:

        I live in central Florida. Actually don’t see too many cottonmouths; I imagine the gators have done a number on them. Stepped on a coral snake a few weeks ago at night, but it was too small to bite me. It will NOT be growing any bigger. The biggest gator in the lake hangs out offshore trying to catch my shepherd getting a drink. I hate that.

    2. bobbi mcc says:

      The only thing that works for deer here in our wooded Montana mountains is fencing. Elk will make brunch of hay or straw bales left unprotected. Our snakes tend to be non- lethal but I will see your snakes and raise you a couple of bears. They love our fruit trees and compost. Electrifying the fences works but around the compost bin (where we caught one breaking handles and lying in top) they can be discouraged by a row or circle of boards with nails sticking up. Our bear manager has tracked collared Griz across our property and frankly they can have whatever they want.

      1. Sandy says:

        I have young fruit trees that will probably start producing next year. They had to be planted uphill where they are out of sight of our cottage. Will the nails on boards work to protect fenced fruit trees? We have more black bears than usual this year. I keep my compost pile outside of the garden during gardening season so that the bears don’t wreck our garden fence to get at it. This year’s pile has been lightly shredded a couple of times n the past two weeks. My hammer and nails are gong to work tomorrow morning!

  • Sarah says:

    I hadn’t heard of this one before– I will definitely give it a shot! I’ve heard of hanging bar soap in a mesh bag nearby, tying empty white plastic bags or strips of aluminum foil on nearby branches, spraying everything with a mix of garlic/rotten eggs/cayenne pepper, spreading dog hair around the garden, using solar-powered flashing red lights that mimic a predator’s eyes at night, sprinkling coyote urine granules around the perimeter…. human ingenuity is amazing in dealing with a common problem!

    1. Julie says:

      The critter took the bars of Irish spring soap up to the pond, you could see the bite marks. The only thing we found that helped was a cheap radio in a steel garbage can

  • joy ann says:

    Rubber snakes are reputed to help with birds in your strawberries too but the critters are smarter than you can imagine so the fake owl and rubber snakes need to act real and move sometimes… Try adding fishing line strung between stakes or natural looking twigs for the deer. Remember change things up they learn … I use thin metal hoops that come up to my knees crisscrossed here and there and moved occasionally. They are unobtrusive to look at and the plants often cover them or they blend in with the tulips the deer used to eat and look like little fences around the berries. I think it works by being a tripping hazard…unexpected and when moved often makes them uneasy. This is working real well for me but does not keep rabbits or chipmunks out. Moving the bird bath slowed down the bird strikes and bird poop in the straw berries and bird netting is a real plus for all the critters but must be securely closed along the perimeter or the small furry ones walk under. Have fun with your garden and Keep It Simple and Smile.

    1. Gardener DEE says:

      Paint some red stones which look like strawberries BEFORE the berries pop out. The birds will learn they are
      hard and non edible! I wish you well, Gotta get me some fake snakes! LOL

      1. Sandy says:

        Love this idea!

  • Harold Markley says:

    We did the artificial snakes too. All it did was scare the wife! For the last 4 yrs we have had no deer problem. We took old VCR tapes, tore them apart and placing stakes around the raised beds, wrapped 3 rows of tape around the garden. They do brake after a while, but they do work!

  • bobbi mcc says:

    I wonder if the snakes would work for the ground squirrels that have devastated even my raised beds. I have tried to attract live snakes to no avail.

    1. Sandy says:

      Jacqueline Freeman, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, recommends making rock piles around the garden. They absorb heat during the day and snakes like warmth. I have noticed that small brown snakes like to hangout in my bag of potting soil in early spring, probably because I keep it in a sunny spot.. When I go to fill my transplanting bucket these baby snakes will tumble out of the bag, and do so until the weather gets hot and dry. I live where it is is soggy wet a lot, and feel a bit protective of the frogs and toads that relish our mosquitoes, slugs and I have no idea what else. Venomous snakes are almost unknown in this area, so though we also have a lot of rocks where we garden, I haven’t really pursued the rock piles. Unfortunately, our woods mice have developed a taste for ripe strawberries and the slugs or some other light-footed critter have figured out how to clean the nut butter bait of our traps, so this may be the year when I try Jacqueline’s idea!

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