Hunting from a boat

Lindsey Leko

After putting out a request on social media, I received  questions from hunters that I hope to answer over my next few columns.

Today, I am going to discuss the rules around hunting from a boat and hunting from a road. There are some restrictions and differences between hunting big game and waterfowl.

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For hunting big game, the Wildlife Act does not consider a boat to be a motor vehicle, so you can legally carry a loaded firearm in a boat. Even though it is legal to carry loaded firearms and shoot from a boat, you need to consider the size of the boat and the safety of the other occupants. A good practice is to turn off the motor and wait until the boat is still prior to firing.

Remember if you are hunting big game from a boat, do not fire your rifle within 500 metres of an occupied cabin or building. Make sure your shot is taken safely with care to what is beyond the target. You can legally have multiple firearms in the boat and they can all be loaded.

There are other considerations while hunting big game from a boat. If you harvest your animal from a boat, wait until it gets to shore. Shooting your harvest while it is swimming is not a good idea, as it makes retrieval difficult. Keep in mind the Wildlife Act prohibits the wasting or abandonment of game.

The last consideration is whether or not you are chasing, worrying or harassing the animal with the boat. Legally, you are not allowed to chase wildlife with a boat. You can hunt big game from a boat, but you cannot chase it or drive it towards other hunters.

While hunting waterfowl, having a boat or some other means of retrieval is important and mandatory. If you have a dog that does not mind getting wet, that is great. Otherwise it is waders, a boat or you are getting wet. After you pull the trigger and the ducks hit the water, they are not going to swim to you.

You can legally shoot waterfowl from a boat, but the motor must be shut off and there can be no forward movement as a result of the boat’s propulsion equipment. As is the case with big game, you are not allowed to chase waterfowl with a boat. If the wind blows, that is OK, but movement of the boat cannot be generated by the motor.

Many hunters have a blind in the boat. Remember that you can only have one operational gun in your blind, so if you have a second gun it must be unloaded and encased or dismantled so it is inoperable.

There are no motor or size restrictions for hunting wildlife from a boat.

After reading some of the comments on social media about hunting from roads, I felt that I should address this again.

Many people know that it is unlawful to shoot across or down any provincial highway or road (provincial and municipal). However, many people don’t realize that it is also unlawful to shoot from any provincial highway, provincial road or municipal road.

This means shooting from a trail on a quarter section of land that you have legal access to is legal. The same is true if you are shooting from a road allowance without a road.

Q: Is a bow considered a firearm under the Saskatchewan Wildlife Act?

Yes, a firearm is any device from which any shot, bullet or missile is propelled, including a rifle, shotgun, pellet gun, air gun, pistol, revolver, spring gun, long bow or crossbow.

Q: Is it legal to use a rifle or a bow to hunt waterfowl.

In Saskatchewan, it is unlawful to hunt waterfowl with a rifle, but it is legal to hunt waterfowl with a recurve bow or compound bow.

Q: Can I have a digital copy of my migratory game bird permit rather than a printed copy?

No. Federal regulations require that you print and sign your migratory game bird permit while hunting waterfowl. A digital copy does not meet the regulatory requirements. However, you can have a digital copy of your Saskatchewan game bird hunting licence, which is also required to hunt migratory birds in Saskatchewan. 

Well that does it for another week. Until next time, please ensure you are carrying a copy of your licence with you.

— Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 26 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. If you have questions, please contact lindsey.leko@gov.sk.ca.

 

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