In Episode 3 of Discovery Channel’s Sons of Winter, “The Freeze,” Dale and Shane go ice fishing, but Dale has to be rescued after falling through the ice. Back home, Randy and Grandpa Griz use dynamite to clear a beaver dam.
In addition to his seasonal Santa Claus duties, Grandpa Griz serves as officiant of the bush church service. Their bush congregation is greatly reduced since Dale and Shane (aka Shale) left on their 90-day wilderness adventure.
Things have been going well for Shale in the three weeks since they got settled in the cabin. The’ve established some trapping lines and are getting a regular haul of weasels and weasel-type creatures.
Back at the Barks’ home, Randy is in serious mode again. Things have started to freeze over, and ice is serious stuff. The surface of rivers and ponds freezes, but the water level below drops, leaving a gap of air between the ice and the water. Falling through the ice can be deadly. “Dealing with ice is serious,” Randy advises. “It’s dangerous, unpredictable, not ever to be taken lightly.”
Ignoring the seriousness, Shale takes their 2,300 pound Argo on the ice to do donuts (or “whippin’ shitties” in the parlance of the good people of Shawano, Wis.). The Argo is too big a beast to nimbly maneuver though the snow and ice-covered trails, and the boys will instead take the faster, more agile snowmobile that Randy left them and put the Argo away for the winter.
The Barks family is burning through 250 pounds of wood each day, and Randy can’t rely on Shale to automatically keep the firewood stocked. While Randy and Kole are cutting wood, Grandpa and Grandma Grizz pull up. Most neighbors come over to borrow a cup of sugar or a gardening tool or two, but bush neighbors come over when they need help clearing beaver dams or gettin’ trees off their roof or some other dangerous stuff that takes up the whole weekend that you had intended to spend on the couch watching football and drinking Grain Belt. Griz has problems with beavers damming up the river, so that when the spring thaw arrives, the water will back up and flood his land. Jeez, Griz, can’t this wait until March?
Shale is busy setting and checking their trap lines when they run out of beaver meat for bait, and they debate about the short-term gains of ice fishing vs. the long-term growth of beaver trapping. Give a man a fish and he will have bait for a day. Teach a man to trap beaver and he’ll have bait for a month. They decide on ice fishing, because they’ve seen the teaser clips of Dale falling through the ice and know that’s what they’re supposed to do. You cannot escape your destiny.
Then Shale catches some wicked big air with the snowmobile and almost wreck themselves.
Grandpa Griz rounds up his free labor to chop through a pile of frozen mud, wood and ice to clear away the beaver dam. But at the rate they’re going, they’ll have this thing cleared by June at the earliest. Griz remembers he may have some dynamite in some cabin somewhere, and they might be able to find it maybe before April. I think Grandpa Griz is lonely and just wants to keep the Barks family around longer. “It’ll just be POOF! And she’ll be gone,” Griz says. “Leave it to Griz. Of course he’s got dynamite stashed somewhere, some cabin,” Randy says. “What if the squirrels ate it?” Grandma Griz asks.
To get to Griz’s old cabin, they’ll have to cut through a few decades of overgrowth. Kole gets some training with the chainsaw and sprays Randy with sawdust. And then Kole nearly drops a tree on Randy, because Kole thought you were supposed to whisper “timber” after the tree has already crushed someone. Kole gets a stern talkin’ to from everyone.
Griz and Randy have to extract the dynamite from the cabin, and after sifting through some squirrel diggin’s and wooden boards, they find the metal box containing the — BOOM! — naw, just messing with you; they’re fine. Randy gently pulls the box out. “You be very careful, Slim,” Griz advises. “I don’t want you to get any slimmer.” All of this reminds me of the Arzt scene on Lost:
Randy calls Kole over and gently hands off the TNT baton to him. It’s all very carefully done. And then they get on Griz’s ATV for a really bumpy off-road ride to the beaver dam.
In an interstitial segment, we find Randy extracting fluid from the anal glands of a skunk, which Randy can sell or use for hunting and trapping. So the next time you think your job sucks, think about this and shut up already. Randy seems unaffected by what must be a tremendously foul stench. Perhaps Randy’s been at this too long and his olfactory system just said “To hell with this!” and up and left Randy’s body decades ago. While Randy is unaffected, Kole looks like he’s going to barf. Randy is pleased that he’s able to fill up a whole vial with Essence of Skunk’s Ass, and then hands the vial to Kole, who drops the vial down the entrance ramp. Yeah, Kole’s the perfect person to handle a box of decayed nitroglycerin.
Griz and the gang arrive at the beaver dam without being vaporized, and they set the dynamite sticks into a hole. “It’s been a long time since I blew a beaver dam.” Griz says. Well, Griz has never been on a reality show that needed ‘splosions to keep ratings up. Everyone gets to a safe distance, Griz lights the fuse and … POOF!
The dam done gets blowed up real good, reportedly by a demolitions expert with all behind-the-scenes safety precautions, and it’s filmed from all over the place, even from above. There’s a nice blast crater where the dam was, and there’s a little trickle of water which will be frozen again in less than an hour. “Blowing up a beaver dam with dynamite, that’s success bush-style,” Randy says. Not sure if this blast accomplished anything, but at least it made for a few minutes of good TV.
Shale is ice-fishing for bait, and Dale is getting impatient. He wants to check out a beaver dam on the frozen lake to see if maybe he can’t score one of the critters for bait. It’s here that Dale falls through the ice, just like we’ve already seen previewed at least 50 times during the series, so there’s no real surprise. Shane and the production crew pull Dale out of the near-freezing water, and strip off his wet clothes and give him their dry ones. Then Shane takes Dale on the snowmobile back to the cabin to get his core temperature back up and thaw out his feet. Dale is going to be fine, and he gets to keep all of his appendages. Shane admits that he loves his brother (Ewwwww! Gross!) and Shale is whole again.
Because this is a TV show, I have to be skeptical about Dale’s accident. A few things didn’t sit right with how this scene was filmed and edited. When Dale is checking out the beaver dam, he appears to be only about 100 yards away from where Shane is fishing, even though his snowmobile ride seemed to take him farther away. Probably edited to build up the suspense. Then the camera shot with Shane fishing and Dale deep in the background looks set up too perfectly. There was also a camera close up on Dale while he was poking around on the ice, yet the only footage we get of him falling through the ice is from a distance. Was the incident fabricated entirely? Only the people who were there know. That’s the magic of television. Very crafty.
And if Dale really did fall through the ice and was truly in mortal danger, then I’m glad he’s safe.