Spontaneous Nucleation

Here is a short story about my experience while duck hunting alone on a big, tree lined lake in Minnesota. This was early November, three years ago.

It was predawn. For over an hour, I stood patiently, at the edge of the water, looking out across the lake, scanning its surface and thinking how perfectly placid and silent the lake was. I periodically checked the time on my wristwatch while waiting for the exact moment I could legally begin placing decoys in the water.  

“No person may place decoys on public lands or in public waters more than
two hours before legal shooting hours for waterfowl.” –Minnesota DNR

My companion was a float tube because we are allergic to the other types. A float tube is an inflatable personal watercraft.

When the moment came, that I could legally set my duck decoys, I took my first step upon what I thought was liquid water, but much to my surprise, it was ice instead. This ice was too thick to break through. I tried chopping at it with an oar, but it was too thick.

To think I had walked 2 miles through dense woods, from the parking area, to my hunting position, with a large cart full of equipment, stood at the water’s edge for over an hour, staring at the time, waiting, all for nothing. I was the victim of Spontaneous Nucleation.

Spontaneous Nucleation occurs overnight, when it is cold and calm. The lake’s surface cools to the point that ice nucleates and spreads rapidly across the surface of the lake. This type of ice is the most invisible and is arranged as meter wide, individual crystals that have a vertical axis.

I could not hunt under these conditions and had to go home, defeated. Had I brought enough “Blaze Orange” clothing, I could have hidden my duck gear & hunted other species, but this was not the case.

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