Doing recovery dives at the end of the winter season is much more preferable than earlier in the season, according to Jeff Bosek.
The reason? It's simple, said Bosek, who is the owner of Bosek Underwater Services in Alexandria, the ice is much thicker at the end of winter and that makes it easier for a lot of reasons, such as mounting portable winches that can be used to pull a vehicle up and out of the water.
"It's easy to recover items when there is 30-inches of ice," he said.
Bosek, who has been in the diving business for numerous years, does commercial diving and underwater recovery for anything from rings to cars, trucks or ATVs. He often works with his brother and nephew in the recovery process.
He was called to recover a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle on Tuesday, March 21 out of Smith Lake between Alexandria and Osakis. It was his 171st recovery in the last 17 years, he said, noting that he averages about 10 recoveries per year.
Most of his wintertime recoveries occur between Dec. 19 and Dec. 25 when he said anglers "get a little rambunctious" and try to get on the lake too early. Later in the season, January through March, he normally doesn't have as many.
So far this winter, Bosek said he has recovered three vehicles, three "side by sides," which he said are bigger than a normal ATV and are more like a utility vehicle, and one snowmobile. The utility vehicles, which he said are also heavier than an ATV, are sometimes a hassle, especially if they have tracks on them, which can catch on the ice.
In Douglas County just this week, there have been three vehicles through the ice - a four-wheeler on Lake Ida, an ATV on Lake Osakis on Monday and the Polaris Ranger on Tuesday on Smith Lake. Bosek was called to Lake Ida and Smith Lake.
The equipment Bosek uses varies and can include lift bags, other flipping and lifting devices such as winches, and a slide, which is a ramp system. The lift bags can be used to assist in lifting heavy objects underwater by means of the bag's buoyancy. The object can be moved horizontally underwater by a diver or they can be sent to the surface unaccompanied.
"I have smaller pieces of equipment and a smaller truck that I use," said Bosek. "Nothing is too heavy."
In the summer months, a lot of what Bosek is called to recover is jewelry, specifically rings. He said rings are not his favorite because he feels really bad if he doesn't recover the item.
On average, Bosek said he finds about 75 percent of the rings he's asked to recover.
There have been numerous times when people will call back and say they found it in their house.
Over the years, Bosek has found some unique items including an old wagon with the horses still attached, several prosthetic legs and once, he even found a body bag, although he didn't open it to see if there was a body inside.
He has also searched for another body.
"I know there is the body of someone's great-grandpa who fell through the ice more than 100 years ago on Lake Ida," said Bosek. He has spent some time searching for the man, but has yet to find him.
He also has "some pretty good information" about another Runestone that is believed to be in an area lake and he has spent time searching for it and has plans to continue searching.
"That would be a real big discovery if I found it and would give even more credibility to the Kensington Runestone," said Bosek. "It really is amazing what's in the water. It's a treasure trove down there."
Mark the spot
Jeff Bosek of Bosek Underwater Services shared this tip if a vehicle or other valuable item goes in the water:
Mark the spot where you think it went in immediately with a flag, cones, sticks, buoy, anything. Just mark it.
"Lakes are huge," he said. "Telling me it's 'over there somewhere' just doesn't work."