Flying With Hunting Gear

I just got back a day or two ago from a Gal Pal Pheasant Hunt Weekend (with article to come), and now I’m leaving in a few days for a Ladies Doe and Hog Hunt in Texas.  I’ll be flying with my gun and gear and let me tell you that this packing thing is causing some brain strain.

I’ve flown with a handgun a couple times, but never with a long gun, ammo, and associated hunting accoutrements before. Maybe this is old hat for some of you, but I’m getting a little stressed. I printed out the TSA and Southwest Air regs to make sure I wasn’t going to get any hassles about which bag the magazines and ammo etc needed to be in, how much of each I’m permitted, and what kind of locks I can have on the case.

I’m taking my Aero Precision M5 that I built this spring, in a Pelican case, and I’m also bringing my Black Hills Ammunition .308 ammo. I’ll also need magazines, at least minimal cleaning supplies, ear and eye protection, a knife (or two), my pack, water bottle, etc. But I’ve gotta figure out where to put everything!

Cleaning out my hunting pack in order to keep TSA happy for a carry-on was a job in itself. Making sure the knives and ammo are out of Every. Single. Crevice. takes some attention to detail. Then, there’s the stuff that I keep in there for when I’m alone on the property in case of emergency, that I won’t likely need on a fully-guided hunt on a private ranch in Texas.

You wouldn’t believe how many pockets there are where carry-on contraband can hide.

Compass? Okay that’s staying just for the principle of it. But the local maps can go, and so can the grocery bags for picking up litter (or picking berries). The 3 year old granola bar? That can go. Headlamp and flashlight are staying. Range finder? Nah, they’ll probably have all that. Binoculars? Yeah I’ll probably want those. Mini trauma kit? Definitely staying. Holy Cow, there are pockets in this bag that I didn’t even know existed!

How about the no trespassing signs, stapler and extra staples? Yeah no. Tarp, paracord, camo duct tape, two boxes of matches and magnesium fire starter? Not likely needed. Shemaugh and fluorescent trail markers? Ummm no.

Sheesh, no wonder that pack is so heavy. It’s not like I go into the back country or anything, so holy cow do I over-prepare for the unexpected. That pack is like my outdoor purse or something.

Next I had to decide just how much wool under layer, camo, hats and other outdoor wear I’m going to need. The beauty of the lightweight wool base layers is that they can be rinsed in the sink and hung to dry overnight (or not, since wool doesn’t stink like poly). I even found a couple merino wool sports bras online. (no hardwear to dig into the shooting shoulder, and no straps always falling down under multiple layers) Men just cannot appreciate how much a good bra makes a difference in the outdoors. (Is that TMI?)

The final challenge will be to make everything fit into a single suitcase and daypack, since the gun case will already be one checked bag. Fortunately, Southwest allows for two checked bags. 

The gun case was another story, as I originally cut the foam for a different gun from a few years ago. But replacement foam costs an arm and a leg, so with some creative steak-knifery I made it all work. I also marked the case with the name of my quartet in a lame attempt to make it look like a musical instrument instead of a gun. We’ll see if that fools anybody.

Why yes, it IS an instrument I play with!

I scheduled a non-stop flight so there is less chance of the airline screwing up where they send the gun. That honestly has been my biggest source of stress leading up to this trip. Well, that and how much it’s gonna cost me to process and ship meat from Texas if I have success on this hunt. But – first things first – I have to finish packing and actually get there! 

Wish me luck! After Action Report to Follow!