I know I preach this a lot, but here it goes again! A Safe Hunt is a Successful Hunt my friends, and with the upcoming storm, I thought I would throw out a few safety reminders for all to consider. Inevitably when a big storm hits, the weirs run, the bypass fills and many hunters hit the flood waters for an action packed timber shooting adventure! I’ve been a time or two myself and I totally get the why behind this! Nothing is quite like a timber hunt, especially if you have been stuck in rice all season long. Our guide service gets a lot of requests for us to guide flooded timber hunts. Needless to say, we find these types of hunts, just too unsafe to offer to our clientele because, unfortunately,
many hunting related accidents and even fatalities are boating related.
Nonetheless, should you be planning a floodwater hunt, please keep some basic safety precautions in mind before you set sail…
Prepare Before the Hunt:
- Be prepared by acquainting yourself with the area. Look at maps, drive by and talk to others who have hunted the areas previously.
- Be sure to tell someone where you are hunting and when you will be back. Don’t rely on a cell phone.
- Hunt with a partner or group, solo hunts scare me and boating safety increases with numbers.
- Check the forecast before heading out on the water. It is never a good idea to set out in the middle of a storm. Plan to hunt after the storm has subsided.
- Get update to date information about water levels from the DWR website before you go. DWR Upper Sac River Forecast
- Make sure the boat has enough fuel. No boater wants to be stranded on the water.
On the Water Safety Tips:
- State law requires a U.S. Coast Guard- approved wearable life jacket for each person on board all watercraft. Wearing a life jacket is the BEST way to avoid a drowning incident while on the water. Kids really need to wear a life jacket or PSD at all times!
- Don’t overload your boat. Too much gear could cause a boat to capsize or take on water. Check with capacity plate and make sure you are within recommend weights.
- If you plan to wear waders, plan to wear a wader belt too! Wader belts prevent waders from filling with water should you slip!
- Remember that weather can change at any moment and we all know how reliable meteorologists are. Strong winds and waves can capsize a duck boat easily or send a boater overboard.
- Flood Waters are Turbid Waters. The muddy flow hides hazards that would normally be visible. The rising water pulls streamside debris into the flow. Banks get undercut and trees, fence posts and structures fall into the water. Trees and logs get lodged and create severe hazards. Water flows through and around them; you and your boat won’t. BE CAREFUL!
Have a Plan in Case you Need It:
- Knowing how to react and what to do in an emergency situation can help keep you calm and save your life. So teach yourself some basic survival skills before you head out and make sure your partners know too! Especially the littles!
- If you do fall out or capsize, stay with your boat and try to upright it, or climb on top of it. Most capsized watercraft can still float and a boat in the water is much easier for rescuers to find. Keep boots and clothes on. Almost all clothing, even hip boots and waders, will float for an extended period of time.
- If more than one person is in the water and all are wearing life jackets, huddling up for warmth is a good idea. Placing arms across the backs of others, while keeping them under the waterline (kids should be in the middle of the huddle) will help to conserve body heat, while boosting morale and a group of people is a lot easier to locate than individuals.
Falling into icy water can be deadly, because many people do not think about the effects of cold water immersion. You can reduce the effects of cold water immersion by using the HELP Position – Heat Escape Lessening Position – In or out of the water.
• Cross Ankles, Cross Arms Over Chest, Keep Hands High on the Shoulders or Neck, Draw Knees to Your Chest, and Lean Back and Try to Relax.
I will get off my scouting soap box now.
Bottom line, please be careful out there and remember, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark! Preparation is key!
Have fun, be safe and remember to live long in the outdoors!!!