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As It Was: Farmer Sets Alarm in 1918 to Chase Away Crop-Munching Deer

Gardeners facing problems of deer eating their roses might consider how one enterprising farmer in Curry County, Ore., persuaded the munchers to stay out of his oat field 100 years ago.

Every night deer were easily jumping the 5-foot fence surrounding the field on farmer Hardenbrook’s ranch below Pistol River.  So, Hardenbrook strung a wire across the field and tethered one of his hounds to it.  When the deer arrived at night, the dog ran the length of the wire, barking and lunging at the deer.  Soon, the deer realized the dog was all bark and no bite and they ignored him.  The dog, in turn, gave up the chase and snoozed the night away while the deer munched on the field’s tender oat sprouts.

That’s when Mr. Hardenbrook came up with the idea of putting an alarm clock in an empty oil can and setting the alarm to go off at midnight.  Hardenbrook said it created “an uproarious din” in the oat patch that sent bucks, does and fawns fleeing in terror.

It became a nightly chore for Hardenbrook’s son to go out to the field to set the alarm.

Source: "Alarm Clock to Keep Deer Out of Curry Farm." Mail Tribune, 31 Mar. 2018 [Medford, Ore.] [original published 31 Mar. 1913] local ed., p. A3.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.