Deer B Gone

The deer and rabbits are playing havoc with my perennials and fruit trees.  They’ve chewed the branch tips off of my apple tree, decimated my azaleas, and are generally ticking me off.  And since I’m limited by both geography and the calendar on the, um, methods I can employ to combat these fuzzy marauders, I have to resort to less-than-lethal deterrents.

So off to the big-box hardware store I go, only to discover that commercial repellents cost about $27 per gallon!  Wow, there must be some potent ingredients to justify that price.  I must learn more.  What are the active ingredients; let’s see. Hmmm, the first one is putrescent egg solids.  Wait, I’m paying $27/gallon for rotten eggs?!?  Maybe there’s something else.  What’s number two?  Garlic.  Seriously???

Those two ingredients make up more than 96% of the active ingredients in this product.  These rest is just water and other substrates to increase “stickiness”. Well, if that’s the case, I can make this at home, and a heck of a lot cheaper than $27/gallon.

Here’s what I put together:

Homemade Product:
Eggs 1 dozen $2.39
Garlic Bulbs (whole bulbs, not cloves) 10 bulbs $3.99
Chili Peppers 7 peppers, stem removed $1.40
Milk 3/4 cup $0.20
Vegetable Oil 3/4 cup $0.36
Liquid Dish Soap 2 tbsp $0.04
Water fill to get 3 gallons total mix volume $0.00
TOTAL: $8.38
Commercial Product:

$27.00 per gallon

The eggs, garlic, and peppers are the primary active ingredients, although I suspect the milk might also add a bit to the smell. The other ingredients simply act as substrates and binders.

To Make:

  • Blend each ingredient with a bit of water to make the blending easier and place in a five-gallon bucket.
  • Add water to make the total volume in the bucket around 3 gallons. Perfect measurements aren’t necessary here; we’re not baking a cake. But keeping the level well below the rim will make the next step less messy.
  • Although you can use a stick or paint stirrer to mix the final product, I put a paint mixer on an electric drill. This make it quick and easy.
    WARNING: There’s a reason the smell of this stuff deters animals. Leave your bucket outside from this point on.
  • Let the mixture sit for a couple of days while the eggs turn into stink juice.
  • Once you’ve got a good level of stink, strain the mixture into another bucket using a vegetable oil filter, and old t-shirt, or whatever you have lying around that will get the solids out. You’re looking for a consistency that won’t clog a sprayer.
  • Throw the dregs into your compost bin, and you’re ready to roll. Load up a pump sprayer, a spray bottle and go to work. Of course you can just drip the mix on and around your plants, but a sprayer of some sort makes the process more convenient and ensures good coverage.

Yes, there will be a bit of a smell when you first apply it, but this will quickly dissipate. To the sensitive noses of the furry pests, it will continue to longer for a few weeks before you need to re-apply. Note, a light rain won’t wash away much of the effectiveness, but heavy rain may. So best to re-apply if you get a significant amount of rainfall.

Will it work? I think so, but time will tell. I’ll post a follow-up to this post once we see what kind of results I get. And if not, well, there’s always deer season I guess.