What Safety Precautions Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat? [10 Safety Measures]


what safety precautions should you take when hunting from a boat

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Being a hunter, have you ever planned to use a boat for hunting? If no, hopefully, after reading this article you‘ll never stop yourself from doing so! Perhaps nothing is more exciting like spending the day on the boat with hunting buddies. It would be hunting as well as a boating trip.

What you need to consider before leaving the dock? Just be sure, safety should be the foremost focus!

What safety precautions should you take when hunting from a boat? While hunting from the boat you need to be more cautious. You should wear a life jacket all the time, fill up the float plan, pack less stuff, ready to handle capsizing, and be weather-wise. You should get full knowledge about boating, swimming, and hunting rules prior to leaving the shore.

In northern Idaho, many boating accidents are recorded almost every year including duck hunters. One of the most common mistakes they often make is overloading the boat with unnecessary equipment.

Keep reading to know more risk factors!

Why Hunting From A Boat Can Be Risky

If you are a hunter then why to restrict yourself to land? Of course, passionate hunters would love to hunt in water, skies, and lands. Why’ not accept the challenge of hunting from the boat? Before you go on, don’t forget to know the risk factors associated with this type of hunting.

Compared to hunting on land, hunting from a boat is at the same time funny as well as a challenging task.

Below is the list of possible risk factors associated with boating:

Falling From Boat Injury

About 75% of accidents while hunting from the boat are the result of slipping or falling down from the boat. Sometimes boaters might hit their head on the boat after slipping. Hunting boats are very light and usually unstable. When the hunters stand up to take a shot or aim, the boat may lose balance and he may fall.

Cold Water Trauma

Aquatic hunting is common in areas where the weather is mostly cold like Canada, the Uk, and some parts of the USA. Wintertime is mostly very long here. Unluckily, if a hunter falls in cold water, he may catch hypothermia. Such icy water can even cause the death of boaters as they can’t swim well due to involuntary inhalation. The chances of the drowning of even expert swimmers are quite high during cold water shocks. So, beware of this fact and note down the temperature of water carefully if you still plan to hunt in freezing waters.

Unbalance Boat Factor

Hunters often use lightweight boats and paddle crafts to reach out to hunting areas silently. They would never prefer motorboats as they create noise and can drive the prey away from hunters. Keeping balance in such boats while in a stand- up position is a herculean task. You need to do practice before starting this journey. Many accidents happen during hunting when hunters fail to maintain balance while taking shots or chasing animals.

Capsizing Of Boat 

This risk factor is the result of ignorance of boating rules and education. Sometimes hunters take too much stuff or even riders to accompany them in the boat. As a result, boats capsize or turn over anywhere in the water. A responsible hunter will always fill the boat according to its requirement. Smart hunting stuff is always good to avoid capsizing.

Animal Attack

In the case of fishing in deep seas, there is a higher risk of a shark attack. So, keep this factor in your mind and never set out for fishing if your body is bleeding. Sharks can smell human blood from far off distance and can attack you. Keep a safe distance if there are bigger animals like sharks and alligators near your hunting areas. Ask the local people around the habitat of marine life near hunting grounds.

10 Safety Measures While Hunting From A Boat

No matter how much hunting skills do you have, it’s always a good idea to review safety rules and practices before leaving the dock. From must-have safety gears to how to operate a boat safely, check out the details of 10 measures below:

Fill Up the Float Plan

Guys, don’t start your adventure without filling the float plan! This is actually a document that will ensure your safety. You should fill this every time when you plan to go on the boat. In this way, you can get immediate help in case of any mishap 

This float plan includes information like:

  • Purpose of having boat adventure
  • Number of persons onboard
  • Description of Boat
  • Departure time
  • Expected arrival time
  • Description of route 

If there is a coast guard service near rivers, it would be ideal to handover this paper to them. If you are planning to go too far in rural areas, then it would be better to leave this paper to your friend or fellow. This man would be responsible to call emergency help if you don’t arrive on time.

Pack Smartly For Safe Ride

Boaters often make this mistake. They pack their vessel with unnecessary luggage. As a result, it may capsize. For this reason, it is necessary to make wise decisions about essentials.

You smart pack should include the following accessories:

Overloading can be dangerous. If you are planning to go into the deep waters like the sea, take a direction compass with you also.

Put On Life Jackets 

Before you leave on, put on a life jacket. Ask your mate to get one for himself. Life Jacket would act as a protective guard to save your life whether you know swimming or not. It will not only save you from drowning but also protect your chest from any injury.

Suppose, if you fall from the boat, a life jacket will cover your chest and upper body or ribs from any harm. If you’re going with your pet, don’t forget to buy a pet life jacket. Your dog can also drown or suffer from cold water shock. This jacket will help him to swim fast and get out of the water quickly.

Get Extensive Knowledge Related to Boating & Swimming

Don’t try hunting from the boat if you can’t operate a boat or can’t swim well. A water jacket will only keep you above the surface of the water. Swimming skills will actually save your life.  You may have to encounter any unexpected situation. To handle these, you must have extensive knowledge as well as skills. 

Along with skills, you must have practice or experience of operating boats. Never set on long routes if you are not much experienced.

Know your boat well before you set on it. You should be well aware of its repair and maintenance. Below are pictures of popular hunting boats:

Names of hunting BoatsImages
Sneak BoatsWhat Safety Precautions Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat? [10 Safety Measures]
Flat Bottomed BoatsWhat Safety Precautions Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat? [10 Safety Measures]
PuntsWhat Safety Precautions Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat? [10 Safety Measures]
CanoesWhat Safety Precautions Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat? [10 Safety Measures]

Do Research about Hunting Areas

Search, search, and search! This will make your hunting adventure successful. Pack yourself with all relative knowledge. You can google your target spot. You can check local records. You can consult other hunters about their favorite hunting area. 

Your research should include the following points:

  • Check the area where you are planning to go is legal for hunting
  • Learn more about the presence of aggressive animals near your route
  • Get proper knowledge about water depth and other marine creatures
  • Talk to  local wildlife experts about possible risks

Dress Up Properly 

Your hunting costume should be light, simple, and easy to dry. Always keep the weather factor in your mind while dressing.

Don’t forget to bring a raincoat if rainfall is expected in the weather forecast. One thing more, take extra clothing in your backpack. If you fall in cold water you will have to change your clothes to keep yourself warm. 

Your shoes should be waterproof. It would be good to put on waterproof socks. In case of extremely cold water, get these snow rainproof shoe cover and make your adventure a safe journey full of fun. Dunlop Boots with safety steel toes are one of the best choices for boaters as they are waterproof and less slippery in water.

Check Weather Forecast

Guys dont forget to check the weather forecast for two upcoming days at least before leaving. If rainfall is expected, never set off for this journey. Hunting boats are open and exposed to weather conditions. If it rains, the visibility of prey will decrease. You will have to return without taking any shot. Rainwater can destroy your ammo and other accessories if not kept in a waterproof bag. Nowadays the weather forecast system is very advanced, get the help of it. Plan your journey when the sky is clear. If you find clouds after you are in the middle of your adventure, it would be best for you to come back before clouds roll in. Follow the instructions below

Don’t start your expedition when it’s lightning or thunderclaps.

To know the distance of the storm divide the seconds between lightning and thunderclaps to five. The resulting number will be the distance of a thunderstorm from your location in miles. In this way, you can predict how many miles a storm is away from you without any device.

Set Clear goals

Hunters or boaters clear up your mind! You should have set goals about when to start and when to end. Never sit in a boat with an empty mind. Plan your journey well before stepping in the vessel. Your plan should include:

  • What will you hunt
  • How much prey will you bring at home
  • From where you will start
  • At what time you will approach hunting areas.
  • What type of ammo you will use
  • Trace out your expected route through the map

Editor  Note: Don’t go near drugs and alcohol. These things will disturb your energy level as well as decision power.

Control Your Movement in boat

We know that one-third of accidents are due to losing balance while standing in the boat. To ride and shot safely, here are few tips are given below:

  • Never take a shot before anchoring the boat
  • Standing in a boat can be dangerous. While standing or taking a position keep your full focus on your balance.
  • If you lose control, stay calm and ask your mate to help out.
  • Don’t set out for hunting alone. For small boats, two hunters can ride easily.
  • Take aim at your target animal whilst you are sitting. Standing position may result in off-balancing and overturning of the boat
  • Don’t try to walk in a boat from one side to another. Restrict your movement inside the boat as much as possible.
  • Response immediately in case of falling and injury. Try to catch the boat again. If you remain in the water for a long time, animals in the water can attack you.
  • Tie your luggage or ammo kit tightly to the boat to avoid losing them during capsizing

Be mentally Prepare to handle any Situation

Hunting in the aquatic environment is full of challenges. You should be well aware of risk factors and the ways to handle unexpected situations. For example, your mind should be fully aware on how to respond when it rains heavily. Similarly, what should be your response when you encounter wildlife attacks?

  • How will you behave when you fall from the boat? 
  • What would be your response to injury?
  • What will you do if you lost your way?
  • If you set off at night what would be your strategy.

All this is a game of mind. You should discuss the above queries with your hunting mate before starting this adventure.

Editor Tip: Sleep well and then set off for boating. It can be a tiring journey. So, go with a fresh mind after a good sleep.

safety precautions when hunting from a boat

How to avoid Capsizing or Swamping your boat

Capsizing occurs when the boat is turned more towards one side. There are three main reasons for unstable boats such as overloading, unbalanced crew, and water leakage. To avoid this, follow the tips below:

  • Don’t overload your boat with hunting stuff or ammos
  • In case of overloading, distribute weight evenly to both sides in order to stop capsizing
  • If you are taking a hunting dog with you, make sure your dog should be well trained to behave peacefully.
  • Don’t let your dog walk along the sides or edges of the boat. The ideal position of the dog will be to sit at the center.
  • Don’t take more than one fellow hunter with you. Hunting boats are very small and can’t tolerate more weight.

How to Shoot Safely from Boat

You need to be more cautious while shooting from a boat. Any slight mistake can make you guilty of killing your fellow hunter. If two hunters are there in the boat, take all safety measures before aiming at your target.

Below are few tips for safe shooting on the boat:

  • Never take a position when the boat is moving. Always anchor the boat and then take aim.
  • Don’t sit side by side. The right position for sitting two hunting buddies is always to sit back by back. One is facing the bow and the other is facing the rear. It is a must to do a step to avoid injury from ammo or firearms.
  • One hunter should hunt at a time. Others should stay calm. If both hunters take aim at the same time, the boat would get off balance, resulting in capsizing. You will have to end up catching a boat again after swimming.

How should firearms be transported through the boat?

Hunting buddies, be careful while loading or unloading firearms through the boat!  Make sure, guns should be put without any bullet or shot. Always load unloaded or empty firearms. Below are few safety measures to transport firearms through vessels:

  • Keep your bows or guns inside the cover. If you go on with a waterproof gun or bow covers, you can protect your ammo from water damage.
  • The position of the muzzle should be pointing forward into the bow.
  •  In the case of two hunters or two guns, the first gun should be pointing forward. While other hunters should keep the gun muzzle facing the rear side. Directions of both hunters as well as guns should be opposite to keep balance
  • While unloading, the first hunter should unload firearms at first at the shore or riverside. The second hunter should then unload the firearm when the first one is done. 

To ensure safety, you should not neglect even minor steps.

How should duck hunters dress when hunting from a boat?

Hunting boats are typically flat at the bottom side. So, you should wear life jackets all the time. One can easily slip from such boats. That’s why you ask your fellow hunter to wear life jackets. If you are taking your dog then don’t forget to buy a pet life jacket for your furry friend. Your dress should be comfortable and easy to dry. A hunting suit is a good option. In cold areas, you can take raincoats with you. T-Shirts with soft trousers can be a good hunting dress if you can’t hunting suit.

Read our best choke for duck hunting guides from here.

What should you do before letting someone else operate your boat?

Suppose there comes a moment when you want to enjoy hunting yourself while boating. Obviously, you can’t hunt and operate boats at the same time. You will have to handover your boat to someone else to catch fish or to hold your firearm or take a shot.

Read  on the points below to know what to consider before letting someone else operate your boat:

  • Make sure your chosen person should meet the minimum age requirement necessary for operating boats safely
  • Make sure the person who will operate the boat should have some education about boating techniques
  • Make sure the person should have basic knowledge of safety and emergency response skills in case of an animal attack or unfair weather.
  • Make sure, the person should know the swimming 
  • Make sure the person know the repair and maintenance of the boat

 Rules of Hunting From Boats 

When it comes to hunting from a boat, many anglers or hunters use small boats, sneakers, puns, and even motorboats. For marine life hunting, flat bottomed boats are preferred. Hunting rules vary from area to area. In developed countries, where hunting of aquatic life is legal you will see a board with set rules marked on it near hunting grounds.

Below are a few rules of thumbs for hunting from boats:

  1. For motorboats, you can’t go beyond the speed limit of 5 knots on waterways. However, boating in dams, lakes, and swaps is restricted.
  2. If you are operating a boat with an engine, you should have a boating license. To get this license, you will have to pass out the basic boating education online quiz test.

 12 Safety Requirements for Boaters

After passing an objective test on boating educating, you have to guarantee 12 safety requirements. Otherwise, boating authorities can cancel your license.

  1. Make sure your age meet the given requirement
  2. You must understand all parts of your boat well
  3. Avoid sleeplessness or fatigue.
  4. Stay away from drugs or alcohol during boating or even before boating
  5. Don’t overload your vessel.
  6. Put on the right clothing.
  7. Don’t step in a hunting boat if you can’t swim well in deep waters.
  8. Don’t forget to wear a life-saving Jacket 
  9. Never hunt alone, always take a hunting buddy with you.
  10. In case of an unexpected situation, you must have a safety plan.
  11. Set your hunting gears before paddling the boat.
  12. Shoot according to the instruction given above.

Last Words

To summarize, I would say hunting from a boat can be fun if you keep the safety factor at the top priority. During the first attempt, it would be really a journey of error or omission. But with time, you will learn the tricks of successful hunting in the aquatic environment. Your experience matters a lot. 

But keep this in your mind if you are a successful land hunter, you may not be successful while hunting from the boat. Land hunting is just a game of shooting and aiming animals and choosing the right weapon or gears. However, hunting from a boat needs high-level balance skills and nerve control. Though it’s more enjoyable than hunting on land. There will be more adventure after each shot.

Hunting buddies, don’t restrict yourself to land! Thanks for reading our comprehensive note on safety measures. Stay Safe, Stay Happy!

Roland Carroll

Hi, This is Roland. I love Hunting and it's my hobby. I love to share my hunting experience in this blog. Keep reading all the articles here and let me know what do you think about this site.

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