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    Coast Guard, Maryland Natural Resource Police advocate for safe boating among sportsman



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Isaac Cross 

    U.S. Coast Guard District 5   

    Hunting and fishing is about more than just putting food on the table and it’s bigger than a weekend hobby. It’s about solitude and becoming one with nature. The solitary and cold weather can be a relaxing experience enjoyed again and again, but it also contains dangerous elements that can lead to a life-threatening situation.
    “The phenomenon we see with hunters is that they tend to be very focused on the fact that they are hunters — what they need to truly grasp is that if they are hunting from a boat, then they also need to know the rules for boating,” said Julie Brown, the boating education coordinator for Maryland Natural Resources Police.
    According to the U.S. Coast Guard, hunters are involved in an average of 35 major boating accidents per year, resulting in 14 deaths and 27 serious injuries. Eighty percent of these reported deaths occurred by drowning and 85 percent of the victims were not wearing a personal flotation device.
    Brown has spent over two decades working with MNRP and expressed an interest in nature at a very young age.
    “I started fishing when I was nine. I went out with my three brothers and was so excited because, being a girl I wasn’t usually allowed to go, but the funny thing is, by the end of the day I was the only person to actually catch a fish,” said Brown. “And that’s the day I knew I wanted to help other people understand this world; so from that point on I got older and found a way to adopt it as a profession.”
    Brown has taken her professional experience and knowledge gathered over the years and devoted her time to share it with others.
    “I started working with natural resources back in 1995. I just fell in love with sharing knowledge about hunting and recreational boating and being able to help,” said Brown. “ I like that I get to share my knowledge with people and be a wise old owl on the dock; it’s a very heartwarming experience.’’
    With boating safety and the great outdoors being such a large part of Brown's identity, she recommends the Coast Guard and MNRP safety steps to ensure a safe and non-interrupted hunt:
    Don't substitute your essential safety equipment with hunting and fishing supplies. Overloading your boat with ammunition and other equipment puts you at risk for capsizing.
    Always wear lifejackets when on the water.
    Let people know where you will be and the amount of time you will be gone. If you are unable to contact someone for help, it's very important to have another person expecting your return so that help can be sent as soon as possible. That's also why going on the water with others can be advantageous.
    Always pack first aid.
    Bring a second pair of warm clothes, preferably in a watertight container. That way if you take an unexpected plunge you can reduce your risk of hypothermia.
    Before going out, try and familiarize yourself with the surrounding area you plan on visiting.
    Always check your local weather app before any trip so that you can plan accordingly. (
    Julie Brown works very closely with the Coast Guard Auxiliary and recommends that anyone who is interested, reach out and locate one of the many Auxiliary boating and hunting safety courses.
    “I wouldn’t be able to do my job without the Coast Guard Auxiliary,” said Brown. “They are so dedicated and ready and are always looking to help, so I always recommend getting in touch to make sure you’re staying safe on the water.’’
    The Maryland Natural Resource Police informs boaters of the importance of proper hunting and fishing precautions, and the U.S. Coast Guard strongly urges that hunters follow these tips as well. The Coast Guard's Fifth District Command Center manages search-and-rescue cases 24 hours a day, covering incidents from New Jersey to North Carolina.
    “Incidents can happen in as little as three inches of water. The assumption that nothing bad will happen in shallow water while hunting or fishing is incorrect,” said Lt. Dave Steele, the Command Duty Officer for the command center. “You need to treat every boating excursion as seriously as if you were going offshore.”



    Date Taken: 10.31.2019
    Date Posted: 11.01.2019 08:03
    Story ID: 350134
    Location: PORTSMOUTH, VA, US 

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