Text and Photos By Tracy Breen
It was shortly after 9/11, and the glazed look in every American’s eyes proved that the world was still on edge.
I was in an airport, preparing for my first out-of-state trip to hunt elk, and security was on high alert following those horrible acts of terrorism.
The problem, however, was they treated me almost as if I were a criminal as they opened up my bow case and examined everything. When I arrived in Idaho, the case looked like it had gone through a massive tornado. But I wasn’t the only one who took a hit.
My friend actually got it worse. Granted, he traveled with a cheap case, but his bow was broken. I had an expensive one, so at least my bow was all right.
While hunting trips can be a blast, there are rules and guidelines you need to follow that will take the surprise and unpleasantness out of your trip, and these will make your life much easier and the trip more fun.
#1 Buy the Best Case You Can Afford for Your Weapon
More and more companies are making hard-shell crossbow cases, so they are not difficult to find. It’s critical to have a top-notch case, because your crossbow can get bounced around in a car, a shuttle and on a plane. Just imagine getting to your destination, some 20 hours from home, and discovering something is broken. There’s a good chance you might not be able to get it fixed.
Clearly, a $100 or $200 case is worth the investment. And don’t forget the locks. This is mandatory when flying.
#2 Inquire About the Guidelines Regarding Traveling With Weapons
Before departing for your trip, call the airline and ask about special fees and TSA guidelines for traveling with weapons. Sometimes, what you read on an airline website is different from what the person behind the counter will tell you at the airport.
If you have the policies printed out when you arrive at the airport, you can defend yourself if an agent makes up rules on the fly, which often happens. Get the name of the person who shared the rules and regulations with you so you can hold him or her accountable if you run into issues.
Crossbows and bows are sometimes treated like guns by airlines. Be prepared to pay fees and have your equipment inspected.
#3 Expect to Pay Fees for Overweight or Oversized Luggage
If your crossbow case exceeds a certain size, you will pay fees. To find out what those dimensions and weights are, check the airline’s website.
#4 There are Restrictions Regarding What You Can Bring on the Plane, So Find Out What Is Acceptable
There are some things you cannot fly with, such as black powder, even if it is in a bow or gun case. If you are traveling with a muzzleloader, plan to buy the powder at your destination.
Neither can you fly with bear spray, pepper spray or butane cartridges such as those used in a Thermacell unit. TSA personnel will take these items away, even if they are declared and in a hard-shell case.