By now, much of eastern Nebraska is under a thin sheet of ice and while my good friend Daryl Bauer is celebrating, I the duck hunter am not…Ice challenges the waterfowl nut!
Just because your area us covered does not mean your season is over. Far from it! You do need to hunt a bit smarter now as much of your action will come only when we see a push from the north, however so slight. But when this happens, be ready! One of my mentors once told me to cut a 20′ hole in the ice and then wait…when the birds land you simply run up and kickem’ in the ice hole! Sorry about that….
Keep in mind that much of the current ice is too thin to support much weight. I would not walk over ice where the water depth is deeper than my knees until we have had harder temps. With the recent thaw, we may have open water again…gotta love nature!
We generally open a small 20 foot diameter hole just southwest of our blind. During a northern push, this is the wind direction we will likely be dealing with. I like to hide as much ice from the hole as possible by pushing larger sheets back under the ice. Once the hole is open, we place 12-24 shells around the up wind edge of the hold. Sleepers are great here. We will put only a few floaters in the hole (competition for water is not ideal). The downwind side is open for business and landing is the business at hand. We will keep this hold open as long as we can but as the season progresses, it will close over. Then we will go to another trick that makes geese think they are seeing water over ice but that is a story for another blog.
For a few more tips on waterfowling Nebraska visit http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/2013/11/waterfowling-nebraska-hits-youtube/
Good luck and be safe