Hunting on or around water brings its own set of challenges and requires extra safety precautions, especially if you’re planning to hunt on public lands such as the Brazos River or at one of the Brazos River Authority’s hunting blind locations.
As Texans gear up to participate in the annual ritual, here are a few tips to help make your next on-water hunting trip safe and enjoyable:
Make a plan and check your gear
One of the most important steps to take before you head out to hunt is to plan ahead and be sure you’re equipped for all situations.
According to Ducks Unlimited, you should always carry a waterproof fire-starting kit in a pocket. Being able to start a fire could stave off hypothermia if you should get wet. They also suggest stocking up with safety gear including survival rations, rope, a flare gun, space blanket, hand axe, and whistle. Though you may want to ditch that cell phone before you leave home, stow it away in a waterproof plastic bag in your pocket just in case an emergency arises.
Have your boat, motor, and trailer serviced. Make sure everything mechanical is in good running order and that batteries are at full charge. And, don’t forget that certified personal flotation device if you’re planning to do more than wade.
Once you’re packed up, be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return. Remember, state law says you may only begin hunting one-half hour before sunrise and until sunset – so check your local newspaper or weather station for sunrise and sunset times in your area for the days you plan to hunt.
Since the Brazos River and its tributaries are considered public streams, they belong to all Texans and they open to hunting; however, you must be aware of state laws and potential local regulations as well.
Be careful where you wade once in the riverbed and don’t stray onto private property. Under state law, the river bed is public property up to the “gradient boundary.” To avoid violating Texas trespassing laws, stay below the point where woody plants begin to grow (below the vegetation line). For questions on a specific area on the river, contact the local Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden.
Many people live along the river banks, and hunters must be mindful of their safety when shooting. State law prohibits people from firing a weapon onto or across private property without the owner’s approval.
If you took part in the BRA’s annual hunting blind location drawing this year, be sure you’re aware of lakeside safety requirements. Hunting is only allowed on BRA reservoirs at sites specifically designated for waterfowl blinds.
The BRA encourages hunters to be safe and aware of state laws and local regulations. These regulations were created to protect not only hunters but also those who live nearby – whether on the river on a BRA reservoir.
To learn more about Texas hunting, including information about hunting licenses and seasons, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/annual.