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gdahl2

What would have you done?

26 posts in this topic

4 of us were over in SD this weekend chasing some roosters. We went to hunt this full section of public land that is a rectangular piece going from South to North. It is ¾ grasslands on the North and ¼ cattails on the South side. As we weren’t seeing a ton of birds in the grass, I told my buddy to drop me off on the south side and I would try walking through the cattails if it wasn’t to wet or too deep and meet up with those 3 on the other side. There’s a small tree line that I walked for about 50-75 yds before I hit the edge of the cattails. So I just stand there at the edge of the cattails debating if it’s even worth walking into as I see water everywhere. While standing there 4-5 birds flush out of the cattails about 40 yds up ahead to my right. My GSP goes in to the cattails, which doesn’t concern me, as she never goes that far away and always checks back. Plus I figured she would stay close to shore anyway, as there was probably 15-20yds of cattails before it opened up to water. Well I’m sitting there for awhile and don’t hear or see her at all. So I call out….no response….call out…..no response. All of a sudden, I hear some whimpering. My heart sunk right away as I knew she had walked out to far and had broken through the ice. So now I go into panic mode as I can’t see her……have no idea of how far out she is…..no idea of how deep it might get………and only have an idea of where’s she’s at based on where I hear the whimpering coming from. Worse yet, I know I am probably at least a ½ mile if not more away from the rest of my group. Knowing that, I start walking into the cattails. Before you know it, I am up to my knee’s in freezing cold water.....nor did it help that the temp was only around 30 degree’s. I go a little farther and hit an open pocket of ice and know there’s know way it will support me. I start trying to break through it and within a minute or two I’m exhausted.....worse yet, my legs are getting numb where I can barely lift them up on the ice to break it more. All the while my GSP is whimpering more. By this time, I’m up to my waist in water. Now I start freaking out and yell out as loud as I can for help 4-5 times, as I had seen 2 guys in a deer stand not far away thinking there was a chance they might hear me.

Not knowing if they did hear me or even if they did, would be able to understand that I was yelling for help, I came to point of I either have to get out of this water now and pray to god my dog can survive longer while I go get the other guys or I keep moving ahead to get her. After a split second, I tell myself there is no way I can leave my dog and forcefully told myself you do whatever the heck is necessary to get to my dog and get us both back to shore. With that said I trudge forward and luckily she is only another 8-10yds on the other side of this clump of cattails. She is sitting with her two front paws up on the ice and the other half completely in the water. I make it over to her and grab her by the neck throwing her on the ice hoping it will support her. It doesn’t and she falls through again. I move over grab her again and throw her up on the ice which finally holds her weight (she's a small GSP - 40lbs). She takes off into the cattails. By this time, my legs feel like 50lb rocks…..I’m darn near hyperventilating because I'm breathing so hard and fast….and am probably 25-30 yds from shore. I try to go straight to shore, but realize I had shifted over from my original path. I was too tired to break new ice, so I tell myself I have to follow my original path and circle back to do that. Long story long, I make it back to shore completely exhausted and still breathing fast and furious….yet am still over a ½ mile away from our vehicle. I put my head down and said just keep moving and proceed to hightail back to the truck without stopping. Once my GSP got back on dry land walking around, she seemed fine. I make it back to the vehicle, strip my clothes and throw on the heater.

It was a vary scary experience.......one I have learned greatly from......and hopefully by sharing, may help someone else. After hunting 9yrs with my GSP, of which many trips have been solo, I never would have thought something like this would happen. It could have had a much worse outcome.

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I am glad to be reading your post. I could happen to all of us. We need to be aware at all times. I am glad it worked out good for you and your dog. It is a great reminder to all of us at this time of year when ice is very fragile.

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wow that puts vivid images into my head. very well written and im glad that everything was ok for you and your dog after your ordeal.

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glad you made it back out ok.

That's shows an outstanding amount of committment to your dog for the work they do for us.

My lab was only a few months old when I took her for a walk and she wandered onto some ice before I could get her to stop. Down she went. She was terrified to death. I did the same thing you did and walked out, breaking through the ice up over my knees in freezing cold water. As soon as I broke through to her, she hi-tailed it out of there. I had a half mile to get home, but we made it back ok.

Glad to hear you and your GSP will have more days in the field. Cold water is nothing to mess around with.

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Someone was definately looking out for you and your GSP from Above.

Thank you for sharing and Glad the both of you are safe and ok now.

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Glad you both made it ok.

You put yourself in a bad place though. A dog, no matter how close we get to them, is not worth your life. You and your dog made it, this time, but hypothermia is not something to mess with. This could have ended much worse. We could have been reading about your story in the outdoor news....

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Its those situations that make us stronger and smarter.

In those conditions staying clam is key. Decision making while under stress, excitement, and eventually panic isn't good. Not only that you start putting more effort into the task then needed by fighting the resistance. Physical exhaustion sets in with a state of mind in panic and then your really in trouble.

Of coarse theres a feeling of urgency, stay calm and figure the best way to get out of that trouble then go about it calmly.

I hunt the sloughs and end up in waist high water once in a while. Up to my knees is, its a given.

I'm dressed for it though. Canvas hunting pants or jeans are the worst thing a guy can put on in cold temps. Zero insulting factor when wet and they rob body heat the whole time they're on you. Even a stiff walk back to to the truck will not warm you up.

I use all synthetics. Long underwear, poly fleece and a nylon shell. You can wade though freezing water then once out you'll start to warm up. As long as that shell is on you'll be warm. Footwear. I use wool socks and boots with zero insulation and will hunt all day long with wet feet and not be cold.

If there was way, I would have gotten the dog.

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Thanks for the reponses.

I've replayed it a 1000 times in my mind and agree with neighbor guy that it could have been worse....and where is a dog's life just as important as a human life.

I then also agree with Frank in that I figured if there was a way, I am getting my darn dog no matter what. Especially, as I am the one that ultimately put her in this position when it comes down to it and should have known better.

As redbeard said, someone was definitely looking over us Saturday and am glad I am hear to talk about it. Like I said, it really opened my eye's and have learned greatly from it.

G.Dahl

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You did what i would have done. In fact I have done essentially the same thing once with my lab. He was on a pond and broke through and couldn't get back up. Same deal he had his paws on the ice and was stuck. Only difference I could see him. I made the only decision I could, broke ice all the way out to him and walked in to get him. Went straight back to the truck with frozen solid as a board pants and stripped down to my underwear to drive home and shower and get in under the electric blanket. Never hunted the rest of the day as I didn't warm up again until late afternoon. No way i was letting that dog go down without help. Think all they do for us and how could anyone not do everything possible in that situation? You did the right thing. Definitely need to be careful around the ice now. Its dangerous out there...

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Is there anything else to learn from this.

Any products that might have helped either you or the dog?

Would taking off pants/boot before going in the water help/hurt?

Being able to start a fire asap after getting out of the water.

Seems like this could happen fairly easily in the weather we are in right now. I guess keeping the dog out of this situation in the first place would be the best option.

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Glad to hear it turned out o.k. for you and your dog. Tough deal that. Many times the dog survives and the owner does not.

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I had a situation several years ago where I was walking a trail and ended up to my chest in a mud bog with waders on, a bag of decoys on my back and a Lab that was seeing water and wanted in.

The pressure was pretty bad and made breathing difficult. My lab left me for dead and managed to find another hunter in a boat, so he hopped in. I managed to take the decoy bag off my back and use that to crawl onto to get out.

Like Surface Tension said, the main thing to remember is to stay calm. Panic is your worst enemy.

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Going back and reading the details again, I would have probably done the same thing in that situation. The waist deep water would have made me hesitate. Like some have said there is a point where the risk becomes too great. If I had to decide between saving my dog or seriously putting my life at risk, I would error on the side of safety.

Not because I do not care about my dog, but simply because my family needs to me more.

Glad to hear this situation worked out well for both of you.

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Glad things worked out for you!!! I'd have probably done the same, waded out to get my dog.

The lesson to be learned is that we all need to respect the ice this time of year. Twice in the last week I've passed on roosters that were flying over the ice so that I wouldn't put my dogs at risk. Thats tough when you walk two miles per bird here in MN but I had already thought about not shooting a bird over the ice before I was in that situation. I was also thinking last night that its time to throw the spare dry boots into the truck, its only a matter of time before I start venturing out and get wet feet.

Back in my younger days I even used to hunt in hip boots, I planned on going thru. Twenty some years ago I was doing exactly that, hunting in hip boots along a small lake and cattails and I went thru over my hip boots, I got out, went up on shore and dumped the water out and continued hunting - I guess that wasn't enough warning for me. Pretty soon i'm venturing farther out and - splash - I got thru up to my armpits. Luckily I was able to work my way back up onto the ice and head to the truck a couple hundred yards away and home to a hot shower. I learned my lesson and stay closer to shore now a days so if I do go thru, its only up to my crotch.

Respect that ice!!

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Blackjack....I actually had hip-waders in the car and was wondering if that would have made the situation worse had I worn them, especially with getting into water up to my waist.

Based on your story, didn't that make it even harder to get out and/or move when you fell through over them?

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Bad part about waders is the air by your feet acts like a float and puts your head under water. I have had to use my gun to right myself on 2 occasions. This is a tricky situation and I dont know exactly what I would do third. First, yell at the dog, second pray. I have broken a lot of ice going after dead ducks before. The trick is to use the butt of your shotgun. You were pheasant hunting so you would want to unload your gun. I was duck hunting so I left it loaded in case some flew over. Duckers not so smart. Once I spread eagled my way out to get a duck that landed dead on the ice outside the hole we had made. It was a beautiful drake widgeon. I don know if thats the dumbest thing I ever did but its surely an honorable mention. I didnt take my gun tho, we already had our limits.

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Mr. Seaguar, if you are bashing the butt of your loaded shotgun on ice to break the ice, you don't need to go on tell us you maybe are "not so smart".

That's an EXTREMELY bad idea and violates about every rule of gun safety...

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I'm glad you shared your story. I am going to be much more careful around the cattail sloughs this time of year and I'm going to bring extra boots and clothing just in case. I'm also going to throw in a couple of towels for my dog. Having a rope in the truck wouldn't be a bad idea either if your hunting with someone.

Nels

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I wouldn't risk my life to save my dog. Plus I know the dog will last longer in the cold water than I would. So personally I would have NOT ventured out to find the dog. I would have got the crew together, then come up with a plan to get the dog out of the ice/water. This has happened to my dog before when duck hunting. I was not going to venture out on the ice (that I knew would not support my weight, if it couldn't support the dogs). Just doesn't make sense to risk my life, when I'm by myself, and no one is around to help or hear me.

Your lucky you did not get stuck, get hypothermia, or death. I hope you take some time to think, and come up with a better plan next time for your own good. Glad to hear you and your dog made it though.

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You know what Lawdog, according to the NRA Gun safety rules I did not break a single rule. I dont have any problem with your comments because I`m sure they are meant with the best intent. I never once felt in danger while doing that, and still think its a safer practice then going out in a boat when the water temps are in the 30s or ice fishing on a river. Todays guns are not like Grandpappys Model 12. You use them and throw them away. My kids are not gonna fight over my Nova. Breaking ice with it seemed a good idea and if it helps some guy rescue his dog in the future I`m glad it helped. Of course you are right, I should have unloaded the gun. But when you are under 25 with no kids, you havent learned just how bulletproof you arent. Now, a long time later, I hve wisened. Have a good one.

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This is a good topic, especially for this time of year. Glad you are safe and thanks for the reminder.

Like Hemi, I am trying to think of things to have on hand to help in this unfortunate situation. I am thinking a life jacket and long rope would be good starters. I recently read an article in Ducks Unlimited where the same thing happened to a guy. Luckily they had a 90' cable in their truck, but that would probably only help if there were two guys. Be smart out there and good hunting.

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If you go out by yourself you should first of all tell someone where you're headed, at least the general area. Then you should have a second set of clothing along, maybe a sleeping bag or one of those space blanket jobberdos - $15 or less.

The idea of starting a fire sounds good but probably is impractical given resources and skills.

Here's what one HSOforum said to do if faced with hypotermia:

Treatments and drugs

Seek immediate medical attention for anyone who appears to have hypothermia. Until medical help is available, follow these hypothermia treatment guidelines for caring for someone who is affected.

What to do

Move the person out of the cold. Preventing additional heat loss is crucial. If you're unable to move the person out of the cold, shield the person from the cold and wind as best you can.

Remove wet clothing. If the person is wearing wet clothing, remove it and replace it with a dry covering. Cover the person's head. Try not to move the person too much. Cut away clothing if you need to.

Insulate the person's body from the cold ground. Lay the person faceup on a blanket or other warm surface.

Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may appear unconscious, with no apparent signs of a pulse or breathing. If the person's breathing has stopped or appears dangerously low or shallow, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately if you're trained.

Share body heat. To warm the person's body, remove your clothing and lie next to the person, making skin-to-skin contact. Then cover both of your bodies with a blanket.

Provide warm beverages. If the affected person is alert and is able to swallow, have the person drink a warm, nonalcoholic beverage to help warm the body.

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I'm glad it turned out the way it did for you. I'm afraid, as much as I love my dog, that I would be looking for a new one. Hope I don't ever have to make that call.

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Do any of you think of bringing a long peice of ROPE with you ?????????????????? I think that might help........

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