Don’t waste good ice

As a hockey goalie, I am pretty opinionated as to what ice should be used for. Hockey is perfectly acceptable. Figure skating is not. But as an outdoorsman, there are a couple other things I don’t mind ice being used for.

While waiting to get on the ice for a league hockey game, I often hear my teammates grumbling about the figure skaters who are twirling around on the surface. The most common comment is, “What a waste of perfectly good ice.”

But I’ve heard the same comment uttered by ice fishermen when youngsters are batting a puck around on a city park lake. I’ve also been riding in a truck with fellow goose hunters when we pass a lake where ice anglers are trying their luck. The familiar phrase can be applied to that situation, too. I guess it all depends on your point of view.

My hockey teammates might be mortified to hear me say this, but I don’t see anything wrong with either ice fishing or goose hunting on ice. Granted, I’ve been spoiled by playing hockey inside a building on Zambonied ice, and you’re not likely to find many geese over it or crappie under it.

That being said, I don’t mind ice fishing, but you probably won’t find me hunkered over a hole very often. I realize some guys really get into it, and they even have their own ice fishing huts. In my time covering outdoor activities for newspapers, magazines and radio, I’ve been inside some amazing ice huts. Complete with recliners, generators, TVs, satellite dishes and cookstoves, these things could easily be considered vacation homes.

But that just seems to go against what ice fishing’s all about. It seems to me if you go ice fishing, you should just resign yourself to the fact that it’s going to be cold, and probably windy. And as far as I’m concerned, fishing and television just don’t mix.

The same’s true for goose hunting. Again, I’ve been in some pretty plush blinds. Comfortable chairs keep the hunters’ rumps off the cold ground, and propane heaters keep the pit a reasonable 65 degrees. The only time you have to brave the elements is when you set up or take down the decoys, or when you stand up to take a shot at the geese. It just doesn’t seem right to me.

But whether it’s ice fishing in a hut or goose hunting in a fancy blind, I suppose I can tough it out.