Bamboo Deer Scarer Fountains (Shishi Odoshi)

Bamboo Deer Scarer Fountains (Shishi Odoshi)

The deer scarer is one of the most interesting water features a person can place in his garden. Also known as a deer chaser or shishi odoshi, it is a rocking fountain that combines sound and motion to create a compelling water feature. People often mistake these as perpetual motion machines, as they use gravity to rock up and down, but they need a pump to operate. What can make them "perpetual" is the addition of a solar pump.

The fountains bamboo arm rocks forward when it fills with water, then rocks back to make a gentle clacking sound as it knocks against a rock or piece of bamboo. Originally used to scare deer (not guaranteed to do this!), the deer scarer provides hours of enjoyment and conversation.

We have tried quite a few through the years with varied success. Some werent plumbed and required lots of drilling. Most filled with water after a few days and frequently got stuck, no longer rocking. They were all hard to mount. After a few months, the bamboo started to crack.

Some companies now sell resin ones. The advantage is more control and consistency of material. The disadvantage is obvious: theyre plastic! The ones made of Vietnamese bamboo seem more resistant to cracking than the ones we sold in the past. Also, it is wise to buy deer scarers that are sealed so they dont fill up with water and get stuck. And a mounting "board" will help to keep them in place. Otherwise, they will need to be set in mortar or concrete to keep them steady.

If you want to, there are place on the internet that offer advice on making these yourself. It will take several hours to make your first one, but if you have the time and patience and might be rewarding. If not, you might want to but one of the quality-tested ones available online.

Michael Guista is president of Fountain Mountain, Inc. and has been selling fountain pumps for a decade. For more information visit -