While it is always enjoyable to get together with some buddies for a little hunting, it can also be very rewarding to practice the sport at new destinations. This allows hunters additional experience when it comes to other kinds of game that might not be available near where they live. However, when it comes to travelling with hunting gear it is important to remember that different states have different laws.
Crossing State Lines
In general, hunting rifles can be transported across state lines. If travelling by car or truck, have all firearms, unloaded, stored in their cases and locked in the vehicle’s trunk. Do not have the ammunition packed together with a firearm.
Note, however, that handguns are a different story. If you usually bring one along with you while hunting, check out the gun laws of your destination prior to departure.
Taking Equipment on Planes in the U.S.
When checking your baggage, it is required by law that you inform the airline attendant you have a gun in your luggage, and that the luggage must be of the hard-side variety. You will be required to sign a form declaring that the weapon is not loaded.
It is also required that the hard-sided container is locked, and only the passenger transporting the firearm has the key or combination.
Have the key or combination at hand, as you may be asked to open your luggage so that a TSA examiner and/or a law enforcement officer can do a visual inspection of the firearm(s) in question. No aspect of a firearm or its action may be included in carry-on luggage. Check with your airline regarding rules on how much ammunition you can bring with you. Better yet, to avoid potential hassles, plan on purchasing ammunition after reaching your destination.
Bows and arrows are not subject to as many restrictions, but they also cannot be packed in carry-on luggage. Make sure that any sharp tips are properly sheathed to avoid injury to a luggage screener if your bag is inspected.
Travelling to Other Countries
When travelling outside of the United States, you are subject to the laws of the countries to where you travel; make sure that you are well versed on what can and cannot come with you, and how it may be transported.
If you are planning to visit Canada, remember that country has much stricter rules regarding firearms, including rifles and shotguns. Prohibited firearms include fully automatic, converted automatics, assault-type weapons and handguns with a barrel length of less than four inches, as well as replicas of such weapons and certain knives. Fortunately, a detailed list of these restrictions is available and other countries will also have similar information available online.
Make sure to do your homework: confiscated weapons are almost never returned to the owners and you could even face criminal charges. Before you depart from the U.S., ask a customs official to do a visual inspection of your equipment and give you a signed form 4457, which is the Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad. This should allow you to avoid problems and customs duties when you arrive back home.
As can be seen from the steps involved, travelling with your hunting equipment requires extra steps and extra time, so keep that in mind when planning your next hunting trip.
In addition to making sure that your equipment is placed inside sturdy protective cases, it is wise to invest in a GPS tracker. This small and economical security enhancement will easily fit inside any hunting equipment container and allows you to know exactly where your equipment is at any given time. That way, if it should be lost in transit, you will be able to aid the carrier and greatly increase the chances that your gear will be returned safe and sound, in the shortest amount of time possible.
Do some extra work now so that the only suspense you experience comes while tracking and bagging your game.