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? Deer and Water ? #5994746 10/26/15 02:12 PM
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DCmac Offline OP
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How much water do deer really need to drink?

One of the things I repeatedly see in articles about deer hunting is that the successful hunter always pays close attention to the paths and trails leading to & from water. I've been wondering if there's any truth to that for a couple decades now. The area I deer hunt has several small ponds - basically cattle tanks - that must be spring fed because even the past 3-4 years of drought there's always been water in them. In pre-season scouting and during hunts I almost always walk by a few of these tiny ponds and I can't say that I've seen any evidence at all of deer going to the water to drink. Virtually all the tracks go around the edges of the ponds, a few feet from the water's edge. The few, very occasional tracks that go to the water aren't made by a deer going for a drink, they're made at a tangent where the deer walked thru the water a short way in a straight line rather than going around the edge.


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5994766 10/26/15 02:29 PM
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I think that deer get their water from succulent plants and other sources besides tanks and streams. I do not have a source of water on my ranch but have excellent deer hunting. Go Figure ???


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5994770 10/26/15 02:31 PM
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Deer find water in a lot of places - the browse often provides water.

We do not hunt within 300 yards of our stock ponds because we want the deer to feel comfortable going and coming to water. Since we are in south texas in a severe drought these ponds can go dry - so our rancher built water pilas several years ago spread around the ranch. During extended drought the pilas save us and keep our deer on our ranch since many of the ranches around do not have pilas and therefore no water. The pilas also are very beneficial for the other wildlife - especially quail and turkey


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5994996 10/26/15 04:38 PM
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Up until last week or so in South Texas deer where drinking a lot of water. I had someone tell me they were drinking about 2 gallons of water per day. Vegetation was pretty dry down in some areas. Water is the most critical element in management. The more locations the better. If you are limited to few locations then I would try not to hunt it if I could.


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5995009 10/26/15 04:50 PM
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I believe if conditions are good they can get most of what they need from what they eat. In the drought years we have experienced deer will travel long distances to drink out of a 100 gallon cattle trough we have on a float by our camp. Trails that were once little used turn into deer highways that you can easily follow to the property line in any direction and see them going for a distance on the other side of the fences/roads.


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5995047 10/26/15 05:18 PM
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Wildlife will shy away from heavily used and contaminated "livestock tanks". The more cattle use them and muddy the edge and crap near the water the less other species and cattle included want to drink from it. Usually if cattle frequent a small tank it will be just cattle, hogs, and raccoons that drink from it. Deer will only use fouled tanks like this if they have to. Clean sources of water are a huge draw. Many ranchers fence off "stock tanks" with hot wire that deer can easily jump and use troughs or other sources that cattle cannot walk in and foul. Clean fresh water is beneficial for the cattle health, the cattleman in his profits and the wildlife. Unless cattle are just using these tanks occasionally they are too big of an animal to continual use small tanks typically with soft edges and frequently urinate and crap upon gulping water fouling the tank. Many environmentalist point at cattle for fresh water contamination of riparian areas because of this say in a running creek. They can be grazed successfully in theese areas with rotation or be fenced off and given another source. This is great practice for wetlands habitat and conservation. If you can encourage these practices you will see results in wildlife at tanks and even in returning of dry springs when grazed properly. If you cannot find the fresh water on your property or as others mentioned browse and dew can keep deer wet. Seasonal creeks will hold water in nooks and valleys you may never explore because it appears dry.


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5995062 10/26/15 05:32 PM
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Wildlife, just like you needs water. In the summer they will travel to get it. My last place had no water on it, so I build a water trough for the deer. Of course everything used it. I was surprised to see from my camera on the trough just how many times a night the same bucks would come to drink. Also, by this photo I think you can see how important a doe thought that the water was. She would leave her fawn by the water.


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5995073 10/26/15 05:40 PM
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During the recent drought, that was very bad in our area, we would have deer running to cattle water troughs near sunset. The rush to get to water wash even more dramatic than deer running to a corn feeder. We would not allow any hunting around the troughs and kept traffic to a minimum. With vegetation dried up, that is all they had. I cannot imagine how devastating a drought would have been to deer population before windmills.


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: stxranchman] #5995115 10/26/15 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted By: stxranchman
Up until last week or so in South Texas deer where drinking a lot of water. I had someone tell me they were drinking about 2 gallons of water per day. Vegetation was pretty dry down in some areas. Water is the most critical element in management. The more locations the better. If you are limited to few locations then I would try not to hunt it if I could.


Agree, add fed protein, or other high protein feeds and I think the need for water goes way up. I know deer get some moisture from browse, but I doubt it is enough for proper digestion and mineral intake diversion.


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5995156 10/26/15 06:37 PM
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I had a rare opportunity to hunt a peice of public land that was landlocked on all four sides in Wise co. It was a almost zero pressured area that I actually rattled and grunted several mature deer in(in other words a (GOOD AREA WITH LOTS OF DEER) . It had two small ponds on it. I thought I had them by the shorthairs when I set up on the tanks.Because of all the tracks around the edges. I hunted hard and didnt see a deer. Thats my experience with hunting over water.skunked!



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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5995171 10/26/15 06:50 PM
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Some of my best and most interesting trail cam pics have come from a tree on the road going to my tank. Every animal has to drink water, I would highly recommend placing a camera near the water source. I have seen animals that I have never imagined I had on the place!


Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5995513 10/26/15 10:49 PM
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Got to have water. I have a 40 gallon trough in one area. They drink half of it in just a few days. I see deer often drinking from it. On our own place we have ponds. Lots of tracks around them.


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Re: ? Deer and Water ? [Re: DCmac] #5995669 10/27/15 12:22 AM
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I have a stand over the only water on my place. When it's hot out, they come straight to the water. I have never shot them at the pond since I have a feeder about 40 yards away that they make it after they take a drink.

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