With the fall and winter outdoor season underway in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division is reminding hunters about boating safety during the hunting season.
Hunting season for many people in Louisiana means utilizing boats to get to remote hunting blinds, stands or other areas.
“Boating in the fall and winter months during the hunting season is much different than in the spring and summer boating season,” said Maj. Rachel Zechenelly, the state’s boating law administrator. “We want to remind all boaters during the hunting season to follow some simple safe boating practices to ensure a good hunt and a safe trip.”
For instance, most hunters are operating vessels during times of low visibility, usually before dawn and after dusk. Also, most hunters are operating vessels in remote areas, navigating smaller water tributaries.
The hunting season also usually means colder months and thus hunters are wearing and bringing more gear and the water temperature is colder. If a hunter does go overboard, they will probably have the weight of their warmer hunting clothes and the colder water temperature making survival that much more difficult.
LDWF recommends all boaters wear a personal flotation device while in a vessel, have a sober operator, and let friends and family know of their whereabouts and what time they intend on going hunting and coming back. It is also a good idea to keep a cellphone in some kind of waterproof container on your person, according to a news release.
Checking to make sure the vessel is equipped to run at night and in colder temperatures is important for safe boating practices. Make sure all lights are operational and that the engine has no trouble starting and running.
LDWF offers free boating education classes year round. Those interested can take courses either online or in a classroom. The safe boating course is required for anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984, and operating a vessel over 10 horsepower. For a list of boating classes, visit www.wlf.la.gov/boating.