How to build a deer scare

Updated May 31, 2018

A deer scare is a piece of kinetic sculpture made of bamboo or other hollow tubes of various diameters that fills slowly with water, pours it out, then returns to its original position with a hollow-sounding thunk. Used in Japanese gardens, a bamboo deer scare adds movement and the sound of water to create a peaceful meditation area.

Determined deer are pretty difficult to deter, especially in spring when available forage is scant. The tender shoots of water lilies and other pond plants is a siren song that is difficult for any but the most well-fed deer to resist. However, the sudden thunk of the deer scare as it returns to its upright position will often startle one or more deer in a group enough to make them jerk their heads up. At least one will then show the white of its tail and cause the others to run.

Dig a hole in the ground the approximate size and shape of the preformed PVC plastic pond liner. Rake play sand into the hole so that it follows the contours of the pond liner. Put the liner in place.

Cut the 2" bamboo into two poles. Make one pole three feet long and one four feet long. Drill a 1/2" hole 18 inches from the bottom and six inches from the top of the four-foot-long pole. Drill a 1/8" hole eight inches from the bottom and 24 inches from the top of the four-foot-long pole and the three-foot-long pole.

Sink the four-foot pole and the three-foot pole you cut in step 2 into the ground one foot deep, one foot apart, next to the empty pond liner you put in the ground in step 1. The holes you drilled in step 2 should be visible above ground on each pole, and the 1/8" holes on each pole should face the holes on the other pole.

Bevel cut the four-inch pole on one end, at a 45-degree angle. Drill a one-inch hole in the four-inch pole at a point about two-thirds down the length of the pole. Insert one of the foot-long, one-inch-diameter dowel rods into the hole in the four-inch diameter pole. Use the three-inch wood screws to attach the one-foot-long, one-inch-diameter dowel rods between the two bamboo poles. Make sure the bevelled point of the four-inch pole faces the sky when everything is screwed into place.

Place the submersible pump on the pond bottom. Run clear plastic air line from the pump, through the lower 1/2" hole closest to the ground, up the inside of the pole, and out through the second hole. Thread tube through the six-inch hollow bamboo and glue the pole to the two-inch pole using instant adhesive. Position tube so that it will spill into the four-inch pole. Prime pump and fill pond with water. Allow water to fill the four-inch tube until it spills into the pond basin.

Fill your pond with water. Allow water to fill the four-inch tube until it spills into the pond basin. Decorate pond liner edge with river rocks and water plants. Pole will tip when full, spilling water into the pond basin. When it tips back into position, it will hit one of the dowel rods, making the distinctive, hollow-sounding thunk of a working deer scare.

Things You'll Need

  • Preformed PVC plastic pond
  • Rake
  • Four bags play sand
  • Seven feet of 2" diameter hollowed bamboo
  • Power drill
  • 1/2" diameter drill bit
  • 1/8" diameter drill bit
  • Two feet of 4" diameter hollowed bamboo
  • Six inches of one-inch diameter hollowed bamboo
  • Two feet of 1" diameter dowel rod
  • Four three-inch-long wood screws
  • One-inch diameter drill bit
  • Submersible pond pump and filter kit
  • Ten feet of clear plastic air line
  • Instant adhesive
  • Large rocks
  • Water plants
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About the Author

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.