Duck hunters out in numbers, urged to wear life jackets

November 29, 2008

Life jacket an excellent holiday gift for boating hunters

Law enforcement officers are unsure why, but they’re seeing more duck hunters out on lakes around Tallahassee than any time in the past few years.

“This weekend we checked 150 hunters on Lake Jackson and 60 on Lake Miccosukee,” said Lt. Kent Harvey, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) area law enforcement supervisor.  “Maybe it’s the fact that permanent blinds are banned from four lakes around Tallahassee, but more duck hunters are out this year.”

Harvey said duck hunters typically hunt out of smaller boats that can be hidden or camouflaged easily.  He said they often wear waders and heavy clothing and go out before daylight to set their decoys and put up their blinds.

He said it’s a good idea for duck hunters to wear life jackets, particularly any time their vessel is moving. Hunters today have the option of wearing the newer, over-the-shoulder, self-inflatable or belt-pack models.

Harvey said hypothermia can play a role this time of year with the water temperature in the low 60s.  He said duck hunters should travel slowly, and if possible, hunt with a buddy.

Like anyone who goes out boating, Harvey said, duck hunters should always tell a family member their intended location and when they expect to return.  In the boating world, that’s called a “float plan.”

“If they are overdue or if their families suspect there’s a problem, it helps us in our response time and to know where to look,” he said.

Florida’s waterfowl season runs Nov. 22 – 30 and Dec. 6 – Jan. 25, 2009.  The Canada goose season is Nov. 22 – 30 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 30, 2009.

Additional hunting regulations for waterfowl and other migratory and resident game are available at

Belt style life jacket. Photo courtesy FWC
Belt style life jacket. Photo courtesy FWC
Suspender type life jacket. Photo courtesy FWC.

FWC suggests life jackets for great holiday gifts
Are you wondering what gift to get your loved one this holiday season?  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has an idea.  If that person is a boater, a life jacket would make a great gift – especially a newer and more comfortable version that the recipient would be more likely to wear while boating.

Unfortunately, the FWC investigates dozens of boating accidents every year.  So far this year, there have been 49 boating fatalities, 35 of which resulted in drowning.  For this reason, the FWC promotes wearing life jackets all the time while on the water.

“The best present you could give is one that could save a life,” said Capt. Richard Moore, FWC’s boating law administrator.  “And you would be giving a present to yourself if that life jacket saves someone’s life.”

Improved life jacket technology has resulted in smaller, more comfortable models, which would be a welcome replacement to the old, bulky models of times past.  One compact style straps around the waist like a belt pack.  Another style fits like suspenders over the shoulders.  Some of these life jackets inflate automatically when the wearer falls into the water.  Prices of the new, comfortable, inflatable life jackets start at around $60.

“Most of us wouldn’t be caught in a vehicle without buckling up,” said Moore.  “Boaters can achieve that same level of safety by buckling on their inflatable life jacket when they get on a boat.  It’s just too simple not to, and the peace of mind is remarkable.”

To learn more about inflatable life jackets and the benefits of wearing one while boating, visit