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Hunting and Fishing

Some fishers and hunters don't think of themselves as boaters and don't pay much attention to learning and observing boating safety rules. According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, approximately one-third of national boating fatalities occurred while people were fishing from a boat. Likewise, more hunters die each year from drowning and the effects of hypothermia than from gunshot wounds.

Many water-based hunting and fishing accidents occur when a hunter reaches for a decoy or handles his dog, when the boat capsizes from an unbalanced load, or when a person falls overboard while standing up. The best way to keep your boat stable is to keep your body weight low and your gear distributed evenly. As always, the best way to prevent most fatalities is to wear your PFD.

Chest Waders

Wearing chest waders is a problem if your boat capsizes, because their added weight when filled with water can make rescue impossible. To keep them from filling with water, wear a belt around your waist. If you fall overboard while wearing chest waders, to prevent hypothermia, trap air by bending your knees and raising your feet. Then lie back in the water and let your PFD support you.

Firearms Safety

When putting hunting gear in your boat, keep the load balanced. Stow any loaded firearm with its safety on and the muzzle pointed outboard. Keep the firearms unloaded and cased in your boat after dark. If you are shooting from the boat, avoid shooting across the path of another shooter. Never shoot an animal or fish that is lying in the boat, because the bullet can penetrate the hull and sink the boat. As obvious as this sounds, cases have been reported where fishermen have brought a shark on board a small boat and when the shark began flopping around, the fisherman shot the fish causing the boat to sink with a dead shark bleeding into the water.

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