Waterfowl hunters today have it pretty good. Duck populations are at all-time highs. Thanks to the explosion of development from the late 80’s through the 2000’s, thousands of mini-refuges in the form of subdivision and business park ponds have been created all over the country. This has led to an unprecedented increase in the Canada goose population.
I almost feel sorry for someone who starts their waterfowling career today.
Even though the hunting in my backyard has been better than ever for the past five or six years, I still enjoy traveling and hunting ducks and geese in new locales. Many times I drive to destinations near and far, as I enjoy bringing and using my own decoys, gear and dogs. It makes it even easier if you can pull a trailer or boat to haul gear. There are times, though, due to time constraints, business or family obligations, I need to travel via the not-as-friendly skies. A lot has changed there as well. Years ago, the weight limit for a bag was 100 lbs. and the airlines had not yet dreamt of the absurd notion of “baggage fees.” The TSA didn’t exist, either. Between the new baggage fees, additional security screening and weight limits that are half of what they used to be, travelling with guns and gear has become a lot more complicated.
Here are some tips to help you along your way.
I have always preached saving your money to buy the absolute best gear out there. Today that means warmer, drier gear that weighs less. Companies such as Rivers West, Under Armour, Columbia and Browning all have some great and cost-effective gear. When you think you can’t afford it, don’t buy lesser equipment. Save a bit longer and you will be happy you did.
You only get 50 lbs. per bag, including the weight of the bag. Your best bet is a large lightweight duffel bag. Wheels, handles and plastic weigh more.
Traveling with Guns
One thing I have recently begun doing is eliminating a separate gun case from my luggage. This allows me to add another bag for some additional clothing; a set of waders or even decoys. My Remington Versamax shotgun came in a TSA-approved hard plastic case that carries the gun broken down into two pieces and fits nicely into my duffel bag. There are other after-market cases available from manufacturers such as Plano, Pelican, ICC and others. Make sure the gun is both secure and safe when locked inside.
Extras and Accessories
Duck hunting of any serious nature requires decoys. Decoys (Duck and geese) have two things against them when traveling by air- they are bulky and need weights to hold them down. I have bought decoys at my destination and given them to a friend and even one time sold them on Craigslist.
You will also need ammunition. While steel shot weighs less than lead, it is still relatively heavy. A box of steel 3-inch ammo weighs 3 to 4 lbs. It is best to buy your ammo at your destination if at all possible.
Save Yourself Time, Money and Hassles
Traveling to hunt waterfowl opens you to many different experiences, new species, and different methods of hunting from what you are used to. Follow these tips and you’ll save time, money and hassles.
Have a great travel tip for waterfowl hunters? Share it with us in the comment section below.