Other Ways to Fight Ice
Necessity is the mother of invention, and duck hunters have come up with a variety of other methods for keeping ice out of their holes.
For instance, some attach a Go-Devil motor or outboard to fixed mounts on the edge of their hole, feed it from a large capacity gas tank, and run the motor all night long to keep the water moving and ice from forming. (Guide Ronnie Capps of Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, uses two Go-Devil motors on opposite sides of his hole – rigged cater-cornered and facing opposite directions. At night, he runs both motors at the same time, resulting in a racetrack current that keeps his hole open in the coldest weather.)
Perhaps the ultimate way to fight ice is to drill a well and set up an electric pump to run 55° ground water into a pond. Some hunters also use sprayers or they run pipes with perforations along the bottom of their ponds. By pumping fresh water into these pipes and allowing it to escape up through the perforations, they keep the water temperature above freezing.
One additional tip: when stomping ice out of a permanent decoy spread in shallow water, use a metal-tooth rake to clear small ice chunks out of the hole. Simply rake the ice back onto adjacent, unbroken ice to get the hole as clean as possible.
Ice Isn't the Enemy
Here's the final word on this subject. Ice doesn't have to be the enemy of waterfowl hunters. Ice changes things, to be sure, but these changes can be positive as well as negative. Hunters who learn to deal with ice can keep on hunting successfully as long as birds are present. By keeping ice out of their holes, changing locations, and employing other proven tactics, they can continue experiencing good shooting.
Then, when the Big Chill finally locks everything tight and the birds move farther down the flyway, at least these hunters will have the satisfaction of knowing they weren't defeated. They fought ice to a standstill, and they got the last ounce – and hour – of enjoyment out of their season.
Try this Decoy Setup for Hunting on Ice
When ice forms, many hunters break out an open hole in front of their blind, toss several decoys in it and continue hunting. While such a spread can be effective, the following alternative decoy set might work better.
Break out a hole approximately 5x10 yards, and clean the hole of all floating ice. Next, ring the hole with full-body standup Canada goose decoys. Pack them tightly on the ice around the edge of the open water. The more decoys you put out, the better. Drop four to six mallard decoys in the water close to the upwind edge of the hole. And last (where allowed), erect a wing-spinner decoy on a pole on the downwind side of the hole as though it's landing upwind.
This is a natural-looking setup to both ducks and geese, and there is a good chance that passing birds will come straight in without circling.