Keeping Large Wildlife From Invading Your Homestead

John Vivian shares his methods for keeping large wildlife from invading your homestead, including firearms and pest control for deer, bears, mountain lions, foxes, raccoons and ravens.

| October/November 2000

John Vivian provides tips for keeping large wildlife from invading your homestead.

Keep your garden and yard safe from curious intruders.

Kindhearted suburbanites set out high-frequency soundmakers or sprinkle on proprietary deer-repellent concoctions from the pet store. Some collect human waste or gather lion and tiger droppings from zoos and scatter these around the gardens. In our experience, only three methods work: rotten eggs, a big dog with a loud bark and all his own teeth, and a pair of electromechanical devices that are effective against many garden interlopers.

There are a number of methods for keeping large wildlife from invading your homestead. Perhaps the easiest defense is to mix eggs in water and spray on your plants. The eggs will rot imperceptibly, producing an offensive sulphur-dioxide odor. Deer will be repelled by a spray too light for humans to sense. A ribbon of heavy spray surrounding the garden is said to work, but we find that you must spray (lightly) everything in the orchard or garden for full effect. We mix two or three eggs to a gallon of warm water, let it steep for a day, then apply it with a backpack insecticide sprayer set on medium-fine spray. Applications should be renewed weekly in the spring; later, apply only to succulent new growth and fruit every couple of weeks.

A male dog of any thick coated, naturally territorial breed that is trained to patrol your growing areas night and day in all weather will discourage most pests. We like German shepherds, but any large, athletic breed will do, except for golden retrievers, which have been bred to adore all God's creatures.

For a few hundred dollars you can buy a training collar and bury a radio signal generator and broadcast antenna wires to create an "invisible fence" that will establish a perimeter and contain the dog (See "How to Keep Your Homestead Dog Healthy" in this issue). This is best for densely populated areas.

Living in the distant and sparsely populated boondocks, I find that taking a young dog on frequent leashed walks around the gardens establishes his territory. When he matures, he will patrol it by instinct. Scattering the dog's collected droppings along the route strengthens in his mind the identification of his turf and will further encourage him to move his latrine area out of the yard and along the perimeter of his territory. Keep your dog tied or confined during hunting season, as he may get shot while trying to woof off a party of hunters. Ditto any free-ranging livestock.

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