Flying after a successful hunt

257WTBY

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
344
Location
WA STATE
Overnight the meat in a cooler to my home address. I do not put any ice in the cooler and pack it as tight full as I can get it. Been doing it that way for years worked pretty good so far (have never tried a moose this way-deer, elk and bear yes).

Good luck
 

JTComfort

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2017
Messages
165
Location
VA
How does everybody pack the meat back home? I am going to be flying to and from a hunt this year so I am looking for suggestions.

I figure I’ll just check a few coolers full of frozen meat for the plane ride home and maybe some in a carry on bag. I may ship my gear to a friends house minus my gun. Probably ship my gear back to my house as well.

I will offer my experience from New Mexico on American in 2017.

First, all of the meat was boned out and deep-chilled overnight with dry ice (available at MANY grocery stores for about $5/lb). The cost of dry ice can add up quickly as it is heavy - we purchased about 40lbs to get 200lbs of elk to almost frozen I packed everything into two Coleman "Cube" Coolers with wheels built-in - they were purchased from Walmart for $16.00 each and we capable of holding just over 75lbs of meat each.

When I arrived at the ticket counter at 5:00 am, the agent greeted me with a "congratulations on your successful hunt!" She looked at my ticket and my gear/baggage (1 carry-on, rifle case with rifle, a checked bag and the two coolers) and suggested the following: Checking all the bags would cost $35 each for the rifle case and my carry-on. The coolers would cost $50/bag since I was allowed two and they were overweight, which would add approximately $35 per cooler. Since my flight was a two-leg thru Dallas back to DCA, I could upgrade to First Class for $75 on the first leg and get my first two bags for free, the second bags would cost the coach rate of $35.

So instead of paying over $240 for my bags for a Coach ride home, I could pay $145 and ride First Class at least thru Dallas. With a wink, the agent asked me "which bags would you like to be your two free ones?" We agreed that the coolers would be freebie #1 and #2 - since they were a bit over the 75lb limit, I removed a roast from each cooler and handed one each to the ticket agents who were very grateful. My primary agent (female, 40s) said "Thank you so much, this is the first elk I've had since my dad died, he used to take me every year." So, good deeds all round.

Couple things to remember - TSA will almost certainly go through your cooler and re-pack as they will. DO NOT expect to fly with dry ice - it's a no-go. Get everything as close to frozen (or solid frozen) before you go to the airport. Now, moving around with all this stuff was definitely a pain - fortunately we had rented a full-sized pickup, but returning it and getting the bags dealt with in the terminal took a logistical plan. Forget about shipping it, unless a processor can common carrier ship in a frozen state - FedEx estimated over $800 to ship the coolers to my home (largely because I killed the bull on Thursday and it would have to be shipped out on Friday w/Saturday delivery).

And, of course all of this could be out the window given post Covid flying regulations.

Have a great hunt.
 

CO_Guy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2018
Messages
1,382
Location
CO, USA
We've used bins with the meat hard frozen and a few pieces of dry ice. It worked perfectly. In summer, if the meat was not hard frozen, I don't know if that would work in the same August timeframe.
 

Dean2

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2010
Messages
974
Location
Alberta
Don't know if this works in the States, but in Canada, we mail our rifles to the guide, costs about $50 each way for 2 guns shipped together. We send them a couple of weeks ahead of time. This way you know they got there for sure and that they arrived in good shape. It is also far cheaper than the airline charge as gun cases qualify as free baggage but they also want an up charge of 60 bucks each way, over and above the free baggage allowance. We usually fly business class so that include two free bags. The issue here is extra bags, over your two free ones, are very expensive and if any bag is over 70 LBs you add another $250 surcharge. Only way it makes sense to ship meat is to take only prime cuts, de-boned and frozen. You cannot have dry ice on Canadian airlines.

Flying was already such a big pain in the butt and Covid will only make it worse that we will drive even if it takes 3 days each way. A small chest freezer in a Canopy on the truck means your can take all your meat, cape and rack back and it arrives in pristine condition. You also don't have to worry about limiting the gear you take. Being retired, that is a viable option but we did it while I was working too. Hope you have fun.
 

dogz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2006
Messages
974
Location
SWMT
I will offer my experience from New Mexico on American in 2017.

First, all of the meat was boned out and deep-chilled overnight with dry ice (available at MANY grocery stores for about $5/lb). The cost of dry ice can add up quickly as it is heavy - we purchased about 40lbs to get 200lbs of elk to almost frozen I packed everything into two Coleman "Cube" Coolers with wheels built-in - they were purchased from Walmart for $16.00 each and we capable of holding just over 75lbs of meat each.

When I arrived at the ticket counter at 5:00 am, the agent greeted me with a "congratulations on your successful hunt!" She looked at my ticket and my gear/baggage (1 carry-on, rifle case with rifle, a checked bag and the two coolers) and suggested the following: Checking all the bags would cost $35 each for the rifle case and my carry-on. The coolers would cost $50/bag since I was allowed two and they were overweight, which would add approximately $35 per cooler. Since my flight was a two-leg thru Dallas back to DCA, I could upgrade to First Class for $75 on the first leg and get my first two bags for free, the second bags would cost the coach rate of $35.

So instead of paying over $240 for my bags for a Coach ride home, I could pay $145 and ride First Class at least thru Dallas. With a wink, the agent asked me "which bags would you like to be your two free ones?" We agreed that the coolers would be freebie #1 and #2 - since they were a bit over the 75lb limit, I removed a roast from each cooler and handed one each to the ticket agents who were very grateful. My primary agent (female, 40s) said "Thank you so much, this is the first elk I've had since my dad died, he used to take me every year." So, good deeds all round.

Couple things to remember - TSA will almost certainly go through your cooler and re-pack as they will. DO NOT expect to fly with dry ice - it's a no-go. Get everything as close to frozen (or solid frozen) before you go to the airport. Now, moving around with all this stuff was definitely a pain - fortunately we had rented a full-sized pickup, but returning it and getting the bags dealt with in the terminal took a logistical plan. Forget about shipping it, unless a processor can common carrier ship in a frozen state - FedEx estimated over $800 to ship the coolers to my home (largely because I killed the bull on Thursday and it would have to be shipped out on Friday w/Saturday delivery).

And, of course all of this could be out the window given post Covid flying regulations.

Have a great hunt.


That's a great story.

Heck I was going to offer that I drive from Mt to Mn all the time and I could make a stop over and put your elk meat in my truck. Course it may or may not end up where you want instead of my deep freeze but I'm
just trying to help a brother out:)
 

Ranger Rick

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Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
525
Location
Idaho
I fished in Alaska for 15 years and flew Alaska Airlines. I bought insulated, airline approved boxes at Fred Meyers that could take the 50# weight limit with 250# of fish. Alaska Airlines always stamped the boxes “Rush, Perishable” If I were ever delayed getting a flight home, the frozen fish already was on its way. My wife picked it up. There was never a problem. 🥂 to Alaska Airlines
 

Adam Moore

Active Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Messages
33
Location
mississippi
I have flown meat back from Montana 3 times....I used boxes and the foil shipping liners from Uline. I would just pack in there what I could frozen and check 3-4 boxes All meat came home as frozen as when I left. I also stuck some in my carry-on and asked them to gate check it so it would be in the undercarriage of the plane while in flight. never had any issues. I mailed back a bow once with all my clothes in it and also have shipped my rifle back home after a hunt. With Delta the extra bags got expensive fast, but Im flying American this year and the bag prices are a good bit cheaper.
 

Louis3300

Active Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
29
Location
Colorado
Checked baggage is the cheapest way to go if you have to fly. Keep everything under the 50Lb. limit unless you have status(70lbs for United). They will not let you take dry ice. Frozen solid is always best.
I just got back from Alaska with 400lbs of fish processed and packed. It cost me $150 dollars to check all of my luggage. My friends are having theirs shipped for $300 a box. So around 2k a person give or take.
 

Bait57

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
112
Location
Virginia/Tennessee.
Thanks for all the info y’all. I think from all the info y’all have given me, I’m gonna check my gun for the trip to the hunt. Ship my gear to the local post office or a nearby friends house. If I am lucky enough to harvest and animal then I’ll check my gun and two coolers full and ship my gear back home.
 
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