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2018-06-13 / Agriculture and Outdoors

When heading to water, don’t be a pain in the boat!

Woods, Waters & Wildlife
By John Jefferson


Waters will be crowded on the Fourth of July – and on most summer weekends. Game wardens – like the ones pictured here in the helicopter – and other law enforcement agencies – will be patrolling to keep the public safe. 
JOHN Jefferson Waters will be crowded on the Fourth of July – and on most summer weekends. Game wardens – like the ones pictured here in the helicopter – and other law enforcement agencies – will be patrolling to keep the public safe. JOHN Jefferson A song says, “It’s summertime, and the living is easy.” It’s the time of year when Texans head to the waters to cool off, relax, or just hang out somewhere besides the living room couch. Some of it will be done in a boat of one kind or another, and some will be done on floats and inner tubes.

I may do some, too, including lounging in my granddaughter’s plastic wading pool with her grandmother on those scalding hot afternoons. If that brands me as a redneck, at least I’ll be a cool one for a while. I’ll also do some in boats with a rod and reel in hand, but that’ll either be early in the morning before it gets too hot, or for a few hours after sundown.

Night fishing is not only cooler, it’s often more productive. Fish are more active after dark during the summer. The full moon on June 28 will be an ideal time to be on the water, provided your boat lights work.

My closest boating call came one afternoon when a careless kid was shooting pecans off tree limbs, not knowing where his rounds were falling. Several hit near my boat. When I finally found him, we had a chat.

Getting shot is not what you fear most when out in a boat. Instead, many boat operators are as clueless about safety as that kid shooting pecans. About ten years ago, three Lampasas high school seniors – a football star, his girlfriend, and another friend were fishing at night several weeks before graduation. The fish didn’t start biting until just before they were to be home. They phoned their parents and got permission to fish a little longer.

Out of the darkness, a boat came right at them … and drove over them. The football player was killed. His girlfriend was knocked unconscious. His friend was slammed into the lake and would have drowned had he not been wearing a life jacket. The wayward boat operator sat nearby for a time since the impact killed his motor. Then he restarted his boat and drove away, leaving the kids helpless and adrift.

A massive search was started for a blue boat. Paint scrapes on the kids’ boat were the only evidence. Eight years later, a young lady overheard a conversation at a party about a man who had owned a blue boat no one had seen lately. She called a game warden.

When a warden came calling, the man broke down and confessed. He said he hadn’t slept well since that night. He led them to his back yard, where he had used a backhoe to dig a big hole. Wardens unearthed an old blue fiberglass boat. The owner was convicted and sentenced.

With the Fourth of July approaching, many boats will be on the water. A percentage of boat operators will possibly be impaired. Don’t be one of them! Boating while intoxicated penalties are steep. Manslaughter charges are life-changing. And sleepless nights are devastating.

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