Healthy Hunter: Water’s Important for Deer and for Us

Water is such an incredibly essential part of our lives yet we often take it for granted, from turning on the tap to get water to boil noodles to slurping from a fountain in the park to ponds where we fish and animals visit to get a drink.

Drinking enough water is important for humans and for deer, especially in summer when temperatures are hot and we're more active. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Drinking enough water is important for humans and for deer, especially in summer when temperatures are hot and we’re more active. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

When we hear about water shortages elsewhere, we don’t think about it too much. Do we? I mean, seriously, do you think about the drought in California and the western states, or the water problems in Africa, or water quality being poor even in parts of America? I can honestly say I don’t think about it, unfortunately, because I take it for granted … until I see photos of western lakes dried up because of lack of rain and snowmelt, or read about efforts to provide water to villages in Third World countries.

Not to get off on some great social tangent here, though, even if it’s important. My thoughts about water right now hinge on the fact that here in Alabama where I live the temperatures are pushing 100 degrees and it’s pretty doggone hot. Ponds are showing signs of evaporation. Wet-weather creeks are dry and regular creeks are lower due to evaporation.

Water comprises about 60 percent of our total body weight. Everything in our bodies needs water to function properly: blood, organs, brains, muscles, skin. If you get dehydrated from not drinking enough water you’ll likely feel tired, cranky and may have other health issues.

We’re not the only critters that need water, of course, Some experts believe deer need two to three quarts of water per 100 pounds of body weight per day. In summer that may be increased depending on the geography; I’d suspect deer in the Southeast might need more than up in the Northeast, but maybe not. I’m not an expert on a deer’s body functions.

I know, though, that when I mow the yard in summer or go jogging that I sweat like Albert Brooks on the set in Broadcast News. And I pound water every day. I have a 22-ounce bottle that I refill repeatedly and consume. I follow the old advice to drink enough for my urine to be pale yellow (or clear) and don’t worry about the trips to the loo.

If you’ve started an exercise program this spring or summer, take heed for the heat if your area has high temps. Try to work out, walk, jog, run bike or whatever you’re doing in the coolest hours possible. A few weeks ago I was up at 4:30 a.m. and saw two walkers, a bike rider and a jogger. In our neighborhood the evening walkers-joggers-bikers are out in big numbers, too. The middle of the day is just scorching.

If you’re being active, be smart. Wear performance clothing that wicks sweat (as best as possible in summer!), good shoes, drink plenty of water and avoid the old myths about rubber suits, “sweating off the pounds” and such. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious problems that you can avoid by being smart.

As for the water, remember that it’s something our bodies must have to function properly. Runner’s World has some good advice about water myths, and also for training in the heat.

If you haven’t started a workout program, be sure to check with your physician first. We men don’t like “the checkup” and all that, but it’s important. Be smart if you’re going to try to get healthier so you can hunt better this season.

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The history of our study is well chronicled by Deer and Deer Hunting. Though nothing in nature is 100 percent accurate the study has clearly shown that the northern whitetail’s peak breeding is not always a mid-November event. Due to a host of factors, driven primarily by shortening day length and the timing of the second full moon after the autumnal equinox, peak breeding can occur from early November to as late as Nov. 20-25.

Our findings may not be beneficial for biologists, but they have been important to time-strapped hunters who must schedule vacation time or work around other commitments.

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