What Safety Precaution Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat?

What safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat? As you are already aware, you’ll always be surrounded by water when hunting from a boat, which means things can turn tragic in a moment’s notice.

Hunting in water increases the risk of drowning, more so if there is an abrupt change in water currents. For this reason, the rules that are applicable to hunting in water are poles apart from those that are applicable to hunting on land.  

What safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat?

That’s exactly where this guide comes into the equation.

Learning how to stay safe when hunting from a boat is a sure-fire way to enjoy your hunting and come out of the water in one peace. This guide delves on the safety precautions when hunting from a boat in three categories:

  • Personal safety
  • Proper equipment
  • Understanding the laws and rules governing hunting in water

Now, let’s cut to the chase and see each of these categories individually. Shall we?

Personal Safety

1. Learn how to swim

Learning how to swim is the first safety precaution you need to take before partaking in any activity near a water body. This is the very first thing you should do before you even think of getting into the boat.

Swimming skills play a crucial role in saving your life and that of your buddies if something was to go awry amid the hunting spree. For instance, in case your boat capsizes during hunting, you will be able to swim to safety and out of harm’s way.

Also, note that it’s recommendable to train your dog how to swim whether or not you are hunting from a boat. Your dog may be good at hunting on land, but never assume that it will compose itself while in water.

Some dogs do freak, chum. And when that happens, your boat is almost 90% likely to capsize!

To avoid a situation like this, train your hunting dog to swim gradually, starting with shallow waters and eventually deep waters. Also, make sure your dog is worth its salt in following commands. For extra safety, put your dog in a floating gear.

2. Take a boat safety course

Another key safety precaution you should take when hunting from a boat is to take a boat safety course. This is especially necessary if you are still new to hunting from a boat. The course will help you familiarize yourself with the proper handling of your watercrafts.

Your hunting from a boat can only be a success if you understand the safety precautions relevant to your planned activity.

3. File a boating plan

What would happen in the regrettable event that your boat capsizes during hunting?  A capsized boat makes for a true scenario involving life and death.

Filing a boat plan with friends and family is equally a vital safety precaution you should take when hunting from a boat. If anything was to go askew on you hunting trip, someone will know your location and offer assistance when required to or inform the authority.

So, let someone know the time you are leaving for your trip, when you expect to return, and the exact location.

As a respectable hunter, you wouldn’t want a situation where you are causing distress to your family and friends. Would you? So stay within the boundaries so you can get proper assistance in the event of an unfortunate mishap.

4. Check the weather

Another useful safety precaution you need to take when hunting from a boat is checking the weather. Boating in stormy or windy weather has never been a good idea.  Consult your state’s meteorology department to ensure the weather is favorable for hunting activities in water.

If the weather is bad, it is better to postpone the activity until further notice. Poor weather conditions can cause low visibility in lough water, thus increasing dangers of hunting.

Never judge the weather by how it looks in the early morning, because it can easily go wobbly later in the day, and you will have yourself to blame if something was to go wrong. Thanks to the modern technology, meteorologists have been able to forecast and report correct weather figures.

Sailing in an unfamiliar territory is not a good idea either. And if you have to, then be guided by someone with a stronger experience of the region.

5. Wear PFD (life jackets)

Wearing a PFD or a lifesaver jacket is undoubtedly the most significant safety precaution when hunting from a boat. This is actually the most important of all other safety precautions. And if all else fails, make sure to stick to this particular safety precaution.

Wearing a PFD or a lifesaver jacket

 Everyone who enjoys hunting in water must seriously consider this safety precaution before partaking in any hunting activity in a water body. A personal floating device (PFD) is a piece of clothing that can save your life in case of an accident while in water.

For better results, wear a lifesaver jacket always, even if it is hot. And make sure the straps are properly tied to your body.

Modern technology has resulted in PFDs with different designs. These include non-invasive, non-movement–restricting, and even camouflage life jackets.

Camouflage options are recommendable because they allow you, the hunter, to blend well into your surroundings. Generally speaking, wear life jackets and steer clear of donning many cloths when you go out to hunt in water. Many cloths won’t prevent you from drowning.

6. Dress appropriately

Another crucial safety precaution you should take while hunting from a boat is to dress up properly. Wear waterproof cloths beneath the life jacket to protect your body from the wrath of cold. 

Waterproof cloths are helpful in preventing water shock. These clothing tend to warm up easily after falling in icy cold water or in a cold weather.

Life jackets also prove handy in the event of an accident as they provide up-thrust to keep you afloat. It is imperative to dress well before setting out to hunt in water, because the last thing you want to happen to you is a cold water shock.

7. Avoid alcohol or recreational drugs

Try as much as possible to avoid alcohol or recreational drugs when you are going out to hunt from a boat. But why, you ask?

The influence of alcohol and recreational drugs tend to inhibit clear logic leading to an impulsive behavior. This can be a good recipe for accidents in the water.

Use Proper Equipment

Before you set out for hunting from a boat, it is good to make sure that you have the proper and functional gear for that activity.  Some of the gears include:

1. Vessel

Do not use a vessel whose condition you are unsure of. Before using any gear, it is advisable to conduct a test-run close to the shore to ensure that everything is operational. If the boat is letting in water, don’t use it before it gets repaired.

Vessels with a length of 20ft and below have a standard weight capacity.  Ensure that the weight of the people and other supplies is lower than the boat’s maximum weight requirement. The weight should be evenly distributed, too.

Use Proper Equipment

2. Firearm

Carrying a loaded firearm in a moving watercraft is not only dangerous but also illegal in most states in the US. A firearm can discharge at any given time, and the consequences can be catastrophic.

Keep the firearm unloaded and stored out of way, preferably in a case. Never load it until you get to your destination where you anchor the vessel.

When shooting – either from a firearm or from a bow and arrow – the rule should always apply.  Try not to fire up when the boat is not anchored correctly.

Get seated properly and turn off the boat’s engine prior to firing. This prevents the boat from turning, which might cause you to drop off and possibly drown.

3. Pack smart

No one knows what’s going to happen in water; you may make a safe trip or get stranded. Therefore, one of the safety precautions for hunting from a boat advises that you always carry an emergency kit.

Put the kit in a safe waterproof bag to prevent it from getting damaged. You may also include additional essentials in your kit, such as food, warm drinking water, fully charged communications device, cloths, fire starting kit, and flashing light.

 4. Know the rules

To make your hunting and boating enjoyable, you will need to know the safety precautions surrounding hunting and boating in your state.  Hunters without permits or licenses are not allowed to hunt in many states.

Even if you are a group of people who want to go out to hunt, each one of you should be having a hunting permit. It’s actually mandatory in many regions.

The time of the year and the number of animals being hunted determine the suitability for hunting. Before going out for hunting, it is worth getting the accurate info from the concerned authorities. This is in addition to having a boat permit, gun license, and hunting permit.

What is a Recommended Safety Precaution while fishing or Hunting?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has been advising hunters on the medical risks involved in handling wildlife without taking the necessary safety precautions.

The advice is by no means a way of discouraging people not to hunt, but to inform them about the risks they face when handling their harvest and ways of keeping safe.

What is a Recommended Safety Precaution while fishing or Hunting

Hunters and their dogs can be exposed to contagious diseases from infected animals, insects, contaminated soils, and even water.  Infections can occur through transmission from infected animals to humans or contact with contaminated surfaces or water.

Ingesting animals’ products such as meat and milk can also cause infection. Other notorious culprits are insect vectors like mosquitoes, ticks, flies, fleas etc.

To avoid the transmission of diseases from sick animals, hunters and fishermen are encouraged to observe certain safety protocols while carrying out their activities. So, which of the following is a recommended safety precaution while fishing or hunting? Read on to find out.

  • Avoid going out to hunt or fish if you are feeling unwell.  Sick people are more prone to diseases for their immune system is weak and compromised.
  • Do not shoot or handle animals that act abnormally or appear to be sick. Instead, contact the game and fish department of your state.
  • Do not consume any product of animals that test positive for a disease. They should be disposed of carefully by burying them.
  • Avoid consuming the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph of the animals you have harvested.
  • If you harvest your animal and find any old wound and especially presence of puss, meat from that large area of the puss pocket should be discarded. The area surrounding the wound can still harbor infections.
  • Large animals should be killed by shooting the vital organ. This will ensure a clean and humane kill shot. Avoid shooting the abdomen to minimize the intestine contents contaminating the meat.
  • Hunters should always make sure they are seated before firing a shot. This will help them to brace themselves for the gun’s recoil. Standing up increases the center of gravity, making you unstable and prone to falling.
  • Keep your weight at the center of the boat and avoid leaning too far over the side of the boat when retrieving your harvest.
  • Immediately after handling the wild game or fish, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizers.
  • After work, wash the tools and the working surfaces with soap and water and disinfect them. These surfaces include tables and cutting boards.
  • Wild meat should be cooked until the juice runs clear and the meat is no longer pink in color. The color of the meat is not always an indicator of the meat being cooked. Thus, when you cook the meat until it turns pink, it will reduce the risk of food-borne diseases. Birds should be allowed to cook to an internal temperature of 73.9 C or higher to make sure parasites and organisms are killed and are no longer infectious.  
  • Any uncooked game or fish should be stored on the bottom shelve of the refrigerator to hinder blood from dripping into other foodstuff. If you don’t want to store it, dispose it of properly.

Following these rules and regulations is imperative as it makes your hunting trip as safe and productive as possible. Everyone who enjoys boat hunting must adhere to these considerations to prevent accidents from occurring.

According to a research conducted by U.S. Coast Guard, an average of 35 major boating accidents is reported each year resulting in at least 14 deaths. Out of these, 84% of the cases are due to victims not wearing lifejackets or PFD (personal floating devices) while 80% of the cases result from drowning.

Apparently, these numbers are on the higher end of the spectrum. So why are these numbers so high?

Well, the reason is not complicated. What informs these high numbers is the fact that two simultaneous activities take place when hunting from a boat. The two activities are boating and hunting, both of which compound the risk of accidents.

To truncate these numbers, we need to follow the set-out safety precautions for hunting or fishing, never straying away from any guideline. This is the only way to get a rewarding hunting experience, and to meet our friends and family safe and sound thereafter.


Hunting is and remains one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities we have today. But, like we’ve just seen, it comes with its fair share of responsibilities. As an enthusiastic hunter or fisherman, you need to follow these rules to the T to avoid accidents or conflict with authorities.

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