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

Studies have shown that boat hunters die mostly from water immersion rather than from gunshot wounds. This means that more than worrying about getting yourself a shot, you should be able to control, maneuver, and keep yourself inside the boat at all times during a fishing hunt. So before you set out with your fishing gear, we will try to discuss some tips on the best practices when hunting from a boat: What safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat? What are your must-haves on the boat? Are there rules to follow? And, how can you prevent your boat from sinking? It is important to keep yourself informed and educated to prevent accidents and tragedies to take place.

Are there laws I should know about before hunting from a boat?

It is generally legal to hunt from a boat. Depending on your location, rules and regulations may vary. It’s best to check this out from your locality. For instance, in California, a primary requirement during a boat hunt is that the boat should be shut off and set afloat, adrift, or anchored when hunting a deer from the boat down by the river. Additionally, you cannot shoot within 150 yards from private property, and within restricted areas. Hunting isn’t just like a normal boating trip. It can result in damages and can pose harm to others. This is why it’s important to know these rules and abide by them.

What if I can’t swim?

Knowing how to swim is very basic. Before you get close enough to the water, make sure you know how to swim just in case the boat sinks or you get thrown overboard. On the other hand, there is also what we call PFDs (Personal Floating Device) or jackets that are similarly a requirement by the US Coast Guard, and state boating laws. As a rule of thumb, there should be 1 PFD per person aboard. There should also be an available cushion or ring that can be thrown on the water.

There are different types of PFDs. Some of which are:

  • Type I PFD

This kind of PFD is an offshore life jacket. It is designed to keep the user buoyant especially in open water. The right kind will automatically turn an unconscious user face-up and has 22 pounds of buoyancy. This also can keep you afloat over long periods.

  • Type II PFD

Unlike the Type I PFD, this kind is a near-shore buoyant life jacket. It is available in different sizes that could fit both adults and children. This is designed for inland waters that normally requires quick rescue. And, unlike the Type I PFD, this is less bulky. However, not all kinds of Type II can automatically turn an unconscious user face-up.

  • Type III PFD

Type III PFDs are mere floating aids. It comes in several styles depending on the boating activity or watersport activity. Note that Type III is also suited only for calm waters. This type aren’t made to turn an unconscious user face-up.

  • Type IV PFD

Type IVs include boat cushions, ring buoys, and other similar devices. These kinds are not worn, and should be supplemented by a wearable type. It is not meant for children and non-swimmers. This also cannot turn its user face-up when used.

Choosing the right type of PFD or jacket means selecting the right fit. Adults and children have different sizes, which means you should have different ones available that would suit all the passengers. Moreover, there are also special jackets meant for pets like hunting dogs.

What is a float plan?

A float plan is essential to leave behind with those who are not taking part in the boat hunt. This contains details on your trip such as the following:

      • Reason of the boat trip
      • Time of departure
      • Time of arrival
      • Number of people on-board

When thinking about what safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat, this is particularly important so that people off-shore would know if something goes wrong, and could get you the necessary help when needed.

What do we need to bring during a hunt?

Boats generally have their respective weight capacity. Anything that isn’t important or necessary should be left behind. Here are the things that you should have on-board during a boating hunt:

  • US Coast Guard safety gear
  • Legal documents for the boat and captain
  • Anchor and rode
  • Tools set
  • Fuel
  • Food
  • Water
  • Firearms and ammunition
  • First aid kit
  • Radio or other communication devices
  • GPS

As responsible hunters, you should bear in mind that some possible dangers and accidents could happen during a hunting trip. This is why you should always come prepared. The gears, for instance, are the most basic that you can’t afford to miss. It’s always important to put everyone’s safety the first priority.

What precautionary measures should I take when hunting with a buddy?

Although many do hunting alone, hunting with a buddy takes extra precautionary measures such as the following:

  • Sit back to back
  • Set a designated firing zone for each one
  • Be sensitive to each other’s movements

The ultimate goal here is keeping your boat stable. Similarly, it is also of utmost importance to know your boat. By doing so, you would know how to evenly distribute the weight, know the strengths and weaknesses of your vessel, and take the necessary measures to keep everything in place. Movement is very important once you’re on a floating vessel. Anything that would cause imbalance can potentially throw everybody aboard.

How do we avoid capsizing?

Among other things, here are some basic tips that would help you avoid sinking or capsizing:

  • Be wary. Small boats and boats with flat bottoms have higher chances of sinking because it is prone to become unbalanced.
  • Always remember to distribute all weight (whether from people or things) equally and evenly.
  • Never overload the boat. Know its limits.
  • If you decide to bring a hunting dog, ensure that you can control the dog while on the boat. Best to have the dog lay down in the center of the boat.


According to statistics, 633 people have died in boating accidents, while 2,511 are left injured in 2018 in the United States alone. A survey from Statistica would show that recreational or professional boating activities should always be taken seriously. If you have very little protection, you’re merely increasing the chances of accidents taking place.

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