Most hunters know the big three elements to keeping deer on your property: water, cover, and a good food source, even on small tracts like my 10 acres in Georgia.
If any one of these three is missing, the deer will likely leave your area. Whether you have 10 acres or hundreds, recent droughts have taught us a lot about what deer do when water is lacking. They move until they find it.
Even in non-drought conditions, many small properties are devoid of a water source, as was my case. To keep whitetails around, I had to figure out something.
About 12 years ago, I bought two kid-size plastic swimming pools and placed them on my property in strategic places.
They filled up naturally when it rained. These two man-made waterholes hold enough water to help sustain this missing element, as well as lure and keep deer in my hunting area.
With the nearest water source two miles away, the small pools have helped allow deer to take up residence on my property.
It did take some time for the deer to find it and get accustomed to it, but there is no doubt the numbers in my herd have grown because the property no longer lacked one of the three vital elements. There are five distinct groups of deer that visit my waterholes now, all drawn from different directions.
If you only have a small tract like me, I have other suggestions for hunting your waterholes.
Obviously, I could take more deer but I only harvest one special whitetail a year — something I want to mount.
I leave the does for hunters on surrounding property, and I focus patiently on allowing one of the old-timers to step out. After I tag a big buck, my focus shifts to taking care of the herd until the next season.
Staying out of the bedding areas is important when hunting my small tract. The waterholes have helped my property become a sanctuary, and an island in the middle of heavily-hunted areas.
As an added benefit to your herd, you can put horse vitamins in the pool to help keep your whitetails healthy. Other animals, including birds and non-game species, will also benefit from your water source.
You don’t have to have a lot of land to harvest nice deer, just the three main elements. I hope my tip allows small-tract hunters to bring water into the equation if they are lacking a water source.
– Photo Courtesy of Michael Malloy
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