Do you know that the number one cause of death among the hunters in the US is due to drowning? Yes, you read it correctly, it is drowning not firearms as popularly believed. That is the reason that often people give more importance to firearms safety and completely ignore the main cause that is safe while hunting from a boat. It is comparatively easy to shoot the target from a sedentary position, but try shooting from a moving boat and you would know the difference.
The boat has been a favorite among the hunters for mobilization on their hunting spots and even it is used to hunt ducks in lakes and rivers. Boat hunting is great but the safety precautions should also be taken as a top priority when using a motorized or even non-motorized boat.
The records of fatal and near-fatal boat accidents registered by the U.S coast guards is really worrying, it shows that each year there are on average 35 boat hunting-related accidents which lead to 14 fatal ones and 27 near-fatal. This data clearly indicates that hunters should take appropriate safety precautions while hunting from a boat.
Safety Precaution Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat:
1. Understanding Your Vessel Or Boat:
Your boat in which you hunt is your most crucial partner during hunting. So understanding it is really of the highest importance. Boats like punts, sneakers and flat bottomed boats are commonly used for hunting but these are very prone to capsizing or tipping over. Wherever you go for hunting on a boat make sure to analyze and understand it completely.
Understand if any mishap happens during the hunting expedition will the boat float even if filled with water? Knowing your boat can make all the difference in a life and death situation. If you don’t know how to swim an overturned boat which floats can be a lifesaver for you. Little things like taking photos while sitting and not standing on a boat, controlling your pet dog if any can make a lot of life-saving difference.
2. Always Carry The Light Load:
Overweight boats are a leading cause of drowning in hunters. It is very important to understand the maximum load that your boat can carry and taking load which is lighter than that weight is very crucial. People often measure the weight of the things that they carry on the boat, but forget to add their own weight to that load.
This makes the boat unstable and causes the boat to flip leading to accidents. You should always check the weight of the ammunition and firearms, decoys, dog if any, safety gear and lastly your own weight. So it is always advisable to carry the minimum weight and better to take a lighter load to your boat during hunting.
3. Always Check The Local Weather Forecast & conditions:
Knowing the weather is very important. Always check for local weather conditions and weather predictions. If there are warnings of rough weather conditions avoid going on the trip. Rough weather has capsized many boats. If you have a weather warning wait for the weather to clear and then when it is calm and weather is good you can go on with your hunting.
4. Alcohol And Drugs Are A Strict No-no:
Hunting on a boat requires your 100% concentration and commitment. Alcohol use or drug use make you lose both. During a hunt, your reaction time is very less and you need to act in a split of a second, even if you have some boat emergency you need to think quickly
If you are drunk or high then this is not possible and you would end up with no hunt or a serious boat accident. Inebriated state puts in greater chances of drowning. Plus alcohol content in your blood makes your body lose more heat which increases your chances of getting hyperthermia in water.
5. Avoid Getting Fatigued:
Hunting, especially duck hunting on a boat is a very tiresome and demanding activity. You have to search for the best hunting spot, set up decoys and camps which take a lot of energy.
If you are using a manual boat then it is all the way more tiresome. This can make you fatigued, which is not a good thing in boat hunting. If you are fatigued it can diminish your judging and decision-making capabilities. Which can prove dangerous if some accidents happen? If you feel tired it is advisable to pack up and get some good rest.
6. Always Wear The Right Clothing While Boat Hunting:
The right clothing can save your life during boat hunting accidents. Most of the drowning accidents take place because people were wearing the wrong clothes, which during drowning reduced their buoyancy. Even very proficient swimmers drown if wearing wrong clothes during boat hunting.
7. Always Wear Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
This is an absolute must-have whenever you go on boat hunting. It is even a law to wear PFD in some states whenever going on boating. PFD is an excellent lifesaver during boating accidents and saved millions of lives. PFD should be worn correctly and it is a must-have in these situations:
When visibility is low
During bad weather
When boat hunting alone
In unfamiliar waters
When in an emergency situation
Make sure that everyone who accompanies you during a boat hunting expedition wears a PFD. The most common reason that people avoid PFD is that they believe that the PFD alerts prey like ducks. But this should be a reason to not wear it, as your life is precious.
8. Avoid Going Boat Hunting Alone:
Going to hunt on a boat alone is not safe. If you are caught up in an accident or problem there would be no one to help you. Boat hunting with a companion or group would mean that there are many sets of eyes to see any lurking danger or any weather threats. It is also fun to go with other people and it is always better to get more help during boat hunting.
9. Your Weight Should Be Along The Boat’s Centerline:
Whenever you use a boat for hunting, always make sure that the weight distribution is proper. Your weight and the weight of your gear should be well balanced. It should be distributed along the centerline.
One thing also to be taken care of during weight distribution is that you should always make sure that the bow is raised slightly.
Boat hunting is a great way to hunt. It is among the best in your hunting experiences, taking the vital precautionary measures is always advisable and is for the best of your safety. No one can really tell when catastrophe will strike. It is essential to start following these safety measures. Hunting on a motorized or manual boat is very not quite the same as hunting ashore. Any basic slip-ups can prompt the loss of lives. So being alert is the best thing for your