With the fall and winter outdoor season underway in Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division is reminding hunters about boating safety during the colder months of the year.
Hunting season for many people in Louisiana means utilizing boats to get to remote hunting areas often times during low visibility and in cold weather.
“The fall and winter boating season for Louisiana is a lot different than the spring and summer boating season,” said Lt. Col. Sammy Martin, the state’s boating law administrator. “A lot of times we have duck and deer hunters leaving before dusk and navigating smaller tributaries. The air and water temperatures are also much lower during this time of year. Add all that up and it can put boaters in unsafe conditions if they don’t practice safe boating habits.”
LDWF is reminding all hunters about the importance of wearing a personal flotation device, having running lights on when operating at night, keeping speeds down at night and in narrower waterways, having proper lookouts and keeping a sober operator to and from their hunting location. LDWF also recommend that hunters file a float plan with friends and family members that lets them know where they are going and when they plan to return. Lastly, keeping a cell phone in a secure and dry place on your person could come in handy if a distress call needs to be made.
LDWF has reported 23 boating fatalities to date in 2016 for Louisiana. In 2015, Louisiana had a total of 22 boating fatalities that included 16 fatalities at this same time last year.
As always LDWF offers free boating education classes year round. Those interested can take either an online or classroom safe boating course. The safe boating course is required for anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 and operating a vessel over 10 horsepower. For a list of boating classes please visit www.wlf.la.gov/boating.