Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Hunt of the Fall

With my first trip of the fall just a few days away I've started my packing. If you fly at all, you no doubt know how easy it is to be overweight or pack something you're not supposed to. After a few years of doing this I've worked out a system that generally gets me through most bow hunts.

I start with an SKB bowcase. It has wheels and I can toss my duffle on it. I ditch the extra padding in the case and pack clothes around the gear, especially my cams and strings. I also try to make sure I have a complete outer layer in there in case my duffle is lost. I also enjoy hunting with traditional gear so I slip a take down recurve in as a back up. It adds little weight and packs super small.

Sometimes I use the bowcase for my rifle to take advantage of the extra room. And it doesn't look like a rifle case to the people who love purposely dropping and damaging gun cases.

I carry a plain XL duffle, which is harder to tote than the fancy wheeled ones but it lets me pack more gear. And since it's a soft duffle and packs into cargo holds better, I don't get as much grief over it's size. On horseback hunts the outfitter can just strap it to a packsaddle.

If there's any chance of bugs, my Thermacell goes in as well. By the way, Thermacell has an IATA (International Air Transport Association) ruling saying that it is safe to fly with a Thermacell. Since each airport can make their own rules, the best option is to take the butane out of the package. Worst case they should only take it.

My arrows go in a tube to keep the fletching from getting twisted and depending on weight can go in my duffle or bowcase.

My Nikon bino, rangefinder and Fieldscope go in my pack (if possible) which I carry on. If I'm tight on weight, I'll also cram my boots in there. And of course all my tags, license, passport and hunter ed cards stay with me.

The rest of the pile is made up of my Montana decoy, calls and personal stuff-it adds up quickly.

Sometimes I'll look into shipping clothes or heavy gear. It might be cheaper and I've had better luck with UPS and FedEx getting my stuff there on time than most airlines anyway.

You never know what you're gonna get in an airport. I once had a ticket agent ask, and then make me explain that my bow was indeed unloaded in its case.

And my one final, absolute rule of traveling to hunt is that I never take a shot at an animal without first having checked my gun or bow.

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