GREAT INVENTIONS

Easy deer gate

By Ray Ford

How to keep whitetails off the verandah

Deer gate

Photo by Penny Caldwell

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There are guests who overstay their welcome, and visitors who won’t take a hint. And then there are the unwanted cottage-crashers at Don and Marnie Ross’s Thousand Island retreat: white-tailed deer that don’t merely take over the verandah, they eat the decor too.

Commercial deer repellents, human hair, blood meal, marigolds, and Irish Spring soap all failed to deter the visitors, so the Rosses resorted to piling chairs or stretching rope across the entrance. “That worked, but if you didn’t do it because you’d only be away for an hour, you’d come back and all the plants would be eaten,” Marnie says.

Don retaliated by developing an easy-to-operate gate. Using four strands of nylon rope, he attached one end of each to the cottage with screw eyes, then threaded the rope through holes drilled in a broomstick and knotted them in place. Don closes the gate by slotting the broomstick into a pocket drilled into the decking (with a smaller drainage hole at the bottom to prevent water from pooling), and “locks” it with a rope looped over the verandah post.

Marnie suspects the gate works because deer are wary of jumping into a confined space from which they can’t easily escape. But whatever the reason, the gate has kept the verandah deer-free for at least eight years. On the downside, it probably wouldn’t work on your freeloading cousin. But hey, one species at a time.


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Ray Ford