Wildlife commission advises hunters to practice safety this waterfowl season

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RALEIGH — As duck hunting season ramps up across the state, including in Carteret County, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission officials urge hunters to practice safety and to share best practices with someone new to hunting.

The WRC issued a public notice this month reminding individuals of best safety practices for waterfowl hunting, which often involves boating. The commission reported that of the 27 people who died boating on the water in 2020, 19 were not wearing a life vest.

WRC recruitment, retention and reactivation manager Chet Clark said boating incidents can occur in a split second.

“It’s important to be prepared,” Mr. Clark said. “Hunters using a vessel should wear a personal floatation device at all times, even before getting in the boat. Also, dress appropriately. Wear clothing made of wool or other synthetic materials instead of cotton to help prevent hypothermia.”

When on a vessel, it’s also imperative for hunters to follow all boating regulations and consider bringing a personal locater beacon and reliable, very high frequency marine radio. Boaters should keep navigational lights in good operating condition.

The WRC Home from the Hunt campaign recommends waterfowl hunters:

·     Alert someone to your whereabouts and an approximate return time.

·     Understand that small, flat-bottom vessels are prone to capsizing and swamping.

·     Stay with the boat and use it as a floatation device if it capsizes or swamps.

·     Keep hunting dogs in the center of your boat.

·     Don’t overload the boat, especially with passengers.

·     Store equipment properly and keep it evenly distributed.

·     Never move about the boat with a loaded shotgun.

A great way for hunters to share their safety knowledge and love for the sport is to invite someone new to hunting to join them in an outing.

“Mentoring someone is a great way to pass along the rich tradition of waterfowl hunting in North Carolina,” Mr. Clark said. “The memories you create while sharing your knowledge with a new waterfowl hunter last a lifetime.”

The WRC has set dates, bag limits and applicable regulations for the 2021-22 waterfowl seasons and implemented new duck zones separated by Interstate 95. For additional information about waterfowl hunting, visit ncwildlife.org/hunting.

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