Updated: Aug 18, 2021
“Water is the driving force of all nature.” -Leonardo Da Vinci
Author: Emily Courtney
Most of us acknowledge Da Vinci as one of the greatest artists in history. Many recognize his manifold contributions to science. Few, however, know that he devoted much of his scientific research to understanding the role of water in our ecosystems. His writings on the subject of hydrology contained theories that are comparable to our modern-day understanding of the water cycle. I’m not sure whether Da Vinci was ever a hunter, but if he had been, I would be willing to wager that, understanding the importance of water as he did, he probably would have been as successful at hunting as he was at everything else.
In many places throughout the country, water is a resource that is never taken for granted. Hunters in such places recognize the usefulness of water as a clue to wildlife movements. Even in areas where water is plentiful, it can be used to mold a hunting strategy, particularly in early bow season. In most states, bow season begins when summer temperatures are still soaring, and late summer can be a dry period most anywhere. Targeting water holes is a tried-and-true strategy for early season bowhunting.
A deer’s metabolism, which reacts to changes in photoperiod, is higher in summer months. They therefore tend to have smaller home ranges during this season. This makes it easier to pattern their movements. If you can locate a watering hole, you can bet the deer will be hanging out close by. If your property doesn’t have an obvious water source, such as a pond, lake, or stream, you may need to do a little recon to find one. A topo map can help you identify low-lying areas where water may be likely to accumulate. Also, keep an eye out for fresh tracks. They can be hard to come by during dry periods, but find an area with soil moist enough to have fresh tracks, and there is probably a water source nearby. Tracks to and from water sources can be your best clues to patterning movements at this time of year.
If you’re lucky enough to have a stream of some sort on your property, you can probably always find some water somewhere along the channel. Even creek beds that dry up every summer may still have small pools in certain areas. Sharp cuts in streams are typically the deepest parts of the channel, and can hold water when the rest of the bed is dry.
If water is a resource that your property is lacking, consider implementing a some type of supplemental watering structure. A good way to draw deer to new structures is to place mineral stations by water holes. Mineral blocks provide a crucial part of a deer’s diet. Water and minerals are two of the most highly sought-after resources by all wildlife, and are often the ones most difficult for them to acquire. Put those two resources in the same spot, and you’ll have a prime stand location. Knowing which resources deer are looking for and when is critical to herd management and to hunting strategy. Da Vinci knew how important water is, and how important it is to recognize water’s role in the ecosystem. If you do the same, you can step your hunting game up a notch.
As if you needed another reason to target these areas, persimmons are commonly found near water sources. On that note, I’ll leave you with a shameless plug for our next post that will be all about how to get the most out of the persimmons on your property! Click the “Follow” button at the top of the page to make sure you catch every post!