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Deer Hunters Should Stay Off Early Ice

Monday, November 5, 2012

North Dakota’s deer gun season opens Nov. 9 at noon, and State Game and Fish Department officials are cautioning deer hunters to be wary of where they hunt. Late-season weather conditions can quickly cause North Dakota’s small and mid-sized waters to ice over, giving the appearance of safe ice.

Nancy Boldt, department boat and water safety coordinator, said hunters should be cautious of walking on frozen stock ponds, sloughs, creeks and rivers. “Ice can form overnight, causing unstable conditions,” Boldt said. “Even though deer might be able to make it across, it doesn’t mean hunters can.”

Ice thickness is not consistent, Boldt said, as it can vary significantly within a few inches. Hunters walking the edge of a cattail slough will not find the same ice thickness in the middle. “The edges firm up faster than the center,” she added. “So, with your first step the ice might seem like it is strong enough, but it isn’t anywhere near solid enough once you progress away from the shoreline.”

And in the case of snowfall, Boldt cautions hunters to be aware of snow-covered ice. Snow insulates ice, inhibiting solid ice formation, and makes it difficult to check thickness. Snow also hides cracked, weak and open water areas.

“Basically, if there is ice formation during the deer season, stay away from it,” Boldt said. “It will not be safe.”