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Editor's note: You may recall that last February we gently knocked on the door to ask if we could spend some time with you on ice. We just wanted to chat a bit (it can get lonely if the perch aren't biting!), wipe our feet on the doormat, and see some of the little touches that make your ice shanty homey and practical. As in the past, you didn't disappoint us. Many readers took the time to write us and forward some pictures of their frozen home away from home. Thanks to all for making us feel welcome.
I wanted a dual-purpose ice shack made to transport my four-wheeler ATV. In case we got to a lake that would not support a car or truck, I could unload the ATV, hook up the shack and head out to our favorite spots.
The shanty is made from an old trailer axle. I widened the frame so it would track behind a vehicle. The aluminum panels were left over from a sheet metal job about 10 years ago. It took that long for me to come up with a [design] idea that suited my needs. The shack is seven by eight feet. Two-thirds of the floor is jointed with heavy hinges that can be lowered as a ramp for the ATV. My actual cost was only about $100 with a lot of thinking.
My work paid off last February during the sturgeon season. We speared two fish in two days. Mine was 55inches long and weighed 55 pounds.
Vern (Tex) Keenlance, Wild Rose
A few years ago, I wanted to build a sturgeon-spearing shanty that was easy to hook up and move. After seeing how expensive it could be to build one and given that the season often lasts only a day or two, I came up with a different idea. Our roofing company had a 12-foot enclosed trailer. We cut a 3 ½ x 4 ½-foot hole in the bottom and reinforced the rest of the hole with metal. We made pins and latches for the piece we cut out so it pops right back into place. A wood box covers the gap between the trailer floor and the ice.
When the spearing season ends, our shanty doesn't get parked along side some old barn for the season, like many shacks. We fasten the floor, throw the tools back in and we're ready to use it for work. Everyone tells us they've never seen another shanty like ours.
Adam Scheafbauer, Hartford
The comforts of home
My home away from home is decked out with recliners, a flip-up table, wood stove and an entertainment center complete with TV, CB and stereo with surround sound. All the 12-volt wiring feeds household receptacles and plugs to prevent any cross circuits. Each side of the shanty has a strip of red and white reflective tape on the outside making it easy to spot at night. We have heavy snowmobile traffic here and want to be seen at night.
There's no place like igloo
My dad, Andy Hansen, was the chief engineer behind this igloo-shaped sturgeon-fishing shanty he built with my brothers and me. Like many shanties, it was built mostly of recycled materials. The main beams and ski supports were recaptured oak from pallets. The covering was made of metal printing plates that were used to print cereal boxes.
Despite appearance, the actual entrance is full-sized and is located on the back side of the igloo between the skis. The faux entrance on the front is actually a removable box for our gear. We set up each year on Lake Winnebago just north of Oshkosh.
Bob Hansen, Wauwatosa
Piecing it together
The shanty is made of salvaged materials – built on an old pop-up camper frame, the skeletal frame from old metal bed frames, the siding and roof from an old metal shed – all welded and pop-riveted together. The camper also provided a three-burner stove and a propane furnace that we attached to a 12-volt blower that circulates warm air from ceiling to floor. We can seat six comfortably inside and the table drops down to form bunks for night fishing. We put on an awning for sunny afternoons just because we had one.
Kevin Hermanson, Oregon
Room for one
I like to ice fish, but it was kind of hard to go alone since I am only twelve. I guess I bugged my dad too much cause one Saturday he decided we would build an ice shack I could take out onto our lake by myself. We took his otter sled and added plywood sides. We even cut out walleye-shaped windows out of Plexiglas. The sled rides flat behind a four-wheeler or a snowmobile. When I get to my fishing spot, I just unhook it and stand it up. The hinged door in the back of the sled becomes my ice-fishing hole once the shack is uprighted. We made a small seat for me that is used to hold a five-gallon plastic bucket of supplies such as tip-ups and my jig poles when I am traveling. My auger rides in the front part.
The shack looks pretty small, but it's really big enough for any adult. My dad took my shack to Canada and we built one for my uncle to take too. His has crappie-shaped windows.
It's fun to have a shack of my own!
Jeff Gregory,Lake Tomahawk
In the three years since my neighbor and I started ice fishing we've each purchased loads of equipment, including two shanties. Ours are battery-powered. The concept is simple. First, wire the shack as you would any AC application, except start with a three-pronged plug outside the shack and substitute DC light bulbs for their AC counterparts. Then connect a household outlet to a marine battery, plug in the cord, and there is light.
Randy Berndt, Wittenberg
A time for games and friends
Winter in Wisconsin can be some of the best times with good friends and a sense of adventure. For instance, somehow a bowling ball just showed up at our shanty one sunny day and stayed. We developed a game of ice bowling whose only rules are "no rules." We just set up empty cans of fermented malt and barley beverages around the area as pins and try to knock them down. We also developed a form of ice golf where we auger 18 holes around the shanty area and roll the ball in. We decided that the rules to that game are that it is to be played only on the winter solstice in years ending in 00.
The shanty is an integral part of ice bowling because that's where the Weber grill is stored for between frames and tee box burgers and brats.
Actually, we are fishing. We have tip-ups set up for pike near shore. Later in the day we put away the games and bring the tip-ups out to deeper water to fish walleyes. We also jig-fish in the shanty.
A little village on Lake Altoona
Three families – the Spindlers, Books and Stadlers – live in Fall Creek and fish on Lake Altoona in Eau Claire. Our ages range from 7 to 47 and among the 14 of us, we have five shacks now and will have six for this winter. We pull our shacks into a circular shape so we can go from shack to shack.
We like to spend the night in our shacks about every weekend. Each has a wood stove. There's a couch in one shack, a homemade bunk bed in another and we also sleep on cots.
For fun we grill out, pull sleds behind four-wheelers, ice skate, play cards for hours and have fishing contests. Everyone puts a dollar in. Whoever catches the biggest northern splits the pot with the person catching the biggest panfish. We fish with rattle-wheels and jig poles inside our shacks and tip-ups outside.
We all love fishing so much that this year we held a "shack off the lake" party. We set up four of the shacks at one of our houses and everyone came over.
Candis Spindler, Fall Creek
A fishin' mission to Mars
Our shanty is insulated, paneled and equipped with wall-to-wall carpeting, venetian blinds and a radiant heater with safety oxygen depletion valve.
During the remodeling stage, I saw an article that ice had been discovered on the planet Mars, so I wrote NASA headquarters and got a response. Here's what I told them:
"Using the old adage 'Where there's smoke, there is fire,' then 'If there is ice, there must be water. And where there is water there must be fish!'
I'm from Wisconsin and an avid fisherman, but during the summer months it's too warm for ice fishing. So I am willing to volunteer my professional ice fishing experience to you. I have been rebuilding my ice shack to withstand the bitter cold on frozen lakes, so it stands to reason that with a few modifications it should hold up on Mars and I would be willing to make the trip to try my luck. My ice shack and I are ready for some serious ice fishing.
The purpose of this ice fishing expedition would be two-fold: 1. To see if any fish are living under the ice. (I have been known to catch fish where none are supposed to exist.) 2. To leave my shack as a warming house for future expeditions."
Two months later I got a response from the Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Flight. Mr. William F. Readdy said "NASA is looking at a variety of mission scenarios, including goals that involve Mars, asteroids, the Moon, and other destinations. We are also working to identify and evaluate the feasibility of supporting technologies that can provide significant improvements in areas such as cost reduction, supportability and operations. It is our intent to continue to pursue advanced technology investments in the future as International Space Station schedule milestones are achieved."
Peter Nicholas, Berlin
David L. Sperling edits Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.