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Peanut Butter Deer Fence

Editor's Note: In May, '99, this was the best idea we had heard of.
Now, we think the slant fence may have taken the lead. Any input?

The best method for deer control we have heard of comes from our fellow Maryland grape grower, Ron Price. We have not visited Ron's vineyard, but the deer control device sounds simple enough to pass along based upon his description.

Ron's vineyard is surrounded by a single wire 12 volt electric fence about 24 inches high. He wraps a piece of aluminum foil on the wire at an interval of ten feet. He spreads a dollop of peanut butter on the foil, charges the wire and goes home.

Ron explains that deer love peanut butter and can smell it from a great distance. When they touch it with their nose or tongue, they are not harmed, but instantly learn that vineyard avoidance is a good idea. Ron says that the grape loss to deer has been zero since he put up the fence. He also says that the deer have worn a path circling his vineyard, but will not enter it.

In case you don't have any electric fence experience, the chargers start at about $50. The wire may be easily dropped to the ground when you want to take your equipment into the vineyard, and your supply store will have a whole array of insulators (including fiberglass posts), spring loaded "gate" handles, etc that permit easy handling for vineyard maintenance.

Ron Price powers his fence with a 12 volt battery. The fence will not drain the battery unless something touches it and creates a good electrical ground (like a wet nose or tongue). Bringing a fully charged battery to the vineyard to replace the one that may have been doing some business seems like a good idea. Of course, if you have a 110V outlet at the vineyard, you are going to buy a plug in fence charger which transmits 12 volts into the fence wire.

Another Maryland grower has tried a variation on this fence. He installed a three wire charged fence. Apparently one deer got tangled up in it and continued to get 12 volt shocks until it extricated itself. The fence was a mess. The one wire fence sounds like a better idea.

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