It’s always unfortunate when a hunting trip claims lives, as happened in Massachusetts last week.
Every single time you step out your front door for a day of hunting, you are taking a risk and putting your life in danger, at least to a certain extent. If you are going after dangerous big game animals like black bears or something even more exotic in a foreign land, this level of risk goes without saying.
However, even if your hunting is targeting harmless small game animals, you need to observe caution and make sure you are always being as safe as possible.
Need proof that even relatively low-risk hunting escapades can be dangerous? Look no further than a recent news story from the Boston Globe, where three duck hunters were thrown into lethal conditions when their boat tipped over on the Westport River on Monday, January 6.
The three waterfowl hunters were in a skiff, searching the waters and banks to the Westport – and the nearby Buzzards Bay – for any signs of midwinter ducks.
Despite the polar vortex that was ripping across the Midwest on the same day, New England was experiencing unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures hovering in the mid-30s and the water temperature at about the same level. It is likely that the three hunters saw the above-freezing temperatures Monday morning and decided to take advantage of the temporary thaw.
The polar vortex was in fact expected to hit Massachusetts and the rest of New England shortly, with weather forecasts pointing to frigid temperatures and bitter cold wind chills of as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday night. However, on Monday morning, the weather was surprisingly balmy, and likely brought many a hunter or angler out of winter hibernation for a few opportunistic harvests.
But even though temperatures on Monday morning made it look like a perfect moment to grab a few late season kills, the three hunters on Westport River quickly discovered that the weather had been misleading. For reasons not currently known, the skiff the three men were riding in capsized around 9:30 a.m. The air may have been warmer than usual, but that fact didn’t make the water temperatures – which were measured at about 32 or 33 degrees – any less biting. Two of the hunters drowned in the frigid waters and washed up on a Westport beach. The third man – who sources indicate was middle-aged and in his 40s or 50s – was rushed to Rhode Island hospital.
According to Richard Earle, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Westport Harbormaster, the three men were pushing their luck and testing fate by duck hunting in a skiff at this time of year. Earle said that, while the weather was above freezing, parts of the river were still frozen, with other parts plagued by sprays and waves. It was a windy day, with freezing rain in the forecast and general knowledge that temperatures were going to drop quickly. The men should have either stayed inside for the day or taken their waterfowl hunting to land.
Sadly, this isn’t the only case of a duck hunt turning tragic in Massachusetts this season. On December 30, a 21-year-old Brown University student disappeared while on a duck hunting trip in Fairhaven. The young man’s car was found, abandoned, at a Fairhaven beach and his kayak was recovered a few miles away. The young man’s body has not yet been found.