FACTS ABOUT DEER AND FENCES: DEER PRESSURE AND FENCE PENETRATION
Introduction to Deer Fence Facts
Deer Jumping and Motives
Deer and Small Animals
Deer Inside the Fence
The Deer Fence Setting
Back to Deer Fence Information (General)
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A more general concern of deer fence builders is the degree of pressure from white tailed deer or other deer species (most notably black tail deer and elk). The presence of lots of deer in the neighborhood of a deer fence makes it more likely that deer will periodically bump into the fence, become familiar with it, and try to penetrate it–not so much by jumping as by punching a hole in the fencing or more commonly by finding small available holes made by rabbits or ground hogs that they can then enlarge by pushing through (see The Deer-Small Animal Combo). Of course, white tailed deer pressure tends to get focused when the deer have an established path cut by the line of the deer fence. If a small rarely used white tailed deer path crosses the path of your intended fence, that’s not a major problem. But if the path looks like it was made by a herd of buffalo (but you know it was made by white tailed deer) then the path is a big factor you must respect–even to the extent of letting the deer have their path and erecting your deer fencing on either side of it (see Installation: Dealing with Deer Paths).
Punching Holes in the Fence
Getting back to deer fence penetration (something that mainly afflicts polypropylene fences), the bucks with antlers generally are no problem. They usually aren’t around–typically being very reclusive and wary of both human habitations and unfamiliar territory. The problem is the does and fawns. They are not so wary (perhaps because they are less hunted), so they are much more likely to be near the fence, to lunge at it if frightened, or if they are seriously thwarted by a plastic fence to punch right through it with repeated blows from their noses They do this relatively rarely (they are much more likely to enlarge and ease through established holes made by small animals), but occasionally they take a more direct approach.
Many or even most failures happen because the fence was not properly installed. People (including many landscapers and other semi-professional installers) tend to be so concerned about getting the fence high (which is usually not essential) that they neglect its bottom.
The first instinct of browsing deer is to poke about the bottom of the fence. If the bottom just brushes the ground, even if it is staked down, the deer will nose under it and eventually work themselves underneath and through. This means that a fence set up this way is really vulnerable. To make it secure at the time of installation one needs to sacrifice 6 inches of height and to leave enough material at the bottom to create a “flap” of fence lying outward on the ground–toward the direction from which the deer will come. This flap is then staked down securely every 6 feet, using an inexpensive foot-long ground stake, to create an effective barrier (see Installation: Securing the Deer Fence Bottom).
What if you already have a fence in place and cannot
easily lower it 6 inches? One answer is to get a strip of metal
which comes in strips 2, 3, and 4 feet wide, and position it along the
bottom of the existing fence so that a metal mesh flap extends outward
(toward the deer) a distance of 6 inches on the ground. If properly
secured to the main fence and staked down, this will end penetration of the fence from the bottom.