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The evolution of the ice-fishing sled

Some vehicles are dangerous because they tempt you to drive too fast. Other vehicles are difficult to control at high speeds. And a few cause peril because they handle poorly in icy, windy, or snowy conditions. 

The typical ice fishing sled makes those vehicles look like baby carriages.

I was thinking this the other day when I extricated mine from the shed. By the time it was out, I was sporting several new scrapes, a fat lip, and a few minor contusions. Of course, those who own an ice fishing sled know I got off easy.

In fact, I have it on good authority that the first ice fishing sled was found in a Neolithic grave still above the ice angler it ran over.

Even now, historians are trying to ascertain how the ice fishing sled came to be. After all, until then, their weapons of mass destruction were limited to mere catapults and battering rams.

Having practical experience in primitive behaviour and ice fishing, I recently put forth a theory. I suspect that one day a Neolithic do-it-yourselfer decided to build his wife a sleigh so that it would be easier to get their brood of children up to the mountain cave in which they lived. This would have worked, too, had rope technology been a little more advanced. Luckily, the kids jumped off, but they left their homework, which in those days was carved on stone tablets, on board. As a result, the sled merely wiped out the village below and continued halfway across an icy lake.

There, a primitive ice angler, with a far less advanced willow gad than most of us now use, discovered it after it slid into him and knocked him flat on his back.

“What luck!” he said, after regaining consciousness. “The gods have clearly given me a vehicle to sit on and place my ice fishing gear in too.”

Gear in those days consisted of a thorn fashioned into a hook, a line made of sinew, and a dozen frozen worms. (Worms were in fact the only bait used during those dark times. Minnows only came into common use later, after primitive man found a cure for worms.) This lack of gear meant there was room for an angler to sit on the sled when he was going downhill towards the lake.

That discovery, by the way, coincided with the introduction of the phrase “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!”

Sometime later, primitive man learned not to sit on an ice fishing sled that was at the top of a steep, icy slope above a lake. We are still learning that you should not accidentally step on them either.

Since then, there have been great advancements in ice fishing sleds. Most notably, we have made them lighter, which means they are more able to harness the power of the wind to launch sharp hooks at us and batter us while we are not looking. Also, this gave them the ability to give the angler chasing them multiple charley horses while running all over the lake in their pursuit.

I actually believe it is better to store them inside to keep them from conspiring with the wind. Which is why I brought mine out the other day to store in the basement.

After I was done my wife yelled, “Did you say something?”

Just “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” I replied.

A little more local for your inbox.

Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
won't find anywhere else. Stay caught up with The Observer This Week.

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