Hunter’s Corner: Safety tips for ice fishing
Brett McKenna, left, helps Randy Kensell attach a tow line to Kensell's ice fishing shack Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, on the Kennebec, River in Pittston, Maine. The shack was unoccupied when strong winds toppled the shack and blew onto soft ice. The shack was eventually hauled to land, saving Kensell from a possible fine of up to $1,000. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Is there a connection between carpentry rules and ice fishing rules? There is in my way of thinking.
The first rule of carpentry is to measure twice and cut once. The first rule of ice fishing is to measure the depth of the ice. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the rough guidelines for new clear ice only is 4 inches for ice fishing, 5 inches for snowmobiles and ATV’s, 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup and 12-15 inches for medium trucks. According to the Cold Regions Research Laboratory in Hanover, 4 to 6 inches of solid bluish-black ice can support a few well-dispersed people; 8 to 10 inches of solid bluish-black ice can support OHRV activity.
Ice formulation is rarely uniform. A water body’s size, temperature, depth, currents, springs and wind exposure affect ice formation. Early season snow cover can insulate ice from cold temperatures and slow ice formation.
Fish and Game adds the following list of safety tips: Always fish with a buddy; Test the ice; Beware! Wind and currents break ice; Don’t gather in large groups; Don’t build a fire on the ice; Bring blankets and a first-aid kit; Reach for solid ice, kick and roll to safety if you fall in; Don’t drive large vehicles onto the ice. There are more important advisories to be found on FishNH.com.
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Registration is now open for the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) winter workshop one-day program where women can learn outdoor skills to enjoy during the winter months. The workshop will be held Feb. 16 (snow date Feb. 17) at the New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness. A fee of $55 covers the workshop, lunch and most equipment use. Participants must be at least 18 years old. New Hampshire BOW programs are co-sponsored by Fish and Game and the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation.
A brochure describing the workshop and registration forms has been posted at nhbow.com. Participants choose a single activity to explore during the day-long workshop. They can learn how to ice fish, explore winter outdoor survival skills, track wildlife on snowshoes, try snowmobiling (beginners only) or experience the popular “Shoe and Shoot” class, which is woodland target shooting on snowshoes.
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The New Hampshire Wildlife Control Operators (WCO) training class offered once a year will take place Jan. 31 at Fish and Game headquarters from 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. There is no charge for the one-day class, but pre-registration is required. To sign up, go to wildnh.com, call 271-2461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The course is presented by Fish and Game, the New Hampshire Trappers Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services. Participants must be present by 8:15 a.m.; late arrivals will be denied certification.
A Wildlife Control Operator license is required for anyone planning to provide commercial nuisance wildlife control in New Hampshire, except for licensed trappers during the regulated trapping seasons. As part of the WCO licensing requirement, you must complete the day-long WCO class given once a year in Concord as well as successfully completing a Fish and Game Trapper Education certification course.
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January 1 marked the opening of the winter turkey flock survey. If you observe a flock of turkeys through the 31st of March, Fish and Game is asking you to fill out a simple survey form posted on wildnh.com/turkeysurvey. Please do not report multiple sightings of the same flock.
Turkeys are easy to see during the winter because they gather in large, highly visible flocks. The winter flock survey bolsters Fish and Game’s understanding of the abundance and distribution of turkeys during our challenging winter months. Participants are asked to report the number of turkeys in the flock, where they were seen, the type of habitat the birds were observed in, and what the turkeys were feeding on (acorns, beechnuts, seed at birdfeeders, corn silage, etc.).
“This reporting system allows the public to contribute important information to our understanding of winter turkey status in an inexpensive, efficient and hopefully enjoyable way,” Turkey Project Leader Ted Walski said. “For parts of the state, especially western and northern New Hampshire, we could benefit by additional reports of sightings. We are particularly interested in observations from WMUs A, B, C1, C2, E, F, I2, H1 and H2 – all of which had less than 25 flocks reported last winter.”
These WMUs represent towns in the North Country, along the Connecticut River, and throughout Cheshire County.
Last winter, people responding to the survey reported 1,180 flocks totaling 20,295 turkeys from every corner of the state. Survey results are summarized at wildnh,com/turkeysurvey.
(Bob Washburn can be reached at email@example.com.)