Chasing waterfowl means going where the birds are - and that can mean running the big waters in winter. Whether it is a large river or lake, the dangers involved can be extreme and keeping these safety tips in mind, could save you and your hunting partner's lives.

  1. Always wear Coast Guard approved life vests.
  2. Make sure your motor is within the regulations approved for the boat.
  3. Keep an eye on weather developments. Even something as simple as a shifting wind can cause conditions on big water to change for the worst.
  4. Have a first aid kit in the boat at all times.
  5. Have a mobile phone or two way radio of some kind. Being able to call for help immediately could save lives when things go wrong.

  6. Keep dry clothes in a dry storage container in the boat. Falling in or flooding waders will lead to hypothermia quickly. Hypothermia can set in before returning to the launch site and having dry clothes to change into will slow that process considerably.
  7. Pay attention. Paying attention to detail when motoring open water will help avoid debris; logs, stick ups, sand bars, and even trash that could damage motors and boat hulls.
  8. Never get complacent. Complacency can lead to trouble and on many big rivers and lakes a simple mishap can leave you stranded or worse. Respect the dangers of your surroundings.
  9. Avoid boating unfamiliar areas. Maps and thorough scouting of areas will help you avoid many dangers. Visiting hunting spots in the daylight will allow you to acknowledge stumps and sandbars before hitting one in the early morning hours.
  10. Have a plan. Planning accordingly for different situations that can arise during a day waterfowl hunting will help you be better prepared when something goes wrong.