I love having wildlife in my yard, and I especially love how excited my children get to see wildlife. Although we live in a residential area, we often have wildlife in our yard. We see deer most evenings in either our or our neighbor’s yard. If, like me, you like seeing deer in your yard, here are some things that you can do to help invite these graceful animals.
Deer are incredible jumpers, and can clear most fences with ease. I have seen tiny fawns easily clear six feet, so your standard neighborhood fences don’t serve as much of a hindrance to a determined deer. However, deer are often cautious and grazing when they are in residential areas. This means that their preference will be for unfenced areas, especially unfenced areas where they can eat. I’m not saying to take down your fences, but be aware that unfenced sections of your yard are more likely to see deer than the fenced areas. Also, the size and style of the fence make a difference.
Any time that you want to attract wild animals, a good first step is to attract wild plants. The deer in your area will be used to the indigenous plants in that area, and will appreciate wild areas. If you can, leave a section of your yard mostly unattended. This will attract a wide variety of birds and other wildlife, possibly including deer.
If you want to attract deer, and especially if you want them to visit your yard regularly, you need to create a safe environment for them. If they are scared or startled, they are less likely to return. Creating a safe environment can be as simple as keeping your own volume levels down and leaving the wildlife alone. It is good to observe wildlife; I don’t recommend interacting with wildlife.
The deer will primarily eat wild plants, but they are also known to nibble on gardens. Making sure that you have food available, especially during the winter months, will help to attract deer. They will eat winter greens, like kale, and easy to grow plants, like clover. They may also be attracted to salt and fresh water, especially when it is particularly hot or cold.
Realize that attracting deer to your yard takes both preparation on your part and luck. Be patient. It may take awhile for deer to come to your yard. Even then, it may take awhile before you realize that deer are visiting your yard.
Please keep in mind that where you live is an important factor in whether you attract deer. If you live somewhere that does not have a deer population, you are unlikely to attract any. However, cities like Washington D.C. have large urban deer populations, so you might be surprised by the four-legged visitors you receive.