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Thread: Dangerous Experience Out Calling

  1. #1

    Default Dangerous Experience Out Calling

    Here's a good ending story to one that could've been really bad. Last Saturday, I went out calling early in the morning before the sun came up. I made a couple stands and was about 20 miles out of town when I decided to try a spot I've seen Fox. The area has a small pond and I hiked out to put the e-caller on the ice with the decoy. I quickly hiked back into the willows to hide and get setup. I called for about 18 minutes and decided to call it quits and move on to the next stand. So, I grab my seat cushion, walk over and turn off the caller/decoy and start to hike back to the truck. I start to walk along the edge of this pond and then instantly the ice breaks from under me and I go in. I quickly threw my caller and seat towards the shore, which was about 10 ft away. My rifle is on the sling around my shoulder as I lay on my chest on the ice. I unsling the rifle and toss it towards shore quickly too and then instantly ponder how I'm going to get out. I stretched out my feet towards the bottom and found it, at a depth around my upper chest. I shoved off the bottom and floundered out, grabbing my gear and running to the truck which was about 300 yards away. My entire insulated suit was hard ice by the time I got back to the truck, but I was warm from my adrenaline pumping. I thought to myself as I stood by the truck which was now running and warming back up, what to do? I didn't want to strip down beside the truck and freeze in the process. I remembered that I always carry a small tarp to put critters in to keep the fur/blood from sticking to the bed. So I put the tarp on the seat and jumped in, the ice melting onto the tarp, bunny boots full of water and my rifle completely covered in a ball of ice/snow. I did the "drive of shame" back home, calling my wife and asking her to put out some dry clothes in the garage so I could change. The entire time from when I went through until I was back at the truck was probably under 3 minutes, but felt like an eternity running with those water filled bunny boots and saturated snowsuit.
    There were a couple of lessons learned on this trip that I've pondered before but never thought too much about. First lesson is that I should probably go with a partner. If I had gone through in deep water and couldn't get out, nobody would've found me anytime soon and I'd be a gonner. The second lesson learned is to always carry my "ice picks". I typically have them on me when I take the snowmachine on rivers, but never when I road hunt. From now on, I'm going to be keeping them velcroed to my upper chest on the snowsuit. With those things I could at least stab them into the ice and pull out if it was over my head. Sportsmans warehouse sells these if anybody needs them and they have a protected nail that has a spring loaded sleeve, so it doesn't rip up your gear. I'll be putting some white tape on them to "camo" them against my suit and probably sew a velcro patch to keep them out of the way. Make sure you keep the cords on the handles too, so that they can't fall when you need them most. Another thing that I'm going to be doing from now on is to keep some of my super warm clothes (down pants, jacket, balaclava, socks, boots) back in the truck or in an action packer on the sled (in garbage bags). That way, at least I can get out of anything wet in a hurry and into dry stuff. Sitting in that wet suit with 50 pound bunny boots wasn't fun, but it could've been life threatening if the truck wouldn't have started or if I was out in the bush on the snowmachine. Of course, making a fire is another thing that will save your life too and I always have flares, lighters, and fire starter available. I know this was kind of long, but I just wanted to let everybody know one of the unforeseen dangers out there and maybe a couple of ways to stay safe.

  2. #2
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    Wow, that was a close one. Been there done that, I too was fortunate to be only waist deep and close to shore, and close to the truck, but it was only 15 degrees when I did it. Glad your ok, and able to learn from this as I did, and hopefully it never happens again. Thanks for passing this on to everyone so they can heighten their awareness also.

  3. #3
    Member WaterWolf's Avatar
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    go with a partner
    Yes, sir!!!! We all do it (Go with out a partner), but in all reality in this state, in the winter time, all outside activities should be done with a partner.

    Glad ya made out and home safe.

  4. #4

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    Must be the year or something, My buddy did the same after falling through a slough but his truck was 1/2 mile away. He said he never ran so fast.

  5. #5
    Member aksnowshoe's Avatar
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    Default Safety first

    Sure glad you are all right. I had a close call like that as well last year at -20 on my snow machine. I was walking down a slew on the nenana. The shell ice had fallen in and you could see an indent on the top of the snow that had fallen since the ice had caved in. I stepped over where it looked like the crack was and much to my surprise I'm in water up to my waist. I was lucky to be carrying my rifle and I turned it to catch the sides of the ice and give me leverage to get out. 1oo yards back to the sled and I was froze solid by the time I got there. I had about a mile and a half ride back to the house. I was verry glad that I had the proper layers on the keep me from getting cold.

    I think that it would definitely be in every ones best interest if we all hunted with a partner. How ever I don't think that this is very realistic. I know that if I only went hunting when I had a partner that was willing to go I would only hunt about twice a winter. That is not enough for me. So until I can get a dedicated partner with the same drive and passion as my self , I will just have to go it alone and think before I make my moves. Thanks for taking the time to write this one up snow. We can't ever be reminded enough to think safety first. Every one keep safe out there and Happy new year!

    Shoe

  6. #6

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    snowcamoman, I'm sorry to hear about the unfortunate incident and I am very glad you made it back safely. I know a few people that have fell through lake ice and they say it's a very bad experience, something they don't forget very easily.

    I like to carry one of those fire logs with me in the atv. Those will burn for hours and light fairly quickly, if dry. I figure if I need a fire ASAP that would be the way to go. I could light the log and quickly gather enough fire wood while it gets going.

  7. #7
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    Yes, that is seriously scary. I once went through the ice wearing snowshoes!!! when checking beaver traps. Ever try to swim wearing snowshoes? The only thing that kept me from freezing was my anger at being so careless/stupid/ignorant/dumb etc.

    Glad your story had a happy ending. J.

  8. #8
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    I have done the same with snowshoes. As a youngster, I trapped a 5 mile beaver flow behind my house. My father always told me not to attach the heal strap while navigating thin ice that way you can kick the shoes off if you go through. I went throu about 50 yards from shore and the mile hike back to the house was the longest and hopefully the last of that type. Snowshoes are ideal for thinner ice because of the offset of weight, but very unforgiving during the crunch time.

  9. #9
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    Default been there too

    On the Tanana River no less, by myself, nobody knew where I was, early morning so was expected to be gone all day. The light was gray and flat. I headed out across ice, and realized it was just ice, no snow. That meant it could not have been there long. I stopped, eased down, saw the ice flex, turned to get back, and broke through. I was already throwing my weight forward, so was able to keep my chest on the ice.
    I had a full size back pack on with gear, and a shotgun and rifle in each hand. I managed to use the guns to help spread the weight and crawled out of the hole and back to shore.
    I can imagine your emotions, and am glad we have a happy ending to your story. I like the idea of ice picks on velcro. that makes a lot of sense.
    Thanks for the good reminders.

  10. #10
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    snowcamoman: can you post a pic of your ice picks? I wonder around some areas that have frozen sloughs bunny hunting so they may not be a bad idea to add to my gear list.

  11. #11
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    My partner and I were riding double on a snowmachine out the Rex Trail in October 1992. When we got to the Totatlanika River it was open and flowing. Chuck went down stream on the snowmachine, and I walked up stream to locate a place to cross. I was wearing Carhart Bibs, a Carhart jacket, and Bunny Boots. Jeans, sweatshirt, cotton thermals, and wool socks. Temp was -30.

    As I walked up stream I saw a heard of Caribou coming down the river. They saw me and fled across the river. I kept going in their direction and found a likely place to cross. I started walking across, then realized the ice was waving as I walked. I turned around and took three steps and down I went, face first. I went through the ice, and the current took me under the ice before I realized it. I looked up and saw a few bright spots coming up. I managed to get my feet against a rock and stop moving. I then drove my head against the ice and broke through the brightest spot.

    Now I am standing in water up to my chest. I tried to climb out, but the ice kept breaking, and I was fighting the current to keep from going under the ice again. Afraid I might go under again I used my fist to break ice and kept moving towards shore. I finally got out of the current, and the ice got thicker and the water was not so deep. When the ice got too hard to break, and the water was only waist deep, I jumped up on the ice and spread out. I rolled to shore and got up.

    I headed towards a cabin I knew about, luckily it was only about 300 yards away. By the time I got there I was so cold I could not feel anything with my hands or feet. I stripped off the wet clothes and left them outside. I went inside and pulled a wool blanket off the storage shelf. I wrapped up then tried to light a fire. The wood and kindling was already laid, but my fingers were too cold to strike a match. I broke several, dropped many, and never got a spark. I got an old Goose down vest off a nail on the wall to wrap around my feet. I went to the bunk and took the mattress off the top bunk and threw it on the bottom bunk. I crawled between the mattresses, wrapped in the wool blanket, to try and get warm. I was finally getting a little warmer when Chuck arrived. Seeing my wet clothes outside he knew I was in trouble. Chuck came in and lite the fire. He then brought my wet clothes inside and hung them over the stove.

    I had not taken any extra heavy clothes along since we had only planned to be gone for the day. It took two days before my Carharts dried out enough to leave the cabin. I no longer wear Carharts, I wear something that will dry faster. I also take along a full set of extra clothing, in a dry bag. I'm also very cautious about crossing rivers now.
    Gun Control means hitting your target.
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  12. #12

    Default Ice Pick

    Lujon,
    Here is a website with similar picks. I found mine at Sportsman's Warehouse in Fairbanks back by the Ice Fishing gear and where the jig head bins are located. When I asked the employee there about them, he gave me a crazed look and had no clue what I was talking about. The one's I have have black handles with a red cord.

    http://www.columbussupply.com/products/?productid=1647

    Edit: Here's a better photo and website with safety use information.

    http://therucksack.tripod.com/icesafety.htm


    Graybeard,
    That is one scary story!! I always dread going through a river and getting sucked under the ice. That's amazing you punched through once you were under.

  13. #13

    Default

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am glad you guys are alive to tell them. You have just help prepare my family for the move up north just a little more.

    New Item to add to the list:

    Ice picks.

    Something to remember:

    Do Not latch the heal on your snowshoes when traveling on ice.

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