Below is in my friends words from another forum.
I was the guy in the tender.
I am a 48 year old male from Pennsylvania. I have been hunting bluebills for over 20 years from layout boats along the Lake Erie shoreline and in Presque Isle Bay. In 1987 I became a certified USCG Captain and operated a charter boat on both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario into the mid 90's. I have been witness to both the good and the bad that comes with boating on the great lakes. I have always been very conservative when layout hunting and among the group of hunters that I associate, I have the reputation of being extremely safety conscious when it comes to equipment, conditions, and being prepared. I know from experience that you most likely will not get a second chance if you put yourself into a situation that goes bad when layout hunting.
On Monday November 26, 2012 it was the opening day of "Buck Season(Deer Season) in Pennsylvania. I elected to go to Presque Isle to duck hunt and pass on "The Buck Season Opener" because on Saturday a friend and I had done very well hunting from the layout boat.
We set our rig and the gunning was steady and it was a real good day. The wind was almost calm, but around 1pm the wind picked up to about 10 mph from the west. My partner was in the tender and had his ducks. I was in the layout and needed 1 more duck to finish my limit. My layout boat was purchased new in 1997 and has been one of the best and safest investments that I have made for layout hunting. At 2:00pm, I had several bluebills fly over the decoys and also directly over the layout boat. These birds were comeing from my left shoulder and crossing toward my right across the spread. I had the layout boat anchored with only 1 anchor so that any wind shifts would allow the boat to remain directly down wind. Within minutes, I spotted another group headed toward me from my left shoulder about 30 feet above the surface of the water. I picked out a bluebill and when it flew almost directly overhead I fired. I missed, swung out ahead of the bird and fired again.
At that instant, the layout boat rolled to the right, stopped for a spit second, and then flipped upside down. I knew I was in big trouble when the boat started to roll. I took a deep breath of air and went into the water face first when the boat rolled. I vividly remember fighting to free my feet from the boat, I was fighting to get free with the boat on top of me. I was under the water for what seemed like a long time, and at one point I remember thinking " I drowned on the first day of Buck Season at Erie." Suddenly I was free and moving in the water, although I was not to the surface and could not tell if my life jacket had come off during the struggle, or if it stayed on. I knew that if it had come off, I was sinking. And then it got light and I was above surface. I took a breath and began to look for the layout boat. I was suprised how far from the boat I was, but began to swim for the layout that was upside down. After 2 or 3 strokes I realized that my Browning Auto 5 was still on my right hand and my finger was still in the trigger guard. I got to the flipped layout, and tried to get a hold on it. When I grabbed the side, I was afraid that it would sink completely and my life vest would come off. I am man enough to tell you all, I was scared, real scared. I looked for the tender and saw the tender still sitting idle in the distance. My partner did not yet know this had happened. I thought, and remembered that I had a 3rd shell in my gun. I looked at the bolt and found the bolt back with an empty sticking in the bolt long ways. There was no 3rd round. Apparently, when I went over, or during my stuggle to free myself, I fired the 3rd shot under water and didn't even know it.
I waited for what seemed like a while, but am sure it was only a minute or two. I was getting cold, but knew I had to stay at with the boat. I knew it was after 2pm and we had planned to quit by 3pm, so I had to hold on. I knew I could not last that long.
My partner was doing his job. He heard the shots, called on the radio, and was looking at the layout. He later told me he saw a splash right after the second shot and believed that I had killed the duck and it hit near the layout boat. He said the layout looked strange, and he kept looking and calling for me on the radio. I never answered and he figured the bird would need to float out of the decoys, but he came out anyway. Something just didn't look right.
I saw the tender boat coming. I knew I had to get in. I was afraid the motor would stall, or my partner would get nervous and the motor would quit before he could get to me. I knew I was getting cold, my cloths were absorbing more water, and I could not last long, but I also knew I had a few minutes left. My partner did not panic. He remained calm, he kept the motor running, got close to me, and got a hold of me. He did a GREAT job.
I could not get back into the boat. I was too heavy from the water logged cloths and I am a large person. My partner got me to the back of the boat, I got a foot hold on the motor, and with his help, I wedged my body beteen the outboard and the auxiliary motor bracked on the transom. My partner then came up with the idea that he would raise the motor with the power trim and I could then slide onto the floor of the boat on my belly. He did it and I got in. I MADE IT. Now the need to understand what went wrong!!!
1. I have never even come close to rolling this particular layout boat. I have felt so safe in this layout, that I believe that may have been one of reasons this happened. Don't get complacent.
2. After thinking about this for 2 days, I believe that I must have moved my body to the right side of the layout to look for birds approaching from my left shoulder.
3. When I started to swing to shoot, I most likely started the rolling motion, missed, and continued to swing to get ahead of the bird and fire. I have taken shots to the right many time from this boat, but I cannot recall any birds being directly over me and moving from left to right as you are sitting.
4. My layout boat has a large cockpit and foot space is pretty good. I have seen may layout boats that have very limited foot space. This could have pinned me for good. I wear size 12 my usual partner wears 14's. I'm glad it wasn't him in the layout.
5. I was wearing my life jacket as required by law.
6. My partner was doing his job. In the past, I have refused in a very polite manner to allow others that I do not know good enough to operate the tender boat for me. I have set out many days over the years because I did not want to risk my life to someone I did not have 100% confidence in. They got to shoot, I watched, but I belived that it was more important than killing a duck. I know I was right, and I had confidence in my partner on Monday.
7. Make sure you have radios, and use them often. Because I did not answer, my partner scrutinized the situation and came out.
8. PAINT YOUR LAYOUT BOAT BOTTOM HIGH VISIBILITY ORANGE !!!!!
I never dreamed I would roll this boat. Everyone that knows this boat design is in total amazement that it even could happen, but it did.
9. KEEP YOUR TENDER BOAT CLOSER. We got into habits of moving away because the hunting pressure is heavy in this area. Let's face it, if you are hunting "good" birds, they are going to decoy with the tender at a reasonable distance. How many times do you have the tender boat near the decoys and birds still decoy. Don't fool yourself. STAY CLOSE.
10. I will be calling the manufacturer of the layout boat to discuss. I love his products and I want him to know about this to help his customers. I believe this had nothing to do with his product, but he needs to know about it. I still swear by his products and I know many others that also do.
11. I plan to reconstruct this event. I plan to wear the exact same cloths, have the same gun, exact number of shells in the boat, etc, and get the boat to roll. I will do this in shallow water with a few friends so that we will know exactly what went wrong. UNTIL THAT TIME, I ASK ALL OF YOU TO PLEASE, THINK ABOUT THIS, LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES, TIGHTEN UP YOUR PROGRAM AND THINK ABOUT YOUR FEET AND GETTING THEM OUT if this happens to you.
Go buy some HI-VIS paint and paint your layout bottoms, Don't shoot crossing shots, and have 100% confidence in your tender boat operator. I GOT OUT OF IT. I GET TO TYPE THIS POST. I HOPE THAT I CAN PREVENT A DROWNING. I DON'T KNOW YOU, BUT LET ME SAVE YOU IF I CAN. I am a safety conscious 48 year old male from Pennsylvania. It happened to me. It can happen to you. THANK YOU DOUG. YOU DID YOUR JOB. YOU WERE COOL UNDER PRESSURE. Thank you Paul for talking to me today about this. It sure helped to think about it. Please think about this. Dan.
addicted2ducks wrote:Im about to get a layout boat myself in a few weeks. (actually building one, I'll post pics later) Iv never hunted out of a layout before. Do most people put 2 anchors out, one in the front and one in the back? Or should I only put out one anchor in the back of the boat? Whats the safest?
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests