How Should Firearms Be Transported in a Boat?

how should firearms be transported in a boat

Hunting from a boat can be loads of fun. Offering a new way for hunters-slash-boaters to bring together the excitement of two popular recreational activities, boat hunting is the perfect way to challenge your skill. But just as it combines the fun of two amazing hobbies, it also doubles up on danger.

Boat hunting requires extra care and caution since you're mixing together the risks of both boating and hunting which are particularly dangerous activities. And the first of any precaution you should take of course, involves how you bring your guns along with you while you're traveling via water to your hunting spot. So how should firearms be transported in a boat? Here are all the details.

Step by Step Guide on How Firearms Should Be Transported in a Boat

Observing the proper protocol when transporting firearms can help save you from a world's worth of trouble. For the most part, there are two objectives for proper firearm transport on a boat, and these include:

  • Preventing accidents
  • Keeping firearms and ammo safe and functional until you reach your destination

So to make sure you achieve both goals, it's imperative that you follow these steps on how to transport firearms in a boat:

Unload the Firearms

The first and most important step would be to unload and case the firearms. Remember, a gun without bullets will not fire so it's imperative that you clear out any bullets in the gun. This also goes for any ammo already in the chamber.

Once that's done, you can turn the safety on. Without any ammo in the gun, that might not seem necessary. But it's always better to be safe than sorry. In fact, the number one rule of safe gun handling is to keep the gun safety on until you intend to shoot.

Place the Gun in the Boat

With the firearm safely turned off and the ammo out of the gun, you can then place the firearm at the bow or front of the boat. Avoid placing it in the back of the boat where it's away from your view. The muzzle should be facing forward so that it will point towards the bow.

This is to make sure that in the event it goes off (in case you forgot to turn off the safety and a bullet was left inside) it doesn't accidentally shoot any of the passengers.

Take Your Seat

It's important that the gun is loaded into the boat before you do. With the unloaded gun safely stowed at the bow with the muzzle facing forward, you can go ahead and board the boat yourself.

Sit at the bow with your back facing the rear or the stern of the boat so that you're behind the gun. See to it that your firearm is always within reach, but that you aren't stepping on it. Also make sure that there are no objects on board that could hit, roll over, or otherwise bump into your firearm.

Unloading the Firearm

Once you've reached your destination, you can leave the boat and unload your weapon or gun in the reverse order of the steps above. That means you have to step out first and then retrieve your gun. By this time, you have the option to load it up with ammo in case you're ready to start hunting.

What About Multiple Firearms?

If you're boating with a friend and you're both carrying firearms, it's important that you know how to carry and transport multiple firearms in a boat. The boarding and disembarking procedure change slightly if you're accommodating a second hunter.

After your unloaded firearm is placed in the front of the boat, and you've stepped into the boat safely, your buddy can then place their own unloaded gun or weapon into the boat. Remember that you take your place behind your own firearm.

For added security, the second unloaded gun must be placed into the stern with the muzzle facing the back of the boat. That means that the guns butts will point to each other, and their muzzles will be facing away from each other. Once the second weapon or gun is loaded, your hunting passenger can hop in with you. They should sit behind you, with their firearm at the very back of the boat.

To get out after transport, you go in the reverse order of the loading steps. That means your passenger gets out first, takes out their gun or firearm from the back of the boat, and then you can step out and then take your firearm.

Remember that all transported firearms have to be stowed with the ammo out and the safety turned on. You should also always have your hunting license and tags at the ready to make sure you have the necessary documents to prove you're not hunting illegally.

How Should Ammo Be Transported?

There are loads of resources that talk about how to transport firearms on a boat, but very few that tackle the issue of transporting or carrying ammo. The thing about ammunition is that unlike a gun that can't fire without bullets, bullets can fire without having to be loaded into a gun. With that in mind, you might say that proper ammo transport could require more attention and care versus weapon transport.

When storing ammo, you need to make sure they're tucked in a dark, cool, and dry place. This helps guarantee that the bullets are kept in functional condition, and that they're properly protected from going off when you don't want them to. That said, it might be helpful to keep the ammo in the box that they originally came in.

And since you're in a boat, it wouldn't hurt to stow the bullet-filled box in a waterproof duffel bag or something similar to keep any moisture from penetrating the casings. Some hunters even go as far as adding cushioning like rags into the bag so as to protect the bullets during a bumpy ride over choppy water.

However it's important to note that the chances of a bullet going off outside are pretty slim. Even if they do, they're not likely to cause too much injury or damage since there isn't any directional force acting on the bullet the same way that it would be pushed forward out of a gun's barrel. Nonetheless, it's always better to err on the side of caution.

Tips on Boat Hunting

Wondering how to make your trip a little safer for everyone? Aside from knowing the steps on safely boarding and disembarking, here are some tips to keep your hunt safe:

  • Always wear your life vest
  • If you're boat hunting with a passenger or friend, make sure you don't fire your guns while facing the same direction at the same time
  • Keep your first aid kit at the ready
  • Never leave shore without a phone or a radio at your disposal
  • Distribute the weight on your boat properly especially if you have multiple passengers
  • Position passengers so that their guns are pointing opposite directions when they sit and shoot
  • Consider having each person sit back to back when shooting their weapons
  • Avoid firing your weapons at the same target
  • Call your target so your partner doesn't fire their weapon or firearm at the same target
  • Consider the weight of your hunt and how it might impact the weight of your vessel
  • Bring a dry set of clothes in a waterproof duffel bag to change into after your hunt
  • Slather on the bug repellent

FAQs for Hunting From a Boat

Is it legal to carry firearms in a boat?

Given that the gun is a hunting firearm and that you secure the necessary hunting permits and tags, there shouldn't be a problem. Do note though that there might be a unique law or regulations in different states regarding carrying a weapon in boats. See to it that you check with your local government to ensure that you're not stepping on any laws.

Can you carry firearms on a boat in international waters?

If it's a flagged boat, then the laws and regulations of the country represented by the flag will apply. But if you're out at sea or in the ocean on an unflagged boat, then there are no restrictions. Keep in mind though that international waters pertain to open waters 24 miles off of the coast. Once you enter the territory of another country, like Mexico for example, then their laws for carrying a gun on a boat will apply.

Can you shoot firearms from a boat?

Absolutely. If that were illegal to fire a firearm or weapon on a boat, then duck hunting wouldn't be a thing and we wouldn't be asking how should firearms be transported in a boat. What you should be more concerned about would be the rules and regulations that oversee the specific hunting activity you're engaged in. For instance, some places have their own rules when it comes to hunting duck. Familiarize yourself with local regulations before you start shooting.

Ready for Hunting Season?

Safety first! While the hunting season might have you feeling extra giddy, it's important that you take the time to observe the necessary safety measures and tips including transporting your firearms safely and securely while you traverse the waters. So how should firearms be transported in a boat? Just refer back to this handy guide the next time you're prepping for a weekend of hunting.

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