Tips for Traveling with Your Hunting Gear
As many of us begin preparing for fall hunting trips, unavoidably there may be airline travel in your near future. If so, there are a few things you can do to help make things easier when traveling with your firearm and hunting gear.
When it comes to air travel, you will need a good and super-strong gun case. It’s hard to say exactly what happens when your gun leaves your sight, but I’ve had cases run over with luggage carts, and countless locks, latches and wheels busted off. The important thing is my gun was protected throughout even though my cases get pretty beat up.
The next thing that’s easy to forget is a soft case for your gun. You get everything packed in your big tough case, but once you arrive on the hunt you probably don’t want to be lugging that in and out of the field. I’ve started putting a soft case in my bag or even packing the gun in a soft case before placing it in the hard case. Another thing to keep in mind is all airlines want your ammo to be in its original box. In most cases its okay to put it with your gun, but always check with the agent as to where they want your ammo placed. They won’t allow loose ammo to be lying around so make sure to take it out of any ammo pouches or holders that you may normally use. Once everything has been approved, you also need to have two locks ready for your case. I prefer combination locks so there is no chance of loosing my key.
Airlines have also become extremely strict on weight and there isn’t much worse than getting up to the counter and trying to scramble, and having to shift weight from one bag to another. If you can’t get bags under the limit you’re going to be handing over quite a bit of extra money for your excess luggage. If you need a lot of bags, it’s usually cheaper to break your gear into 3-bags versus paying overweight charges. It depends on the airline, but it’s worth checking into prior to your trip. Last year I finally decided to install a scale from my garage ceiling with a simple hook. I fill up my bags and gun case, and then weigh it before leaving. This way, I can get everything balanced accordingly and just pack it the same on the way home. It’s really saved me a lot of time and hassle at airports, and is a cheap and easy solution.
Another weight saving method is to keep your optics either locked up in your gun case or pack them in your carry-on. Not only are they heavy, but you don’t want them getting knocked around or possibly stolen. Gun cases are usually lighter for most people so it’s a great way to balance out weight and protect your gear.
Lastly, I believe wheels are one of the most important things you can have on your luggage! I usually travel with a backpack as a carry on, then pull a duffel bag and a gun case with wheels. Also, if you’re heading to Canada or Alaska I always pack my clothes in a completely waterproof bag. In the past I just used a canvas duffle bag, and ended up with soaked clothes on numerous occasions after my bags sat in the rain while loading or unloading float planes or before I could get camp setup. It’s the little things that make your trip much easier and smoother if you put a little thought and time in prior to leaving.
Melissa Bachman is an incredibly hardcore and intense hunter – perhaps one of the more passionate hunters you will ever meet.