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Many years ago, I carried my oldest son on his first waterfowl hunt. He had hunted dove just a few months before for the first time, and he was still getting comfortable with the shotgun. Even so, he was a fairly good shot and understood what he could and could not do.
Because we were going out on the small boat, I also wanted to make sure he was comfortable inside the vessel, as it was little more than a square stern canoe with a trolling motor that I steered with foot pedals. I made sure he was warm. I told him where to keep the firearm while we were moving in the water. I also gave the boat a good wobble on the water so he would not panic thinking it was going to flip over.
We went out and dropped maybe a half dozen decoys with a small opening in the pattern to allow ducks to come in. I explained where they would land and from what direction based on the wind, and why I had the decoy pattern the way I did. I let him know that when he shot the shotgun, it would kick a bit more than it did with the dove shot as well.
I also went over what to do just by some stupid reason that one of us fell in or our firearm fell in. The water was cold, and the last thing we would need is for one of us to flail around and pull the other into the water, capsize the boat completely, and go into shock under the circumstance.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is requesting waterfowl hunters to mentor new hunters and share a boat with them. Not only take the new hunters out on the water, but help them in understanding how to hunt and the safety precautions needed for a safe hunt. And a new hunter doesn’t necessarily mean a youth hunter. Young and adults alike can enjoy a memorable experience in their first duck hunts.
“North Carolina has a rich tradition of waterfowl hunting, and mentoring someone new to hunting is a great way to pass along that tradition,” said Chet Clark, the Commission’s recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) manager. “Sharing your knowledge through guiding a new waterfowl hunter is rewarding and can be a life-changing experience.”
Clark went on to say about the safety aspects, “Boat accidents and hypothermia can occur quickly, and mentors should make sure that everyone who boards the vessel wears a personal floatation device. Small precautions can be life-saving in the event of a boating accident.”
The Commission also reminds hunters:
Always let someone know your whereabouts and an approximate return time.
Be aware that small, flat-bottom vessels are prone to capsizing and swamping.
Store equipment properly and keep it evenly distributed.
Do not overload the boat, especially with passengers.
Keep hunting dogs prone in the center of the boat.
Never move about the boat with a loaded shotgun.
Stay with the boat and use it as a floatation device in the event of capsizing or swamping.
As hunters and outdoorsmen, we have the opportunity to show other generations as well as our own generations that do not currently hunt the enjoyment and passion behind the hunting heritage.
Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.