How to get into ponds to attract white-tailed deer

Food plots take all the love when it comes to pulling white tails, but water can be an even bigger pull. While deer get some of the juice they need from eating delicious herbs, you should never underestimate their need and desire for drinking water. Indeed, in some properties that seem to have everything a white-tailed deer wants, the lack of reliable water sources can be the barrier that prevents a good property from being excellent.

The good news is that adding water is rarely a major hurdle. If you want a permanent pond, digging a sliding pond or hiring a dozer operator is not terribly expensive; depending on the area and your availability, a $ 500 pond is quite realistic. But if you really want to save, you can simply visit your local farm or garden shop and buy a watering can or landscaping tub. These usually sell for $ 150 or more, and less if you buy carefully. For those who have an ultra-budget mind, a simple children’s pool may suffice, though they are usually less durable.

But before we go too far in creating drinking ponds for deer, let me get this out of the way: As effective as water holes can be in some areas, they are super useful in all areas. If your hunting property is low and swampy, it is very likely that the deer will have little trouble finding water and will not see any new ponds in the landscape as particularly attractive. The same may be true for properties bounded by streams and streams and or filled with lakes and ponds. But even in places like this, if you have a good deer sign in mountainous areas away from these water sources, placing a small pond within the shooting range of a stand or blind can still be a big attraction, provided choose the right place for it. .

I have lost track of the number of deer that have been darted over my groups of ponds. I can tell you that my dad has received three good bucks (including a 130 and a 155) for the same pond since he turned 88 (he is now 92), and some friends have gotten their biggest money ever . water holes I placed, including a $ 160 inch. There is no doubt in our minds that it works. So let’s get to it. Here is a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Select the General Zone

picture of deer in the water hole
A deer and two offspring visit one of the author’s home-made water pits during the summer. Scott Bestul

As mentioned, the best place for a pond is where the water is least. In my country, this is usually a ridge peak, as water sources occur mainly as trout streams flowing to the bottom of the valley. Crested tops, or relatively flat wooden blocks, also offer the advantage of a steady wind direction, which will be important when it comes time to hunt the ground. You should also place your pond close enough to the safety cover, if possible. You want the deer to feel comfortable visiting the place in daylight and the presence of the brush nearby, dense wood or new growth will soothe them.

I am looking for an area with a fairly dense tree canopy, as this will reduce evaporation from the sun and wind. Having a slight slope also helps, as you will want your pond to catch any leakage from the rain. Every year I am amazed at how quickly a 2 inch rain will fill a 100 gallon tub if it is well placed. Lastly – and this can take a bit of research with a shovel or pickaxe – avoiding areas full of rocks and large roots will make your digging job a lot easier.

Step Two: Choose a Standing Tree or Blind Location

Before making a final decision on the correct placement of the bathtub, I like to choose a central tree. While good cover is always nice in a holder configuration, it is critical in a set of water holes. Before a white tail rests and lowers its head to eat or drink, it will be on high alert for danger. The deer know they are vulnerable after consuming food and water – which is why you have seen them feeding or drinking deer by eating little or taking a sip, and then cutting their head up periodically. You will want to have plenty of cover-up around your season so that the deer does not spot you. I like to consider the prevailing winds in an area, then pick a tree in the direction of the wind of my pond country that has numerous trunks, or at least a fork and heavy limbs, that will help me hide when I am shooting the place.

Step Three: Fill the tub

picture of deer drinking
Place a tub with a slight slope, if possible, in order to collect rainwater. Scott Bestul

Last year I installed three livestock tanks as a water source. The one I could get one using the van. I tied another one to the back of my ATV. And for the third time, I hired my retired (and very strong) brother-in-law to help me crawl through the lumber in place. These were medium function tanks that were very easy to handle. However, if you are going some distance, plan to take your time and rest occasionally.

Step Four: Take the dig

Place the bathtub in the exact place you want and then use your shovel to trace a rough outline of its shape and size. Then slide the tub sideways and start digging to create a hole slightly larger than your contour. If it is rocky, you may need to bring out the worst offenders with a pickaxe. Once the hole is close to the right size, slide the tub and check that the bottom of the hole is relatively level; this will help your pond hold more water than if it sits on a slope. Make sure there are no large stones at the bottom that could damage or pierce the tub. Not only is the water heavy, but the deer will also stay in the tub and their sharp hooves can pierce any weak points created by rocks or sticks. Once you are sure that the bathtub is at the right level and does not risk being punctured, fill in the dirt in the gap between the bathtub and the ground and, if your bathtub is on a hill, collect enough dirt on the upside down side in order to drain the water. in your bathtub. .

Step Five: Add water and chop the deer

picture of a water hole
A giant-bodied dollar nicknamed “Bruce” hits another of the dollar’s water holes as it enters the pit. Scott Bestul

If you are smart enough to control the weather and dig in before a good rain, your bathtub should be well filled yourself. But I am usually very impatient about this and transport water instead. Usually fill half a dozen 5-gallon buckets with lids and make several trips, holding one bucket in each hand. This usually gets enough water in the tub to start pulling the deer. (This is actually more tedious than transporting the bathtub itself, so take your time or ask for help). If rainfall keeps the “pond” full, perfect; otherwise I will visit the site periodically to make sure there is enough water to keep the deer interested. Expect visitors fairly quickly, as white-tailed deer (and other wildlife) seem to smell the water in a hurry and will start using your pond frequently.

I also like to bring some rye seed and dig it into the fresh dirt at the edges of the pond. This will not only help stabilize the soil in the event of a heavy rain, but will give the deer something to bite, increasing traction. Finally, support a heavy rod that extends from the edge of your pond to the bottom. This will allow rodents and squirrels to escape when they climb into your pool for a drink. I have learned the hard way that drowned creatures can spice up a pool in a hurry, and that deer do not care about the wind more than I do.

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