One of the biggest problems that we have as duck hunters in the late season is when the ice freezes and closes up our great duck hunting spots. Without some open water it becomes challenging, if not impossible, to bag any ducks.
However, if you are able to get yourself a hole in the ice to create some open water you just might be in for one of your best duck hunting days yet. So, here 7 ways to break ice for duck hunting techniques that you can use to win the game of duck hunting with frozen water.
7 Ways to Break Ice for Duck Hunting
1) Walk to Open a hole.
One of the easiest ways to make a hole in the ice for duck hunting is to simply do it in your waders. Now of course this can only be done when the ice is not very thick yet. You will simply walk out on the ice in a circle. You can start at the shoreline. Break the ice step-by-step. As the year progresses and the ice is thicker you can use a sledge hammer or an axe to open the hole.
2) Break the ice with a boat.
If you have a boat, you can use it to break a round hole. Start at the perimeter of the hole then start circling inside the perimeter. Now this technique will only work when you have open water to get to the hunting spot with the boat and use it to break spots that have frozen over.
But this technique can also be used if you are able to launch the boat in the area you are hunting. One tip that some guys do is actually run the boat in reverse and use the prop to break up the ice directly rather than using the front of the boat. Be careful that you do not damage your prop or boat with this technique but if you have the right prop and boat for this job it can be very effective.
3) Bleach/Milk Bottles on a Line.
With this idea you actually are trying to prevent ice from forming. This tactic will be an option when hunting private land as you will typically not be able to leave equipment out on public hunting ground.
Simply take several empty bleach bottles or milk bottles with highly sealed tops and string them along a long line of rope throughout the water. They will move back and forth with the wind and can help reduce or eliminate ice forming in that area.
4) Black Plastic Tarp On Ice.
For those times that when it is not practical to break the ice you can try getting a large black or blue tarp and place it over the ice. This can help create the illusion to approaching ducks that there is open water even when there is not any.
To hold the tarp down simply back some snow around the edges and this should hold it in place if there is any wind. Another option to hold it in place is setting some decoys along the edges.
5) Sledge Hammer and Leaf Rake
Another way you can get the ice open for duck hunting is to use a sledge hammer. Simply take the sledge hammer and smash on the ice until you get it to break open.
Another handy tool to bring with when you are doing this is a leaf rake. This is because the ice will shatter into some small and large pieces. Having a leaf rake with will make clearing the small chucks easy.
When the ice is thick a great option is to use a chainsaw. The other benefit of using a chainsaw is that you can cut the ice into square chunks and push the chunks under the ice. Large sheets are easier to get out of the water compared to broken ice chunks that you might get when using a sledge hammer.
7) Drill a well
Another way to fight ice is to drill a well and set up an industrial pump. Now this technique will likely be used when you have permanent access to the hunting spot rather than public land. You can put pumps with pipes at the bottom of ponds or other water to keep it open. Then keep pumping fresh water into the pipes so it will keep the water temperature from freezing. Basically this continued water flow will reduce the chances of ice freezing over.
8) Sump pump
If you have a power supply, you can use a sump pump. You can build a stand, so the mud can be kept away, pump from the discharge, then put an elbow on top where the water could spray across the top. The pump will push the water towards the surface. You can also place your sump pump on a cement block that can be sat at the bottom about 9-foot depth.
9) Trolling motor
One more way you could try to break the ice is to use a trolling motor. A way to do this is to use something like a strong garbage can with a hole cut near bottom for the propeller to stick out. Them make a frame on the inside of the garbage can where you can mount the trolling motor in place as well as setup the battery in an elevated position to keep it from getting wet.
Once you have this setup you will simply turn on the trolling motor and carry the setup around the ice while using the prop to break up chunks. Sure this method would take a little work to setup but it can be a very affordable way to get this task done.
10) Use geese
Not it will not always be feasible to break up the ice depending on the tools you have at your disposal as well how thick the ice is. So when mother nature wins the battle of the ice then it is time to try and use the ice to your advantage.
As you may know ducks will often land into goose decoys so this can be a great time to setup a goose decoy spread. Particularly during the later season you may want to incorporate the use of a lot of sleeper shells to do the trick. Who knows you might also end up with a limit of geese!
11) Use Windsocks
Sleeper goose decoy shells are great when hunting ice but a commonly forgotten option to use on the ice is windsock decoys. The great thing with windsock decoys is that they provide nice eye catching movement to your decoy spread.
However, most duck and goose hunters forget about using them when hunting on the ice. Really, to use them on ice it is quite simple. All you need to do is bring a power drill with a large long drill bit and drill holes in the ice where you will place the windsock decoy stakes into.
12) Fighting Ice Once Broken
When you break the ice with any technique it is best to try and to it in way that leaves the ice in as large of chunks as possible which will make it easier to get rid of. Break the perimeter first and form chunks as you break it.
Then Slide a large free-floating sheets of ice underneath ice that is still intact because these big chunks are easier to slide under. To try keep big pieces you may need to slow down and take your time but it will be easier as you can simply slide these large sheets of ice beneath the remaining ice making a nice hole for ducks to land in.