I was searching for some info on keeping deer at bay when I found your article.
We live in Canada near Ottawa, Ontario in a rural area. I have been steadily developing the area behind the house bordering on the cedar forest. Last winter I had a fair amount of unwanted grazing from deer whose track goes right past our garden and we only have a delapidated old wire fence. They 'pruned' my cotoneasters rather cruelly and ate most of the buds of my new azalia (then I wrapped the rest up). Ajuba seemed to be on the menu too and it took rather a long time to recover in the spring. You mentioned that urine from some wild cats does the trick in deterring the beasts - I wonder if smelly kitty litter from our two house-lions might do the trick too? Are the commercial products worth experimenting with?
I must mention , although this is somewhat embarassing - we were actually attracting these deer with some cracked corn for feed. I had my deer feeder in a more secluded area the year before and we did not have too many visitors in the garden.
I would be very leery about putting used kitty litter out as a deer deterrent. It might keep the deer away, but it would also attract plenty of other unwanted critters.
We moved into our house in October 2007. The seller was an avid gardener and had put in a lovely shade garden at the back of the lot with, including other plants, many different varieties of hostas. I didn't plant much in 2008 because I didn't have a good idea of what was already planted, except for those hostas and a Korean lilac. I was pleasantly surprised--we have hyacinths, daylilies, Oriental lilies, New England asters, ligularia, coreopsis, astilbe, snowdrops, plus some other plants whose names escape me at the moment. And we had not one single deer in the yard all that year.
This year, 2009, has been an entirely different story. Spring was cold and nasty. Summer was so much cooler than average that just about everything was late to bloom (I picked the last of the raspberries on Labor Day, believe it or not!). And then the deer showed up and munched on everything. We live less than a mile from a nature preserve and very close to the city limits, so the presence of the deer did not surprise me one bit. My cousin says that hostas are "deer candy." My Strawberry Candy daylily never did have a chance to bloom, because the deer nibbled all of the buds right off. Some Oriental lilies met the same fate. One afternoon a month or so ago my daughter and I watched out the window as a doe and twin spotted fawns crossed our back yard, went in between our house and the neighbor's house, and stopped to nibble a few raspberries off of the neighbor's raspberry bushes. They are beautiful animals, but highly destructive.
Anyway, a co-worker recommended "Liquid Fence" to keep the deer at bay. It's made mostly from rotten eggs and hot peppers, and its smell is not pleasant (but doesn't last long as far as the human nose is concerned), but it seems to work. It was far too late for the hostas but I sprayed what was left of the daylilies, and my two hydrangeas, and so far, so good. It is not inexpensive, but there are recipes out there for homemade versions of it. Try Googling if you want to check it out.
A friend told me, "Eat a steak dinner, then have everyone in the house go out and pee in the garden! That'll keep the deer away!" My husband just laughed and said, "Yes, and it will attract the black bears!"
I'm going to start on re-doing that back garden next month when it's time to put everything to bed. I've been researching deer-resistant plants and have a pretty good idea of what I want to do. However, I realize that when the summer is as cool as this summer was, and the deer aren't getting enough to eat, they'll eat even those plants that are normally considered off-limits to them. The whitetails are so plentiful that my city has even changed an ordinance and now allows controlled deer hunts in certain areas within the city limits. Too bad I don't care for venison.
I'm still finding my way on this website and usually find messages by accident rather then purpose!
I probably shouldn't complain about my deer problem too much as it is of much less consequence then yours by the sound of it! We only get to see deer in the winter when the snow is deep and food gets more scarce. What does not help is the fact that we put some snacks out for the darlings . Silly to be complaining when they find a few tasty morsels growing on the side to round off the meal.
I will put the deer feed well away from my plants and try raising the rather delapidated fence and perhaps dangle a few old Cd's to create movement. Hey, perhaps a scarecrow might work too? But from past experience - the 'dude' invariable gives the humans more scares then the critters!
Thanks for sharing your story.