Steve Fugate, Ricky Waldon: Ice Eliminators Keep Duck Holes Open
Steve Fugate and Ricky Waldon both hunt waterfowl in Ballard County in western Kentucky, and they share something else in common. Both use "ice eliminators" to keep ice from forming in their decoys. An ice eliminator (proper name: Pyramid Guest D-Icer) is a submersible electric pump that is designed to keep water from freezing in boat slips, fish ponds, industrial lagoons, etc. However, Fugate, Waldon, and others deploy ice eliminator to keep water open in front of their blinds. These pumps work by continuously propelling warmer subsurface water up to the surface and maintaining strong current flow.
Fugate hunts mainly from one blind in a flooded cornfield. He uses three ice eliminators--two in his decoys and one along a ditch that provides boat access to his blind. He powers his units off an electric line run to his blind. With all three pumps running, he can keep up to two acres of water open on even the coldest night.
"They're a really good tool," Fugate says. "They work better when they're set just under the surface and pointed sideways, so they set up a good cross-current. My partner and I set our ice eliminator on a frame made from metal rods. This lets us adjust the depth and the angle of the outflow.
"Also, besides preventing ice from forming, the ice eliminator makes the decoys move around like they're swimming. This makes them look more realistic on days when the wind is slack."
Ricky Waldon runs Waldon's Lodge, a commercial waterfowl operation near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers (www.WaldonLodge.com). Waldon sets 22 ice eliminators throughout his flooded fields. Like Fugate, he powers his units directly from electric lines. "I've heard of people using a generator to run an ice eater all night, and this would work if you had a large enough gas tank. But the problem with this is that the noise from the generator would keep ducks scared away at night instead of letting them come in and feed. You want ‘em there at night so they'll come back the next day."
Waldon cautions hunters considering using a generator or a long power cord to power an ice eliminator to make sure it's supplying enough amperage. Amperage that's too low can burn up the motor. "The main way to get around this is to use a heavy-enough gauge wire to supply the amperage needed by the unit," Waldon says. "The safe thing to do is to check with an electrician about the right size wire considering amperage requirements and how far the line has to run to reach the unit."
Another potential problem with ice eliminator is sucking debris into the pump, which can clog and burn it up. "We prevent this by using a welded stand that's got a flat piece of metal over the intake," Waldon explains. "This stand is designed to keep debris out and eliminate clogging."
Waldon also sets his ice eliminator about a foot under the water's surface, and he tilts them to push current sideways. "You don't want the water splashing or spattering on the surface. You just want moving water to keep ice from forming, and these units certainly provide that."
(The Pyramid Guest D-Icer is made by Pyramid Technologies: phone 203-238-0550; Web site www.pyramid-technologies.com. D-Icers come in a range of sizes and prices, starting at ½ hp and approximately $500.)