The Home from the Hunt™ campaign of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is reminding waterfowl hunters who use boats to practice both boating safety and hunting safety.
“Statistics show more waterfowl hunters die from hypothermia and drowning than gunshot wounds,” said Maj. Chris Huebner, the state boating safety coordinator. “Hypothermia is the loss of body heat and, left untreated, can prove fatal. Exposure to extreme cold, such as being in cold water or wearing wet clothes in cold conditions, can increase the chance of hypothermia.”
Wear protective clothing and watch the weather, he said. Let someone know where you are hunting and an approximate return time.
Additional boating safety tips include:
• Always wear a life vest.
• Don’t overload the boat, especially with passengers.
• Keep hunting dogs prone in the center of the boat.
• Never move about the boat with a loaded firearm.
In the event of capsizing or swamping, stay with the boat. It will provide some flotation and will be the initial focus of a rescue attempt, said Maj. Huebner.
Waterfowl hunters should handle shotguns in a safe manner. Be aware of muzzle direction at all times. Never shoot while standing in an unsecured boat.
To hunt waterfowl in North Carolina, individuals must possess various licenses, permits, stamps, and certifications. All first-time hunting license buyers must complete a Hunter Education Course, offered free across the state. Go to www.ncwildlife.org to consult the online version of the 2012-2013 N.C. Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest or call 919-707-0031 for more information.