Travel tips for adventure hunters

When I pack, I remove my bow sight, pack my bow in a soft case, then in a rolling case with camo padding as padding. My pack, containing my valuables, is my luggage.

Question: I am starting to travel on my own bow hunting adventures. What advice do you have for me? Walker Innerst, by e-mail

Answer: My first tip – if you can drive to your bowhunting destination, do it. You’ll save money, you can bring everything you might need, and there’s no need to worry about missed/delayed flights, lost luggage, or getting your pet home. Your schedule is your own.

Of course, we’re bound to fly off on some adventure, so here are some more tips. First, I recommend adding a day to both ends of your trip, especially the front end. If your bags don’t show up, you have one day to sort it out. This can be critical if you have a bush flight ahead of you.

When flying to Canada, book flights with at least a 90-minute layover at the airport where you’ll be clearing customs, so you have plenty of time to catch your next flight. Make sure you have a passport that is not close to expiring. Also, download Canada’s ArriveCan app to your phone and fill in the information until you have a receipt to show the customs officer. It’s a good idea to use your phone to take pictures of your passport, driver’s license, Hunter Education card, vaccination records, insurance cards and any other important documentation, just in case you lose something.

My advice is to avoid Vancouver and Toronto if possible. These two busy places are notorious for lost/delayed luggage, especially if it appears to be hunting gear. To that end, avoid camouflage bags or any luggage that might tip someone off that you’re a hunter. It is not fair; but it is reality.

If a cleaner gives you a weight limit, say 75 pounds, stick to it. Pack light duffles (preferably dry bags) in your luggage/hardware and when you arrive at the location of your last flight, you can repack the gear in the hood, put your bow in a soft case and leave hard cases behind.

I have given up on using a hard bow case because it was prone to loss. I now pack my bow in a soft case inside a large rolling handle (Sitka Nomad) with lots of wrap around it. If I need a spare bow, I put it in a second holster, along with half my arrows, broadheads, a release, my boots and clothing. If a bag doesn’t appear, I can shoot until it does.

I always remove the watch when I pack because it’s the most vulnerable accessory. A dovetail mount makes it easier, but it works with any mount. Just make sure you reattach it exactly as it was. I have a habit of tying my release to my bow, whether at hunting camp or on a trip, so I always know where it is. Do not put your spare release in your handbag as the stem can look like a barrel. Don’t travel with broadheads attached to your arrows. I no longer use an arrow tube because carbon arrows with today’s rigid plastic sheets are virtually unbreakable when placed in a duffel bag.

My carry-on bag is my non-camouflaged day bag, and it’s where I keep my valuables like binoculars, rangefinder, and camera, along with my passport, licenses, tags, and medication.

Most of us tend to bring a lot of clothes. Save weight by packing enough layers to weather the weather, but avoid doubling up. A pair of hunting pants is usually enough as long as you have base layers to layer on if needed. An inflatable jacket is almost weightless, but extremely valuable, especially if you are on the water or in the countryside. Save weight before your last flight by packing your “civilian” clothes in your hard cases and just wear your camouflage and hunting boots on that last leg. Be sure to pack some camp shoes, such as Crocs, which are virtually weightless.

Travel, especially since the pandemic, has become increasingly stressful, but if you’re prepared, traveling to your destination can be an enjoyable part of the adventure.

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