What Safety Precaution Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat?

Are you planning to go for a hunt with boats or explore the water game world? Hunting from small boats and vessels is a common way to hunt ducks and other small games. However, out of 79% of boat accident victims, 86% have no life jacket on them. This study alone suggests that boat hunting safety rules are worth knowing. Hence, swamping, capsizing, or getting your vessel out of control can be issues if you don’t know the rules.

So, what safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat? You must know how to swim, wear a life jacket, have proper gear and clothing alongside understanding the basics of boat hunting. On top of that, you must get a proper boating safety education before you get into the water.

What Is The Law On Hunting From A Boat?

Going on a boat hunt can be overwhelming, and nothing wrong with that. However, never forget to comply with the local federal law regarding boat hunting. Different states have regulated their area with different laws associating different types of hunting boats.

For example, you cannot shoot from a running boat in Maine when in forward motion. On the contrary, leg amputees and paraplegics can shoot from a motor vehicle. Go to the website of the state you’re going to hunt in and be sure that you’re compliant with the law.

You may also need to be above a certain age (18, commonly) to hunt, and need special permission as well. Alongside that, there should be a concealed weapon permit under your name as well as a compliant motor vessel.

What Are The Risks Of Hunting From A Boat?

Unlike hunting on land, using boats to do the job includes a ton more risks, even life risks. If you don’t take good precautions prior to the trip, you could put yourself in imminent danger. Let’s discuss some key safety precaution and most common risks associated with hunting from a boat:

Risks Of Hunting From A Boat

  • Swamping: Swamping is a common risk that you should be aware of. When you’re heading out for the boat trip, be sure to double check for any holes or damages to the boat.
  • Capsizing: Capsizing happens mostly because of over boarding people, food, and hunting gear. Besides, if you don’t anchor your boat, or at least stop and settle it before taking a shot, it may cause this issue.
  • Accidents: Common accidents associating hunting with boats may include falling off the boat. Around 38% of deaths that include this kind of boat accident happen because of a propeller encounter.
  • Predators: This risk is just like hunting on the land, where you have to stay safe from predator animals. If your hunting boat doesn’t have the right size for the water, hazards can happen. If you go offshore hunting with a small kayak, that’s not justifiable.

What Safety Precaution Should You Take When Hunting From A Boat?

When you’re into the game, you must know the ins and outs of it with proper safety precautions. If you’re getting ready for your trip, here are what safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat: 

Learn to swim first

Learn to swim This is predominantly the first step to get into any water related activities, including hunting with a boat. If you don’t know how to swim, you’re not ready to get into the water with your boar for the hunt. Learn to swim and learn it well where you can swim for an extra long time as a safety plan. It will enhance the chances of your survival in case of any accident in your boat hunting trip. Swimming also helps to get out from a capsized boat and the cold water body.

Choose the right vessel

Choose the right vessel

Since you’re getting into the water for hunting, the vessel you’re choosing has to be capable of handling such situations. The hunting vessel can be a personal watercraft that occupies the least of the practiced options by hunters. Kayaks would be in second position with a 14% stake in it, leaving the majority for motorboats. A motorboat is the most popular option (48%) for water vessels for hunting.

Familiarize with safety rules

Over 70% of deaths from boat accidents happen only because of a lack of safety instructions. Follow the safety rules to avoid major safety hazards while in the hunt with a boat. If you’re not driving yourself, be sure that the driver is well aware of all kinds of potential hazards in the hunt. Make sure you have all the papers after permission, depending on where you’re hunting.

Know the weather

Checking the weather is a major task when you’re packing for the trip. Gather the most recent weather updates, and the stormy weather forecast from a reliable source. Never rely on the weather by how it looks at the moment because it can get bad at any moment. If the weather is bad or uncertain, it’s better not to head out for a boat trip. Don’t go out in excessive cold water, windy weather, not even with extra precautions.

Take PFD and safety equipment & Dress

Personal Floatation device (PFD), vessel/kayaking dresses, and other safety equipment for hunting with boats are necessary for such situations. You must put on a floating device of any kind alongside an appropriate hat and so on.

Make sure the color of your dresses are traceable and have reflective straps. Have a siren on the PFD and other tools with you like knife, rope, a waterproof jacket. Plus, have a communication device like a handheld radio for an unexpected situation.

Be in shape before you go

It’s the basic rule of hunting, not just with boats, but in general that you must be in shape for harsh conditions. You might get into sea sickness, just like acute mountain sickness from elk or deer hunting. Duck hunting from a boat won’t cut the excuse of not being in shape, either. You must get in shape to endure heavy calamities before heading for the hunt.

Take adequate dry food with you

No matter where you’re going for the game, with whichever conveyance, you must take food and water with you. Calculate your meal times, your protein demand, and how long you’re staying out. Take dry food and bottled drinking water with you to stay hydrated and not to suffer from hunger. Despite the fact that there might be water to drink out there, you must take the water along.

Don’t overload the boat

boat length and number of people

If multiple people are coming abroad on a boat, know how large the boat is and how much it pulls. Never do a guess work in this step, and be extra cautious to have less weight on the boat than suggested. For example, a 10 feet boat can handle about 500 lbs, including 2 man and hunting gear.  Make sure not to exceed 450 lbs, just to be sure. Have a look at this approximate chart for weight management.

Fire only when it’s time

Okay, enough for the rules beforehand, let’s talk about the hunt itself. If you’re hunting small to medium games, it’s easier to gain control of things for boat safety. But if you’re hunting for big games, you have to take the control to have it.

Remember this very well, you never shoot before it’s time. You’re good to shoot only when you have your boat stopped, anchored, and steady on the water. Some states even have laws to prevent shooting at animals while a vessel is moving forward.

Know the hunting good practices

Hunting is not just shooting, and eating an animal regardless of how you find or kill it. There are bad practices in it, then there are good practices to follow. Here are some basic rules to remember if you want to keep things safe:

Know the hunting good practices

  • Know when it’s allowed to hunt in a particular area and when you have the best chances.
  • Don’t eat the spinal cord of the animal alongside its lymph, eyes, tonsils, spleen.
  • Don’t eat an animal that was deeply wounded before you hunted it.
  • Shoot the animal only on the vital organ like lung or heart, especially for large games.
  • Prone or sit in a stable position before you shoot an animal, or you may miss it.
  • Once you have processed an animal after a successful kill, clean the tools thoroughly.
  • Cook the animal well before eating it, especially for fish and meat, until no sign of pink.
  • Never underestimate rough weather, use flat-bottomed boats only on shallow water.
  • Carry a valid hunting license and the other papers you may need to show if demanded.
  • Be sure your hunting buddy can swim in deep waters to reduce the risk of drowning.
  • Stay out of influence of alcohol and know the laws on boat hunting
  • Keep your loaded firearm on safety mode until it’s time to fire.

When Hunting From A Boat, What Is The Best Way To Maintain Boat Stability?

Choosing the hunting season is a crucial factor to consider when it comes to hunting on a boat. November to January is the sweetest time for duck hunting in most of the USA as well as Canada. It’s almost the same season if you’re up to deer hunting from a boat or other deer species.


Different regions may have different duck seasons depending on the type of duck and other species. Do your homework before you head out to the hunting area if it’s a good time of the year to go. Besides, state governments have restrictions over hunting for migration seasons for the sake of helping different species.


Knowing what safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat surely helps you stay fit while in the game. Getting into the game without knowing what to do in harsh situations can be dangerous. The same applies if you don’t know what the weather has to offer while you’re out in the open water.

Therefore, have spare pieces of safety gear alongside food and water as well as PFD and other inflatable equipment. Know when you’re prohibited by the law to hunt. You don’t want to hunt animals when it’s their reproductive season.

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