How to Attract Deer

Last updated : 23 October 2014

How to Attract Deer

By Clay Heaton (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Some homeowners use all of their energy to repel deer from their yard or garden because of the trouble they can sometimes cause. However, others wish to encourage deer to hang out in their yard for either viewing or hunting purposes.

There are a variety of ways for you to accomplish having more deer on your property. Certain foods, plants, or scents are effective for encouraging the deer to make your yard their new favorite hangout.

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Follow these simple tips on how to attract deer, and enjoy the sight of an increased number on your land.

Food Plots

Plant a food plot full of forage species that will be specifically for the deer to graze upon. Plants that typically attract deer include red clover, chicory, and orchard grass.

Certain high-protein crops, such as peas, soybeans, turnips, alfalfa, sorghum, kale, or corn, are also attractants that the animals enjoy feeding on.

Deer like the nutritious nuts that come from chestnuts and acorns as well. When surrounding vegetation is declining, the deer will appreciate coming to your yard to feast.

Before selecting which food to include in your food plot, it can be beneficial to consult with nearby wildlife experts and farmers for added information about your specific location.

Ensure that the food selection is not abundant in the region. For instance, if there is a corn field right down the road, you may not attract more deer to a food plot of more corn. Choose wisely and conduct research to find the best food plot resources.

Make sure that the planned location for the food plot is away from roads, since cars will tend to scare away the animals. Also, situate it away from any other plants or garden products that you do not wish the deer to eat.

The food plot should not be placed in an area that is prone to flooding, since it could be wiped away in a single storm.

Once you find an ideal area for the food plot, prepare the land for planting. Depending on the size of your property, the plot can be as little as 1,000 square feet or several acres in size.

Clear all brush and trees that are in the way, and then prepare it for seeding with a tractor and cultivator. It is recommended that you spread fertilizer for the intended food plot for optimal plant growth.

Follow the planting directions of the intended crop carefully, while spreading the seed throughout the food plot area. Afterwards, rake the area where the seeds have been distributed to allow for the best soil contact.

It is also a helpful hint for protecting the plot from birds and smaller animals that are interested in gobbling up the seeds.

Deer Lures

Using deer lures can peak deer interest, especially bucks, and encourage them into your yard. Although they are typically used by hunters during the rutting or hunting season, they can also be used by homeowners that are looking to invite deer for viewing pleasures.

Usually, the lures consist of a variety of scents, including urine, pheromones, and appetizing foods. Lures can be purchased at most sporting goods or hunting specialty stores.

Perhaps the most effective scent is deer urine. Spread this type of lure liberally across the section of your property where you want to attract deer. The animals are very likely to visit your land in order to investigate the new, strange deer that is in the territory.

In addition, apply doe scent on the grass, leaves, or trees on your property to attract bucks. The scent is most attractive for eight to ten weeks before the peak of the breeding season, which occurs in mid-November.

But, be very careful handling the scent. Avoid making any contact of the scent with your body. This will minimize the amount of human scent that could interfere in the attraction.

Deer are much smarter animals than they are given credit for, so they will avoid this seemingly potential trap. In fact, deer will stay away from all areas where there is a strong human scent.

Sweet-Smelling Apples

Deer cannot resist the sweet smelling aromas that come from apples, so use this to your advantage in attracting them. It is suggested that you consider planting apple or crab apple trees along the perimeter of the yard.

Not only will this provide the cover that deer prefer, it will also bloom tender leaves and fruit throughout the late summer and fall months.

Sometimes space or climate does not allow the planting of apple trees though. In those cases, it could be beneficial to learn how to attract deer into a feeding spot with apples.

Set up a trough or bucket for the deer to feed from, and pour a healthy serving of grain or deer feed into it. Then, cut up a few apples, cores included, into quarters and toss them in too. Mixing the apples with the feed will attract the deer to come feed on your property.

Salt Blocks

As most hunters are aware, deer are attracted to salt and mineral blocks. Cider and apple salt blocks can also be effective for luring in deer already in the area.

You can easily purchase these from a large variety at most hunting specialty stores, or even some local feed shops. Put the block on the edge of your property, near a food plot, or beside a feeder.

Sometimes the best results come from burying the salt block in the ground, within a hole about three or four inches deep. Cover the block back up with soil and sprinkle some salt on top of it.

Keep in mind that the block will need to sit there for hours, or maybe even days, before the deer will catch a whiff and check it out. Remain patient because they will eventually find it and frequent the area.

Be aware that the deer will make a hole wherever you decide to play the block, as they dig it out and proceed to lick it. Make sure you pick an appropriate spot where there will not be negative consequences from this mess happening.

Plus, the salt can kill plants located within the immediate area. Be careful about choosing the location prior.

Other Deer-Friendly Yard Improvements

Deer are fonder of environments that have taller grass that will provide necessary cover and food source. Let the grass along the perimeter of your property grow taller than the rest of your yard.

This will help to attract deer to step out of the woods or brush, into a safe transition space towards your yard.

Fences can deter and obstruct access into the yard for deer that are looking to prance out of the woods. Remove fences that are being restrictive in this manner, so that deer can more comfortably move around the property.

If this is impossible, try to create some openings within the fence line.

Lastly, always remember to limit lights or sounds that will frighten the deer or discourage their visit into your yard. Keep a safe distance away from them, in order to protect yourself from injury and avoid startling the deer.

Limit the amount of human activity in the area and combine some of these useful tips on how to attract deer into your property.


  1. Casey says

    For anyone that wants to attract deer, I bought a product called “Buck Cage” at my local feed mill. I did see them on facebook. I also bought a lure “doe in heat” was recommended for the fall and winter and a apple scent during the summer by the Feed Mill.. It works Great!!! Every time I look out my windows of my house I always seem to see them checking it out.

  2. aaron says

    Human hair ask a barber for a bag of hair clippings the deer don’t like that at all just sprees the hair were u don’t want them. They smell all that different human scent in the hair an they gone

  3. Andrea says

    Hi i live in scotland England,
    Was just sat having are lunch when there in my drive was a young deer, i was so pleased, i thought i had seen one last night in the garden, i could just make out cause it was a beautiful moon light night.

    Guess they are after the apples on my trees and garden shrubs, thank you for the helpful tips to attract more to come and visit my garden, they can eat what they want, thats fine by me :-) think i may get a night camera and record them.

  4. Charline Jolly says

    There is an organization called “Whitetail Institute” that will send samples of seed for deer nourishing plots. May help to keep them away from ornamentals.
    They love roses and gladiolus. I made the mistake of planting thornless blackberries. Gone the next morning!

  5. Catherine D. says

    My several reasons for NOT attracting deer :
    1) Ravenous appetites. I try very hard to keep deer from eating my flowers & perennials. Late August is when their appetites kick into high gear to fatten up for the coming winter. So I’ve planted things they don’t like to eat. They have to forage on their natural foods of acorns & grass & bushes.
    2) Laws prohibiting & rodent problems. Furthermore, for those who DO want Bambi in their yards, best to check with your City Hall & State Dept of Natural Resorces/Forestry/Animals for any laws governing attracting, feeding & shooting deer. For example, here in Minneapolis, it is illegal to hunt deer with a gun in the city limits. Only licensed bow & arrow hunters with a special permit (drawn by lottery) are allowed to thin the deer herds in the cemeteries. In Minnesota it is illegal to “shine” deer by shining a light to attract them to kill them. Feeding is legal.
    3) Health issues. Lyme disease & Deer ticks are another problem in the upper Midwest. Deer ticks want warm-blooded creatures. Deer host them & when the ticks mature, the bugs bite humans. Deer ticks are carriers of Lyme disease that affects humans. It is a lifetime, chronic infection. Lyme disease has no cure, you just have to control the symptoms. Deer ticks also are carriers of other diseases that affect humans. Feeding deer also attracts other unwanted animals such as racoons that carry rabies.
    4) Overpopulation & keeping a balance in Nature. I think that deer do best for health & population control reasons when they eat their natural diet. When so many people feed deer, it leads to more births, overpopulation & destruction of large areas of vegetation. Limiting the food supply & the natural diet is a way to keep the food & deer numbers in a healthy balance.

    • Crazylady says

      Catherine D.,
      Sounds like you may live a lil more comfortable in Antarctica where there are no “pesky” animals for ya to worry about. Second, anyone who is reading this article & lives in “city limits” expecting to Shoot the deer, is reading the WRONG article!! & Lastly, how about you read what you’ve said in #4 again. Where do you think their “natural food supply” comes from? It’s not like the deer roam around the land & say; “Hmmm, that’s a human yard we can’t eat here, let’s go find an acorn tree!” It doesn’t really work like that. The article should be looked at as : deer like this, I don’t want deer, therefore I won’t plant that! And just an FYI to think about; You have successfully summed up the health, disease & obesity problem for the world in #4! Good job! (Instead of talking about deer, substitue that with “people”.
      Have a good day

      • chonna says

        I love you! These people are total idiots.. not everyone wants to kill and destroy.. humans need to control there own population! Especially some of the parents of the animal killers who posted on this page… thanks for setting them straight!!

  6. Alison says

    And where do you think coyote and fox urine comes from? Animals kept in tiny cages standing in pain on wire slats so their urine drops down for collection.
    I don’t know about your values, but I think I can live quite well without trying to grow hostas for example, loving them as I do.

  7. viki says

    Deer visit our yard often. They seem to know I will not harm them, even when they eat my roses and chew the leaves off my new Chinese Dogwood! They just watch me if I am out gardening or when I pull into the driveway with my noisy truck. I have fenced my vegetable garden, but plant some for the deer outside the fence. Sometimes the young ones play chasing games in the yard. They are so beautiful that I can forgive them for eating my favorite rose and pruning my young apple trees.

  8. bj says

    Thanks for sharing. We love to have the deer visit our yard, and have even planted some trees for them to have shelter. We have a couple of apple trees, and I have taken bucketsfull to the creek for the deer and other critters that are in the area. I just don’t like to see them run in front of me while driving. Thay are beautiful creatures, but a danger on the highways.

  9. Louann says

    Thanks for the article. it describes perfectly what my neighbor is doing to attract these rats with antlers to our neighborhood. He puts food and salt licks out. They have decimated thousands of dollars in plant material in my yard and many others here for blocks around in spite of hundreds of dollars for repellants. There is a heard of 24 currently. If he were privy to 20+ acres of un landscaped area it would not be an issue. On a 1/4 acre city lot it is a crisis not just for me but many others. Aside from the plant damage, they also bring fleas, deer ticks, and lice into my yard that require me to treat my household pets to the tune of $280 per year plus spraying my yard. If I could discharge firearms here I would have a freezer full of Venison.
    Although Bat’s in my pine trees control mosquitoes and skunks take grubs out of my lawn, he also disables traps we put out for groundhogs and chipmunks that are also causing damage to our gardens and house foundations.This is a case of Nature being way out of balance encouraged by one who does not know. Don’t even get me started on his admonishing me for spraying weed killer (his yard is full of dandelions and ground ivy and he goes out there now and then to pull them by hand) He want’s his place “all Natural”

    • Patti says

      I say, “Good for him!” And I hope he keeps on doing it. As far as treating your animals for fleas, they should be treated regardless. You actually believe if he didn’t feed the deer then you wouldn’t have flea or ticks in your yard? Wrong. You.still would. Don’t forget that nature was here before we were.

  10. Cari says

    All you need to do to attract deer is start a back yard plant propagation business. They will visit twice a day, pull all your petunias out by the roots, dump over your bucket full of pink pussy willow rooted cuttings, eat every last leaf off your expensive lavender twist redbud, destroy your lilacs and redbuds a few more each day, kill the twisty willows, and knock over as many pots as possible. I want to wring their little necks. I pop them with my pellet gun and they jump up in the air legs flailing, land on the ground and keep on eating. I live in CA where it is very dry this time of year and my place is a gourmet salad for the deer with cold well water on the side. How can I blame them? Any good hints on not so expensive repellents or tricks would be appreciated. My motion sensor rainbird scared the bejeebers out of them the first time or two. Now is “Yeah! A nice cool shower with our gourmet lunch!!”

  11. Kristi says

    Very illegal to do this in CA. One 80 year old woman near where I live, almost went to jail for 2 years for ‘feeding’ the deer. But, if it is legal where you live, another way to attract them is to have a water source for them. I can’t keep them away from my fish pond!!! Nothing works!

  12. Lois says

    Most flowers or vegetation that you lovingly plant and care for will attract deer to your yard! Bird feeders and ground level bird baths also will draw in the deer. But once they come, they can eat everything in sight! So beware what you wish for, it may be cheaper to go see them in a park!

  13. Derek says


  14. Bill Martin says

    Check with your local Dept. of Natural Resources before setting out a salt block for deer. In IL it is not allowed due to concerns about Chronic Wasting Disease.

  15. Sharon says

    I love the Deer we have an Old Apple Tree and the Deer come every year and clean it up ,you never know there was Apples there, ground always clean ,All year round Deers come in the yard ,I am in CT

    • Cathy says

      Your lucky I’ve been told by my neighbors that we have them but I just can’t seem to get out of bed early enough to see for myself….:(

  16. Anne says

    We live in the woods that are populated by deer. They are graceful and beautiful to look at. My addition as to how to attract deer: plant anything that costs more than $25 per plant. They will find it and eat it down to the ground in one day. Forget the advice on what deer don’t like to eat; deer can’t read so they are not aware of what they allegedly don’t like to eat. Just keep in mind the price tag. Which means they won’t eat the weeds that are free.

  17. Katie says

    As lovely as deer look in the wild, I haven’t wanted them eating the kitchen veggies. I planted yew bushes around the kitchen garden, both as a wind block and because I read deer and moose don’t like them, and it’s worked a charm. Haven’t seen a deer (or moose) in the kitchen garden since I brought the bushes in, even just having them laying on site before they were planted seemed to scare the animals off. Before, we had many visits from the deer. Also, getting a Towa helped a lot, since, as Mike says, deer stay away from human smells. This doubles as fertilizer and deer repellant!

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