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When Temperatures Drop, Keep Deer on Your Land with a Water Source

Pat Reeve | Mossy Oak ProStaff

Building a watering hole for deer

As I mentioned previously, we own 500 acres around our home in Minnesota that we’ve set up as a sanctuary for deer. I own ridges, so of course my deer wander off my property and may be harvested by landowners who hunt around me. But that doesn’t bother me, since much of the lands adjacent to me are farms. 

Farmers harvest their crops in the early fall. By the time deer season arrives, there’s rarely little if any food left in their acreages, although we have plenty of deer food on our land. For several years, we’ve been planting winter food for deer, and the does as well as the bucks come to our property to feed and find sanctuary. 

Another important key to keeping deer on your land is not just planting food plots and minimizing hunting pressure but continuing to plant food plots for several years. Then the does and the fawns they raise expect to come to your property to eat after the farmers’ crops have been harvested. We try to give everything deer need to remain on our property during hunting season – food, water and sanctuary. To find these items, deer will move naturally onto our land and won’t become nocturnal. 

Although my neighbors may take one or two bucks that I’ve been watching for several years, due to their putting so much hunting pressure on the deer on their lands, they’ll force their mature deer to move onto my property to escape the hunting pressure and locate food. Every year, as hunting pressure increases around our land, we’ll see new, older-age-class bucks we’ve never spotted before. 

Also in Minnesota where we live, during deer season, most of the streams and creeks freeze. Deer will eat snow to get water, but they prefer to drink water. I’ve come to believe that providing a good source of open water may be as critical for drawing and keeping deer on our land as planting food plots for them. 

Here’s what I do. I’ve built little ponds – about 20 feet by 30 feet. I use a 12-volt Frabill aerator to continuously pump air into the water of each pond to keep it from freezing. A solar panel keeps the battery at full charge. I’ve actually got seven different water sources for deer on my land, but I only use Frabill aerators and the solar panels on a few of them in the winter. The deer gravitate toward that open water, especially in the wintertime.

Pat Reeve and his wife Nicole are the hosts of “Driven” TV. This year is their 11th season to host the show. This season, Pat has hunted in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Canada’s Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan.

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