I’m not to keen on revisiting a topic we’ve recently discussed, but this one seems to deserve more attention. Just last week we lost another member of our hunting fraternity. According to the Great Falls Tribune, Gary Wallace, 58, was hunting with his Lab and a friend in Montana when the dog went to retrieve a bird on the Missouri River. The dog busted through the ice, and Wallace went out to rescue him. He, too, fell through the ice and could not get out. Wallace’s hunting partner tried to help him out but had no luck and eventually ran for assistance. When the authorities arrived, Wallace had slipped beneath the river and was later pronounced dead. Wallace left behind a wife of 30 years and two children. The dog survived.
I didn’t know Wallace, but from what I understand he was one of us. Here’s how his wife described him in the Tribune: “He loved hunting, and he loved his dog, and he loved his family. I–you know–just wasn’t ready yet.”
That’s some gut-wrenching stuff, folks. I tried to find some good information on what a hunter should do if his dog goes through the ice. Unfortunately, there’s not much out there. The best rule is this: Don’t, under any circumstance, send your dog out on ice you’re not sure about. A bird is not worth your dog’s life. And a bird is certainly not worth your life.
But I know that dogs don’t always follow the rules. And I know that some people will instinctively try to rescue their animal in trouble. Before you do, ask yourself if you’re prepared to die trying. Ask yourself if your family is prepared to possibly go on without you. And still, if you must, be damn careful.
The below video is an excellent source of information for a hunter who falls through the ice. One tip it doesn’t mention is that a hunter should carry two screwdrivers or such tied to a string that you can hang from your neck and use as picks in the ice to give enough purchase to pull yourself out.
If any of our readers in frozen climes want to chime in with some helpful information on ice, please do. Folks, we’ve lost too many good men already this year. Be careful out there. And keep your dogs safe.