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Safety tips for waterfowl hunters

Waterfowl hunting seasons are well under way in Nevada, and the state Department of Wildlife is encouraging hunters to wear their life jackets and follow safe boating guidelines when on the water.

“Waterfowl hunters are a high-risk group for hypothermia and cold-water immersion because of their close proximity to the water and due to the constantly changing weather conditions that exist during their hunting season,” said Nick Duhe, boater education coordinator for NDOW. “Falls overboard and capsizing are the most common types of fatal boating accidents for hunters.”

Hunters can greatly increase their safety by following these tips, said Duhe. Everyone one on board should have — and wear — a properly fitting life jacket that has been approved by the Coast Guard. Several manufactures make life jackets with the hunter and angler in mind, taking color needs and function into consideration. Camouflage is available, as are models designed to make shooting possible without removing the life jacket.

Never stand in an unsecured boat to shoot at passing birds. Hunters who stand in a boat that has not been made fast are just asking to go for a cold swim, said Duhe. And always be aware of dogs and your partners who share the boat with you. A boat is close quarters when hunters are swinging on game. Be extra careful with your firearm and put your unloaded shotgun in a secured case. This will keep the shotgun cleaner and remind you to unload the gun before moving.

To prevent hypothermia, hunters should take steps to remain warm and dry, especially in windy conditions. Wear waterproof jackets, boots and a good hat. Most body heat escapes through your head. Dress in loose layers that can be adjusted as needed. Wear a wader belt with waders to limit the amount of water that enters them in case of an unexpected immersion.

Should you fall overboard, go home, Duhe said. Or take immediate action to dry off, change into dry clothing and warm up. Doing so could be a real lifesaver. Carrying an extra set of dry clothes in a waterproof sack and securely attaching it to the boat is always a good idea.

Make sure you have all required safety gear on board. This includes a fire extinguisher, life jackets of proper size and fit for everyone on board, and a Type IV throwable cushion. While not mandatory, some additional items Duhe recommends for boaters are flares, a paddle, whistle or bell and a VHF marine band radio.

“Filing a float plan and letting someone know when and where you will be hunting and your expected return time will help rescuers locate you quickly if there is an accident,” Duhe said.

Boats are a great tool for carrying heavy gear to your hunting spot, but if loaded improperly or overloaded, the boat could capsize. Check your boat’s capacity plate for weight limits and make sure to distribute the weight evenly in the boat. If you are planning to hunt from your boat, make sure to set up clear shooting zones with your partner in order to avoid any accidents. Remember, it is illegal to use a vessel to drive or stir up waterfowl for the purpose of hunting, so wait until the boat is stationary before beginning to hunt.

Perhaps the most important safety tip is to take a state approved hunter safety course along with a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators approved boating safety course. These courses will provide you with the necessary information to keep you safe while hunting and boating. More information about those courses can be found online at www.ndow.org or by calling (702) 486-5127.


Trout stocking under way in urban ponds

The Nevada Department of Wildlife has begun its annual trout stocking program in the Las Vegas area with successful plants at each of the local urban ponds. They are located at Floyd Lamb, Lorenzi and Sunset parks in the Las Vegas Valley and at Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City. Hafen Park in Mesquite is scheduled to receive trout in the near future.

NDOW stocking plans call for trout plants to resume at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave on Nov. 20 and Nov. 24 respectively. Thereafter, NDOW generally will plant trout in Lake Mead every Friday with some scheduling adjustments to provide angling opportunity during holiday weeks. The agency will plant trout at Lake Mohave every other Thursday beginning Dec. 10.

As a rule, the urban ponds will receive trout every other week. Stocking activities should continue into March as long as water temperatures remain cold enough.

At Lake Mead, trout will be released at Crawdad Cove off of Northshore Road, at Boulder Harbor where Lake Mead Marina used to be and near the Hemenway fishing point. At Lake Mohave, NDOW generally will plant fish at Placer Cove and Aztec Wash, though the agency will periodically release trout at Cottonwood Cove, Powerline Cove and the area below Hoover Dam.

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