Whitetail Deer Hunting photo

Art_helin_water_hole_2_2 If you’re like me you’re always looking for ways to seal the deal on a big buck. Here’s one tactic you should consider and summer is a great time to get the job done. Give your whitetails a place to water and provide it to them in a location of your choice. Whitetails require anywhere from two to six quarts of water per day to survive depending on the body weight of an individual whitetail and seasonal extremes. Art Helin, a Wisconsin bowhunting enthusiast and a member of the Hunter’s Specialties and Realtree pro staff, specializes in water holes and has great luck hunting near them. There’s a secret to his success though.

“You have to keep food and water close to cover,” says Helin. “Here in southwest Wisconsin we have big hills and valleys, and our deer like to bed off the tops of the ridges. I like to combine my water and food plots, and put these on top of the ridges. Keep them in thick cover to make bucks feel secure when watering. Any trees I happen to knock down while clearing for food or water is pushed to nearby bedding locations to add more security cover. I set all of this up to my advantage using the prevailing winds and my knowledge of bedding sites to create a setup that I can access without giving myself away.”

Helin_water_hole If you don’t have a water hole near a food source, you can build one with little investment. You can do it cheaply by digging out a pit with a shovel. Helin did one with a friend earlier this spring and it took the better part of a day. He recommends lining it with bentonite, unique clay that impedes the seepage of water. If you don’t feel up to a shoveling spree, rent a small skid loader to scrape out a pond, but again line it with bentonite. Make sure you don’t make it too big, especially for bowhunting opportunities. There’s no reason to shoot farther than you need.

“I believe in water holes, no matter what size they are,” adds Helin. “Whitetails need water to live and you’re just as likely to shoot a big whitetail over water during the heat of the early season as during the rut of November when thirsty whitetails stop often to hydrate.”

—Mark Kayser