Water Witching: Fact or Fake?

Locating water underground using a stick? Is it pseudoscience or the real deal? Find out!

Some call it “the gift.” Others refer to it as “dowsing,” “doodlebugging,” or “water witching”—the practice of locating water underground using a forked stick. Sounds simple, but does it work?

The History of Dowsing

According to the American Society of Dowsers, divining the location of water dates back many millennia. In the Tassili Caves of northern Africa, an 8,000-year-old cave painting depicts a man holding a forked stick, apparently using it to search for water. In fact, historical images that appear to represent dowsing appear all over the world—in the temples of Egyptian pharaohs, in ancient Chinese etchings and more.

Although most would say that dowsing is nothing more than a myth, there are quite a few people today who believe in this practice. In fact, when California was in the middle of their worst drought, they turned to local dowsers to uncover hidden sources of water. And, despite the skepticism, there are even a few scientists who think there’s more here than meets the eye.

What Tool is Used?

Although most dowsers focus on locating water, there are those who apply their skills to uncover a wide range of items – from gold and explosive devices to that elusive TV remote control. The world of dowsing boasts an array of fascinating tools, such as pendulums, car keys, wire rods, coat hangers, and even pliers.

However, the most commonly used tool in dowsing is the dowsing rod. This trusty tool is nothing more than a simple forked branch cut fresh from a tree. You can use branches from nearly any type of tree, but those from willows, witch hazels, and various fruit and nut trees seem to do the trick best.

How to Dowse for Water

If you’d like to try dowsing for yourself, it’s really quite simple. Cut a Y-shaped stick from a tree, making sure that all three sections of the Y are between 12 and 16 inches long. Your dowsing rod should also be relatively flat—no branches sticking out in odd directions.

Grab both ends of the Y in an underhanded grasp (so that the heels of your hands are facing towards the sky, as shown in the photo), and hold the dowsing rod horizontally so that it points in front of you. Keep your grasp somewhat loose and slowly walk around searching for water. Some say that it helps if you concentrate on finding water as you walk. As you approach a water source, you should feel your dowsing rod start to bend towards the ground. This is the tricky part; many experienced dowsers say that as you zero in on the water source, the dowsing rod will bend towards the earth quite sharply, which means you’ll need to tighten your grasp on the rod so that you don’t drop it.

Is Dowsing Real?

Most experts—other than dowsing experts, that is—classify this art to the realm of pseudoscience. Over the last century, several studies have shown that the average dowser is no better at predicting the location of water than anyone else.

However, there is one study, conducted by the German government in the 1990s, that perplexed the scientific community. During this study’s 10-year research period, researchers paired up experienced geologists and dowsers, sending them to dry regions like Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Yemen. Scientists were surprised to find that many of the dowsers were spot-on. In Sri Lanka alone, drill teams drilled 691 wells under the supervision of dowsers and found water 96% of the time.

Now, skeptics would argue that the reason for this is simple: No matter where you drill, as long as you’re willing to drill deep enough, you’re bound to find water eventually. However, in this particular study, the dowsers were also asked to tell their drill teams at what depth they’d find the water and how much water they would find. The study’s findings showed that the dowsers’ predictions concerning depth and volume were accurate to within 10% to 20%.

No one knows why dowsing works—or if, indeed, it does work. Some researchers believe that humans can detect the presence of water by some trace amount of energy that it releases. Others believe that the talent is all in the dowsing rod. Still more say that this art is nothing more than a clever hoax.

Fortunately, no matter where you stand on the dowsing debate, this is one bit of ancient wisdom that you can easily put to the test!

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Amber Kanuckel

Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.

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Jodie Thompson

As I walked outside one day, my
father put 2 metal rods, ea. approx. a foot long, in my hands, and told me to walk across the lawn, holding them straight out in front of me about waist high. At 16 and the only girl in the family, my dad and my brothers teased me relentlessly. So my first question was why! He told me to just do it and he wasn’t smiling, so I knew it was serious, and so I walked. About 15 feet out, the rods started to cross each other and bend down towards the ground. It startled me so much that I dropped them and ran back in the house, but not before I heard my dad yell to a man whom I’d never seen before, “See, I told you she could do it!!” I never asked my dad what it was all about, and he always knew I didn’t want to discuss it. I’m 64 now, and really have no interest in scaring myself that bad again. I’m good!!😊


Wow! That must have been a shock! Thank you for sharing!

Not A Genius

There is groundwater almost everywhere on earth, so anybody collecting money for this is a sly dog. The real test would be to determine how deep and at what flow rate. Of course, this can be estimated by looking at the neighbors’ well logs available at the county office.

Kenneth smith

This is absolutely 100% real and true. I was a golf course irrigation foreman for many years and whenever we couldn’t find a system or branch of the main line, I would think pull out 2 metal pieces of wire and locate the missing irrigation line before the other guys even got their high tech (expensive) locators out of the box and powered on. Try it yourself ,grab couple pieces of thin wire or other metal, bend it to fit your hands at approximately 90 degrees and walk across your lawn ,find the water meter in the street and that runs in a straight line to your first hose bib. Walk across slowly a couple times snd you too will be a believer

nancy beeson

I had a friend show me how to douse for water. It was life changing for me . I could actually feel the pull inside me. Very profound for someone who is very skeptical


It works. Seen my grandfather do it hundreds of times. Could tell how deep to dig and how many gallons you’d get a minute. He was right every time. Used a forked peach tree sprout. People that have never seen it or watched closely think the dowser is turning the stick down intentionally. But the tip of the stick bends first. You can really see it if the pointer part is about a foot long. It’ll start to bend down when you’re getting near the spot, and if you back up, it’ll straighten back up. Reminds me of someone bending their finger. It’s very strange looking.
Don’t know anyone who ever used it for bombs, gold etc, but seen it work for water. Can’t explain it, and I don’t care if anyone believes me, but I know what I’ve experienced.

Last edited 2 years ago by Will
Scott Bell

I am an engineer so did not understand how this works but grew up on farm and often had to dig 6ft down to find filed tiles. Water witching saved me days of work with shovel.

Also taught somebbiy scouts how to do it. 100% of wolf cubs could do it after 30minutes training. How 1) get rod – I used coat hanger cut and bent into l shape.
2) put garden hose or electical extension cord on ground. Turn off water or electricity to start
3) have kids walk with rod in each hand over hose/cord starting about 6 feet back from it. Leave water/electricity off and nothing happens.
4) turn water or electricity on and repeat. Rods will turn in their hands. So definately something to do with natural magnetic or other waves that rods are picking up. If I can teach 9 yr old to do it anyone can do it following this simple technique.

You need lots of experience to no how far below surface but simple training exercise makes believers out of doubters.

Pat Sullivan

An old logger showed me how to find water on a parcel of land I purchased from him — on condition that I first locate at least two running streams under ground. He demonstrated with a single branch held loosely in one hand. He was a local legend as a water witcher who succeeded in finding water when drillers failed.

I believed I could do it because I believed in him. I also knew that the Soviet Army travelled with just 2 days fresh water supply, but several battalions of dowsers.

I was stunned by my first success when the stick pointed straight down and pulled my hand with it. I found two more spots and rushed to tell him. He said he knew of those locations and there were others on my land. Then he showed me how to determine depth to drill.

Later I told a highly skeptic friend who insisted I show him. We drove to my land that weekend and I set him on the same path I had taken, then stood back and watched. As he approached the spot, he registered a look of total shock and surprise as the stick led his hand straight down.

Subsequently I’ve located running water multiple times. Thank you, Clarence Inman of Bonny Doon 🙂


It worked for me using a peach tree fork. As the point went downward I tried to pull it up and the bark scratched the palms of my hands. The force was strong. I located an underground river and I walked the direction it flowed.


I am a very conservative person. Definitely right of center. Can’t even understand why anyone would vote Democrat. So I am completely baffled as to why I can witch water. Been doing a lot of reading on the subject and the only thing I can say to the non believers it’s not a hoax or that miniscule muscle is causing the stick to move. If this true please explain why I have had the bark peel off in my hands trying to stop the movement! I am going to talk to a doctor and see if there is some way to monitor my blood pressure and pulse rate when I do this the next time. Might be something to that theory.

Bill Friedline

Fascinating comment – in my experience it’s conservatives who are far more willing to “take things on faith” or believe in things with no proof than most Dems or liberals. Personally, I don’t believe in things I can’t verify! And you don’t need a doctor to go and buy yourself a cheap heart rate monitor and blood pressure cuff. Local drug store stocks both. 🙂


fascinating reply 9 months later.


We had two witchers as neighbors, saw them many times work their ‘magic’ and never saw them miss – they did it free for farmers drilling wells for livestock. One had me hold his stick, fresh off the tree with bark on it, and had me try to locate areas to no avail. But then he put his hand on mine, told me to hold the stick as tight as I could, blindfolded me and led me around. Whenever he went over an area that he had already tested having water the stick would forceably turn down, peeling bark off the stick in my hand and even making marks in my skin. I was a strong farm boy, and I held that stick tight. Tried it again alone and it wouldn’t work. Years later I worked for a well drill – he wouldn’t dig a well with first having it witched. He had one customer convince him to dig without doing so. No water after 4-5 days of drilling. My boss called in a local witcher and within minutes stated we were a little over 20′ from the site – moved the rig drilled down around 30′ as witcher stated and hit a great vein. Worked every time. My boss blindfolded a witcher, put him in a pickup and drove him around the city – he correctly predicted every water pipe under the streets as they drove over them. It works.


I used to live on the eastern side of WA state, and when I was 13ish my mother bought some property near my grandparents. They showed me how to do it with a willow branch when they were getting ready to drill a well. I must have done it 50+ times trying to figure out what the trick was… there was an undeniable pull on the branch when I would walk over certain parts of the property. I’m not the type that believes in the super natural… but I have no idea why/how that works, yet it does. I never had any trouble getting it to work by myself… just picked up the Y shaped branch, held the 2 short ends tight like you described, and walked.


I’d love to read your work!

Cheri Lundstrom

The local Purdue farm uses dowsing rods to locate broken drain lines in the fields. For those outside Indiana, Purdue University produces engineers and top notch farmers.

Also one of the local water companies uses dowsing rods to locate leaking water pipes. I personally use a dowser to decide where to put plants. It has drastically reduced the number of landscape losses. For me.

Mark Dresser

Witched my first well in my teens. Twisted the willow branch until it snapped. That well was 50 gpm at 100 foot depth. Second well a mille away on a different piece of strata was less stron and pulled 30 gpm at 150 foot depth. Both wells support a small community. I witched my well on my 40 place in the mountains. It was not as strong but felt good for a home supply. The twist started to take the bark off my willow branch but did not break it like the ones in my teens. The well hit at 75 foot dept at 6 GPM. I put a 1500 gallon surface tank and a pressure tank. Serviced 4 inside taps, dishwasher and laundry as well as yard irrigation without ever running low.

BW Doyle

Just had a new well drilled today. It is 65 feet deep, just at bedrock. The newest type of drilling rig was used, and the actual drilling time was 3 hours. Yesterday the young driller cut a y shaped limb from one of our fruit trees, and used that to witch the drill site. He also located the geothermal lines that were near the drill site. He does this every day he works and with 100% accuracy. Just amazing to this this in action.

Dawn M Rassel

I have a place in Pigeon Mi. Our current well is very high in sodium. Going to try another well drill very soon. just bought some rods for dousing. I hope I get great results. I need help. Any advise? Watched a bunch of how to videos. I think I can do this.

Brian Carver

It works! I had coffee from the well my 100% Cherokee grandmother found in 1962. Although she passed away in 1989..I’ve grown up on this well as I’ve lived here since and its where I grew up…knock on wood, I hope it holds up for the rest of my life! Thanks

Cindi Wirick

Hello Brian, Do you know how I would go about finding a Dowser in my area?

Susan McNeill Spuhler

Where do you live? I can get you in touch with dowsers.

Joann Kelley

I would love to find a dowser who can find my water line location, which is essential before permit can be given on the replacement of my failing septic system. I live in Western N.C.—Haywood Co. My address is Clyde, which is between Waynesville and Asheville .

Val C.

I am looking for a dowser in Middle TN. I’m located in the Fayetteville, TN area. I have drilled 2 dry wells now and would like to hire a dowser but I can’t find anyone in the area by word of mouth or internet search. Thank you very much


I’m in a county west of Charlotte. Would be grateful if you’d share.


Good Morning. Would you know of any dowsers in the middle TN area? Thank you

Debbie White

Cindy, just reading this looking for a witcher or dowser. Can’t find any. I’m in Dillsburg, PA 17019. The well company said they just pick a spot and eventually find water. My current well, which is collapsing, is 400 feet down. Can’t afford to drill that far again. Know any in PA? My email is [email protected] – I would GREATLY appreciate any help in locating one around here. Thank you!


So, the claim here is all the studies that show dowsing DOESN’T work are somehow disproved by one study that implied it may (an implication that has other explanations, such as the ability to interpret the terrain). Enough with the “energies” and superstitions and “but it worked for me” anecdotes. Data from controlled studies is proof this is nothing more than stuff and nonsense.


“Dowsing” for water is 100% BS. I had two local gurus, both claimed they were great dowsers, come out and dowse the same area. They both “found” water in different places. Two attempts to drill, both dry holes. Not a drop. Wasted $14,000 on these dry holes. I told them to throw their dowsing rods away.
Next time I try for water I am using science, geology, not BS.


Of you use “geology and science” they will not guarantee anything either. they will simply that there is no right nor wrong place, just drill anyplace and you either hit or miss. That’s a big gamble. Better to pay a dowser so you at least haves reasonably decent place to try. Nothing to lose for $200-$400

Bert Clayton

You didn’t tell him that there’s always charlatans that impersonate the real thing. Nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s better to ask around and find credible folks if possible.


There is no “debate”. I can do this with a dogwood stick and never asked for the ability. People who don’t “believe” in it sounds just as ignorant as not believing that the fungal network plays a massive role in natural forest health. They are simply uneducated on the matter. Much like with Christ, many things can’t be explained by the community of so-called scientists. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, however in quantum physics we DO know that what we can sense with our 5 basic senses, can only perceive about 5% of reality, while the 95% is “super-natural” or beyond the 5 senses. Water well witching with wood fits into this 95%, just like angels, demons, or the rest of reality that you can’t see.


I just tried it over a running faucet of water, pinpoint straight with perfect 90 degree bends just like every video show online. Not a single budge in indicating water.


It doesn’t work on a tap. It has to be underground. It’s the disruption in the earth that does it. Go try your rods on your house power line or gas line. It DOES work.

David Wilson

My grandfather taught me in the 1966 that the Y stick needed to come from a fruit tree.

Donn Hilton

My dad could find an underground stream with a willow switch, same with my uncle. I tried it and found it would work for me. I know that not everyone can. It baffles me as to how it works. A friend used it to find a mortar damaged buried cable under a runway in Vietnam. It was critical to get the communication cable working quickly. No problem. I haven’t tried finding pipes and cables but think it would be fun to try. I’ve also used a pair of aluminum welding rods bent into a right angle. So, not necessary to have a “Y” shaped fruit wood stick. There is amazing power there but I’m a bit reluctant to do it because I don’t know where the power or ability comes from. My religion says that if we are doing something for a good purpose then it’s alright. I guess that’s good enough.

Donn Hilton

I forgot to mention if a person is mentally distraught then not to bother trying to find water. Go mellow out and when you are at peace go try it again. Just saying it depends on how you feel.

Dylan Eaglestone

What materials are best used to make a diving too like the one in the picture above?
With the copper piece at the end


I did it as a child and it absolutely works. I don’t know why this is still discussed. I didn’t know what I was doing and no one told me anything, I just held two bent coat hangers loosely as instructed by my father who was skeptical (and had heard the advice from a friend and thought it was a put-on), I walked across the yard and when I passed the pipe, they crossed. As I walked passed the pipe, they kept crossing. When I backed up, they crossed in reverse. It can and does work. My father took a shovel, and dug straight down at the point where the rods pointed at each other, hit the pipe, busted it open and fixed the issue with our main. There was no way to fake this experiment. He was floored, and I had no idea what was going on. There was no way to fake that. Our back yard was our an acre and our front was probably around a quarter. There’s just not that much luck to be found. It was dead on and worked backwards and forwards. It is not easy for adults to do, apparently, because they tense up. This is widely known.

Susan Higgins

Hi fejneerg, thanks for sharing your info!

Veronica L March

I had a co-worker who showed me how to dowse, he made me (2)L-shaped copper rods. It took a while to learn how to hold them loosely while balancing them. I had the opportunity to test them at our 40 acre farm when the pipe between the 2 ponds stopped flowing. I went in and grabbed the copper rods and just like mentioned above the rods would cross when I walked across the area where my husband then excavated and found the line.

Toby Fortner

My father was really good at finding water for people he used wires i prefer a forked stick dowsing doesn’t have to be proven to me i know without a shadow of a doubt it works i haven’t figured out how to scientifically prove it but i can make anyone feel what i feel as long as im touching the stick you will feel it to there has to be a way you could measure the force being put on my stick its so strong if i try to hold the stick and keep walking the stick will break


David, my wife’s uncle witched for water at the place where we build our first house soon after we where married. He cut a branch cut Y and when he found a stream we marked it. He kept on looking and found another one that was perpendicular to the first. He found out wher they crossed each other then he put the ends in his one hand and held it over where he said they crossed, the end of the Y started bobbing up and down, each bob was a foot. Long story short is we couldn’t pump our well dry, ever.

Richard Parker

my dad did this for years using a fork from a chokecherry tree , nothing else worked for him . i went with him many time when he was witching ,i would mark where with a stone . and the people came in with a drill and drilled another place with no luck . we told them where to drill ,they drill down so far and hit good water .one place we did did the same thing but hit bad water (only lasted a month ) we used a water drill and went done 50 ‘ and water was fine . that was 30 years ago and still pumping good water . my dad is gone now , but every now and then i cut a branch just to show how its done

Susan Higgins

Hi Richard, thanks for sharing your story!


There is an article in our newspaper re: a man finding an ancient cemetary by dousing. The article is in The News commercial, Wednesday, June21,2017. He says the cemetery located is located on private land near Seminary, Ms. at a place calledPeps Point that dates to the 1800’s. The people buried there are relatives of his. He’s into genealogy.

Michael Kluck

By the way… two rods are not necessary. One works fine.

Donn Hilton

Two right angle rods will cross in front of you pointing in the direction to walk. When you cross the underground stream the rods will swing in toward you. Handy having 2 rods.

Michael Kluck

I have been dowsing for 50 years with complete success. I don’t care if it is a plastic pipe, a 2×4, a stream of water or whatever… I can find it, even with a dowsing rod made of wooden dowel rods. IT IS NOT MAGNETIC! No “scientist” or anyone else is telling me it’s nonsense! I just recently found a misplaced pair of channel locks with a dowsing rod. It led me right to them! Thank you, Michael

John Benscoter

Hi, I am a 3rd Generation Water-Witch. I work for the USDA—NRCS as a ACES Technician. I water-witch with my job 3 to 4 days a week. I use a steel wire as my tool. I find underground water veins. At 20 to 30 feet from where the water comes to or near the ground’s surface, by holding the wire (bent on a 90 degree angle) I get a magnetic attraction to the point of the start of the water vein. The wire is magnetically attracted to that point. I walk to that point and when I get to the exact point my wire will turn in the direction of the underground water vein. It only work for me, this is the theory that I developed and have studied: 1) Water is a good conductor of electricity 2) The Clay in our Northern Pa. has almost equal amounts of + and – charged Clay particles, this is why you can make a ball out of Clay. 3) The combination of the flowing water as a good conductor of electricity, the + and – of the clay particle’s form and develop Clay veins or clay conduit (pipe). I know it works I use it nearly everyday. It works over concrete, frozen ground or even during Dry times. Feel free to contact me if anyone should want to talk about the subject. I am John Benscoter, my phone# is 570/833/4250, my address is 345 Beech Grove Road, Laceyville, Pa. 18623, my email is [email protected]


My dad wit he’d for water for over 50 years. He was never wrong and always found water. He said when you first felt the willow stick move you counted from there to when it went straight down. This would give you the number of feet you had to go down to hit water. It he was never wrong and the water was always good. I am the only one of six kids that can do it too. Not a lot of call for it in the big city.

Jeanette Robinson

An old well striker gave me the cut coat hangers l shaped said walk around. I did all of a sudden they went down. I hollered. What’s happening. That’s where I’m going to drill
It wasn’t marked. He said keep walking at a different. Spot they turned. Outward again I hollered. That’s underground. Standing. Water. Scary. Gave me chills. I did Alot of exploring over time. Could find water. Lines. Septic. Systems. Even tried over water bed & wands turned out. He also told me how to measure depth & gal per min. I tried again when my sister had a piece of farm ground. Driller came within 2 in of my spot he dowsed also. Some of my kids can do it some can’t. I think it has to do with magnetics.when I worked in an IBM machine room I hacd to wear an antimagnetic watch to keep time.

Ken Sterne

I moved to a rural community from Chicago in the early 70’s. The village maintenance crew (3 of them) were all downers. If they ever failed to find water (or pipes) no one talked about it. I acquired the skill and it works—sometimes.


My Gramma, who passed earlier this year, witched the well for her and Grampa’s house when it was built. She showed me how at an early age. I’m not near as good as she was. 50+ years later that well is still going and has the cleanest water in the area (tested every 2 years)

Bob Sogla

Dowsing is an absolute joke. I hired 3 dowsers to witch my property. Do you think any one of them could agree on a location???? Hell no…

I went with the pick of the most highly recommended dowser. And the hole was dry at 520 feet. Then I drilled were it was most convenient (my pick) and we hit 20 gallons a minute at 132 feet. None of the dowsers rods or twigs even twitched at this location…

Genevieve Pryor

I have no idea as to the reason why, but I seem to be more adept at finding lost graves than water. My grandfather was the water finder and he said use willow for finding water. I used wire for finding the lost graves.
My cousin showed me how. He was a whiz on that. But I think he was good at finding anything ?
At a friends’ request, we doubled up to find a lost baby’s grave ( quicker) and what we found was a surprise to us. When my friend double checked her cousins’ info, it was a TWINS grave we found !

Marchetia gibson

It works

dutch zimmerman

I believe those were well drillers,not well diggers. Unless they used shovels. I drilled wells for 45 years.


A neighbor was accomplished in this and thought I might be able to do it as well. He handed me his dowsing rod, which was a forked copper wire, and it worked!
I honestly didn’t believe until that rod practically jumped out of my hand to point downward. He researched the area and it was a water source. I don’t know how it works, but it appears to. It scared my hubby, though, and he asked me not to do it again….apparently didn’t want to be married to someone ‘spooky”. Somewhat superstitious of him, huh?

jean spruill

I can witch water and find water lines with forked stick or metal hangers, this begin when I was 9 or 10 years old my grandfather was the one who found where water was for everyone who lived near us or for people who ask him to. I told him I didn’t believe that a stick could find water, he said well come with me he cut a stick and showed me how to hold it and told me to hold tight and start walking , I really didn’t know what to say when that stick turn in my hands and I was holding so tight the bark peeled of in my hands it went down then next step it came back up and it did that in the same place every time, So I believe he passed the ability to witch to me when he handed the stick to me that day.


My Grandfarther was a well digger and I saw him use a forked stick from willow trees to find the best place to dig a well. It worked every time. He seemed to think it worked because the live limb needed the water source.

Lori meyer

My mom could do this..we called them water witches…

priscilla langford

My Father used to talk about doing it himself.

Dawne mezurek

Diana fowler… we also have a farm that was owned by old man jones in ohio. Yes he dosed and found and also claimed underground rivers!


My husband and I moved upstate n.y. 14 years ago. We needed a well dug and was told that we should use the old local farmer who could easily locate the water source for us. We contacted him and he came with a hanger wire and took about 20 minutes to locate the water source. Sure enough when the well digger came to dig for the water he only went down 25 feet before he hit a artisian well with water 30 gallons per minute. True Story.

s hoff

There was a local man who used an old pair of slip joint pliers to find water. He would open the pliers pointing them straight up and they would get pulled out of his hands over a good well spot. He would then hang the pliers from his finger and they would spin around and tell him the depth of the water. It was a strong well and He was only off by 5 feet….darndest thing I ever saw


I have witched successfully for water lines with 2 coat hangers spot on every time. The depth is what I need for wells. Please give more detail on that method.

Dan pelton

I have used bent coat hangers to locate water and pipes underground.
I read about a technique using what was referred to as a bobbing stick to help determine the depth of to the water and then the depth of the vein of water. After locating water with the coat hangers I used a willow branch about 3 foot long and about a quarter inch dia. At the big end. I sit in a chair to steady myself while holding the large end about 6 inches from the ground. After about 15 seconds or so the stuck will begin to Bob up and down. Count the number of bobs until it stops. Each bob is supposed to indicate the depth to the water. Remain still after it stops bobbing and the stick will start to move side to side. The number of side to side movements indicates the depth of the vein of water. Remain still to see if the bobbing starts again. If it starts again count the number of bobs. This will indicate the depth to the next vein of water if one exists. Also then count the side to side movements to determine the depth of the second vein. I have only done this to a site on my property and at a well site on my property and was blown away when the bobber stick responded in the way I have described. I tested this on an existing well site and the numbers did not come out right and matching the well log as to the depth of water. It may have to do with the height at which I’m holding stick from the ground and I’m still trying to work that out but it will blow you away when you experience that stick moving as I have described. Note ,the side to side movement helps to determine if the water is sufficient to develope. If the side to side is weak then not enough water. I did this at a neighbors well site and got 56 strong side to sides and only then asked him his gallons per minute. He said he gets 40 gallons a minute. Good luck


my wife and i had a water witch find water for us to put a well in at our northern pa cabin,he was spot on and the depth also spot on. i belivedit he used a peach branch.


Do you Rember how he did the depth. I would appreciate that information

Donn Hilton

I saw my uncle searching for depth of a sream. He used a quart jar with a couple of inches of water in it. He hung a small weight on a string from the middle of the lid. He’d hold it with his arm out and after a while the weight would start to swing back and forth. The idea was to count how many times it would swing and that was supposed to relate to the depth. I haven’t tried that but it seemed to work for my uncle. Not sure how to determine the quality of the water and it’s flow rate but apparently some people can determine that too. That’s important if you wish to irrigate or if you want it for drinking water. A well we had dug was close to two underground streams at different depths. An expert told us not to stop at the first stream but put a pump on the well snd suck it out while it was dug down further. Sure enough, the second stream really has good flow. Perfect for watering our gardens. Hope that helps you David. You may have to ask around to find out methods that work for you.

Chalie Bray

An excellent article, Amber Kanuckel. You didn’t answer your own question, though. All anyone has to do to find their own answer is to contact their local water welldriller and ask them if dowsing for underground water really works. They ALL use this technique everyday.

Jim Hoyt

Love this kind of folklore.
Not sure if I do agree as a Master Naturalist and geologist helper but Granpa did use Dowsing to dig a well in Jefferson County Illinois to supplement the family cisterns.
The well water was so hard that most people had trouble with it especially with washing clothes.
On the spirtual side of this however Grandpa was descended from a Scotsman….

Diana Fowler

“Old Man Jones”was THE guy you wanted to drill for water well when I was a kid. He always “witched” or “dowsed” before drilling. When we bought our farm in Ohio, in 1966,it only had a hand dug cistern. He witched and said there was an underground “river” but extremely deep. He was correct. You could turn on all spigots and run all night without running dry.


I would not drill a well without the advice of a witcher. Not worth the risk!.

Allen & Cindy

We use this same technique to locate graves except we use brass rods. We can determine male or female, how deep the grave is and by determining the length of the grave figure if it’s a child or adult. I don’t know how it works but it does.

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