It may not feel much like winter now, but you can count on it getting cold again before we have a real spring. Hunters and anglers who use small boats to chase their game of choice should keep an eye on the weather forecasts at this time of the year.
Duck hunters use boats to get to their blinds. The best conditions for hunting birds can be the worst for the safety of the hunters. That’s because they are on the water before first shooting light, operating boats in the darkness. Their small but heavily loaded crafts are prone to capsizing and swamping in rough conditions. And the water is cold enough that a soaking can cause dangerously low body temperatures.
Hypothermia is a leading cause of death for duck hunters, but the exact number is hard to track because many drowning deaths occur after a person has lost ability to move in frigid water.
A father and his five year old son drowned while hunting near Dallas. Their 12-foot boat capsized on Lake Tawakoni amid high winds, rain and hail.
In Oklahoma, a 22-year old duck hunter drowned while trying to rescue his retriever from icy water.
Two Louisiana hunters were rescued after their boat overturned where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf.
At least two other groups of Texas hunters were found safe or rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard or game wardens over the cold weekend we had a couple weeks ago.
It’s not just duck hunters who play the odds against weather. Anglers are just as guilty.
The whole aim of this short report is to prod you, hunters and anglers, to think before heading out on the water. Check the weather forecasts. Don’t take chances if the weather report is forecasting a strong approaching front. Try another day, but if you do go out, dress appropriately. It may be warm when you leave the launch area, but conditions can change quickly. It’s really hard, impossible to get warm, when you are soaked.