They say in life timing is everything, and for us we happened to pick the coldest day Wisconsin has seen in years to be out on the ice. It was a balmy -9 degrees, the wind chill close to -40 degrees.
Lucky for us though, once we stepped inside Al Burmeister's shanty on Lake Wazeecha in Wisconsin Rapids you'd never know it.
"Pellet stove right behind you. That I built from scratch. Works really well. You can see the pellets inside here," he says.
Good thing it heats so well since Al and his wife, Cheryl spend a few days a week inside the shack or rather, the “Silver Bullet”.
From the name to the color to the artwork, this ice shanty is an ode to the Burmeister's beverage of choice.
"Blue mountains. That's supposed to look like a Coors Light can with the blue mountains. We hand painted the Tasmanian devil on the side and he's drinking a beer,” he explains.
This silver bullet may look pretty cool now, but it had very humble beginnings. It started out as a 1959 airstream camper. Al bought it a few years ago for just $50 and spent an entire summer revamping it to what you see today. Complete with a full size oven, a HD TV, a kitchen table, and enough space to sleep six- even though it doesn't appear that way at first.
"What do people usually say when they see your unique shack out here on the ice?”, I ask. “Most of them want to take pictures of it, come inside and tour it and sign the wall."
They've collected a lot of signatures over the years and when they asked us to leave our mark on the shanty we picked up a sharpie and gladly agreed.
While I was commemorating my first ice fishing experience, I couldn't help but notice a pager hanging on the window as it turns out, it's pretty ingenious. It means he only has to brave the extreme cold when there's a pretty good chance he'll actually catch a fish. The pager is hooked up to a motion sensor in a hole he drilled outside.
False alarm this time and while we were there he didn't catch anything through the holes inside the camper either. But that's alright with Al. If the fish aren't biting, he and his buddies know just the thing to pass the time.
"We had these decals made up. It says our drinking team has an ice fishing problem,” he laughs.
If you have a shanty you'd like to show off, snap a few pictures and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org