By Bill Sniffin
In 2015, a 61-year old Green River man, John M. Henderson, fell through the ice on a frozen Flaming Gorge and drowned.
In 2016, a couple driving a Ford F-350 pickup at night across Boysen Reservoir east of Riverton broke through the ice. They narrowly escaped by kicking out the back window and scrambling out of the water-filled truck. Their pickup went to the bottom of the lake.
We’ve heard other unusual stories about going out on frozen Wyoming lakes. Most will curl your hair.
There was a report from a Wyoming agency recently that told about how to save yourself or someone else who had fallen through the ice. Their main lesson was – be super cautious about going out onto the ice to save someone else. If you fall in, too, then you have two dead people instead of one.
Here is a supposedly true story about an event some years ago here in Wyoming where the ice reportedly gets really, really thick – about as thick as the skulls on these two unfortunate duck hunters.
The title of this story is: “Too bad about the dog.” I apologize to whomever originally told me the story and these details borrow liberally from some unknown source (probably on the internet). They swore this occurred in the Cowboy State and I did not check with Snopes to verify it.
This supposedly occurred on Flaming Gorge or Boysen Reservoir or Glendo Reservoir or Seminoe or near Saratoga or some other Wyoming body of water. Here goes:
Back around 2013, a guy buys a brand new Ford Pickup King Ranch Edition for $49,000 and has $790 monthly payments. He and a friend go duck hunting and of course all the lakes are frozen.
They drive to this particular lake armed with beer, with guns, with beer, their dog, with beer, and of course the new vehicle. They drive out onto the frozen lake and get ready.
Now, after a few beers, they decide they will be needing a landing area for the ducks. A place where decoys can float in such a manner to entice over-flying ducks to come land on the water. And get shot. In order to make a hole large enough to look like something a wandering duck would fly down and land on, it is going to take a little more effort than an ice drill can make.
So, one of these bright fellers disappears into the back of the new King Ranch and emerges with a stick of dynamite armed with a 90-second fuse.
Now these two Rocket Scientists do take into consideration that they need to place the stick of dynamite on the ice at a location far from where they are standing (and the new pickup). They don’t want to risk slipping on the ice when they are running from the burning fuse and possibly go up in smoke with the resulting blast. They decide to light this 90-second fuse and throw the dynamite as far away as possible.
(Remember a couple of paragraphs back when we mentioned the beer, the vehicle, the beer, the guns, the beer, and the dog?)
Yes, the dog: A highly trained Black Lab used for retrieving. Especially things thrown by its owner. You guessed it, the pooch takes off at a high rate of doggy speed on the ice and snatches up the stick of dynamite in its mouth with the burning 90-second fuse aflame.
The two men yell, scream, wave arms and wonder what to do now?
The dog, cheered on, keeps on returning. One of the guys grabs the shotgun and shoots at the dog. The shotgun is loaded with #8 duck shot, hardly big enough to stop a Black Lab. The dog stops for a moment, slightly confused, but soldiers on.
Another shot and this time the dog becomes really confused and of course is terrified, thinking these two Nobel Prize winners have gone insane.
The dog takes off to find cover, (with the now really short fuse burning on the stick of dynamite) and ends up underneath the brand new pickup.
The dog and pickup are blown to bits and sink to the bottom of the lake in a very large hole, leaving the two idiots standing there with this “I can’t believe this happened” look on their faces.
The pickup owner calls his insurance company. He is told that sinking a vehicle in a lake by illegal use of explosives is not covered.
He still had yet to make the first of those $790 a month payments.