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Duck Hunting season starts today. It often involves a combination of hunting and boating. It’s a great time to think about hunter safety. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds us that twelve hunters have drowned in boating accidents.

  • While planning a waterfowl hunt, don’t forget to check to be sure the boat is in good working condition, with enough gas for the trip and equipped with the proper personal flotation devices and other safety gear.
  • Make sure everyone on board has a properly fitted, Coast Guard approved, life vest or float coat.
  • Camouflage styles are available and some allow the wearer to shoot without removing the life vest.
  • Never stand in an unsecured boat to shoot.
  • Be aware of dogs, and other partners while in a boat.
  • Be extra careful with your gun. Similar to a blind, a boat is close quarters.
  • Put your unloaded shotgun in a secured case.

Minnesota law requires a readily accessible U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for every person on duck boats. Thirteen duck hunters have drowned in boating accidents since Minnesota made life jackets mandatory in 1988. Three to six per season died before the law. Camouflage colored life jackets are available for hunters.

“The lack of flotation devices is still one of the most common law violations among waterfowl hunters and the most common cause of duck hunter deaths,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. “It’s been that way ever since 1988, when life jackets were first required on duck boats.”

For boats 16-feet and longer, there must be one U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation seat cushion on board, to throw to someone in distress. Seat cushions are no longer approved as primary flotation devices. Everyone on the boat needs a wearable personal flotation device of the proper size and type.

The DNR discourages hunters from wearing hip boots or waders in the boat due to safety concerns. Hunters have drowned while trying to take their waders off after they have fallen into the water or their boat has capsized.

For all hunters, the Injuryboard members have provided gun safety and hunting tips in the past. For each hunt, it’s important that the supervising adult be vigilant concerning each young hunter, that every hunter be watch out for them self, for everyone to use their gun properly, and be safe.

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