Getting ready for Late Season Waterfowl-
A often overlooked aspect of duck hunting is the hazards involved and safety items that are must have for any serious duck hunter who operates boats in periods of darkness. During any break in the season spend some time to inventory and inspect the safety equipment on your vessel.
#1 WEARING YOUR LIFE JACKET WHEN OPERATING THE BOAT!
When operating your boat you should always where a life jacket of some type, one misplaced stump or awkward wave and you could end up in the drink wearing waders which is a situation most duck hunters don’t even want to think about.
#2 HAVE A FLOAT PLAN WITH A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND!
Have a detailed plan of the area you will be hunting and what time to expect you back. In case you don’t return in a reasonable time that individual can contact the Coast Guard or local emergency services to initiate a search or at least tell friends where to look for you.
#3 HAVE A EMERGENCY KIT ON YOUR BOAT!
Have a kit with food rations, flares, space blankets, first aid, hand warmers …etc. It might not be you that needs them, coming across a hunter in trouble/distress isn’t a everyday event but we are all out there together and you never know when someone might need your help.
#4 KNOW YOUR BOATS LIMITS, AND DON’T PUSH THEM.
Manufacturer information located on plates on the stern of most boats aren’t there for decoration. Manufacturers thoroughly test your boats safe operating limits and just because you have done it once with nothing bad happened doesn’t mean the next time in different conditions will be as fortunate. When hunting stretches of open water on calm days keep in mind winter weather can change very quickly and turn a river or bay from glass to a nightmare very quickly. And besides, most waterfowl hunters see bad weather days as a good day to be hunting migrating birds, increasing the chance for something to go wrong.
In conclusion it is always better to be prepared and have the right safety equipment than need it and not have it ready or in good condition. Using a life jacket properly will save your life when needed. Be safe and have fun.