Use A Boat?

Posture is a must to keeping you safe & having fun!

An article from WWA’s Words From The Wardens.

This article originally appeared in Wisconsin Waterfowl Association’s December 2019 eNewsletter.

By WDNR Recreation Warden Mark Little

“Mind your spine, mister!”

This screams from the voice in my head when I’m just about to make an involuntary exit from my kayak.

These are simple words that will keep you inside your boat while out on the frigid days of fall, or anytime you’re navigating in a canoe, kayak or going old school in your skiff loaded with decoys, lunch, a gun and maybe even a dog.

Not only has kayak use exploded among silent sport enthusiasts from coast to coast for fishing, but hunters also are picking up on their versatility, utility and portability for pursuing waterfowl.

Sitting up straight and keeping your spine in line with the keel or centerline of your kayak will keep you inside and dry.  Adjusting the foot braces so your knees are slightly bent and resting along the combing of your cockpit or thigh pads will make you stable and help avoid that “riding the toothpick” feeling (see the illustration).  It’s okay put a little to lean on your boat to pick up a dead bird or haul your pooch back into the boat. However, please remember to keep your spine – even if it is bent into a C shape – over the center of your vessel to avoid capsizing.

Canoes are a little more forgiving. But remember also to keep your shoulders inside the gunwales to keep you and your buddy from an accidental dunking.

More about that boat and you – and why you need to wear a life jacket!

Over the years, I’ve contacted many waterfowl hunters who have forgotten their personal floatation devices or PFDs – more commonly known as a life jacket.  Most of the time, the hunter was thinking about hunting and not necessarily boating.

Remember that a wearable PFD is required for each person when on board any watercraft.  Think of this as a tool that keeps you from struggling in the water to breathe.  Breathing is good, right?  Perhaps even more important, think of this as a means to assist someone else who neglected to bring their own or didn’t put it on to begin with.  With that said, put it on!

A PFD that fits you properly will keep you warm, and with the styles and functionality offered today, including self-inflating PFDs, there really is no excuse for not wearing it.  Ask your family if they think it’s good idea.  They want to see you come home and your dog would really appreciate it, too.

Okay, we talked about keeping you inside your boat and breathing.  Now, let’s discuss that shotgun.

TABK – Please stop pointing your gun at your buddy!

Like every season, we’ve had hunting incidents that resulted with a partner receiving anywhere from a few pellets to a full load of fine shot and the wad that goes with it.  It cannot be stressed enough that proper gun handling will eliminate most, if not all, hunting incidents involving firearms.

Please, stop pointing your gun at your buddy!  This is the case when loading, unloading, storing, shooting at game, falling, calling, leaning, eating, walking, talking, wading, sitting, paddling (not with the stock of your gun), sleeping, tying your boots, etc… you get the drift.

Remember TAB-K or otherwise known as the four rules of hunter safety:

  • T = Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
  • A = Always point your muzzle in a safe direction.
  • B = Be certain of your target, what’s in front of it and what’s beyond it.
  • K = Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

So, there it is – dry, breathing and safe.  It’s good to hunt. Humans need to hunt.  A hunter needs to come home a little different than when the hunter left. Maybe bringing home a bird or two more, a good story, an empty thermos and maybe a few ticks.

But, in the end, fulfilled with a heart for more.

Anyone with information regarding natural resource violations may confidentially report by calling or texting: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained staff relay information to conservation wardens.