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The swamp I hunt for ducks freezes up early. Is there any way to bring ducks in when ice covers the open water? Does it help to break out the ice and create a little open water? I've only been hunting ducks for about the last 5 years and need some suggestions. HELP.
 

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If there are ducks in the area, it's worth breaking a hole open and throwing decoys out. One of the best mallard hunts i've ever had was on a slough that had frozen over that night and we went out, busted open a hole and the mallards absolutely swarmed us all morning. If the slough has been frozen for a few days and no ducks have been using it however I would probably look for other options.
 

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An easy way to bust a big hole in the ice is to break out an outline of the area u want open then just slide the entire loose piece of ice under the main body
 

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Break it up in as big of pieces as possible and slide them under the ice as much as possible. Throw the other chunks on shore. Here's a picture from out last day of hunting last year in MN. It was a good 2-3 inches thick. Not fun, but worth it when the birds saw the open water and dekes in it.

 

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you can also use a paddle and "row" the pices under the ice. it wounds weird but it works good. i do it every day when im cutting out the spear hole over there in minnesoooota and im sure it would work there too.
 

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When the ice is thin, I will bring along a fishing rod and large hooked spoon to retrieve birds that land on the ice! Plus if it is not to windy I will set a few FB or floater decoys with removable keels on the edge of the open water area.

The leaf rake is a great tool as well and it plain works!

We have hunted small potholes in fields late in the year using this method and the results have been great!
 

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Ron Gilmore said:
When the ice is thin, I will bring along a fishing rod and large hooked spoon to retrieve birds that land on the ice!
Fishing for ducks, I love it! How many casts does it take to hook the duck, that would be a good over/under bet.
 

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One time, we put out visqueen plastic on six inches of ice. From a distance, it looked like open water. The ice was to thick to bust it. We brought out a 100' role and cut strips and put it out on ice. Put decoys on top of it. To this day I wonder what those ducks were thinking when they had the landing gear down and saw that it was plastic rather than open water. :D
 

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Deacon you would be surprised at how easy it really is! Cast beyond the bird and move along the shoreline to line up the retrieve. I have used this method a time or two when water was to deep as well and no dog!

When hunting thin ice this method is much better than sending a dog out to break through and or possibly drown. Friend of mine almost lost his lab a few years back to ice. Dog went through and under the ice. Lucky for him the dog turned under water and swam to the area they had opened up!

We found that the birds would shy away from areas when paths where broken open to get to ducks so a fishing rod was the solution.

Laugh all you want, but it works and works well.
 

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Actually that does sound like it could actually work. You will think this is weird but it gets the job done. My friend lives right by a slough that looks like a lake, but anyway he is gonna use a haylouder tractor and smash it in the ice and then it will crack and put a hole in the ice. Then he puts his floaters out there and he's set. I dont know but i think it ll work
 

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Years ago (about 30) I took a dozen old mallard decoys, cut off the keel flush with the bottom, drilled a hole in the top and added some sand for weight. Then I bought some laundry blueing and brought a five gallon bucket with me. Chopped a hole in the ice, fill the bucket with water, tossed in the blueing and poured it on the ice. Slid the decoys out using a long pole and was amazed at how well it worked. I think blue food coloring would work too.

I have also tried the plastic trick on frozen wetlands and in fields and it works too. But if the wind is blowing it is hard to keep the plastic in place sometimes.

Bring something to retrieve your ducks, as Ron suggested. I never send my dog on the ice as that is asking for trouble in several ways. I am very cautious about when and where I send my dog.
 

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First post here, Love this site. Anyway I cant tell you how many times Ive busted ice over the last 8 years. It works great. Several times Ive had big canadian mallards landing around me while Im moving ice sheets outta the way. :D Just be careful, watch your depth and get out there early, it can take awhile to move enough ice to have a huntable area.
 

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Aythya said:
Years ago (about 30) I took a dozen old mallard decoys, cut off the keel flush with the bottom, drilled a hole in the top and added some sand for weight. Then I bought some laundry blueing and brought a five gallon bucket with me. Chopped a hole in the ice, fill the bucket with water, tossed in the blueing and poured it on the ice. Slid the decoys out using a long pole and was amazed at how well it worked. I think blue food coloring would work too.

I have also tried the plastic trick on frozen wetlands and in fields and it works too. But if the wind is blowing it is hard to keep the plastic in place sometimes.

Bring something to retrieve your ducks, as Ron suggested. I never send my dog on the ice as that is asking for trouble in several ways. I am very cautious about when and where I send my dog.
Glad it worked for ya. We would use the dye on on parts of the iced over Potomac. It brought in the weary Black ducks using the blue dye.

Got you beat on the 30 years, we did this in the 60s LOL
I agree about the ice, it's bad on their hips, especially if they have any trace of Hip Dysplasia (sp).
We also used the dye on Maryland's Eastern shore where I was a goose guide for an outfitter. Now this was not for the Geese but there were some small ponds next to our spreads of field geese decoys where some fat cornfield Mallards would pitch in once in awhile. Also this acted as a confidence thing for the geese seeing the Mallard decoys close bye.

Nice site BTY. This brings back some fond memories of Canvasback and Redhead hunting in the Chesapeake Bay many years gone by.
 
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