Ranger’s Ice Misadventure
Dec 21st, 2006 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Dec 21st, 2006 at 12:00 AM
I drove out on LBDN one day to do some fishing. New to the area, I followed the “road” out to the shanties I saw from shore. Drive right past the hotel onto the ice, how cool! 300 yards from shore, maybe 500. Set up the shanty and then a tip up. Fish! Slow, but fish, and very nice walleyes by my standards at 18″-20″. Wind starts blowing, some snow, it gets dark. By the time I pack up, its real dark. Let’s roll. Guess, what? No “road” anymore, its all windblown snow, and dang I guess it did snow some when I was in the shanty because there’s even drifts. And it’s still snowing because I can’t see lights on shore anymore, anywhere. Do I have a compass, or am I an idiot? Idiot. No phone. Well, the wind was blowin’ from the NW, right? Um…they were, I guess. Jeeze, it’s snowing harder. Gotta find that hotel, that’s where I got on the ice. More snow flying now, from brights to dims. Drive drive drive drive drive STOP!!!!!Cattails in the headlights, 10 fom the front of the truck. Sheeeeet, that don’t look right. Walk out to see if I can get thru and no way there’s a steep hill past the tails. Back to the truck, turn left and try to stay close to what I hope will remain the shoreline. Just keep it to the right, right? I immediatly lose the shoreline and I’m back out on the open ice again, plowing thru drifts that are getting alarmingly bigger. Creeping along at 5mph now, it’s really snowing. Keep the wind to my right quarter panel and just go. I can spend the night out here if I have to, got a half a tank of gas for the truck and I can stay warm with the Coleman lantern on low if I just keep the windows open some. Got a full half gallon of Coleman fuel. I’ll live as long as I don’t foollishly drive all the way out of the bay into the open big water. No matter what, don’t panic and go slow, stop if I have to and don’t leave the vehicle. I sure don’t like this situation.I’m pretty scared, but know to just stop, and that’s what I’m feeling is the safest. But first, I’m going to try to turn back and see if I can’t find those cattails. They should be no more that 50 yards away and I’ll drive using the wind as a sorta guide. I’ve decided to go no more than two tenths of a mile, no matter what, because I’m pretty sure that the open water is like a mile south from where I started fishing, and the wind isn’t likely to be blowing from the south. Nevertheless, 2 tenths of a mile and I’m stopping for the night. That’s the deal, I’m not going to be the jerk who puts the rescue guys in danger because I don’t know how to be safe on big water. I do know to not panic and to STAY PUT if this last try doesn’t pan out. Drive drive drive 5mph in 4WD and STOP! I can’t believe it but here’s a shanty like 5 feet from my truck! I get out to check it out, if I’m REAL lucky, there’s folks fishing. No luck. But through the snow I see there’s a couple more shanties. I stroll around an bit and get to a place where I see that these are the same shanties that I started fishing near. To make sure, I grab the spud and start sliding it through the snow in the area where I figured I set up. (Yes, I carry a spud anytime I ice fish, even with deep ice, I just gotta smack the ice when I walk where I haven’t walked before.) No spud action, but my boot heel hits a fresh hole, filled with snow now, of course. STOP! Ok, if this is my hole, which is extremely unlikely, then the second hole should be right aboutttttt here. And poo my pants there it is. Dang, I’m back where I started. I line up the shanties where they should be and drive stright toward what should be the get off the ice spot near the hotel. Drive drive drive and there’s the shore. I get a glimpse of some lights to my right and head that way, stopping every 20-30 feet to get out and check the shore. I get to a spot where I can see the lights well and walk a bit to see if I can find the get off. Looking back every other step to make sure I don’t lose the truck lights. Bingo, the cattails stop and there’s the get off, right next to the hotel. Amazing luck for me. Back to the truck, drive the 30 feet and make a left up the steep little hill off the ice. I’m in the parking lot of the hotel!!I thank the Lady of the Lake for my great fortune. It’s been 2 hours since I first packed up and started home. I figure I went in a fairly small circle (for being on big water), and I know I’m one lucky SOB. Neve ever again will I be so dumb as not not respect the danger of being out on big water. Never ever again.