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Water for West Texas Wildlife

Lack of water for wildlife worries many owners/prospective owners of small tracts of land in the Chihuahuan Desert areas of West Texas. A GUZZLER may be the economical and effective answer.

In much of West Texas, especially with more and more ranches having ceased their livestock businesses and not operating and maintaining their extensive watering systems, lack of available water is becoming a limiting factor on the quantities and qualities of wildlife.

If you own or are thinking of buying a tract of land in the Trans Pecos/Big Bend areas, you are probably very concerned about water for your wildlife. There is an inexpensive way to solve the problem, a GUZZLER, which should cost less than $3,000 versus a water well which is likely to cost more than $20,000.

What is a GUZZLER? It is a means to catch rain water, to store the rain water, a gutter to carry the rain water from the collector to storage and a device to dispense the rain water to wildlife.

Evaporation and its minimization should be kept in mind when building a guzzler.

A catching area, where average annual rainfall is 10" to 12" as in Terrell County, southern Pecos County and much of eastern and northern Brewster County needs to be about 800 sq. ft. About 2,200 to 2,500 gallons of closed top water storage is required. Finally a dispensing device is required, a small trough, 12" wide by 24" long by 6" deep is plenty big.

The rain water catching area can be an upside down roof like structure constructed of sheetmetal and mounted on a frame. The lower to the ground, the better, in order to be more resistant to winds. It can be a "slick rock" area, smooth rock on a slope, with some kind of low curb built to direct rain water into a trough or gutter leading to the storage tank.

Rain water storage needs to be a tank with a top.   Remember to minimize evaporation. It can be a fiberglass tank, available at low cost, or concrete, or rock, or any number of other materials. It's color should be white or another light color in order to keep the water as cool as possible. A fiberglass or plastic tank needs to be opaque or alge may grow in quantities that will stop up water lines and foul valves.

The trough should be kept small, again to minimize evaporation. A trough with edges, or at least some of them, level with the ground will work better if you want to get your quail to use it. Some large rocks in the trough for the birds to use as ramps to walk to the water will be helpful.The trough should not be too close to heavy cover if you want your deer to water. They get nervous about being too close to ambush areas. But it shouldn't be too far from the cover either as quail don't like it in the wide open. Makes them too attractive a target for predator birds.

What is too close and what is too far? I don't know. Talking to a game biologist might be helpful.

IMPORTANT: To make the trough function properly and avoid having all your stored rain water wasted, be sure to use a quality float valve. And BE SURE that it is effectively screened or shielded from disturbance by wildlife. It will be very disheartening to find that all your rain water has been dumped by an mischievous javalina.

A word about hunting. Water is probably as good as or better an attraction than a deer feeder. Build a guzzler and find out. Maybe you will be able to quit tot'n that corn.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has quite a number of guzzlers at Black Gap Wildlife Management Area, Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area and the Desert Bighorn Sheep area near Van Horn.

A booklet entitled WATER FOR WEST TEXAS WILDLIFE, published by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744, has quite a bit of information on guzzlers.

Websites that will shed light on guzzlers, their use, function and design.
Wildlife Water Guzzler

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Sanderson Real Estate, Inc.
PO Box 550
Sanderson, Tx. 79848
432-345-2969 (Phone & Fax)
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