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Before I start - the following is 100% my fault. When it's cold, icy, and dangerous, you cannot multi-task in the duck blind. I did, and it almost cost me my precious pup.

Had a great shoot - I know this little cove that when there's ice and a west wind, a small hole will provide an hour of TV quality puddle duck shooting, and that's what it was like today. It's hunted from the shore line.

So we're picking up, my partner says - hey, take the dog and go get the one that fell - meaning one mallard that had fallen along the bank about 80 yards away. I start walking over with pup - I have the leash in my hand, clasp in my fingers saying to myself "I better snap this on her in case that duck tears out across this ice." But I don't. I take three more steps with this thought in mind, and then it happens. The duck squirts out and takes off across the ice. Pup give chase. I scream, I yell, I beg her to stop. No - she's tenacious - that's a cripple - that's my job... she covers 80 yards in the time it takes to type it - and breaks through the ice. It's too thick for her to break to swim back, and she can't pull herself out. I do the only thing I can and start breaking ice out to her. I take a bigfoot goose decoy as a possible flotation aid. I get to within feet of her, the water has topped my waders, it's darn near to my chin. My partner has seen what's going on. By the grace of God, he has a saw, he cuts a stout limb from a tree on the bank and pushes it out to me. I'm able to break enough ice to free pup, just as she is on the verge of giving up - I could see it in her eyes. She has trouble making the swim back to shore, but she makes it. The entire episode takes about 20 minutes. The rest of the story is what you are thinking; 20 degree air, 20 minutes in 32 degree water, soaking wet, waders full, 20 knot wind... not ideal. We were less than 200 yards from our trucks, it was the longest 200 yards I have ever walked. It's taken the rest of the day to recover. Me that is, pup was running around normally in minutes.

Bad decision? Maybe. High risk? Certainly. Had I been alone pup would have died. I would not have stayed in the water once my waders topped. I did because I knew I had the best backup on the planet - a retired U.S. Soldier as a hunting partner. It ended well, it could have ended very poorly. I know I am very lucky.

Lesson learned. It is not okay to multi-task when danger is literally at your feet. I should have clipped that lead on her before taking the first step down the bank. I should have had her training collar on her. I should have done the right thing at the right time to ENSURE safety. Instead I put my dog, myslef, and a dear friend at risk, and I am VERY ashamed.

Please don't let this happen to you.

Joe
 

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Joe...... Several years ago, while hunting Tule Lake in the Klamath Basin, we ran into 2 hunters that had just lost their dog exactely the same way. One of the hunters had dropped a bull sprig on the ice covered drainage ditch that enters the lake and he thought the ice was more than thick enough to support the weight of his yellow dog. Just before he was able to get the bull, he broke through the ice. There is a little bit of a current that runs under that ice, and the moment he broke through, he was swept under before either of the hunters could do anything about it. In those days, when I still hunted ducks and geese, my yellow dog NEVER went out without a rope around her collar. I never came close to losing her, but, I was never going to take the chance once I heard the heartbreaking story about the lost dog... Dan Thome (Trap2)
 

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Joe,I know you feel bad about this.Sometimes things just happen.

Glad you, your friend,and the pup are all safe.

Bocephas
 

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Joe, Your original intent was not to harm your dog. Don't worry about it. A lot of people don't put the effort into their dogs like you do and may not understand the gut wrenching ordeal you had. Thank God it turned out OK. I guess you could consider it a "lesson learned". Most people can't comprehend the situation, or your feeling that the dog had faith in you to help. This is the stuff that makes memories.
 

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4 kids (2-17,1-18-19) one being a nephew in law were hunting last Saturday on KY lake made a bad decision and cost them their lives. 1 was rescued by a passing boater one was found on Sunday floating and the other 2 are somewhere in the dark waters. A cadaver dog was brought in before the cold weather but still no sign of the bodies. Hard on the families with no closure.

Guys be careful, It could be your life. God bless the families of the dead.
 

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Mr Ducks, I have had almost the same thing happen. Like you I got lucky. The dogs want to please the master so much, they try to impress us by showing what they can do. Damn ice.

We gotta remember we are their commanding officer. Sometimes we try to please them and let them do things they shouldn't. We should remember the chain of command.

Not trying to be crictial. Like I've said had a similiar thing happend to me. I'm aiming the criticism at myself.
 

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Joe, you're lucky you didn't kill yourself rescuing your dog. From drowning or hypothermia.<br>
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You're dumb for risking yourself, but you are also brave and loving to have done it. These traits are common with heroes
 

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Martin got burned badly rescuing his hunting dog from a fire. Although I understand it, I must say that as a wife, mother, sister, friend, etc...I have to remind y'all that you have people who would greatly mourn your loss.

Please be careful.

Glad that you are here to tell the story, Joe.
 

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I was driving down the road one day and there was a old man holding his dog by the collor while the dog was on the ground. We both saw each other and I just said to myself no he's not no he'snot and he did. Just before I got up to him he released the dog and he just ran right in front of the car. I locked brakes and just bumped the dog. He thought his dog was dead just befoe he hit the car. The dog ran back to the house with nothing but a bloody lip. It turned out I knew the old man from him working on the gas line that went across my property. He to said it was his fault and that he should have never let go og the dog. Glad all of you are OK. You all got very lucky that day.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
All - thanks for the encouragement.

Curvy and Brian - I was never in real personal danger with Dean there. But I guess those are famous last words.

BTW - dog is trained - MH. Had I had her e-collar on her I could have stopped her - no doubt. Instead I chose to use a leash that day because of the logistics of using the collar in those conditions. Even the best trained dogs have limitations, it's my job as her handler to know her's and mitigate them through techiques and procedures. I failed, not her. If anyone can call their dog off a crippled duck fluttering a foot in front of its nose, with just a whistle stop, they either have a unique world class dog, or a dog I would never take on a hunt.

Thanks again all.

Joe
 

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As Lead Man mentioned above....we had an tragic incident close to home. 4 boys and dog was hunting on Kentucky Lake last weekend. They found one of the kids and the dog alive. They found another kid...unfortunately it was too late. The other two are still misssing. My grandmother lives accross the street from one of the kids that is still missing. It is very tragic. It has torn a community of 15,000 apart. To all out there....please say a prayer for these families and rescue workers. I take my hats off to the rescue guys. They have been on the water for almost a week now searching in some awful temps.

Matt - Woodson Ent.
 

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I have had situations with dogs like this- their hunting instinct overcomes any sense of danger they might feel

Its up to us to have that danger in our minds but sometimes we dont do a great job

Ice is one situation that can get out of hand quickly---

I used to think those vests were for sissy dogs and handlers but I am beginning to think that the neoprene ones just might be a good thing

regards from Iowa

Gene
 

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Like most hunters I love my dog. I would risk anything to save him. There is a very strong bond between hunters and their dogs. I am glad it worked out well for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Your kid goes out hunting with his freinds. He's done it all his youg life - he doesn't come home. How tragic. I feel for your community - very, very sad.

Joe
 

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Nothing else need be said...I doubt you'll ever forget this situation or even let the circumstances rear their ugly head that a repeat performance could occur...I'm just damned damned glad you and Dean and of course pup are all home taking the chill off instead of what might have been...take care and I'll see you at Millington this spring and be safe
 

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Lesson here is simple. Waterfowl hunting is a dangerous undertaking. The most dangerous hunting there is(except for dangerous game). I know that most hunters(if they are in the game long enough) know someone who was lost and have seen dogs lost. Think safety and don't take chances. I'm getting to the age I don't hunt alone any more. In reality NO ONE should.--Lead Man, I was raised in Crittenden Co. I am very sorry for your loss. Ky, Barkley, and the rivers around there are dangerous waters. You don't get many second chances on them. My Prayers go out to the familes of the ones lost.
 
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