How To Attract Deer To Your Yard—The Ultimate Guide
Bowhunting has always been known to be a sport that you prep up and heads to the hunting fields for, but when you live in a location where deer are nearby, you don’t even have to leave the house. And to me, that is every bowhunters dream.
You may be thinking about where the challenge is in hunting deer from the yard, but sometimes as deer season comes to an end and more and more hunters are coming up dry with their hunts, having a deer show up in the yard is like hitting the jackpot.
I always like to track down that trophy buck when I’m hunting, but if a fawn or doe enters my yard and the opportunity arises, I’m going for the kill.
And although deer live in your location, they will usually not step into your yard unless they have a reason to as they are very skittish animals and would prefer to stay away from us humans as much as possible.
With that said, I will be going over ways that I use and have also found after doing a little digging that I feel will benefit you by actually attracting more deer to your yard.
Is It Legal To Shoot Deer On My Property
Well, first off, before going completely crazy and setting up all kinds of different baits, scents, and attractants in your yard, you’ll want to know if it is even legal to hunt deer on your own property in the first place.
And what I say to that is, yes, it is legal, but before doing so, double-check with your fish and state game laws just to be on the safe side. Some states require a license while others don’t.
Also, when hunting on your property, it has to be owned by you and not rented. Renting a home, unfortunately, doesn’t constitute your own personal property and is likely owned by a landlord or a property agency, depending on which one you went through.
Keep in mind to only hunt during open season as this is the time that your state will allow you to do so. We would all like to think that since the deer are entering our yard that we have the decision and freedom to choose when we want to hunt them or not, but unfortunately, this is not the case.
The state owns the animal and will not give you free rein on them until the season begins. Poaching, also known as hunting illegally, can result in a hefty fine of up to $10,000 and even jail time if caught which may even cause you to lose or prevent you from getting your hunting license.
With that said, only set up your bait during this time of year. It’s not worth the huge fine and felony conviction.
Now that we have all the legal stuff out of the way, though, let’s get into what you can do to attract them into your yard for a great at-home hunt.
Here’s How You Bait Them
Although you may live in an area where deer frequently hang out around, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be attracted to your particular location. Deer will go where there is some sort of attractant or bait that piques their interest and will likely not have much curiosity for your strip of property unless there are either of these.
If you want them to come to your yard, you’ll have to utilize certain tips, tricks, and strategies for doing so. With that said, here are 8 ways you can potentially attract more deer to your yard.
1) Food Source
Deer love to eat. Who doesn’t?
But when you’re an animal out in the wild and food is scarce, you’ll eat pretty much anything edible that you can get your hands on. If you want to see success with getting deer to enter your yard, then you’ll definitely want to set up a source of food for them.
Sources of food can include a combination of different foods that they like to eat and will make your yard highly attractive if one is created. Mixing vegetation with other deer-friendly snacks will make any deer salivate and want to run to your yard the first chance they get.
2) Water Source
During the rut or during conditions in which the weather is extremely dry and hot, deer are actively looking for water. The reason being is that just like us, they need to stay hydrated, and when thirsty, they will travel for miles on end to quench their thirst.
Aside from food, water is a necessity for deer (and many other living creatures alive) and if you have one set up, they will likely come.
If you want to create a water source, then I suggest getting your hands on something such as a kiddie pool or a deep plastic drawer from out of an old shelf that you don’t use and digging a hole that is big enough to fit it in.
What I usually do is find a good spot where I feel deer will frequent and by using my best estimate just dig a hole deep enough until I feel like my water container can fit snuggly. You’ll want to dig a hole that is shaped to the container you choose to go with and then dig about a foot wider so that you don’t have to go back and dig again until it fits.
After the hole is deep enough and you have enough room to fit the container in a snug, take the excess dirt that you dug out and fill in the empty areas around it until it fits in there tight. Make sure to keep packing dirt in until it can’t move and until you can’t see the outside of it. Also, remember to scoop any dirt out that might have gotten into the container before adding water to it.
3) Deer Love Salt
The reason why deer love salt so much is simply because they require it in their diet. Just like food and water, this is a need for deer and if you want to highly increase the chance of getting one to step on your property, then I strongly suggest you set one up.
Salt blocks usually have holes on the sides or bottom of them, so to set one up you can drive a metal ” T ” post into the ground and slide the block over it or just simply put it in an old container that is large enough to fit it in.
Salt blocks can be pretty heavy depending on what kind you get and are usually good at staying in one place until the block gets too small. Having a container will keep the block in one location until it is worn down enough which you will either replace it or throw on the ” T ” post so that it doesn’t move around too much while the deer lick it.
4) Remove Loud Objects
Things that make a lot of noise such as home security devices or wind chimes can spook deer away fast and should be taken down and completely avoided when trying to lure them into your yard. Deer are already sketchy animals when it comes to approaching unfamiliar areas, so don’t have anything that will make them run off in complete fear.
Not only will this spook them away, but will likely scare them from ever entering your property ever again. So, if you want to avoid that then all noise-creating devices must be taken down immediately.
Also, deer can hear frequencies of at least 30,000 hertz, which is 10,000 frequencies greater than us. So, with the way their ears are designed and natural advantages, they can pick up on sounds way quicker and easier than we can.
So with that said, it is best to keep food plots and other lures away from anywhere near the house as they will likely hear noise coming from it if anyone is home, including the dog.
5) Fruit & Veggies
Having fruit and vegetables in your food plot will work wonders in attracting deer to your yard. The types of fruit deer really love in particular include apples, blueberries, blackberries, pears, and more. If you have any of these in your yard, then I have no doubt you’ll have luck bringing in the deer.
On top of the fruit, they also love to munch on vegetables and other sources of food. This includes a pretty simple diet of twigs, corn, alfalfa, nuts, and grass.
As you can see, deer are not very picky and choosy when it comes to what they put into their body, at least not when food is scarce, so if you are able to incorporate any of these fruits, vegetables, and nuts into your plot, you, my friend, are on your way to tagging a deer on your very own property.
They absolutely love locations that provide what they really enjoy eating, so chances are that they will frequent your home a lot more if they’ve had a good experience visiting in the past.
As we know by now, deer are VERY cautious animals, so if they’re looking to enter any area, then it’d probably be an area in which there is some sort of cover for them to hide so that they are not exposed to potential predators.
If you have a large backyard, pick a spot in an area in which you’ll be setting up your food plot and water source and let the area go completely unattended for a while. Tall grass and shrubs provide great cover for deer and they will definitely use it to their advantage if they feel threatened.
Not only do deer use these types of cover to hide from predators, but they also use them to rest, get away from harsh weather conditions, and if the cover happens to be a bush full of berries, to eat as well.
Different hunters have had different results with using scents, but nonetheless, they have been proven by many to work really well. The natural scents from fruits and other foods that deer like are usually good enough to attract them to the source from which it is coming.
As stated many times before in other posts, deer have a very keen sense of smell. So simply laying out a food plot will usually create enough of an aroma to attract deer to your backyard.
Also, many named brand companies sell artificial scents that you can pick up that have worked well for others if you want to try your hand at those.
From what I’ve read and experienced, some scents work and some scents don’t. So, it is best to try multiple ones until you find one that will. But, as I said, fruit and other vegetation will usually be enough to do the trick.
Deer don’t always get to eat what they want, but when they do, these plants are some of the foods they love to go after…
- Evergreen Azaleas
What all these plants have in common is that they have smooth, soft surfaces and this is what deer typically like to go after. They will try to avoid any plants that are fuzzy or prickly but may be forced to consume them if there is nothing else for them to eat.
I’ve found the most success attracting deer onto my property by planting a variety of these plants within the area I want to attract them in. Some of these plants can reach up to heights as tall as 15 feet and will be a great source for making sure deer consistently come back to your yard.
Obviously, it will take some time for the plants to grow this tall. So, in the meantime, set up other sources that will attract the deer until your plants grow tall enough to be something worth feeding off of.
Here’s How You Keep Them Away
I know you may be asking “Why would I try to keep them away?”, but for deer hunters, the bow goes up when the season ends. And with the food plots, attractants, and plants still in the yard, getting rid of deer can be difficult. But don’t worry, because there are things that you can do to keep them away until the next hunting season.
9) Do Away With Attractants
Now that deer hunting season is over and you are not allowed to bait or shoot at them anymore, it’s time to remove all attractants. This includes scents, foliage, salt blocks, and whatever other methods you may have decided to attract them with.
Salt blocks are easy to remove, but when it comes to removing plants, it might take a little digging. Deep-rooted plants can be pretty well established in the ground depending on how long they were in and may require a mini shovel and small gardening rake to get them out and relocated.
Liquid scents, such as doe urine, can be hard to get rid of but can be managed if sprayed with a high-powered water hose.
10) Keep Your Garden Close
Whenever humans are near, deer will stay away at all costs. If you have a garden and you don’t want it to be eaten up by a hungry deer overnight while you sleep, then put it close to the house. This may not reduce the chances of a deer eating out of your garden completely, but the closer it is, the more it will help.
Also, installing devices that may scare away deer such as motion sensor lights or a security system can work really well with keeping them from getting too close to your home as well and will likely send them on their way for a long time as they will probably be too spooked to enter your yard again anytime in the future.
So, instead of just moving your garden close to your house and leaving it at that, I definitely recommend incorporating a device that creates noise as well. You might have luck with just relocating your garden, but when deer are hungry, it usually takes a little more than that.
11) Maintain Your Property
As we now know, deer love areas in which they can hide. Overgrown grass, tall foliage, and large bushes all provide great cover for them and as long as any of these are in your yard, they will likely use it.
Getting a pair of sheers and trimming around bushes and mowing down tall grass can all be great ways to prevent this from happening as this will give them one less reason to come into your yard.
If the grass is too tall and can’t be mowed, take it down with a weed whacker. Trying to cut down grass that is higher than what your mower can handle can damage it by making it work even harder and might even prevent you from cutting down your grass altogether.
Also, bushes with berries can attract deer to your yard and will likely have to be completely removed from the ground if you want to keep them away. If you want to do this, then I recommend getting a large shovel and digging out a nice-sized hole all around the base of the bush until you are able to grab it and wiggle it around enough to pull it out.
Bushes can be very deeply rooted and will sometimes have to be dug out quite a bit before being loose enough to remove. You will need some muscle to completely get it out of the ground, so if possible, get some help.
12) Let Fido Do The Work
Dogs should never be left outside overnight, but if you’re able to chain them up out there an hour or two before you go to bed, then this simple little trick might work. Deer are not only scared of humans, but of dogs as well. Having your dog outside to let the deer know that it is present and that it is probably not a safe area to trespass can help a ton with keeping them out.
If you have an enclosed backyard or field in the back of your home, even better. If your dog is trained to stay in the yard, then let it run free throughout it so that it can really be able to show the deer whose yard it is by chasing them off as opposed to just being chained up and barking.
I’m not sure how much luck you’ll have with smaller dogs, but for me, I have found a lot of luck using larger ones, particularly German Shepards. My German Shepards have been great at keeping predators off of my property and although they get the job done, I definitely wouldn’t turn my nose up at using a smaller dog to get the job done as well.
As long as your dog is good at protecting your property, I don’t see why the size would matter at all.
13) Repel With Scents
You would think that some of the most effective deer repellents would be something that is picked up from a store or your local archery shop, but in my case, it isn’t. Over the years, I have tried many different oddball scents and to my surprise, a lot of them have actually worked, so I thought it’d be a good idea to let fellow hunters know so that you too can use them to keep deer away during the offseason.
These weird scents include…
- Human Hair
- Dial Soap
- Irish Spring Soap
- Smelly T-shirt
- Dog Poo
I realize a lot, if not all of these scents, sound odd. But trust me, they work. I’ve found great success with using each of these throughout the many years I’ve owned private land and will continue to use them as long as they’re available.
Putting a little human hair, soap, or dog poop in the garden can create a smell that the deer will find intolerable to handle and will do a great job at keeping them away. I’ve found that human hair works great since it carries our scent, but with high winds constantly blowing in my area, I find myself using the soap more.
If there is a gate, fence post, or tree nearby your garden, take the stick or bottle of soap and spread it onto the tree. The strong smell will make them want to not enter anywhere near your garden until the smell goes away.
If it’s snowing or raining, reapply frequently as it will likely wash away throughout the day from the moisture.
14) Look Into Fencing
Although a more expensive way to keep deer out, setting up a fence is probably one of the best options you can pick for keeping them away. Obviously, we know how fences work. You set it up around the perimeter of your field or yard and that’s it.
But, since deer have been known to jump as high as 8 feet tall, it is best to get a fence that is around 9. Deer have great strength in their legs and might attempt to jump over your fence if it’s really hungry, so invest in one tall enough to safely keep them behind it.
A fence will allow you to keep bushes and gardens where they are and will completely save you the headache of having to take all kinds of different measures just to keep the deer out.
15) Motion Sensor Lights
What better way to spook deer away than by setting up motion sensor lights to flash into their eyes as they enter the yard? Just like having a loud noise-creating object such as a chime or a security system, motion sensor lights will have the same effect by startling them as they reach a certain point on your property.
Have you ever wondered why deer just stand in one spot when you’re driving toward them while your headlights are shining right in their direction? Well, this is because when light enters their eyes, they stay completely still until their eyes adjust to it.
That’s pretty much like coming out of a movie theater and then having to adjust your vision to the bright lights that are outside of it.
With the sudden shock of the lights hitting them in the eyes, they will likely run off as soon as they are able to adjust themselves to it.
There are many approaches to attracting deer into your yard, and even though some of these approaches are not bought from the store, they still work just the same, if not better. Bowhunting deer on your own property can cut out the stress of having to worry about getting out to the field too early or potentially even missing out on the good game because other hunters have gotten to them first.
With that said, hunting on your own property definitely has many benefits. It would be amazing if we could hunt them year-round since we definitely have the means to, but unfortunately, this is very illegal and should not be attempted or else serious consequences await.
On top of having the freedom to hunt on our own property, we can have more flexibility to try out different baiting tactics and potentially even get more sheds to keep as well.
Being able to effectively use different strategies to deter them away when hunting season is over is also amazing and can even be fun if you really make it a challenge to do so.
If you guys(or girls) have any additional tips or tricks for attracting deer or keeping them away, then please share them in the comments below so that others can benefit from them as well.