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Waterfowl hunters also need to wear a life jacket

The Wisconsin DNR is reminding all waterfowl hunters to wear a life jacket while out on the water this season. The state has had 22 boating accident deaths so far this year, according to DNR records, with 20 of those deaths drowningrelated and 18 of those people did not wear life jackets.

Hunters are no exception to boating accidents and drowning deaths, and as fall takes hold, they are urged to be aware that conditions can change rapidly with high winds, unfavorable weather and temperatures.

“It is crucial that waterfowl hunters – whether in a boat or in the water in waders – wear a life jacket,” said DNR conservation warden Jon King. “Wet, heavy hunting clothes serve as a weight that can pull a person underwater quickly.”

To prevent boating accidents, waterfowl hunters and other hunters alike should adhere to the following safety tips while afloat and afield:

• Be aware that water temperatures are rapidly cooling and if someone falls overboard, hypothermia can set in rapidly. Wearing a life jacket can keep a person on the surface and the person’s energy can be used to keep warm, rather than using it to stay on the surface.

• Remember to protect canine companions on the water – they need their life jackets, too.

• Never overload the boat. If hunting on a large river or lake, use a boat that is big enough to handle rough water.

• Balance the boat evenly and keep weight low for stability.

• Be on the lookout for elements outside of a person’s control, such as changing weather, wind or a slightly submerged stump, rock, sandbar or floating debris.

• If in a boat or canoe with a hunting partner, establish and communicate a safe zone of fire; do not stand to shoot if a partner is shooting from a seated position.

• Always carry a cellphone so communication can happen in case of an emergency.

Whether hunting on land or by water, firearm safety is always essential. To learn more about safe hunting and boating practices, or enroll in a hunter education course, visit dnr.