RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Officials want hunters to keep safety in mind as duck hunting season continues.

Officials said waterfowl hunters can help keep each other safe and encourage them to share tips with others that are new to the sport.

One way to stay safe is to use a life vest.

Officials said that “of the 23 people who died boating on the water in 2021, 16 were not wearing a life vest.”

Chase Luker, the engagement specialist with Wildlife Commission’s Education Division, shared that life vests are a way to be prepared for anything that can happen while on a boat.

“Boating incidents can occur in a split second, so it’s important to be prepared,” said Luker. “Hunters using a vessel should always wear a personal floatation device, even before getting in the boat. Also, dress appropriately. Clothing made of wool or other synthetic materials, rather than cotton, help prevent hypothermia.”

And while on water, officials said it is key for hunters to follow boating regulations. They also recommended bringing a “Personal Locater Beacon and reliable Very High Frequency (VHF) marine radio.”

Wildlife officials shared other safety tips that include:

  • Alert someone to your whereabouts and an approximate return time. 
  • Understand that small, flat-bottom vessels are prone to capsizing and swamping. 
  • Stay with the boat and use it as a floatation device if it capsizes or swamps. 
  • Keep hunting dogs in the center of your boat. 
  • Don’t overload the boat, especially with passengers. 
  • Store equipment properly and keep it evenly distributed. 
  • Never move about the boat with a loaded shotgun. 

Avian influenza is something else for hunters to be aware of and officials stated that safe handling of waterfowl carcasses is key and recommend:

  • Refrain from harvesting or handling wild birds that are obviously sick.
  • Dress game birds in the field whenever possible, and wear disposable gloves.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after handling game or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

For more information on the waterfowl hunting season, click here.