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What Safety Precaution Should You Take When Hunting From a Boat

Written by J. Harvey / Fact checked by S. Numbers

what safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat

Safety measures are always important on the water, but specifics need to be addressed depending on the activity. So, what safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat?

Ensuring that the boat is stopped completely before firing ammunition is only one of the many precautions we need to be aware of when hunting on a boat. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones.

Keep reading to learn more.

List of Safety Precautions When Hunting on a Boat

1. Wear your PFD


Wearing a personal flotation device is a safety precaution that everyone aboard any vessel needs to heed before setting out. This applies to anglers and hunters alike.

You may end up too focused on the hunt and suddenly lose balance; in this case, wearing appropriate protection can save your life.

Incidents of drowning where no PFD was worn are still one of the highest causes of boating deaths, which is why this is also an important safety precaution when fishing or hunting. Only use PFDs that are Coast Guard-approved with no tears or holes.

2. Bring the boat to a halt before shooting


Boats are sensitive to sudden shifts in weight, and this problem is worse on flat-bottom boats used for both fishing and hunting due to their low draft. Stopping the boat completely before the shooting begins is very important.

The recoil from a discharged firearm is significant enough that a person may end up losing their balance from it, and someone on a boat faces the same challenge. Ensuring that you are at a standstill will allow the vessel to stay balanced even with the gun recoil.

Keeping yourself seated can also help with maintaining stability when firing. Still the boat, anchor down, and adjust your aim; only then should you pull the trigger.

3. Pack light


Stick to the essentials when packing for a hunting trip on a boat. This is another important precaution because a heavier load makes your boat less capable of keeping balance after shooting a firearm. Be sure to evenly distribute the weight as well.

Safety equipment is a must, and some (such as fire extinguishers and bells/horns) are required by law for bigger boats. Don’t forget to account for the weight of these along with your hunting equipment and supplies.

4. Sit back to back when hunting with another


The safest position when hunting with friends is seating with your backs facing each other; this will keep you out of one another’s firing range. Limiting yourselves to a 180-degree view angle will improve safety even more.

When two duck hunters are seated back to back, it helps to agree on where each person will shoot. Plus, remember to sit and not stand while pulling the trigger; this practice lowers the chances of you tipping over and having to climb back on the boat.

You sit concealed in one spot when hunting to avoid alerting prey, and verbal communication can get in the way. Come up with hand signals to convey your intent to shoot instead.

5. Keep updated on weather conditions


Another safety measure that applies to all boating activities is checking the weather before setting out. Rough water conditions are bad for boats in general, and the risk of capsizing is worse when coupled with the recoil of a gun.

Be sure to keep yourself posted on weather changes as well and turn back right away at the first sign of turbulent winds or storms.

Laws of Hunting From a Boat


Hunting is legal in the US but is governed by national and state laws. One of the most important ones to know and abide by is that all hunters are required to have a state hunting license, and in some cases, you will need to complete an education program to acquire safety skills.

Regulations are specific about refuge areas and where hunting is allowed; it is up to each individual to be aware of what is allowed within the scope of the law. Below are a few other things that may be different depending on state laws.

  • Whether it’s legal to discharge your gun on a moving vessel
  • How must firearms be transported in a boat
  • Distance from residential or recreational areas (how far one must be from certain places to shoot)

Below are a few things prohibited by law when hunting:

  • Using drugs for hunting
  • Any alcohol consumption
  • Shooting into a cave or mine
  • Firing with bodies of water in between

Dangers of Hunting From a Boat


What should sportsman consider dangerous when hunting aboard a watercraft? Here is a summary of the dangers of hunting from a boat, some of which are discussed above.

  1. There is a risk of the boat capsizing from gun recoil.
  2. You can lose your balance and fall overboard.
  3. Drowning when falling overboard is a possibility.
  4. There is a risk of shooting another person by accident when hunting from the same watercraft.
  5. Accidental firearm discharge is a constant danger when carrying a gun and may be penalized by law.
  6. Shooting the wrong target or even another person

Additional Tips for Better Safety

  • Keep your gun on safety until you’re certain of your mark
  • Always carry your hunting license
  • Learn to swim and bring a buddy who does as well
  • Cook meat well if you plan to eat your prize
  • Wear orange garment for visibility


What safety precaution should you take when hunting from a boat? Now, you know that there is more than just one point of safety and that you need as many of them as you can to avoid accidents on the water.

What precautions do you take on your boat hunting trips? Do you think those on our list here are reasonable? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below. Remember to boat safely.

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