Miracle On Ice

I was kind of in a quandary with today’s blog post.   Should I title it Miracle On Ice, as I did…or should it have been more aptly titled Fool With Total Disregard For Life & Property.   I guess the second title was much more descriptive and fitting…but the first one had a better ring to it.   Both, in fact, apply to today’s blog entry.

Sportsmen do a lot of dumb things…and I’ll be the first to admit that.   Over the years I have done some things myself that have been foolish, especially when viewed in hindsight.   But today’s blog post goes beyond mere common sense.   Makes me wonder why there has never been a Darwin Awards category reserved just for sportsman (see previous post).

Today I received an e-mail from a sheriff’s deputy friend of mine with the following message:

You wake up today and the weather is great.  It’s been warm for a month, was over 45 yesterday and stayed warm and windy all night.  You have an ice house on Roberd’s Lake (in southern Minnesota).  You go there and see several houses have sunk overnight (see picture below):

Question:  Would you drive your van out to get yours?


Notice in the top picture that several of the houses have sunk through the ice almost completely out of sight.   I zoomed in on the picture of the guy in the van and you can see where his back tires on the van and especially the tires on the ice house are sinking 3 to 4 inches deep in the icy slush.   I then also zoomed in on the man in the van and he appears to be glancing directly at the deputy parked taking his pictures on the shore.

Yes, the man made it off the ice without incident.   Yes, because he seemingly lacked any common sense for what was going on around him the deputy had to verbally chastise him for taking chances like he was doing.

Still, I ask myself this.   When it has been so unseasonably warm in the upper Midwest as it has been this year…why do sportsmen fail to realize this is no ordinary year and conduct themselves differently?   Sure, this fool was nothing short of idiotic for driving out on the ice with a heavy vehicle…but where was this guy’s foresight in predicting a week or two ago (when it was a little bit safer) that maybe the ice house needed to come off the ice.   Heck, it’s on wheels…he could have driven it to the lake on a day to day basis rather than leave it there until it was almost too late to remove.   Needless to say, this dude pushed the envelope on this almost to the point where this stunt could not have been performed successfully.   Why take those chances?

My frustration is not only with this idiot, however.   What about all the ice houses on area lakes that are slowly falling through the ice because the owners were in some form of denial that maybe the ice fishing season (using a house, anyway) is coming to a close a month earlier this winter season.

In Minnesota all ice houses are required to be licensed with identification placed on the exterior of who it belongs to.   I know for a fact that this time of the year many conservation officers go around to area lakes and map out which house belongs to whom…and eventually the owner will be responsible for the cleanup.   Aside from a littering ticket…the ice house owner has to pay for the expensive recovery and debris removal.   And in most situations the structures must be dismantled by the divers…so it’s not like the house comes out again in one piece.

One of my pet peeves about ice fishermen are details like I have posted today.   When the non-fishing public sees such displays of stupidity or laziness it gives all the rest of us sportsman a bad name.   Let’s face it, people don’t talk about grandpa taking the grandson ice fishing and what quality bonding time they have together catching crappies.   Nope, if you’re a non-fisherman when you think of ice fishing…you see images like this indelibly etched in your mind and it only reinforces why you are not stupid enough to participate in the dangerous sport.

I hate to sound preachy…but it’s time the sportsman community takes action and looks closer at what image we are giving off to the non-sporting public.   Sure, there will always be a few “bad apples” among us who show up in scenes like those shown in the picture…but with some firm peer pressure these folks can begin to clean up their act and hopefully conduct themselves more properly.   Not to mention more safely.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.