Interested in buying an ice eater to keep your duck hunting spot from freezing over this winter? Here are a few things to look for that will help you choose the right one.
Open water is the key to successful duck hunting when freezing temperatures stick around for long periods. Just a few days of freezing temperatures is enough to start creating a sheet of ice over your best duck hunting spots. If ducks have no open water to utilize, they’ll leave the area in order to find it.
Ice eaters are a great solution to prevent duck hunting spots from freezing up and help keep ducks in the area so that you can keep hunting all winter long.
These are the Top 3 Ice Eaters for Duck Hunting currently available:
Ice eaters are a must have for any duck hunter in the northern U.S. Rather than let Mother Nature tell you when to hang it up, using an ice eater means you can hunt ducks all season long. Ice eaters are easy to set up and use, and they require very little maintenance other than keeping a power source going.
These are the three Ice Eaters for Duck Hunting you should consider:
Higdon Outdoors Ice Blaster (click to check the price at Cabelas) – I’ve been using several of the Higdon Ice Eaters on ponds in Montana with good success for the last couple of years. Its 1 HP motor is powerful enough to keep almost a hundred feet worth of water open when everything else is frozen. The adjustable stand makes it easy to positon for duck flats with low water levels. This is my top pick for keeping as much water open as possible.Kasco Marine Ice Eater (click to check the price at Amazon) – Kasco Marine is one of the few manufacturers of ice eater pumps and assemblies. They make the motor that’s in the Hidgon Ice Blaster. However, this version doesn’t come with a stand that allows you to adjust the height and angle. If that’s not a problem and you mostly hunt deeper water, than this is your best budget option. You can always build your own stand as well. PowerHouse 1HP Ice Eater (click to check the price at Amazon) – The PowerHouse Ice Eater is capable of producing 42lbs of thrust and keeping an approximately 80-foot hole open. Like the Kasco Marine Ice Eater, it doesn’t have a base, but is another option for deeper water applications.
Why I Picked the Higdon Outdoors Ice Blaster
When you sit down and compare the Higdon Ice Blaster to the Kasco Marine and PowerHouse, the differences are noticeable.
- The Higdon Ice Eater comes in both ½ HP and 1 HP models for both large and small applications.
- The Higdon is equipped with a stand that allows it to be customized for any water level. The Kasco Marine Ice Eater doesn’t have a stand is made for deep water.
- It can be set at an angle so that water is pushed outward. This is EXTREMLEY handy for shallow water applications.
- The wire cage helps keep debris and material out of the impeller. The PowerHouse Ice Eater doesn’t have this option.
- The Higdon Ice Blaster has a quiet motor that makes virtually no noise and won’t spook ducks while hunting over it.
- Its 100ft of electrical cord is more than enough length to run it to a generator on the bank.
- The ability to set the Higdon Ice Eater at an angle creates more decoy movement.
Here is a great clip of what you can expect to achieve with a good ice eater for duck hunting.
Features to look for in a quality ice eater for duck hunting:
- Capable of moving large amounts of water. I’ve found that the 1 HP models capable of producing 40-50lbs of thrust can easily keep a huntable size pocket open the longest.
- Stand mounts. Ice eaters mounted on stands are more versatile since they allow you to direct the water anywhere you want instead of just straight up.
- Impeller cages. Keeping large amount of debris out of the impeller will increase an ice eater’s lifespan.
- Oil-filled motors for heat dissipation and lubrication.
- Stainless steel exterior to prevent corrosion.
- Heavy duty electrical cord at least 100 feet long to reach the shoreline.
- Compatible with thermostat timers.
- Heavy duty impeller blades.
- 120 volt compatible.
About Hunting Ducks with Ice Eaters
Ice eaters are a critical tool when winter sets in and water starts to lock up. You can either call it a season, or flip a switch and keep on duck hunting. Below are the types of ice eaters commonly used for duck hunting and what you need to know about them.
Types of Ice Eaters used for Duck Hunting
- Shallow vs Deep Water –Ice eaters were first designed for dock and marine applications. That’s why many options are for deep water applications. While deep water ice eaters can work for duck hunting, the shallow water ice eaters on stands are so much more versatile.
- ½ HP vs 1 HP – Ice eaters are available from ½ HP all the way up to 4 HP. For duck hunting applications, my go-to is the 1HP. It will keep a 80-100-foot hole open. The ½ HP could work well for smaller setups or combining multiple ice eaters together.
- Stands vs No Stands – Ice eaters without stands restrict the amount of area that you’ll be able to keep open. Since they are always pointed up, they are limited to the diameter of the amount of water they push upwards. Ice eaters on stands don’t have this problem and can be angle horizontally to keep larger stretches of water open.
Ice eaters were originally designed for deep water applications but their usefulness for duck hunting caught on quickly. When the choice is either let the pond freeze and don’t hunt, or buy an ice eater; the choice is pretty clear.
The effectiveness of ice eaters for duck hunting is often understated. If you have the only open water for miles around, the duck hunting can be PHENOMINAL! Ice eaters can also be placed strategically on roost ponds to give the birds a refuge all winter long.
Shallow water ice eaters on stands, like the Higdon Ice Blaster, are my preferred option due to their versatility. The ability to angle the impeller any direction I want to makes a huge difference.
I like to keep my ice eaters just below the water’s surface and the adjustable stand mounts allow me to set the ice eater at any height. This also helps suspend it off the bottom so that it doesn’t send debris and sediment through the impeller.
Ice eaters are a must have for duck hunting up north. Once you hunt over one you’ll be hooked.
Why are ice eaters so effective for duck hunting?
Waterfowl need open water to stay in an area over the winter. When ponds, lakes, and rivers freeze over, ducks head south to find warmer weather and more importantly water that isn’t frozen. Water is the most important factor during the winter in a ducks lifecycle followed closely by food and safety.
Needless to say, if all the water is frozen in your area, but your pond is open since you’re using an ice eater, the ducks will want to come investigate. That’s what makes hunting with an ice eater so critical when the temperatures remain below freezing for weeks and months.
The effectiveness of ice eaters for duck hunting is something you really have to see for yourself. Not only will they increase the days you spend afield each year, but they’ll likely put you into some of the best hunting you’ve ever experienced.
Interested in new duck hunting gear? Check out our guide here.