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.