As duck hunting season ramps up across the state, officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission urge waterfowl hunters to practice safety and to share best practices with someone new to hunting. The commission reported that of the 27 people who died boating on the water in 2020, 19 were not wearing a life vest.
“Boating incidents can occur in a split second, so it’s important to be prepared,” said Chet Clark, the Wildlife Commission’s recruitment, retention and reactivation manager. “Hunters using a vessel should wear a personal flotation device at all times, even before getting in the boat. Also, dress appropriately. Wear clothing made of wool or other synthetic materials instead of cotton to help prevent hypothermia.”
When on a vessel, it’s imperative to follow boating regulations and consider bringing a personal locater beacon and very high frequency marine radio. Boaters should keep navigational lights in operating condition.
The Wildlife Commission’s Home from the Hunt campaign recommends waterfowl hunters:
• Alert someone to your whereabouts and an approximate return time.
• Understand that small, flat-bottom vessels are prone to capsizing and swamping.
• Stay with the boat and use it as a floatation device if it capsizes or swamps.
• Keep hunting dogs in the center of your boat.
• Don’t overload the boat, especially with passengers.
• Store equipment properly and keep it evenly distributed.
• Never move about the boat with a loaded shotgun.
A great way for hunters to share their safety knowledge and love for the sport is to invite someone new to hunting to join them in an outing.
“Mentoring someone is a great way to pass along the rich tradition of waterfowl hunting in North Carolina,” Clark said. “The memories you create while sharing your knowledge with a new waterfowl hunter last a lifetime.”
The Wildlife Commission has set dates, bag limits and applicable regulations for the 2021-22 waterfowl seasons and implemented new duck zones separated by I-95. For additional information about waterfowl hunting, visit ncwildlife.org/hunting.