by KAREN HALL
In 2017 Hunter Bland was a student at the University of Florida, pursuing a degree in Natural Resource Conservation. He was living college life to the fullest. As an active member of the fishing team, Hunter and his partner launched their boat for a tournament on Lake Seminole in mid-January with one thing on their minds – bringing the most weight to the scale later that day.
Within minutes of take-off, Hunter and his co-angler experienced a terrifying, and potentially life-ending event that would forever change their lives.
A sudden hydraulic steering failure while traveling over 55 mph resulted in both occupants being violently thrown overboard. A mounted video camera on board the craft captured the incident, and the footage is chilling.
“I’ve been boating for my entire life, and never once did I think something like this could happen to me,” Hunter said. “The good Lord, a Mustang survival PFD, a kill-switch and my partner saved my life that day. I was very blessed to walk away with only cuts and bruises, but it gave me a whole new perspective on life.”
Hunter is now a college graduate, a bass fishing professional, and a member of Yamaha’s National Pro Fishing Team. He travels across the country sharing his story as it relates to safety on the water, and is a full-time touring pro.
Humble, kind and genuinely passionate about making a difference in the lives of others, Hunter is the kind of fishing professional all high school anglers can learn from. Follow Hunter on Facebook and watch his story below.