Fishing Line Deer Fence

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Are you looking for an affordable and easy-to-set deer fence? I think that this fishing line deer fence might be the right solution for you! You might be surprised at how effective a simple fishing line can be when it comes to keeping deer out of your garden.

Dear Deer, from my young, fresh, green spinach you shall not eat, and don’t even think about biting a red, sweet beet, I may not have a lot of cash to put up a fancy fence, but, what do you know… I can still defend my garden from your offense!

You are not completely wrong if you think I’ve lost it… What can I say, this farming business can drive you mad. Maybe it’s the hours in the sun or too much fresh air, but as you battle yet another project in the field, you find yourself talking to the grass, trees, ladybugs, and spinach. Oh yeah, and to the deer tracks on the ground.

Fishing Line Deer Fence For the Garden…

deer eating in the field

They are everywhere! The tracks, I mean. The deer are nowhere to be found. They walk on my vegetable beds (can’t they see there are walkways marked?!), at night, I assume, inspecting the growing greens. I tried to ignore them, but it’s not possible. I will never have anything to eat or sell if I don’t find a way to keep them out.

a groundhog hole

The Issue…

But the deer are not the only visitors to my vegetable garden. See this lovely hole in the ground in the image above? See? See? Do you know who lives there? A groundhog, that’s who! A big, fat, groundhog. And he loves vegetables! So I had to find a deer fence that would keep the deer out, and the groundhogs out, and if we are at it, let’s keep the rabbits, elephants, and hippos out as well.

Now, before we continue to talk about solutions to this issue, let me just mention that there would not have been an issue if I lived next to this garden simply because my amazing dog would have kept all the creatures away from the garden. However, this garden is on my 20 acres of farmland and I don’t yet live there. It’s pretty much a playground for all the creatures that we have around here.

Options For a Solution…

  • An electric fence – this type of fence might work against the deer, but I’ve heard that it needs to be at least 8′ tall because if it’s shorter the deer can jump it easily. Also, it won’t keep the rabbits and groundhogs out and… I didn’t have money for that anyway.
  • A permanent fence – was out of the question, because, you guessed it, I don’t have the money for that, and anyway, I wanted something that I could easily move later on since I’m sure things are going to change around the garden or I might decide to use the field for something completely different in the future.

Since those two options weren’t going to work for me, I went on to do some research in hopes of finding a different solution. A couple of hours into my research I came across a YouTube video that unfortunately is no longer available on YouTube. In that video, the guy showed how to make a simple fishing line deer fence, the one that I am about to share with you below. I was very skeptical but it was so cheap and simple that I had nothing to lose so I decided to try it. My fence is up for a month now. There are still many deer tracks on the field, but they are all on the outside of the fence. None inside!

Equipment Needed…

Note – if you are only looking for a fishing line deer fence you won’t need the chicken wire, wire, gloves (although those always come in handy), and long sleeve shirt (the shirt is just to protect you from ending up with seven million scratches on your arms from the awful chicken wire. But, if it’s cold, do wear a long sleeve shirt so you don’t freeze, yes?)

  • T posts – I used 6′ posts
  • 30 pounds fishing line
  • Chicken wire – I used rolls of 4′ x 150′ of chicken wire that has 2” holes instead of the common 1”.
    Another note… this is an old project, since then, I have to admit that I realized that I hate chicken wire and that I would never Ever EVER use chicken wire on my farm again. If I were to build this fence again, I would probably find another kind of wire to use. But for that time, it worked. It was cheap and easy to get from a local store.
  • Wire – for tying things together.
  • Tomato stake – used that for the gate. Again, it was cheap and easy to get, however, I would probably find a better solution if I were to build this fence again.
  • Gloves
  • Long sleeve shirt – if you are going to install the chicken wire and you don’t want to end up with bloody arms and family members who wonder if they should admit you to the nearest mental hospital.

Setting a Fishing Line Deer Fence…

driving the post into the ground

Step one – set the t-posts. One foot of the 6′ posts was pounded into the ground, leaving 5 feet of the post above ground. I placed the t-posts 15 feet apart. I think that it’s better to place them closer (10 feet apart is best, I think), however, I had 400 feet of fence to build so I decided to place them a bit further.

Step two – add the fishing line. I placed the fishing line every two feet on the posts, looping it around each post a couple of times. I didn’t have to go all the way to the ground because I was going to place the chicken wire on the lower two feet to keep other creatures out. If you’re not going to use the chicken wire and only want this fence to keep deer away, you can add another line on the lower part of the posts instead of the wire.

Step three (optional) – adding the wire fence. I attached 2′ of the wire to the posts using electric fence wire that I had in the shed, the other 2′ was laid on the ground so creatures won’t dig under the fence. If I couldn’t make the chicken wire tight between two posts (which is not an easy job…), I used the electric wire to help it stay upright by tying it to one post, weaving it through the top of the chicken wire, and tying it to the other post.

When you get to a corner, you have to cut the lower two feet of the chicken wire so you can turn the corner. Make sure you have heavy rocks to hold the chicken wire down because it will curl up and try to kill you with no shame. None at all.

building the gate

Step four – building the gate. I made two gates, one on each side of the field. I used a tomato stake that I got from Lowe’s and tied the fishing line to it every two feet. I didn’t find a solution for the lower part of the gates. One solution I considered was to just cut the chicken wire to fit the width of the gate and tie and untie it to the post every time that I open the gate. To close the gate, I tie the tomato stake to the post with the electric wire.

the finished fence

It’s a job best suited for two, but I did most of it by myself, and I am still alive. Make sure you use gloves and have a long sleeve shirt on when dealing with the chicken wire, or you will end up with arms full of bloody scratches and silver hands.

Pretty it’s not. Doable it is. Easy to move it is. Affordable it also is. But most of all, it is effective. So far. Knock on wood.

Frequently Asked Questions…

Should I mark the fence?

No! The reason that this fence works is because it is invisible. The deer can’t see it so when they get too close to the garden and the line touches them they spook and run away.

How often should I replace the wire?

Chances are that every time a deer touches the fence, the fishing line will break and you’ll have to re-tie a new fishing line (only takes minutes). In the beginning, you are going to have to check often but you won’t believe how fast the deer learn, and re-tying or changing the fishing line becomes less and less often.

Does it have to be 30 pounds fishing line?

I have never tried with a thinner line, 30 pounds seems to work really well.

So, what do you think? Are you going to give this a try? Since I building this fence I’ve inspired a few friends who have also tried it (without the chicken wire at the bottom). Some did it to protect flower beds on the edge of their property and some to keep the deer from eating their lawn. It worked for everyone I know and I think that it will work for you as well. Give it a try!

More Homestead DIY Tutorials…

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  1. does this still work?

    1. Still works. I ended up taking my fence down because I needed the field for something else but I have a friend down the road that still has her’s up and it works. Once in a while she needs to replace the fishing line if the deer break it but that’s it.

  2. Noel Griffith says:

    I put up my fish line fence today, but was afraid my husband would walk through it. I had some deer netting that I put on the inside to make it more visible during the day. Do you think the deer will see the netting and try to jump it. It also keeps my chickens out. I attached it to the top strand of line, but wonder if you think I should take it off the top part.

    1. I am not sure… The point of the line is that they can’t see it and they get spooked when they touch it. If they can see the net then there is no point for the line. But maybe they won’t be able to see the net… It’s hard to know cause I can’t see it. I say, give it a try for a few days and if they keep bothering you with the net then try to take it off.
      Good luck!

    1. Tom, it looks great! I am happy it did well for you. There is nothing better for me than knowing I helped someone grow their own food. You made my day! Thanks for taking the time to come back here and write this!

  3. After much research, I’m going to try this. Thanks for taking the time to post it. I only have a 40×40 plot so it should be manageable. I like this idea because it is cheap and I can expand it when I expand the garden a bit next year.

    The gate is a troubling piece. I’ll probably build a 4′ wide section with 2 posts of its own and attach the chicken wire to the bottom 2′ but not drag it out on the floor (so i can take the door off easily). I’ll probably put some flat stones on the flooring at the gate section, to stop diggers there and create an entry step. I will connect this section to the main part of the fence on either side. I will have to detach one side of the door whenever I want to go in the garden but that’s a small price to pay.

    I’ll post a photo on my website if I get this to work.

    1. Those are good ideas. The way I did the gate here really wasn’t comfortable. If you don’t have a problem with diggers you can just do the fishing line.

  4. Hi Lee,
    I’d seen the video of the fishing-line deer fence, bought the 30 lb. test last fall and will try it. Do you know if it works for elk or bears? The elk are much taller so I don’t know if the fence would need to be as well. Anyone have experience with these wild guys? Would the fence need to be more traditional?

    1. I have no experience with elk or bears… I would guess that maybe if you put something on the fishing line that will make noise when the line moves it might scare them away? Like empty cane, maybe? I can ask on my FB page, maybe one of my readers have experience with this…

  5. I love your idea and your pictures and instructions have been more helpful than any other site or video that I’ve seen. One thing I would like to ask is what is the size of the plot you fenced in and how many poles and how much wire did you need? A rough estimate will do. I would also like to see your gate and how it works if it’s possible. It’s 2 years later so you may not be doing this any more!!

    A little bit about deer. deer normally follow the same path every day. In order to keep them out of your garden you have to make it uncomfortable enough to convince them to find a new path. It would not be expensive to run a string of wire around this fence about mouth height of the deer. You can buy a little electrical current thingy to make the wire hot. Bate the wire with peanut butter and turn it on. The peanut butter will attract the deer and when they lick it, well they will be convinced to find another path for good.

    After you are sure they have left, you don’t have to bother turning on the power anymore.

    1. It was about 400 feet of fence. I used a T-post every 15 feet or so. I ended up taking this fence down last year because we decided to work a larger area with the tractor. I currently don’t have this larger area (a three-acre field) fenced. If the deer end up being a problem I might need to use your set up. Or I thought about getting a large dog and make him a home there. I think if the deer smell the dog they might not get too close, right?
      Thanks for visiting!

  6. I planted 30 fruit trees last fall and used your fence method. A few deer got through the fishing line but were so freaked out that they were more focused on the fishing line (snapping I suppose) that they ran off. I had to repair the broken line. I will try this method on my vegetable garden with the chicken wire. Hopefully the chicken wire will keep out the raccoons.

    1. Yes, this happened to me once too. The top line was broken but the lower ones were still in place. I think they tried to go through and freaked out when they suddenly felt the line, then they ran away. There weren’t any tracks in the garden. I fixed the top line and it never happened again. I kept wondering if it’s always the same deer that are coming through the field and they just learned their lesson… Do deer stay in the same area? I never checked into it more…

    1. What kind do you have, Sheri? Electric?

      1. It’s a wire fence (no electric) with an upper wire at the 6 ft. level encased in rubber. Attached at ground level is a lower rabbit fence that has been anchored to the ground. I cut-down pressure treated wood (recycled from a friends deck) that is screw-anchored on both sides of the fence so the rabbits and coyotes can’t dig in. The encased upper wire was to “trick” the deer into thinking the fence is higher. I put reflective ribbon streamers on it. The higher you go with a wire & streamers, the higher they think the fence is. The secret to getting my fence wire taunt was to use a galvanized fence “end”. It’s just a strip of metal. You weave that into your wire fence and then attach 2 “come along’s” to pull it taunt while you anchor it to your post. When I had my temporary deer fencing they would throw themselves against it trying to take it down. They got a rude awakening when the new fence went in. Now they just stand there and stare at me.

      2. Sounds like a strong fence. I am sure they can jump 6ft, but they aren’t too smart. The thing with the fishing line is that they can’t see it so they spook when it touches them. I like the idea of the rabbit fence instead of the chicken wire. Much easier to handle.

      3. I couldn’t use the exterior “trick wire” because I built the fence on my property line, that would have put me into my neighbors property. What I did last year was plant Marionberry along my fence. That stuff is stickery like a wild rose. It’s taking over the whole fence and this is to discourage raccoons. (It also makes a wonderful winter Cordial!) I took apart a mattress for the springs and loop these onto the wire fence and the Marionberry grows through them. This way I don’t wire anchor the canes and they grow very thick. They also put out new cane growth at the leaf digit of last years growth on the cane which leads to massive berry production. The springs also discourage racoon because they can get trapped in it. I leave about 12 inches clear of the berry cane at the bottom so my cats can peek out at the world. Like wild cats they walk their territory and my George (fixed male) marks the fence line. It was a proud day last summer when that boy was finally able to relieve himself standing like a big boy! (I’m talking about a cat who was 12 years old!)

      4. LOL, I say it’s about time after 12 years…
        Building a “living fence” is definitely on my list for when we move to our land in the country. Blackberries are a great option, I was also thinking about raspberries, and maybe some flowering climbing plants.
        I was also thinking about planting plants on the outside that the deer and other creatures don’t like, like garlic, onions and lavender. I’ll have to wait until we move to figure out what will work best.

      5. I control the Marionberry growth from my side of the fence and what happens to shoot out to the other side (If I don’t see it and turn it back) is trimmed by the deer. I try not to let that happen. Your idea of planting a mixed border along your exterior fence line is a wonderful idea. I can’t do that but I discovered something else, my neighbor’s do nothing to control their slug and snail populations. That “other side of the fence” is my “Battle Line”. I collect fireplace wood ash and pour a line and use this to keep them back. When it gets real bad I have to use Deadline. (It’s like something out of a horror movie) I have been planting my inner fence border areas but it’s taken me some time because I try to propagate as many plants as I can and save money. I kinda embraced a “Food Forest” concept. It’s a mix of Marionberry (shoots harvested from the main Mama), roses (free from neighbor’s who are tired of fighting the deer), Blueberries (some bought and many free from frustrated neighbors), Ever bearing strawberries, and garlic. I’ve grown Thyme, Rosemary, Tarragon & Marjoram from seed, split it and tuck it in. Tallest at the fence working down to the smallest and I was really surprised at the growth and fruit size of the blueberries and strawberries. They are truly “Forest Floor” plants. Have a great day!

  7. Just curious how your fence worked through the summer? We have a lot of deer here as well and I have lost count how many plants they have devoured. Your fence seems doable.

    1. It worked wonderfully! I could see deer tracks all over the field but only on the outside of the fence. I had one time that the top fishing line was ripped, I guess a deer tried to cross, but it scared him away. I fixed it in just a few moments.
      The chicken wire kept the other creatures out. I didn’t lose one plant! I did have to take it down at the end of the summer since we are thinking about working the field with a tractor next year and it was in the way. The fishing line was easy to take down, the chicken wire… not so much. But totally doable.

  8. I’d get a dog. I’ve got no deer issues. Now I just have fur all over my clothes and food issues. Ok, don’t get a dog.

    1. LOL. I will get a dog once I move there. Right now I am an hour away so can’t leave a dog there by itself…

  9. My MIL has a great fence, and so far, the deer have stayed out. They are brave enough to come up to the FRONT DOOR to eat her hanging baskets.
    We have dogs, big dogs, and we are hoping this and some deer deterrents (hair clippings, plants deer dislike…we have a ton of lillies) will keep them away from our raised beds.

  10. My mom had an 11′ fence (like yours the top was just wire) and the deer still occasionally got in, but very rarely. The problem is they couldn’t get out once they were in. They couldn’t get enough of a running start in her garden to get out again. Luckily here we have no deer. We do have groundhogs, rabbits, opposum, and racoons. But the skunks so far have done the most damage. They like to rototill the place looking for insects I presume. Oh and cats. I protect my beds from cats as they do a lot of damage otherwise and leave gifts. The fence I have keeps out the rabbits and groundhogs. Most of the time it keeps out the skunks, but the can squeeze in certain places if they try hard. Then like my mom’s deer they get trapped in for a while looking for a way out. I’ve plugged their main spot up so I’m hoping they don’t get in again. Sadly a racoon can get in if they want. Very easily. But I’ve never had them do much but explore and then leave. Even when the corn was ripe. But I grow squash under the corn and the racoons hate the prickles, so I’ve been pretty lucky so far.

    1. Yes, other creatures, even if they don’t eat the vegetables, they make a lot of mess. This is why I was looking for a fence that can take care of other creatures and not only deer.

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