Can You Use a Hunting Blind for Ice Fishing?
Hunting and ice fishing both require a special kind of shelter. For hunting, a hunting blind is mostly used to camouflage the hunter but can also be used to insulate against cold temperatures. For ice fishing, a shelter is used primarily to insulate against cold temperatures and allow you to sit comfortably on ice.
You can use a hunting blind for ice fishing if you adapt the hunting blind with ice anchors, extra insulation, and perhaps a portable heater. You can also purchase a combination of hunting blind and ice shelter that already has everything you need for both sports.
This article will discuss the essentials of the ice fishing shelter and some ways that hunting blinds are or aren’t suited to the task, and ways to adapt your hunting blind so that you can use it for ice fishing. It will also cover several options for combination ice fishing shelters and hunting blinds on the market.
Ice Fishing Shelter Essentials
Ice fishing requires exposure to harsh, cold environments, and so having a proper ice fishing shelter can be very helpful for those looking to stay out in the cold for longer periods of time. For many, having a shelter while fishing is considered a must.
The best ice fishing shelters will have the following characteristics:
- Windproof and waterproof fabric
- An insulated roof
- Reflective materials on the outside (for visibility)
- Gear storage space
- An appropriate size
In general, ice fishing shelters usually weigh about 18 to 60 pounds (18 to 27 kilograms). However, most ice fishing shelters are on the lightweight side and are collapsible for easy transportation. But, these tend to be less durable and are more prone to tearing and breaking.
Types of Ice Fishing Shelters
Most ice fishing shelters are built from tent-like materials and are easily collapsible and portable. These shelters benefit from being lightweight and easy to handle while remaining warm and insulated from the cold weather. They allow for long fishing trips on any part of the ice, in any area.
These pop-up shelters are typically secured with ice anchors, not unlike staking in a tent.
You can also find heavy-duty ice fishing trailers, which attach to the hitch of a car and act as a combination of the mobile home and the ice fishing shelter. These come equipped with seating areas and ice fishing holes, and sometimes even kitchens and televisions. These are intended for very long stays on the ice.
These shelters are heavy enough that you don’t need to worry about securing the shelter on the ice.
Like the Stump 4 Ice from Banks Outdoors, other shelters are made with an insulated wooden frame, heavy but more portable than the ice fishing trailer. These can also be transported with a hitch but are much smaller. They sit on the ice with a sled-like bottom. They are heavy enough to stay secure but can also be moved more easily than a trailer.
Can You Use a Hunting Blind on Ice?
Most ice shelters have an insulated floor made of wood or some other material, with holes for ice fishing built-in. This is perhaps the most important feature of an ice fishing shelter missing from the standard hunting blind. You can purchase a rubber floor mat like the Texas Hunter Rubber Floor Mat for more insulation, but would still lack ice fishing holes.
If you do adapt a hunting blind for ice fishing, be aware that you’ll likely need to fish through an open door, which means having less protection from the elements than you’d get from a typical ice fishing shelter.
Most ice fishing shelters come with features that allow the structure to stay put on the ice. For most lightweight shelters, you’ll find a set of ice anchors that drill into the ice to hold the shelter in place, not unlike hunting stakes. Make sure that if you use hunting blind on ice, you first purchase ice anchors like the Haidong Trumpet Ice Fishing Anchors.
Most hunting blinds come with small loops similar to standard tent loops, meant for staking the structure into the ground. Although the stakes that come with a hunting blind are not built to drive through the ice, you can repurpose these loops to hold ice anchors.
Adapting a Hunting Blind for Cold Weather
There are several things you can do to make your hunting blind more resistant to cold weather. For example, you can use a silicone spray like the Sof Sole Heavy Duty Silicone Waterproofer to keep your blind protected from the snow.
You can also use a portable heater to keep your hunting blind warm. You’ll want to check to ensure that your hunting blind is safe to use with a heater, but most hunting blinds can be safely heated with any heater made for indoor use. A lightweight heater is best, as the portable Little Buddy Heater from Mr. Heater.
If you use a heater inside your hunting blind, be aware that this will likely cause condensation on your windows. You can wipe this condensation off the windows or use a small fan to wick away the water.
Another option is to bundle yourself in wool or another insulating material in a standard hunting blind if you do not have or do not want to use a portable heater. Although wind protection is still important, this is another way to adapt to colder temperatures without purchasing a new hunting blind.
More Tips for Staying Warm While Ice Fishing in a Hunting Blind
Whether you’re in a hunting blind or a standard ice shelter, staying warm while ice fishing is of vital importance. That said, a hunting blind is less likely to have insulation than an ice shelter, and so considering your warmth is especially important if you’re repurposing a hunting blind.
- Stay dry. Whether you’ve spent time lying on the ice, sweated, or been hit by rain, staying wet in the cold is a sure way to deplete your energy and cut your trip short. If this does happen, dry off immediately.
- Dress appropriately. Ensure that you wear layers, with the underlayer being a moisture-wicking layer and the top layers providing bulk for insulation and soundproofing. Waterproofing clothes are a bonus.
- Bring warm food or drinks. A thermos of hot chocolate can make all the difference in the long hours on the ice.
Combination Hunting Blinds and Ice Fishing Shelters
Some companies have created combination hunting blinds and ice fishing shelters intended for both sports, like the Banks Outdoors Stump 2 ICE. This model is made from a polyethylene shell, has a sled base and steel hitch for portability, and has a wood floor to insulate against the ice and provide stability.
Overall, this blind-shelter combination is very durable and rigid, not prone to tearing or damage from mice. The rigid walls allow you to mount lights, heaters, or any other gear you need to the walls and keep you warm and safe from the wind.
Sportsman’s Guide sells a similar Crossover Hunt – N -Fish Combo Ice Shelter/Blind made with a weather-resistant ice shelter fabric in camo print, along with mesh windows and flaps to cover them. This model is quick to put up and take down and very portable. It is lightweight and comes with anchors to secure the shelter/blind firmly to the ice.
Using a hunting blind for ice fishing requires some adaptations, but it is possible. Mainly, you want to make sure that your blind will stay secured on the ice and will stay warm enough throughout your ice fishing excursion. Know that your hunting blind will not have all the features of an ice fishing shelter but maybe good enough to do the job.
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