How to Ship Hunting Gear: Should You Ship Hunting Gear to Your Hunting Destination Before Flying

Camron Stover

How do you ship hunting gear?  There are two main reasons as to why you would need to ship hunting gear.  First, selling hunting gear online to another person.  Second, shipping hunting gear to your hunting destination so that it arrives before your hunting trip.  The latter will involve more details, so we will start with why you should consider shipping your hunting gear if you’re flying to your next hunting adventure.

Hunting adventures that require flying can be very stressful, especially when you have connecting flights.  In 2022, airlines in North America reported 0.76% of all bags were mishandled, whether it lost, stolen, or damaged.  Any of which could be detrimental to your hunt.  A less than 1% chance of your bags being mishandled may not seem like a lot, but it’s preventable with proper planning.

Any time I fly, I stress over my bags making it to my destination, so having the peace of mind that my bow or gun has already arrived at my hunting destination is a good feeling.  However, this takes weeks of planning and isn’t possible for everyone.  Sometimes, you can ship a bow via a mail carrier cheaper than you can ship one on an airline.

Should I Ship My Bow or Gun When Out-of-State Hunts Require Me to Fly?

In the past, I’ve shipped my bow a couple of times with success.  Shipping a bow is easy and you don’t need anything more than a box and some bubble wrap.  When shipping a bow, you will need to disassemble most of the accessories, such as the sight and stabilizer.  However, be sure to leave the arrow rest, peep, and string accessories in place.  To protect the bow and the accessories,  wrap it up with good packaging materials before placing it in a bow box.   A bow box can be picked up at a local archery shop as it’s just a box made to fit a bow, nothing fancy here.  Then you can ship your bow to it’s new owner or directly to your hunting destination before your hunt.  For instance, you could ship your bow to a hotel that you’re staying at or the hunting guide’s lodge or home.  Once you’re certain that your bow is there, hop on a flight with your traditional luggage and enjoy the flight.

If you’re concerned about damage to your bow during shipping, you can ship the bow in a hard-sided case to protect it, it’s just going to cost you a lot more money!  Unlike a cardboard bow box, an actual bow case will require shipping through UPS or FedEx.

Can I Ship a Gun?

Shipping a gun isn’t as easy as running down to the local gun shop.  The ATF states that a nonlicensee can ship a firearm through the U.S. Postal Service and here’s how.  A nonlicensee may not transfer a firearm to a non-licensed resident of another state. A nonlicensee may mail a shotgun or rifle to a resident of their own state or to a licensee in any state.  Handguns are not mailable. A common or contract carrier must be used to ship a handgun.

The U.S. Postal Service recommends that long guns be sent by registered mail and that no marking of any kind that would indicate the nature of the contents be placed on the outside of any parcel containing firearms.  If you’re going to ship it in a rifle case, then make sure the rifle case is inside a cardboard box so that it doesn’t look like a gun case.

When shipping via USPS, you’ll have to identify the Federal Firearm Licensee (gun shop) prior to shipping and provide a copy of their FFL with you on shipping.  There’s a transfer fee when you pick up the gun on top of the shipping charge that you already paid.  Tracking numbers should help you track the package on its journey.

It’s important to make sure you have time to sight in your weapon once you reach your destination as shipping often knocks the sights off.  Be sure to package the gun well before shipping and protect rifle scopes .  As for ammo, ship it in your checked luggage or buy some online and have it delivered to your hunting destination.

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Tracking Information and Shipping Times

If this is your first time shipping a prized possession like hunting gear, don’t splurge on overnight shipping.  Depending on where you’re at in the country, your item should make it to it’s destination in a maximum of seven to ten business days and that’s an overestimation for far-to-reach areas.  Now, if you’re trying to ship it to another country, it could take much longer.  Either way, just make sure you get a tracking number and pay extra for insurance in case something happens to your item during transport.

There could be additional charges for shipping firearms, such as an FFL transfer fee.

Should You Ship Hunting Gear (Everything except a bow/gun)

If you’re trying to travel across the country with as little luggage as possible, then you should consider shipping your hunting gear to your hunting destination in advance.  Most hunting guides and hotels will let you ship items ahead of time, so heavy or bulky items would be ideal for shipping ahead of time, such as hunting clothes, rain gear, treestands, saddle hunting gear, bow rope, backpack, etc.  If hunting in cold conditions, you’re going to need a lot more gear, so shipping it ahead of time might be your best option.  If buying new products such as field spray, laundry detergent, or other consumables, why not ship it directly to your destination and when buying online before the hunt?

Can You Rent Guns?

Are you looking for a new gun?  Maybe a first gun.  Then check in with your local gun shop and/or gun range for gun rentals.  Renting a gun before buying allows you to familiarize yourself with various brands, calibers, and sizes before buying.  Also, spending time at the gun range is always a good time!  My local gun range even has a Barret.50 caliber that you can rent!  Granted, you won’t be able to leave the range with the gun and most rentals are by the hour.  Check and see which optics they have available for rent as well.

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What to Expect When Flying With a Gun

If you decide to fly with your weapon, there are a few crucial steps that you should take before arriving at the airport. The first step is to check with the airline well before the day of your flight to ensure you follow the correct steps to take to transport, package, and declare the weapon upon arrival at the airport.

When you arrive at the airport, proceed to your airline’s standard baggage counter. When it is your turn at the counter, simply tell the agent, “I would like to declare a firearm.”  You’ll then be required to complete a little bit of paperwork so be sure to arrive for your flight early!  The paperwork will then be placed into the weapon case for future use during connecting flights and such.  Any time you have to deal with TSA, it’s a pain, but checking a firearm under the TSA regulations isn’t hard as long as you follow the rules.

To speed up this process, leave the case unlocked until it’s time for you to put the card that you received at the counter in it so you don’t hold up the line any longer than you have to.   Different airports have different rules on how they handle firearms.  Typically, you’ll either place the weapon case on a conveyor with your other luggage.  Other airports will have you transport it directly to TSA in a special security screening station.  Just make sure you have your contact information marked on your case in multiple locations so there’s no mistaking who it belongs to.

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Hi, I’m Camron the owner of Hunting Gear Deals. I’m an avid bowhunter with a knack for finding good deals on hunting gear and love to help you save money on hunting gear.  I’m also the owner of the popular Bucks, Bulls, & Bears email newsletter that’s built to educate and entertain hunters.  If you haven’t subscribed, you’re missing out!  Last but not least, I’m proud to say that I work for Whitetail Properties as a Land Specialist in Ohio.  If you’re in the market for hunting property, shoot me an email and I’d love to help you find your dream property.  

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