DIY: Deer Exclusion Cages

Use a deer exclusion cage to evaluate deer usage on a food plot.  This is the least expensive option and can be constructed on each of your food plots.

The simple device prevents deer and other animals from eating what’s inside the cage, and by observing how much and what kind of forage grows inside and comparing it with the rest of the food plot, you can see how much forage is being produced and how heavily the deer are browsing the plot.

Make your own exclusion cage

There is no right or wrong shape, provided it’s built so deer cannot reach what’s growing inside, but round cages are the easiest to make

STEP 1) Obtain a roll of 2in. by 4in. welded fence that is 4ft. high

           Tip>>>a 50ft roll costs about $38 and makes approx. 6 cages)

STEP 2) Roll out the fence on a flat surface so it is easy to cut

            Tip>>>wear leather gloves to prevent injury while handling wire

STEP 3) Cut an 8ft piece of wire with wire shears or a fencing tool

            Tip>>>Cut the fence on one edge of the 2in horizontal wires, which will give you 2in closure tabs along the vertical wire

STEP 4) Make a Circle with the 8ft section and connect the ends with the wire tabs         

            Tip>>>Plastic cable ties or zip-ties can also be used

STEP 5) Place the circle cage upright in a food plot after it’s planted and stake the cage down to prevent animals from knocking it over

            Tip>>>Use rebar or T posts as stakes

STEP 6) Remove the cage or mark it with bright orange tape before mowing or tilling the plot because it may be difficult for a tractor operator to see.

What the cage will tell you:

Study the amount and type of growth in the cage compared to what is outside it to understand how much the deer are feeding on the food plot.

Case 1) If the crop inside your cage is equal to the crop outside, little browsing is taking place


  • There are few deer in the area
  • There are abundant natural food sources being used
  • Deer may not be moving due to poor weather conditions

Case 2) If the crop inside your cage is thriving, and the crop outside your cage is eaten to the ground, over-browsing is taking place


  • There may be too many deer in the area; the deer population is probably beyond the carrying capacity of the habitat

Individual results may vary.

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