Waterfowl hunters urged to wear life jacketsProperly-fitted life jackets should not be mistaken for comfortable seat cushions.
Properly-fitted life jackets should not be mistaken for comfortable seat cushions. Waterfowlers hunting from boats are implored to wear this important piece of hunting equipment, according to Nancy Boldt, North Dakota Game and Fish Department boat and water safety coordinator.
Fall weather in North Dakota can turn quickly. A gentle, but chilly boat ride before sunrise can turn into a white-knuckle return trip as 40 mile per hour winds toss a small duck boat – loaded with decoys, hunting gear and dogs – around like a toy.
“You get a small boat with a bunch of gear turned sideways and the trouble starts,” Boldt said. “Water temperatures in fall are extremely cold and sudden immersion can cause serious problems. Wearing a life jacket reduces the panic and allows a person time to evaluate the situation.”
Since 1998, eight hunters have drowned in North Dakota waters while hunting from a boat. None of the victims was wearing a life jacket.
“These accidents are preventable,” Boldt said. “We can’t urge hunters enough to wear life jackets. You can buy comfortable jackets with life jackets already built in.”
Boldt said a life jacket reduces the need to move in the water and insulates its owner. “If you go into the water without one, you’re struggling to do what a life jacket is designed to do,” she said.