I recently got a couple of 275 gallon totes for our property, so I could fill up some large water troughs near our feeders for our deer and birds. For those that have worked with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife and their Wildlife Exemption Programs, to increase the vitality of your land and wildlife, while easing the tax burdens of owning property, you know that there are certain criteria for getting the exemptions…one of which is providing supplemental water and food sources. Most hunting leases have protein and corn feeders throughout their property, and they can easily go to the local feed store, ranch supply headquarters, big box stores, or even a country gas station, to get filler for the feeders. And if you have a good sized pond or lake, there is hopefully water available for your wildlife. But in recent years, we have seen the harsh conditions that have come with the ongoing droughts we’ve faced.
Seems like every time we go out to map another property, most of their ponds are so low you couldn’t keep a dozen fish alive. We’re having the same problem on our family’s land. And to think, just the other month, we were talking about getting our ponds stocked with fish…if we had, they’d be raccoon toothpicks by now!
You can’t just pick up a 50 pound bag of water at the store like you can with corn or protein (if someone reads this and ends up doing it though, you owe me some rights for the idea, my friend!). Many property owners and hunters are looking at how they can transport water throughout their property, so they can keep game on their property and not wandering off to someone else's land. And if you have livestock, you have no choice but to have supplemental water sources if ponds run dry. You can't wait until everything is bone dry on your property to make a move, you need to think about what you can do NOW!!!
Speaking of TPWD programs, here's a excerpt of information regarding water, for your reference:
Using Wildlife Management as a Qualifying Agricultural Use
Among the statutory requirements for property owners to qualify their agricultural land for wildlife management use is a mandate that owners perform at least three of seven wildlife management activities, which were briefly summarized in Part One:
• habitat control (habitat management);
• erosion control;
• predator control (predator management);
• providing supplemental supplies of water;
• providing supplemental supplies of food;
• providing shelters; and
• making census counts to determine population.
Providing Supplemental Water
Natural water exists in all wildlife environments. Supplemental water is provided when the owner actively provides water in addition to the natural sources. This category of wildlife management activity includes providing supplemental water in habitats where water is limited or redesigning water sources to increase the availability to wildlife. Wildlife water developments are in addition to those sources already available to livestock and may require protection from livestock. Some examples of recommended practices include:
• marsh or wetland restoration or development;
• managing well, trough and windmill overflow; and spring development and/or improvements.
Managing well, trough and windmill overflow can provide supplemental water for wildlife and provide habitat for wetland plants. Owners also may drill wells if necessary and/or build pipelines to distribute water. Building devices known as wildlife water guzzlers to collect rainfall and/or runoff for wildlife in areas where water is limited also helps protect wildlife, but these devices must be a part of an overall habitat management program.