Safety on the water.

I keep a "decoy stick" in the boat, its just a 4' piece of 1"x1" with a 1/2" pieced of dowel sticking out of each side on the end.
Extends my reach without reaching way out over the gunwale.
Carl - Very smart, and a life saver.

I use my extendable pushpole, or paddle, and do my best to keep my center of gravity where I belong. While wading, I use my wading staff if a decoy is out of reach. A notch, or a hook works wonders.

PFD always. Stupidity has it's own reward.

The more seasons you have under your belt, the more your odds seem to increase for a OH $HIT! moment.
I use my own " pick up sticks " to retreve dekes. One is a golf club shaft with a hook mounted on the end. This one is used by the guy in the back of the boat. The second one is the shaft from a push broom, that has a srew head. I screw a 4 inch paint roller on the end with the roller removed . The guy in the front of the boat secured a decoy and moves it to the back with an easy release . Works great.
Our Walmart sells a extendable hook. Goes 4 feet to 8ft that I use to keep my body inside the boat. The dog hunters around here use them to grab dog collars too but that’s a totally different ball game there.
Good morning, Carl~

I have been following this thread with great interest. Many of the posts include unsettling and tragic tales. Nevertheless, it was your post that really sent a chill down my spine.....

"just a 4' piece of 1"x1" with a 1/2" piece of dowel sticking out of each side on the end."


No Turks Head? No hand-crafted fitting? Not even a broom handle instead of a "stick" ??? I could not help but wonder if you are just trying to drive me and my OCD right around the bend....

View attachment sm Pickup Stick - on bench.JPG

More seriously, such a pickup stick is a very important piece of gear - and certainly adds to overall safety. I made mine at least 30 years ago. It is about 42 inches long. The "fitting" is very simple to prevent tangles - but is still 2-sided. When I am picking up the rig by boat - and sometimes under power - I can have one hand for the pickup stick and one hand for the boat - usually on the coaming. Just like when painting on a ladder - I NEVER reach.

All the best,


Good morning, Bomber et al~

Thanks for sharing your insights. I am still wrestling with one issue. I am planning to buy a new flotation jacket for next season and cannot decide on the color. I appreciate the benefits of Safety Orange - but plan to use the jacket as my primary gunning coat. As I am typically hunting from a boat - whether it's a TDB or a Scooter (layout) or a Sneakbox or floating a river in a canoe as you mention - I cannot hide effectively in any of these vessels if wearing an eye-catching color. And - most times - the hunt's activities require repeated jaunts "under way" - to pick up downed birds we hope. Changing outerwear repeatedly during a hunt is impractical.

So, I am contemplating perhaps a Safety Orange hat and gloves for use at either end of a hunt. We do something similar here when duck hunting without a boat during deer season: a headlamp in the morning and a blaze hat for the walk through the woods at hunt's end.

Your thoughts?


My buddy was hunting with his 12 year old in January about 10 years ago. He started the motor but didn't realize it was in gear and it ejected him out. We didn't wear life jackets back then so he probably didn't have his on. Luckily he was still holding onto the pull rope as he was being towed behind. His son was able to shut the motor off and somehow he managed to climb back in. True story we often talk about. BTW, always wear life jackets now when under power, even if just picking up decoys.
You didnt use camo duct tape, how in the world do you actually get ducks to decoys with that contraption in the boat??

If y'all recall, there was a young man killed in one of my boats a few years ago.. Although the errors commited were great, by far the worst one was that both life jackets were in the storage compartment under the fore deck.
Great points and encouragement. Hunting open water like we do, we've experienced some dangerous and difficult circumstances over the years. For about $125.00 do yourself a favor, get yourself a flotation jacket. I don't leave the dock without mine. Does it guarantee survival? No. Does it give you a chance? Yes. I've even hunted in mine. It's both waterproof, warm and has a wader belt in it.

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I'd also encourage wearing a wader belt... Great discussion...

This afternoon on the way back to the boat ramp I spotted something odd. 3 folks were clamming on shore, but at first all I saw was 2 sets of gloves and a hat. I don't recall what color, but I think is was either blaze orange or a very vibrant red.

The rest of their clothing was dull colors.

I like this idea.
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Years ago in the boat i just rebuilt i was hunting in the Motts creek area on a flood tide with my friend and his father. They were arguing about who made them late and as we came to the hunting spot and i parked the boat. We still had about a 500 yard walk to the salt pond we planned to hunt and with only a half hour to shooting light they jumped out of the boat and began to walk to try to get us set up in time. I parked the boat alone and with the tide flooded up on the meadows i had to set a anchor out in deep water and then set a anchor from the stern into the marsh to keep from the boat hanging up and something happening to it as the tide went out. It was still dark and with the meadows flooded as i jumped out of the boat onto what i thought was clearly marsh with the stern anchor i found myself underwater holding a anchor. I was 25 years old as the time and was working on the Revel Casino as a carpenter and was in very good shape but with heavy wet clothes i still couldn't get back in the boat. With the bow anchor set i was pulled away from the marsh by the boat in the current holding the rope to the stern anchor. I tried a few times to pull myself back in the boat and now 20 feet from the bank wasn't sure if i could swim back to the marsh in waders. I had a nearly brand new 75 etec on the back of the boat and the guys i was hunting with were clearly out of screaming distance and it was dark. i sat down on the foot of the outboard and used the power trim and tilt to assist me into the boat finally standing on top of the cavitation plate and falling into the boat. Soaking wet i drove my boat back to the dock tied it off drove back to the house to get changed and then back to pick up my hunting companions in my boat. I wear my life jacket always hunting and whenever i fish alone. I like a regular style camo vest type with mesh shoulders and the inflatable upon immersion for fishing.

I't is so true about water safety. Once I was hunting the Hudson River with a friend. We were on the banks of a Island. The weather was cold with lots of ice on the River. It was low tide and very windy. A few black ducks flew over the decoys and we knock down one. It was floating to the other side of the island. My friend wanted to jump in the boat and go get the duck. I told him no! I will walk out and pick the bird up. The water wasn't even a foot deep on the side of the Island we were hunting. Little did I know at the time the other side was a whole lot deeper. I took about five steps on the other side and went down ten to fifteen feet in the icy River. My friend thought I was gone forever. The only thing that saved me is I had a wader belt on. The air in my waders made me float to the top. Ware a belt with your waders and a life jacket. You don't have to be in deep water to lose your life.
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Well it appears that one of the missing duck hunters have been recovered today. His body washed up in Isle of Wight County. While his body has not been positively identified the local television station stated that it is believed to be one of the missing men. It has been about 7 weeks since they were lost.

Hopefully the other man will come up soon. We have had some warm weather lately and I was hoping the warmer weather would help the process. You have to feel very bad for the family who has to endure what is a waiting game. I have seen missing boaters take months to surface and this case is a good example of this.

It appears he floated down to the next county down river. I expect this will stir up a large search effort to see if the other missing hunter can be located.
Darin Clark said:
Here in PA were past ducking season but are in the middle of ice fishing. Same safety consideration go for ice fishing. How many guys wear PFDs out on the ice. We had a fisherman go through the ice recently and even though EMS was called and on scene within 10 minutes it was to late.

A word of caution on wearing life jackets while ice fishing. First, they do make float coats for this purpose and they work well. Second - do not wear an automatically inflating life vest while ice fishing. Reason is it takes a couple of seconds for the auto inflate feature to activate. By the time it does you are underwater. If it then inflates, and you are not exactly under the hole where you went in, the inflation will push you right up against the ice making it hard to get back to the hole and out.

The best thing you can have on you are ice picks should you go through the ice. You can use them on the underside to pull yourself to the hole and then use them to get out as well.

The Wollner Open is later today. Probably the last day on the ice. Landings may be tough as cars bring all the salt on them to the landing where it washes off onto the ice and melts it. After that, the ice should be sold and at least 2' thick. Pictures to follow later.

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