Show Us Your Shanty: Shamu of the Northwoods

By: Kristen Guilfoos Email
By: Kristen Guilfoos Email

Maybe you've seen him in person. Maybe you've just seen video. Either way, you know him - SeaWorld's killer whale named Shamu.

But this ice shanty we found on Lake Minocqua will have you saying sham - who?

Ron McMullin built this monstrous mammal look-alike from scratch... But that wasn't his original plan.

He said, "It started out as an igloo. I was just going to build an igloo. You can kinda see the rough shape of an igloo there."

His kids thought it was pretty cool, but the first time he took his daughter out on the ice, she changed her mind.

"My daughter crawled through what is now the tail to get into the shack. She was 13 years old and she said I'll never crawl through there again."

Since he built it with the hopes he and his kids could spend quality time fishing together, he knew he had to come up with a new plan.

"I cut a hole in the die and about a week later she came back with a drawing of this. And it wasn't too hard. All it took was putting the tail on and it was a killer whale."

I know what you're thinking, because I was thinking it too. He makes it sound so simple, but how easy can building something like this really be?

As it turns out, very... If you happen to be in the right business.

McMullin said, "I'm in the foam insulation business and this is made out of the foam I spray people's houses with."

Ron calls the whole thing a happy accident, and since he built it a few years ago, it's been the talk of the town.

"People don't know me but they know this."

He's even developed his own little marketing plan for it... Complete with baseball hats and business cards.

The inside isn't anything fancy. It just has a chair and a heater.
There's not even a usable hole in the floor... That's just the way he likes it, because it fits right in with his "the more, the merrier" fishing strategy.

"If you're gonna catch fish, you need to be out drilling a bunch of holes."

So he uses the shanty as just a quiet resting place while he waits for the fish to start biting.

"You don't think about anything else. It gives you a chance to clear your mind."

That's a whale of a way to get through, and enjoy, these cold Wisconsin winters.


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