Water hole size?


Well-Known Member
How big of a "water hole" is needed to be of use for the deer?

Reason I ask is that I am considering adding one or more to my place, but I want it to be a success without over doing it. I have found some poly tubs that are like a foot deer and roughly 2 or 3 feet square that will hold 20 gallons or so to "kiddie" pools to a poly pool liner of 24' in diameter. I have to have some sort of liner as my soil doesn't have enough natural clay to hold water for any length of time.

Water availability isn't an issue on my place as I border two large streams.....I want these for hunting and cam sites. I honestly think deer prefer "quiet" water vs moving water if possible. I'm not exactly sure why, all I know is that I see far more drinking from puddles vs from the creeks themselves just based on personal observations. As such I want them in the cover if possible and want to minimize my digging and fighting with tree roots and the like if possible.

The "plan" would be for them to re-fill themselves and only get filled by me as a last resort.

I have options to place these in the cover as well as in my perennial plots as well......what seems to work best for you guys? I dug one from a spring once and it gets little to no use as it is too open in my NWSG stand.
I've done 3 so far.
All are made from a 20' rubber EPDM liner. That makes them about 15' round once covered with soil. (I like the natural look that's why I use the liners as opposed to tubs and kiddie pools.) All do nothing more than catch runoff. I have yet to have one go dry.
I'm assuming you have access to equipment. I dig a 3 foot deep tapered saucer, lay the "cloth fabric", then the EPDM liner, then another layer of cloth fabric, then cover with the dirt. I rocked the runoff entry areas to cut down on wash. Seed the disturbed area and let it rain. Finished product is about 2 foot deep in the center.

Total cost was around $250 per hole for materials. Add in your time and any equipment.

As for location, my two that are in the more remote areas toward the top of the mountain definitely see more use than the one I have down low off the edge of one of the food plots. They all get a ton of use though, and not just from deer. I have pics of everything.... coyotes, fisher cat, bobcat, groundhog, opossum, turkey, bear..... if it needs water it's been there!

Next to timbering, these were my best improvement as our property lacks water on a steady basis.
This was my first one off the edge of a 2 acre plot.
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This was the finished product after a rain.

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My waterholes are both on the edge of the plots in the open. Deer utilize them at pretty much anytime but I haven't seen any mature bucks use them in daylight except in November during the rut. We have a lot of natural clay so building them is easy for us but if we didn't have clay I would try to find some type of black liner to use and dig a hole for it using the dirt I pull out to hold the liner down.

This coming late winter I am having the dozer back out and I am going to have him build me a deep woods water hole because I think the big deer might feel more at ease utilizing that and an actual fish type pond and a couple more food plots as well as a pad for a new shop.




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I have my 30hp tractor and an FEL to "dig out" what ever I try with a 2 bottom plow to really break up the soil if I need to. I figured the bigger the better, but that obviously takes more work. You all have seen the "red-neck" above ground pools with the metal frames.....well I have access to one that is 24 feet in diameter and I am considering cutting the bottom out and using the grey side of it as my liner (I will likely set it in place and then cut it to be honest). I don't have any "deep woods" areas but I figured it would be a nice addition for hunting. I know some folks have added them to their plots before as well or have gone significantly smaller in size. I'm considering all options at the moment. I might breakdown and rent a small track hoe if needed - depending on how the stump situation looks.

Here is mine. Stays full all year long. Sits at the top of a hill in my food plot. I average 8 to 10 pics a day. Mostly from momma and her babies. They yearlings splash around in it like little kids. Turkey use it often as well!