Waterfowl boat safety tips

Selecting a life jacket for a child. This slideshow requires the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

The Law

  • Minnesota law requires a readily accessible U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for every person on waterfowl boats.
  • For boats 16 feet and longer, there must be one U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation seat cushion on board, to throw to someone in distress.
  • Seat cushions are no longer approved as primary flotation devices. Everyone on the boat needs a wearable life jacket of the proper size and type.
Three duck hunters wearing proper life jackets

Waterfowlers with several types of life jackets made for hunters.

Safety tips

  • Wear a life jacket - 10 lives could be saved in Minnesota each year by wearing life jackets.
  • Avoid alcohol. Booze and boating don't mix.
  • Hunt with a companion or group, staying within visual or voice contact. Boating safety increases with numbers.
  • File a float plan. Leave it with a friend or relative. Include a description of your boat and equipment, names of passengers, planned destination and route, expected return and when and who to call if overdue.
  • Keep an eye on the sky. No boater should ever start out in a storm. Check the forecast before heading out on the water.
  • Be prepared by acquainting yourself with the area.
  • Carry a cell phone or radio for emergency communication, but keep in mind you may not have service in a remote area.
  • Make sure the boat has enough fuel. No boater wants to be stranded on the water.
  • Prevent capsizing.  Reduce speed in rough water, load carefully, secure loads from shifting and adjust for changing conditions. Wait for poor weather to improve.
  • Prevent falls overboard. Remain seated while underway, wear non-skid foot wear and avoid reaching overboard for objects.
  • Take a boater safety course and receive a boater education certificate.

Download Water Safety for Duck Hunters, a free publication about waterfowl hunting boat safety.