My experience flying with meat.

Neckbone

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Joined
Sep 21, 2022
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61
I did a write up about some experiences flying from FL to UT and back for a DIY mule deer hunt. I wrote it in several sittings, sorta rambling. Flying for a hunt was always a little nervous for me, but it wound up being no big deal. Hit me with questions.

Wanted to do a write up about my first time flying to a western big game hunt. This is a solo trip for mule deer with an additional black bear tag in my pocket. Flying Delta airlines, coach, no special check in status. First checked bag is my rifle case, a cedar mills 4 latch case just big enough to fit my scoped savage 30-06, two boxes of shells (40 rounds total) and a spare mag. I wanted the extra rounds to be sure my rifle was sighted in when I get to my destination. (Good thing I did this, curious if it will be zeroed in when I get back) Something to consider here, your locks/case set up. I had to try a few different locks until I found a lock that fit the case well. You need to be sure the case cannot be opened at all when locked. I actually had to drill 2 holes on the ends of the case in a convenient location to add two locking spaces. Without this mod I was able to open the latches and slide my hand inside the case even when locked! Something to check. My second checked bag is my cooler. 100qt? Coleman cooler. Probably a little too big, but we shall see. (Nope, perfect) Inside the cooler are my boots, tent, tripod, trekking poles, small travel fishing rod, large roll of reflectix insulation, kill kit (havalon knife and bone saw) pocket knife, multi tool, etc. Things that either cannot be carried on or just cumbersome to do so. Weighed the cooler at home, 49 pounds. Delta has a weight/price teir system. Under 50 pounds saves some money. My carry on is my Stone Glacier pack loaded with everything else. I will also do a gear checklist and link that. I duct taped the cooler shut. Total cost at check in was $70. (Add $9 for the cart at ATL airport). Check in went smoothly…so far no issues. OK! So I had a great time out in UT and was able to take a small fork horn muley buck the second to the last evening of the hunt. Actually passed on this day night 1 as to extend the experience. I was very happy to catch up with him closer to the end of the hunt. I gutted, skinned, quartered him, and back him out that night and hung the meat in a tree to cool. Next morning I drove out and found a guy to do an expedited euro for pick up the following day. I deboned all the meat and packed it in ziplocks. Bottom of the cooler was a few blocks of ice and cubed to fill the gaps. I laid a 3mil black trash bag over the ice, set the bagged meat on that, covered with reflectix, and laid a 10lb block of dry ice on top and shut the lid, not to be opened until morning of the flight. (36 hours later). Temp inside of the cooler got down to 3 degrees and most of the meat was frozen or partially frozen. Flight from SLC left at 7 am, so at 4:15 I unloaded the cooler and wiped it dry. I put the bagged and partially frozen mean into the trash bag and rolled it up into the reflectix. I bubble wrapped and duct taped the euro and set it inside the cooler. My sleeping bag and puffy jacket filled the rest of the voids. Also in the cooler I threw in my bone saw and pocket knife. Everything else went into my pack. Cooler weighed right at the 70lb mark at the delta check in (lost almost and entire shoulder to gunshot + not a huge deer + stuffed more of my crap into the pack instead of into the cooler). So that would be $140 to check in cooler and rifle. Now I got lucky here, the delta lady told me there was a cost free application for a delta AMEX card and if I applied I would get a free checked bag! Great! I chose the cooler. Lol ($100). So to check in the rifle and the cooler was $40. I was also able to check in my heavy pack at the terminal for free! (Full plane, they solicited this). I was very happy to oblige. So I got all my gear back to Florida without issue. 13 hours later the meat was still extremely cold and some of it still frozen.



Cooler and rifle to UT: $70

Cart fees: $21

Cooler and rifle back: $40**

Would have been $130

Things to note:

When I arrived to UT I put a bag of ice into the cooler as a sacrificial bag to cool the inside. Following morning I dumped it and filled the cooler with blocks and bags of ice. The cubed ice filled all voids between the blocks. Packed it completely full then duct taped around the lid and over the drain plug and ratchet strapped it shut into the bed of the truck. Never to be opened until meat went in. Temps were low 30s at night and mid 60s during the day…sunny all day. The cooler was left in the bed of the truck with no regard of shade….which it rarely saw. Very little of the ice melted over 6 days, in fact I had to dump some out to fit the quarters onto the cooler.
 

ResearchinStuff

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 26, 2017
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PA
Well done. I typically drive to avoid that hassle, but time is getting more and more precious. Might have to fly next time.
 

Charlie Brown

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Joined
Jul 10, 2020
Messages
78
I fly Southwest as 2 bags fly free. Clothes all go in my backpack and bow case on flight out west. Both of these are checked baggage at no additional cost. I also take a small carry-on gym bag.We split the meat from a 4x4 elk so I bought back a Tupperware tub (processed and frozen) of meat and packed a few clothes in with it. Checked my bow case and the Tupperware tub (both 50lbs or less) and used my backpack as a carry-on. No additional cost incurred. My hunting partner had a suitcase along with his bow,backpack,and meat so he had 3 checked bags plus a carry-on. I think the 3rd check bag cost hin $70.00
 
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Neckbone

Neckbone

Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2022
Messages
61
Well done. I typically drive to avoid that hassle, but time is getting more and more precious. Might have to fly next time.
I’d much prefer to drive…but being in Florida really makes that impractical for western hunts
 

Ondavirg

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Aug 11, 2020
Messages
211
When flying with meat, don’t switch carriers if at all possible. Switched from SW to Alaska in Denver once and 3 boxes of fish didn’t make the trip home with me. By some miracle an employee put it in a freezer overnight and it was saved, but I thought I was out all my salmon. Never had an issue when staying on the same airline all the way through.
 
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