Frank’s Brilliant Update to Fishing-Line Deer Fencing


First of all: Have you all ever considered that–though my motives may seem altruistic–sometimes my blogging does me so much good that it may be that my blogging is a selfish act?

That thought just occurred to me. Wait. Don’t tell anybody.

Second of all: my heartfelt thank you to astute and gentle reader Frank from Ohio.

(insert picture of Frank here–wishful thinking, Frank!)


This photo shows Bea patrolling the perimeter of the fishing line fence that keeps the deer out of the blueberries. We actually have three strands in place now.

THREE YEARS AGO (Frank–where has the time gone?), Frank from Ohio commented on one of my most popular posts, which addresses how to make a simple fence out of t-posts and fishing line (I learned it from my friend Jamie) to keep deer out of the orchard, or berry patch, or vegetable garden. He shared with me that he and his wife were planting an impressive array of veg and berries and fruit trees there in Ohio, tra-laaa, like somebody else I know (whistling), but also that they had an impressive array of deer prancing (literally) through their property and wolfing down impressive amounts of their plantings. Frank was desperate to foil the voracious deer population, desperate enough to try the fishing line fence.

Later . . . much later . . . Frank reported back, to say the fence worked for a short time, but then, their cheeky Ohio deer started stepping right through it–mamas with babies, babies with visiting aunties, cousins and uncles and the whole contingency of local deer were partying at Frank’s place. He saw it all on a gamecam! Apparently he had been trying to get away with only one low strand, like some geezer on YouTube suggested (*secretly rolling my eyes*) *snif*. Frank said that he was going to add two more strands, and pull it tighter, to boot.

Later still, he wrote that his new fence had been working for several months! *Phew* I breathed a sigh of relief. I hate it when I hear that one of my fabulous tips doesn’t work, you know? Life went on as before–for me, and presumably for Frank and his wife and their lovely plantings.

I wrote blog posts, Frank patrolled his fences and estimated how many pies he’d soon have blueberries for. We both (presumably) were happy.

Frank reported back occasionally, and even added bits of color to his comments. Consider this:

By the way, I forgot to mention an added ‘eerie’ effect of the fishing line fence which may also factor into the deer avoiding it. When the wind blows the fishing line, if stretched tight enough, sets up an audible harmonic tone.

Frank, you’re awesome. I just love it that you added that detail. Although–no matter how much I listen–I hear no harmonics from my fishing lines. And the wind here blows all the time. 🙁 I know. Sad. I guess it’s an Ohio thing. *siiiigh*


But then. *thunder clap*.

The worst. After many months, the deer got cheeky again, and broke through Frank’s excellent fences and resumed their snacking on his plantings. Vile. Deer.

Here’s what Frank wrote to me next:

I have another disappointing experience to add on the fishing line front . . . It works, but . . . You need to have, in my opinion, THREE levels of the line up (ankle, belly, shoulder high). It needs to be tight (pretty tight). And you have to have neighbors who are good shots. Despite all of the above, I too succumbed to the deer this year. No major damage, but they made it through all four sections of our garden efforts (vineyard, orchard, blueberry hill, kitchen garden). And we too did add layers of deterrents once we saw our false sense of security breached. We did exactly the same with the netting. Deer attacked my wife’s beans and pea poles until we threw up some spare netting we had about. Did the same in the watermelon patch and cabbages. I also got a good deal on some of those stand alone Havahart Deer sprinklers you can fill and set out around the perimeter.

How my heart went out to Frank! I suggested–weakly, so weakly, gentle readers!–that maybe there were areas of the world where the deer pressure and intense cheekiness was so off-the-charts that the CHEAP and EASY fishing line deer fence just wasn’t going to cut it. And, sadly, that apparently Frank lived in one of those areas. I had nuthin’ better than that. Lame, lame, lame.

I chalked this one up to my own failure. Failure to help my gentle reader Frank. I was despondent. I felt sad for Frank, I wished him well, and I figured he would chalk my suggestion up to massive fails he read about on the stupid interwebs.

Sometimes the life of a blogger is a puzzling one. I wanted so badly to help . . . but no. 🙁 Sadness.

So when I received a positive update from Frank this week, my delight was boundless. He wrote:

Here’s an update to our heavy deer situation in SE Ohio . . . : fishing line and empty pie tins. Those two things seem to be keeping the deer away from our blueberries and orchard. Fishing line, as discussed, does a good job, but is always ‘tested’ by the deer with eventual break ins.

I kept thinking what would keep them from even approaching the fishing line. Then, in my quest for nice zen garden designs it dawned on me. Those bamboo ‘deer chasers’ one always sees in Japanese garden designs… With their simple clicking sound. The unnatural sound is what apparently spooks the deer.

Oh. Jeepers. Thank you very much, Frank, now I really really want one of these. 🙂

(continuing on Frank’s note . . . ) So, as I don’t have ready access to bamboo, I rigged up the Appalachian version of the same idea. Empty aluminum pie tins strung up on the corners of our fishing line fencing. We use t-posts so that metal on metal clang in the most gentle breeze startles even me at times.

There’s been zero line breaks for over a year now and I still see herds of deer round and about our place. But none in our crop plots.

Finally found that tipping point in this deer situation.

Hurrah for persistence, hurrah for Frank, and hurrah for those stupid deer finally getting their comeuppance! There are, after all, plenty of other delectables the deer can eat, right?

And hurrah that we had some old pie plates kicking around (you know how we love pie) so Mack and I could head straight out and do a Frank Update to our fishing line fence. Just as Frank mentioned, I’ve been slightly startled when I’m outside, because the sound of those aluminum pie plates clanging away on the posts. I’m hoping that the local deer will be similarly startled, at least enough to turn around and go munch on the neighbor’s trees instead of mine (just joking, guys!).



I’m so happy the wind blows nearly all the time out here!


Check out those cherry trees!

Here are some more specifics from Frank:

 . . . The metal on metal SOUNDS like human activity, which, when they can’t make out where it’s coming from, they choose flight instead of taking any chances. At least that’s what I’ve deduced by observation.

I’m doing this a couple different ways: One way I’ve hung them up on the opposite corners of our orchard plot. The other way, I’ve hung a couple WITHIN the blueberry area (inside the fishing line fenced area), like near the middle of the area.

I’m concerned that if they do figure out the sounds are coming from those twirling shiny things on the corners, they may lose their fear and come closer. So, I set the blueberry tins INSIDE the area and kinda lower (below the bush height) so they can’t see where the sound is coming from.

So. If you have tried the fishing line fence, and it hasn’t worked out as well as you had hoped, perhaps you’ll want to try Frank’s easy fix?

My fishing line fence must be patrolled and maintained and occasionally replaced, when deer do their thrashing-through-it thang. Now that these pie plates are in place, I look forward to not having to replace our fishing line now, for a good long time, and I have FRANK to thank for it. Frank for President! Thanks again, Frank, for taking the time to share your experiences with me. (If you want to read the post and all the interesting input in the comments, here it is.)

Now you understand why my blogging is actually a selfish act. 😉 I think I learn more from my gentle readers than you all learn from me. Thanks, guys!


p.s I’d love to hear back from you, if you apply Frank’s Fix to your fencing. We’re all in this together, aren’t we?

Pin it for later


26 thoughts on “Frank’s Brilliant Update to Fishing-Line Deer Fencing

  1. Kay

    Waiting on your suggestions for the dreaded groundhog, who, thankfully has NOT found my garden so far this summer….yet (hopefully never again!) The barn cats have been thwarted by the old hay/straw mulch, which is so packed (molded–as in mildew-mold) & intertwined together that they cannot scratch it up. The last area I amended with some forest top soil (found on sale in the scratch & dent area of our local W-m… Sorry, I took all they had.)… I have had to protect with the plastic bag and various iron stakes. Silly cats. A whole farm and they want to dig in my raised beds & gardens. Still, I prefer them & their foolishness over the mice/vermin we’d have without them. **shudder at the thought of a mouse over-run as we once had and Rats!… More shudders** (ok, sorry for the novel I just wrote. You inspired me. 😉 )

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I hesitate to put this down in writing (jinx myself!) but I don’t think we’ve had problems with groundhogs–at least, not yet. I’ll ask my Dad about what he does to discourage the whistlepig from hanging out at their place, because I know they’ve done battle with them in the past.

  2. Michele

    I will be implementing yours and Frank’s suggestions, thanks! And Kay, maybe a raised be just for the kitties? It’s sooo much easier to dig in 😉
    Since the bunnies have denuded my beans, my next battle is with the squash vine borer. Looks like I will have to hand pick those suckers. Any suggestions?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I like the idea for a raised bed just for the kitties! And the squash vine borer: grrr. That pest is also one of my biggest foes every summer, but I am determined to raise winter squash successfully this summer! SO determined! I’ve just planted my winter squash, and I’m going to watch the little plants like a hawk. I have a few strategies up my sleeve, and I’m going to write a post about it asap Michele. If you discover anything that is effective, please share it with me and I’ll include it in my post. One thing I’m planning to do is to wrap the stems of each plant in the fabric wrap that I bought (kinda like athletic wrap) to protect the trunks of my fruit trees. It might not work but I’m going to try it!

  3. Chef William Chaney

    Great research and follow through by Frank, and good to know should I return to an area that has a deer problem…the deer in most of this area of the world have all been served in tacos long before we got here. We do have iguanas which happen to be vegetarian but they have not been a problem “Yet”. Maybe our garden is to small to be of interest to them, they like to eat the leaves of the trees. However I am very surprised to hear that you have “extra” pie tins available…after all they are great for making and freezing pizza in during the tomato season…to be served during the cold winter days. I guess with the love for baking and the free time of winter you make your pizza fresh so that explains it.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Frozen pizza? Chef, you surprise me!! 😉 You are lucky not to have deer eating your gardens, but I hope you have enough walking around to at least give you some visual delights now and then. They are pretty creatures, especially when they are bounding AWAY from your plantings, their brilliant white tails flashing in the moonlight. Thanks, Chef. Now I’m hungry for homemade pizza!!

  4. Linda Stanley

    Well, I, too, have had an ongoing problem with deer. While I did not see your original post, I found a similar video that showed monofilament fishing line used to keep deer out of orchards and the like. I tried it and it worked pretty well the first year; tried it again the following year with some invasion and then it is still up this year with lots of invasion and tear downs. I’d repair it only to have it torn down again a week or so later. And the destruction to my trees did not make me happy. So, I again went looking and found your site and the pie pan trick suggested by one of your readers. I put four pie tins out there just a bit ago. Because of the size of the lot, I think I’ll need to get more, but I have my fingers crossed. Hopefully this will work. there are way too many deer here in town. They need to be either harvested for meat or rounded up and hauled back up to the mountains. Their numbers increase threefold each spring with the birth of their fawns. Not good.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Linda, I’m sorry. I know that the deer pressure in other areas of the country is much more intense than it is here. And it’s bad enough here!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I’ve used all sizes, actually. I buy the stoutest stuff I feel like I can afford at the time. The cheaper stuff breaks a lot easier, obviously!

  5. Helen

    Oh, this one made me laugh with a memory! Yes, I have put pie tins up! (In the photo I sent you a week or so ago showing how we use the big tomato cages as a fence, you’ll notice pie tins swinging from about a third of them. I’ll never forget how proud I was of this idea a few years ago when I attached them. When my husband got home, he just shook his head… “If I ever wondered if we might be red-necks, I can just look at the tin pieces hanging around our garden and know for sure!” Ha ha ha! Does it work for the deer… Hmmm… It can’t hurt! And it’s soooo attractive! 🙂

  6. Melissa

    Thanks for the suggestions and perseverance Frank! This is my 3rd summer in our current house, which happens to be on a deer super-highway. The first year, the deer devoured my garden, and it took me too long to figure out a cost-effective deer management system. The second year I installed the fishing line fence with raging success – absolutely no deer in my garden and everything (including way too many weeds) grew in abundance. This year, I again installed the fishing line fence. I found a bit of nibbling a few weeks ago, so I added some fishing line across the top to deter them from jumping over the fence. Then I went away on vacation for a week, and came home to find my garden DESTROYED. All my green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, strawberries are now completely leafless. None of the line has been broken, so they didn’t “break through”.” I have 4 or 5 “rows” of fishing line on my T-posts, starting 1ft above the ground, ending at the top of my 7-ft T-posts, so I didn’t think they’d be able to squeeze between the lines. Are the jumping the fence, or are they squeezing between the lines? I’m going to try the pie pan idea, but I’m so disappointed and angry, I might also try some other deterrents (motion-activated sprinkler, liquid fence…). But that then confounds any success I have. Any other thoughts??

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Melissa, are you quite sure that this is deer damage? Rabbits can take crops down to the ground, too, and we’ve found that the rabbits this year are fierce! Also, have you tried the stinky rabbit/deer deterrant? I just bought some and will put it out on rags attached to stakes around my gardens. Hoping for relief from the rabbits this year!

  7. Tom Moldenhauer

    I am curious whether it was deer. Checking the hoof print would tell you. I am debatin on using an electric poly rope or fish line, but am leaning toward the fish line. I have an acre of watermelons, pumpkins and gourds that I sell at my self serve stand, and have been frustrated many times (to say the least) with deer damage.
    Thank you

  8. Penny

    I bought clear blue fishing line that didn’t look blue in the store but does look blue outside. Will this probably not work?

  9. Mike H.

    One thing I’d like to add to the discussion is that being able to really tighten the fishing line seems to have a big impact on success. A slack line will not deter deer. The way I came up with the tighten the line well requires a bit of knot-tying practice (ideally with paracord or similar before moving up to fishing line): a modified version of the trucker hitch. Essentially, you’ll want to tie a slip knot in the line, then wrap the fishing line around the t-post. Feed the working end into the slip knot, then pull. This effectively creates a pulley and gives you 3-1 mechanical advantage when tightening. Instead of securing the hitch with a couple half hitches though, which will render it difficult to adjust when the line inevitably loosens, I secure it with a taut line hitch. The taut line hitch will allow for periodic tightening.

    I prefer this method over just using a taut line hitch because there’s only a 1-1 mechanical advantage when tightening with a taut line hitch, which can make it difficult to get sufficient tension. As with most things, there’s more than one way to get things done, and your mileage may vary. Just wanted to share my experience.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Gosh, Mike, thank you very much! What a wealth of information. Thanks for adding so much value to our discussion about deer fencing for the orchard. I so appreciate your sharing your experience, and your expertise!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.