Watering Wildlife for a Better Tomorrow

Who doesn’t enjoy the sight of a pond or the sound of a stream gurgling through the woods? Everyone loves water. But is a water source a critical element to the land we hunt?

Nothing can live without it, of course. Water is the basic ingredient of all life forms. But how often do turkeys, deer and other wildlife actually need water?

In most regions, natural water sources are abundant enough that they aren’t limiting factors. A lack of water on small properties, however, may lead to lower use by turkeys and other wildlife.

Research by scientists at Clemson University found that turkeys need water almost daily. What’s more, they found that hens and their broods are rarely more than a quarter-mile from a water source. Adults typically stay within a half-mile of water in the winter.

Whitetails, on the other hand, don’t need a daily source of water in most instances. Much of the food they eat includes enough water to satisfy their dietary needs. In more arid regions, and when foods don’t contain water, however, deer drink from surface water regularly.

Creating Water Sources

If your land doesn’t have a regular natural water source, your only option is to create one. Building a pond, drilling a well or even creating a shallow catchment in a low spot can offer a steady supply of life’s most vital ingredient.


A pond won’t just benefit your wildlife, you and your family can enjoy it, too. Stock it with fish, build a dock and you’ve got a place to spend your weekends. Ponds, however, require the right topography, a source of water to fill it and money to build it. Permits also are required in some instances, so consult a professional before building a pond.


Drilling a well isn’t cheap, either, and it requires electricity. Of course, windmills dot the western landscape and help pump water source when electricity isn’t available. They require wind, of course, which can be a scarce commodity in some regions.


Popular in arid regions and a viable solution anywhere, catchments are basically small concrete or rubber-lined ponds built in a ravine or gulley. They catch and hold rainfall runoff. The lining prevents the water from seeping into the ground, and they can be a good alternative to more expensive and time-consuming options.

So, no matter your budgetary demands, there are options for landowners to provide quality water sources for wildlife, which encourages them to stay on your hunting land year round.

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