Wildfowling magazine - wildfowling waterfowling duck hunting goose shooting
Safety on the Shore
Creekcrawler  looks after your welfare.

We don't ask for a lot as wildfowlers. Apart from praying for an abundant supply of geese and ducks in the right places at the right times and hoping that, more often than not, our aim will be straight, the only other thing that we demand from the fowling gods is some really filthy weather.

All our most vivid fowling memories seems to involve gale force winds and stormy seas because, quite simply, those are the conditions that produce the most successful and exciting sport. Couple foul weather with difficult terrain, oozing mud and racing tides and we are faced with an environment which presents a multitude of hazards to the unwary waterfowler.

Regrettably, hardly a season passes without the newspapers reporting the deaths of fowlers who have been trapped by advancing tides while shooting on the foreshore. Conditions on the estuary can change rapidly, each locality having its own particular quirks. This is one reason why it really is prudent for fowlers to spend some time during the close season reconnoitering their local marshes so that they might become familiar with every gully and creek. Experience cannot be built up overnight and each wildfowler must tread with the utmost caution until he has come to terms with his chosen fowling grounds.


The greatest danger comes from the threat of being cut off by the tide while far out on the marsh. Especially on expansive saltings, there is a tendency to underestimate the speed of the tidal flow and it must be constantly borne in mind that the flatter the marsh, the greater the race of incoming water.

Tide tables are, therefore, an essential part of any coastal fowler's equipment. What is equally important is to appreciate the conditions which will render the printed tables inaccurate. A gale from offshore can bring the time of high tide forward by a full hour and can raise its height by several feet.

Retreating in front of a freak tide is bad enough but the situation is ten times worse when plowtering through glutinous mud. Add some fog and things really become scary. So, quite simply don't go out on the mud until you have developed the skill of moving through it and make sure that you have your compass with you and that you know how to use it. It's no use knowing which direction is north if you don't know in which direction the sea wall lies! Take your bearings before going out.

GPS and Mobile Phones

Even better than a compass is a GPS receiver that uses satellites to plot position with great accuracy. Use this to plot your waypoints on the way out to the tideline and reverse the route to find a sure way back if conditions do turn really nasty. Modern GPS handheld sets are now very inexpensive but still give them protection from the elements by keeping them in a waterproof poly-bag when not in use.

Another modern piece of equipment for the longshore gunner is that curse of modern society - the mobile phone. While I thoroughly despise the weirdos who carry one on every drive of a driven game shoot, we should not be so proud as to deny their value as a safety aid when wildfowling. Just one word of warning. While you might need to use the mobile phone to summon the coastguard in a real emergency, never, never, never give your phone number to anyone. After all, if someone close to you is expecting a baby, you don't want to receive a call from the maternity ward in the middle of morning flight. Anyway, hospitals don't encourage visitors who are wearing muddy waders and carrying shotguns!

Take care and have a safe season.

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