What Should You Do Before Firing A Shot From A Small Boat

In most instances, boats and guns don’t mix; however, hunting for waterfowl can deliver a unique advantage. While you can sneak up silently, once it comes to taking your shot, there are many things to consider. First, a boat is nothing like dry land.

For every boaters safety, you need to take some steps. None more so than knowing how should firearms be transported on a boat. Place the unloaded gun in the bow (front) of the boat with the muzzle pointed forward before getting on boat. Even better, keep your gun in the gun case until any boaters reach their spot.

That is safe, but firing is something very different. In our guide, you can learn what safety precautions should you take when hunting from a boat. By the end, you’ll know how to deal with your boat and the conditions and how to have a successful hunt. (Read What Symbol On A Regulatory Marker Is Used To Mark A No-wake Or Idle Speed Area)

small boat

How To Secure A Boat Before Shooting?

If you use your small boat to go waterfowl hunting, you must stop the engine once you arrive at your chosen site.

To settle your watercraft and stop it from drifting, drop your anchor, as stabilizing your boat is essential for various reasons.

First, it helps you become more accurate with each shot by aiming better. You’ll want to kill a bird without wasting shells.

Second, stabilizing your boat prevents stray shots; chances are, other hunters are also hunting migratory birds. Many hunters wear camouflage, so you may not see them.

Last, using your anchor to secure your watercraft prevents accidents like you or your dog falling overboard as you shoot. In addition, you should wear a PFD (personal flotation device) when hunting on the water.

Hunting From A Boat Basics

Before firing the first shot, you need to do a few things besides stopping your boat, shutting off its motor, and anchoring or securing it.

1. Brush up on local hunting rules.

Familiarizing yourself with your state’s hunting laws and restrictions is advisable before you depart in any small boats.

  • For instance, in several places, it is forbidden to follow, catch, kill, harvest, or take wild animals and birds on Sundays.
  • Hunting is also prohibited when there are no apparent signs of a hunting season being open.
  • You also cannot destroy birds’ nests or eggs.
  • Similar limits apply to shooting, such as not being able to do so without the owner’s consent within a certain distance of a privately held building or a state-controlled boat launch site.


2. Use only allowed firearms.

  • Regarding the firearms you can use to hunt, different states have varying regulations. Waterfowl hunters are advised by the Wildlife Service to use smaller shotguns no larger than 10-gauge.
  • Guns cannot hold more than 3 US FWS-approved shells.
  • Hunting non-migratory birds in Texas is permitted with any legal firearm, except for fully automatic and muzzleloaders.
  • Rimfire ammunition is prohibited.

3. Sit while firing a shot.

Never shoot standing up, particularly if you’re in a small boat. Your watercraft can be made more stable on the water by anchoring it, but the current can still cause it to sway.

Hunting game birds when seated gives you a considerably better chance of success. As a result, you are more steady when raising and shooting your gun because your center of gravity is lower. (Read What Is The Major Danger Of Anchoring A Fishing Boat From The Stern)

Safety Tips To Observe

Before firing a shot from small watercraft, stop and turn off the water vessel engine. Anchoring it stabilizes the boat, and sitting steadies your shot.

1. Check the weather

Don’t assume a sunny day even if the sun may shine, as things change quickly.

Before hunting, check the weather. You may also wish to carry a radio and tune into a weather service.

Stay close to the shore. If there’s a sudden downpour, you’ll be able to reach safety quicker when near the shore.

2. Observe boating laws.

Others expect you to boat and hunt responsibly. Observe boating laws and regulations for safer and more enjoyable boating and hunting.

Keep your boat on the starboard side.

If you’re hunting on a river, and see other boaters, signal your intent to pass. If there are swimmers, slow down. Your wake can drown a poor swimmer.

3. Avoid swamping or capsizing your boat.

Some boats are more prone to capsizing. On the other hand, a flat-bottomed Jon boat’s short draft makes filling quicker and faster. So, distribute gear evenly in your watercraft.

Bring only essentials and avoid crowding, which can lead to swamping and capsizing.

Ensure your dog is well-trained if you bring it. A frightened or eager dog might tip your boat.

4. Wear your personal flotation device.

A life vest can save you if you fall into the water or your boat capsizes. The PFD should also keep you warm.

Before launching, don your PFD. Always wear it while boating-hunting.

What should you do before firing a shot from a small boat Quizlet?

  1. Stand up,
  2. Move to the bow,
  3. Move your gear and dog behind.
  4. Stop the boat, turn off the motor, and anchor and secure your boat.

The correct answer is number 4. Stop the boat, turn off the motor, and anchor or secure your boat.

Safety Equipment Tips

When hunting and firing from a small boat, hunters should also ensure they have the proper safety gear.

Most of the safety equipment is suitable for pontoon owners and any other kind of small hunting boat.

  • US Coast Guard-approved life jacket
  • First aid kit
  • Anchor
  • Water bailer
  • Phone or VHF radio

Additional Tips When Hunting In A Small Boat

If you are using your small boat or small vessel for hunting birds and ducks, here are many tips. Besides this, there are also courses you can take. (Read What Is The Hunter’s Most Important Item Of Clothing)

  • Always follow local boating regulations, laws, and legislation.
  • Be cautious not to capsize or swamp your small boat.
  • Secure the boat before you try to shoot any ducks.
  • A small flat-bottomed vessel can capsize more easily; consider a personal pontoon.
  • Spread weight and items evenly in the boat to reduce weight.
  • Keep the overall weight low. Never exceed your small boat’s capacity. Pontoon boats have capacity stickers.
  • Untrained dogs shouldn’t go boat hunting. Dogs can capsize a small boat, so keep them low and central.
  • If you fall into the water, be prepared with safety gear to avoid hypothermia.
  • Prepare for bad weather, monitor the weather, and stay near the shore.
  • Be safe and only fire shots from your small boat when it’s stopped and adequately anchored.
  • Sit when shooting to avoid falling into the water and being unstable.
  • Get a state-issued hunting license.
  • Know your state’s gun-on-boat laws.


What does a diver-down flag look like?

  1. Red flag and with a white diagonal stripe
  2. White flag with blue diagonal stripe
  3. Black flag with a white circle
  4. Blue flag with white square

Answer: a red flag with white diagonal stripe

What should you do before firing a shot from a small boat?

  1. Stand up.
  2. Move to the bow.
  3. Move your dog and gear behind you.
  4. Stop your boat, turn off the motor and then anchor or secure the boat.

Answer: Stop your boat, turn off the motor and then anchor or secure the boat.

A skier is being towed behind a boat. Who has responsibility for avoiding the danger of other boats and hazards?

  1. Skier
  2. Boat operator
  3. Boat owner
  4. No one

Answer: boat operator

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