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Guest Blog: Tom Slaughter Packs for an Out-of-State Hunt

September 25, 2012
Filed in: Hunting, Travel

Filson Life guest blogger, Tom Slaughter, is a year-round hunter – both a planner and an executer. Whether it’s traveling to Alaska, Colorado or Montana, this hunter is always prepared for the journey, especially when he has his Filson gear with him. In this post, Slaughter lends insight to packing for an out-of-state hunt.

I look forward to every year’s hunting draw results to see where I will be heading out west to.  Each year, I take a few trips across country that requires air transportation.  Every few months the airlines/TSA change regulations regarding traveling with a firearm and the amount of baggage you can travel with.  Always check with your airline to see what the new rules are.

Filson Carry-On

Filson Carry-On

Fortunately, I have been able to avoid serious excess baggage fees over the past few years by finding the best way to minimize fees and still bring what I need.  I am heading out to Wyoming in about two weeks for a Mule deer hunt.  For this flight, I am flying an airline that allows me two checked bags, one carry on, and one personal item.   For the outgoing flight, I always plan on only checked bag, one carry on, and one personal item. This way, I reserve the second checked bag allowance in anticipation of bringing a cooler on the return trip filled with the reward of a successful hunt.

In my Filson “carry on,” I pack all of my under garments, pants, shirts, socks, hats, gloves, and outer protective clothing.  In my “personal bag,” for which I use my day back, I pack my optics which include a spotting scope, binoculars, range finder, and camera equipment. I also include my Boots in my carry on as they are not something I am willing to wait for should be luggage be delayed.  The majority of the other checked equipment can be borrowed in a worst case scenario.  Boots also take up to 10% of the permissible weight so this helps economize weight, as well.

A well-packed carry-on

A well-packed carry-on

Finally, my gun case, is my checked back and in it I include my firearm, vacuum sealer, first aid kit, field dressing kit and game bags, and a gun case to use in camp.  I know that my gun case weighs exactly 49lbs and include an index card (with a list of the contents) in it so that I know to pack the same way on the return trip to avoid shuffling equipment at the ticket counter.

If I am fortunate enough to harvest a Mule Deer, I will purchase the necessary coolers and pack it with the meat.  Most airlines allow 2lbs of dry ice with the vented coolers (take the drain plug out).  This is more than enough to keep your meat cool to get it home.
I would also recommend keeping the dry ice on top with a piece of cardboard separating the meat and the dry ice.

Tom Slaughter Packing Tips: Gun Case

Tom Slaughter Packing Tips: Gun Case

Currently, with Delta, you can ship antlers for $100 or less; this is a less expensive option than going to a shipping center or having a taxidermist ship them.  The baggage fees for this airline after 2 checked bags  is $50.  A Mule deer will take up two coolers.

Learning to pack efficiently was one lesson I learned the hard way.  I went out west for an elk hunt and ended up spending $300 in excess baggage fees to get my stuff and 1 full elk home.  Luckily, this was not as bad as another hunter in camp that spent $1,100 shipping his meat home from a processor plus his excess baggage fees.  I highly recommend spending a little extra time packing and talking to the airlines about the limitations.  Not only will it save you money, but you will be better organized.

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