Does Vanilla Extract Attract Deer?


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Many of us love to see deer up close in the wild. However, if you have ever come near such a creature, you will know that these beautiful animals are extremely timid. They usually run as fast as they can at the slight noise or even a strong smell. With that in mind, does vanilla extract attract deer – or does it repel them?

Vanilla extract can attract deer. However, much of the evidence for this right now appears to be anecdotal. Some sources confirm that vanilla’s sweet, soft smell is very alluring to these creatures – however, it can be easy to use too much!

If you are keen to attract deer to your yard and want to do so humanely, keep reading for the lowdown on vanilla extract as an attractant.

Does vanilla extract always attract deer?

No – if you use too much, deer may find the smell overpowering, and they may get scared. Therefore, using the right amount of vanilla extract can be a little trial and error. As mentioned, deer are famously sensitive creatures – so subtly spreading or spraying the extract in your yard may work wonders.

That said, it may take some time for results to really start working for you. Be patient! Deer have very sensitive smell receptors – this method will take refinement.

Vanilla extract is very popular as a deer attractant for multiple reasons. For one thing, it is sold in most stores and groceries and is widely available online without the need for any licenses – and it is also inexpensive. This may explain why so many people are keen to give it time to work – it’s not a miracle cure, but it could breed great results.

How can I use vanilla extract to attract deer? 

Knowing how to use vanilla extract to effectively bring deer into your yard is just one piece of the puzzle. Fine-tuning your method and approach, however, is going to take more time and effort. Here are a few ideas you may wish to consider as starting points.

Spray vanilla extract on a tree

Start by mixing a small amount of vanilla extract with water in a spray bottle. This will help to ensure that the smell of the vanilla is not too strong and will therefore not deter the potential deer. 

Then, you can simply spray a nearby tree, or even a few, directly with the scent. Remember to not spray too much on one tree, and do not spray too many trees – there’s a fine balance. Try to separate them a little to help the scent propagate around the area in a not too overpowering way. 

Mix vanilla with peanut butter

Another method to try is to mix vanilla with peanut butter, and paste it on tree trunks. Do not paste too thickly, as peanut butter tends to contain quite a lot of salt, and it may not be in the best interests of the deer to feed them too much of it! 

However, mixing it with a bit of vanilla extract and allowing them to come and find the peanut butter is an excellent way of giving them a special treat – while you get some fantastic photos! Deer love peanut butter – it’s a common attractant, so you effectively combine two methods in one.

Don’t rely on vanilla extract alone

As mentioned, vanilla extract is by no means a miracle cure or a guaranteed deer attractant. However, evidence shared between those who have welcomed deer seems to be positive. Therefore, make sure that your yard is set up to attract deer in other ways, too.

Deer love quiet, secluded areas, away from too much noise and replete with verdant features. Long grass and tall trees make for perfect pairings in the ideal deer garden. Pair all of it with a reliable fresh water source, and you may be welcoming deer time and time again.


It’s relatively easy to attract deer with vanilla extract. However, you shouldn’t rely on it exclusively. What’s more, if your ‘human’ scent is too overpowering, then deer will not want to visit, no matter how much extract you spread on your trees. Avoid using scented soaps – and again, peanut butter offers a great way of covering other scents.

Deer look for safety and familiarity – strange noises, smells, even the sight of you – may send them fleeing. One of the best things you can do to make your yard welcoming to deer is to let it grow – have you ever considered rewilding your lawn, for example?

At the very least, vanilla extract appears to be reliable – and a good resource providing you have strong foundations for a deer-friendly yard.

About The Author
Robert has been an avid birdwatcher pretty much his entire life. Living in the suburbs he does his best to bring wild birds into his backyard. He currently has 13+ bird feeders in his yard and also raises and races homing pigeons. Robert writes part-time for Wild Yards, mostly about the subject he cares most about - birds.

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