Waterfowlers hunting from boats are urged to wear properly-fitted life jackets while on the water.
Nancy Boldt, boat and water safety coordinator for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said eight people have drowned in state waters since 1998 while hunting from a boat, and all were without life jackets.
“Sadly you hear the same thing – they are too bulky, it prohibits me from freely swinging my shotgun,” Boldt said. “There are no excuses anymore. You can buy comfortable hunting jackets with life jackets already built in.”
Capsizing and falling overboard from small boats are the most common types of fatal boating accidents for hunters. “Usually there is another hunter or two, plus dogs, decoys and other gear in the boat,” Boldt said. “An overloaded boat can quickly become unbalanced.”
In addition, wearing a life jacket will not only keep the overboard hunter afloat, but also help him or her to slow the loss of critical body heat caused by exposure to cold water.
“Water temperatures in the fall are extremely cold, and sudden immersion can cause problems ranging from hyperventilation to heart attacks,” Boldt said. “Wearing a life jacket reduces the panic and allows a person time to evaluate the situation.”