Busting decoys out of ice will do it.
From the inside of both thumb nails, deep splits cracked out about half an inch.
Hurt like a mother.
Hurt so bad that I couldn't even comfortably text my wife to let her know we made it off the lake after duck hunting without freezing to death, drowning or getting shot yesterday.
You know, the usual things loved ones worry about on a morning around 13 degrees and breaking ice to reach the blind is involved.
Wonderful morning to sit in the blind. I'll say that. Full moon set as we settled in. The cold was so cold, it had a sort of manly romantic appeal to it.
But we were dressed for it and had one heater, so we chatted and watched for a couple hours.
Some ducks spooked as we motored out. A flock of well educated geese flew past on cue at 7 a.m., comfortably out of range.
A pair of mallards, we thought, flew well out, but low enough that we had hopes they would give a fly by and some pass shooting. No such luck.
Three mergansers flew just out of range Then it went dead and even the path we busted in and other nearby open water began locking in.
So we called it a morning. Busted the decoys out of the ice. For some of them, that involved real work and I think that is when my hands ended up getting soaked.
And the splits started running out around the thumb nails.
When I got home, I found where I had stashed the Bag Balm last winter and smothered my hands in the goo.
South suburban ice fisherman Alan Epich some years ago told me about Bag Balm.
Originally it was for helping keep cows' udder in good shape. Somebody, probably a farmer, figured out it did wonders for human hands, too.
And lots of other uses have been found for it, if you do a search on YouTube or Google.
I found my current tin of it at a Walgreens, but you can find it most anywhere, now.
Tufts of snow hold on in patches in the shade on the north side of the house.