I also carry several other safety items for special emergencies:
- Survival kit – including strike-anywhere matches in a waterproof container, a candle, space blanket, multi-tool, survival snacks, and parachute cord
- First-aid kit – a comprehensive kit with a first-aid manual in a waterproof container
- Extra clothes – a full change of clothes (underwear to parka) in a waterproof canoe bag. If a hunter falls into the water, dry clothes will help ward off hypothermia.
Besides safety gear, here's a list of equipment that can come in handy on a hunting trip:
- Decoys – two dozen mallard decoys rigged with extra long anchor lines, which can be half-hitched for use in shallow water
- Push pole – for poling through shallow water, picking up decoys, checking bottom depth, etc.
- Long-handle paddle – in case the motor quits
- Hard-hat spotlight – a mega-candlepower headlight mounted on a hard plastic safety helmet. This spotlight shines where I turn my head, allowing hands-free illumination for nighttime running.
- Avery Double-Duty dog platform/ladder – With this hang-on dog platform/ladder, my Lab can easily climb back into the boat.
- Sta-bil fuel stabilizer – When added to fresh gas, this product keeps moisture from forming and freezing in the gas tank and fuel line.
- Tool chest – miscellaneous tools (pliers, wrenches, socket set, screwdrivers, etc.) for doing simple repairs on the motor, boat trailer, and accessories
- Quick starting spray – canned ether for providing hot-start capability if the motor gets cranky
- Rescue Tape – a product designed to make on-site repairs of the fuel hose
- Small chain saw – for sawing logs when exploring for ducks up small creeks and sloughs
- Limb pruners – When hunting, I like to position my boat in brush or next to a tree with overhanging limbs. I use the pruners to trim limbs out of the shooting lane and cut additional brush for the blind.
- Stout nylon rope – for securing the boat to a tree or brush
- Camouflage netting – for covering the motor and bow of the boat and for breaking up the opening formed by the two top rails of the Quick-Set blind
- One-burner camp stove/heater – for warming food and beverages
- Hand-held GPS – to help navigate flooded swamps and brushy backwaters during periods of high water
- Camo duct tape – for everything else
I carry shotgun shells, calls, a thermos, sunglasses, a multi-tool, decoy gloves, zip ties, and other small items in my blind bag. I also keep my cell phone in a plastic bag in my parka pocket.
A final word of caution: hunting from a boat is effective, but it can also be dangerous if simple safety rules aren't followed. Each season, several waterfowl hunters lose their lives because they venture out in craft that are too small to handle rough waters or because they aren't wearing a life jacket when an accident happens. Don't head out on big water in little boats, and always wear your life jacket when your boat is under way and insist that your passengers do likewise. Erring on the side of caution may keep you from becoming the next tragic statistic.