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On frozen pond: Hunting ducks over ice perilous, rewarding

By Hal McKnight Published: January 13, 2008
What is a duck hunter to do when his favorite water holes are frozen over?

That is the question I faced recently when a couple of my hunting buddies had traveled from the warmth of Lake Charles, La., to duck hunt in icy Oklahoma.

Our hunting destination was a 10-acre flood control lake in Kiowa County that was frozen as solid as cement.

Snow covered the ground and the gray, overcast sky matched the muted colors which reflected from the sheet of ice that once was a pond.

Our game plan was to break a large expanse of ice and toss out a couple of dozen duck decoys.Clad in chest waders, it was imperative for us to find places in shallow water to break the ice.

Tree limbs and sharpshooter shovels were used to cut the ice into large blocks the size of pool tables. With considerable effort, each block was pushed under the ice cap.

The end result was an open area of water full of ice that appeared to have naturally melted.

Decoys were placed, the guns were loaded and the only thing missing were the ducks.

Snow and ice will often force the birds to change their patterns, which means a waiting game for duck hunters.

Hours passed and we had not seen a single duck. We feared the inclement weather had pushed the waterfowl south.

The passage of time allowed us to blind up with thenatural surroundings and discuss shooting disciplines — the safe gunning parameters and range restrictions that would be needed to drop the birds inside our open water.

We had two Labrador retrievers ready for action, both wearing heavy neoprene vests for warmth. For their safety, it was our responsibility to prevent downed birds from falling too far out on the ice.

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