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Posted on: September 20, 2018

State’s Boating Program encourages hunters to boat safely

OLYMPIA – Sept. 20, 2018 – With the upcoming opening of waterfowl and upland game hunting seasons, Washington State Parks’ Boating Program wants people who hunt from boats to be safe and know the boating laws before they head out on the water.

Most hunting and angling take place on boats less than 16-feet long. Small boats are known for their instability. Recreational boating data from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Boating Program shows that most drowning victims were using vessels less than 21 feet in length. In addition, the primary causes of boating fatalities are capsizing, falling overboard and swamping. 

Safe boating includes having enough life jackets for every person on board. Children age 12 and under are always required to wear life jackets on boats shorter than 19 feet. However, the Boating Program advises everyone, regardless of age, to wear a life jacket. More hunters die each year from drowning and cold-water immersion than from gunshot wounds. Boaters are encouraged to carry communications equipment such as a cell phone in a waterproof container, a VHF radio and/or personal locator beacon that can be activated in case of an emergency. Additional precautions hunters can take are as follows:

  • Never overload the boat with too many people or too much gear.
  •  Always distribute weight evenly. 
  • Lean carefully when setting decoys.
  • Keep a sharp lookout. 
  • Understand the risk of wearing waders if a boat capsizes.
  • Wear several layers of synthetic materials to avoid hypothermia.

Legal boating means displaying current registration decals and numbers and having appropriate navigation lights—in addition to carrying enough life jackets for everyone on board. 

Hunters are strongly encouraged to obtain a Washington Boater Education Card. The course offers helpful tips for hunters and provides key information about safety, right-of-way, legal operation and personal responsibility when operating a boat. Anyone between the ages of 12 and 60 and operating a vessel with a 15-horsepower (or greater) motor is required by law to carry a Washington Boater Education Card. 

Additional resources for hunters who wish to learn more about boating and hunting safety tips: 

Hunters must possess a valid hunter education certificate and hunting license, tags and permits for whatever they are hunting.

For more information about boating prepared, visit  

About the Washington State Boating Program

Washington State Parks administers the state’s Boating Program, which provides leadership in boating safety and environmental education and outreach. The goal of the program is to reduce accidents and fatalities, increase stewardship of Washington waterways, and keep recreational boating a safe, accessible and enjoyable pastime. For more information on the Boating Program, visit:  

News media contacts:
Christina Fremont, Washington State Parks Boating Program, (360) 902-8837
Toni Droscher, State Parks Communications Office,  (360) 902-8604


About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. 

News release number: 18-059

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