When deer rise from their beds in the evening, studies have shown they generally go to water before going to food. Yet, water as part of a hunting strategy is often overlooked. Creating water sources in areas where deer might not have immediate access to it is very beneficial. In my experience, deer will often hit a stagnant puddle more readily in the daylight than they will a larger water source, like a river or pond. Creating those small water holes is easy and inexpensive to do with a $15 plastic kiddie pool, and it can help put deer in front of your stand during daylight. Here's how:
Determine a good location for the water hole. This might be in a small micro plot, staging area, on the edge of a bedding area, or in some other high-traffic area with frequent daylight movement.
Next, begin digging a hole for the 100- to 125-gallon swimming pool you purchased. Lay the pool on the ground where it will go. Trace the area around it with a shovel or grubbing hoe.
Pull the pool and begin digging. Dig deep enough that the entire pool sets in the ground with the lip just below the surface.
Make sure the bottom of the hole is flat. Remove all rocks and sharp objects that could potentially puncture the pool. Ensure it’s level so that it holds the maximum amount of water possible.
Place a piece of heavy plastic or a tarp as a liner in the hole to provide additional protection.
Set the pool into the hole. Make sure it’s level once more and that all parts of the plastic pool are popped back out into their intended, molded form.
Back-fill dirt around the edges of the pool. If in an area where run-off is likely, don’t mound up around the edges. If the likelihood of run-off keeping the hole filled is low, mound it up around the top edges of the pool so it holds more water.
The next step is optional. I prefer to put a thin layer of dirt back into the pool. It adds additional protection and helps prevent punctures. This also makes the watering hole look more natural which is important, especially for mature bucks.
Place a long stick protruding up out of the pool so small animals can climb out if they fall in. Anything that drowns in the pool will contaminate the water source.
Once that’s all complete, begin filling it up with water. Use a tank to haul water to your watering hole(s). A 100-gallon pool should hold water for three to four weeks with adequate rainfall.
For more details, follow along in this how-to video as I explain how to make a cheap watering hole for deer. These realistic water holes are more effective and inviting to deer than many other DIY and market options.