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Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew

Water Sources
WeHuntSC.com - Intro to Game Management
In this blog series we've looked at different facets of game management. We've covered several concepts, practices, and techniques to managing game. Thus far we've looked at food plots, selective harvest, herd balance, mineral sites, supplemental feeds, and deer surveying. We've got two more entries left to cover in the series and in this entry we're going to investigate water sources as they relate to deer and game management.
It should go unspoken that water sources are a must for any type of species? I even get thirsty every now and then.  Deer are no exception, they need water to survive. I'm including water sources in this game management blog series because it's an aspect that I think we sometimes overlook, not because I think it's easy to just go out and create a pond, divert a creek, or create a water source. Knowledge of the location of water sources on one?s hunting property can provide very valuable insight to us as hunters and very valuable resources to the deer on our land (and other game in the area). 
I'd like to note that over time I've noticed a trend in deer hunting related to water sources. In the past 2-3 years I've gone hunting with several other people in various parts of SC and, in general, I've paid attention to what hunters around the state are harvesting.  It seems to me that the hunters who harvest large bucks, the ones who consistently kill big deer, all hunt somewhere near water sources. Whether it's a lake, a river,  a creek, a pond, or a natural spring, the guys who have multiple trophy bucks on their walls are hunting near one or more water sources, at least the ones I know or have seen.
Water to Survive

WeHuntSC.com - Water SourcesAs deer hunters we often game-plan our hunts based on available food sources and rut activity, but we don't really factor in water sources that much. Not including water sources into the game-plan may be a mistake on our behalves. Think about it, food and water are the most elemental needs of a deer with water being the more critical of the two. Trying to look at deer hunting from a "water", perspective can prove beneficial,especially in drier areas.

Deer get water from a variety of sources, such as ponds, streams, and lakes. They also get water from the dew on plants and the water contained within plants. In some articles I read it was noted that, if lush forage is available, deer may be able to meet their body's water demand solely from the water within plants. This has not been scientifically proven, but it appeared to be a believed concept.

Also, typically the richest soil in a given area will be near a water source. The moisture in the water helps the soil be more fertile. This richest soil will grow the best forage and this provides deer with succulent forage to browse on along with providing great cover. These aspects of areas near water sources are very attractive for deer?naturally they will want to be near these areas.  

Using Water Sources for Protection
I read an article on imbmonsterbucks.com that made me look at water sources from a totally different perspective, one not directly related to game management, but still a neat concept. The author noted that an area of land he was hunting came to a point that was surrounded on 3 sides by a creek.  The land was very dense and essentially unapproachable from 3 sides?unless you wanted to cross a creek that was about 5 feet deep.  Over time the author caught on to what was happening, deer were bedding down in this area and using the creek for protection. Since this portion of land was surrounded on 3 sides by a creek, deer came there to bed down. While they bed down they faced the one direction that didn?t have a creek on it knowing that if a predator were to come from any other side he would have to cross the creek first. The loud splash of something getting into the creek would signal to the deer that danger was on its way and provided them time to escape. The deer were outsmarting the predators and once the author figured this out he moved his deer stand and shortly thereafter he got a trophy buck that is still hanging on his wall. The author quoted "Remember when hunting whitetail deer over water sources that the key isn?t thinking that you must hunt over the water to kill monster bucks coming to a water source. The key is understanding how to use water sources to your advantage while deer hunting." Thinking about water sources and deer hunting from this perspective can make you ask some questions of your strategy.
Water Sources & Hunting Strategy
In areas that are drier in nature, areas such as South Carolina in the early season, water sources may be more important for both the deer's dietary needs along with a hunter?s strategy. In the early season in SC it's still hot and sometimes really dry so if you know where a water source on your property is located, then deer probably won't be too far from it. Dry leaves also really make a lot of sound and give away a deer's location when walking through the woods. If available, deer usually opt for moist or damp areas that will help conceal the sound of their footsteps. I've noticed that deer frequently travel along the corridors of creeks in the areas I hunt.  As aforementioned, these creeks offer plenty of forage, cover, and most likely a quieter path of travel.
Another thing to think about when considering water sources and deer hunting is the period of time during a flood. True it doesn't flood a whole lot here in South Carolina, but I have seen periods of several days of heavy rain. It may prove beneficial in times such as this to alter your strategy. When some of the deer's bedding areas that are in a flood plain are flooded deer are pushed to higher ground.  Deer will adjust and have a new pattern and so should anyone hunting!
Wrapping this up, deer need water to survive. When thinking about managing game on your land be sure to consider not only what water sources have to offer your deer, but the valuable insight water sources can offer to us as hunters when contemplating our hunting strategy.  Hunting & game management articles discussing whitetail deer hunting strategies as they relate to water sources are not very common. As I researched for this blog entry I came across concepts and facts that made me critically think about my hunting strategy as it relates to water sources. Looks like I'll be moving a few stands in the off-season!

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