It could seem like a challenge to transport pheasants, guns and dogs on an airplane, but it's actually really simple, said Scott Finkel, a hunter from Dustin, Fla.
Finkel, who flew into Aberdeen Regional Airport on Friday afternoon with plans to hunt in Seneca, picked up the gun he brought from home, a Benelli Super Black Eagle shotgun, at the baggage claim area. It was just one of many guns that were flown Friday, all of which were locked in large metal cases.
Finkel said he has flown into Aberdeen for many years with his gun, and not once has he ever had an issue.
"It's pretty easy, actually. As long as you've got a locked case, you're fine," Finkel said.
It's illegal to bring a firearm onto a plane, but they can be checked in and shipped as cargo as long as travelers adhere to Transportation Security Administration requirements. All firearms must be unloaded, carried in a locked hard case and declared during check in.
Ammunition can also be transported as long as it is shotgun shells or smaller than .75 caliber. It must be securely packed in cardboard, wood, or metal boxes and declared. It is legal to carry the the ammunition in the same case as the firearm as long as it is secure. Finkel said the easiest way is to leave the ammunition in the box it came in when traveling.
The complete list of regulations can be found at http://1.usa.gov/QGojj2.
Bob Ness, who was at the Aberdeen airport waiting to fly home to Minneapolis on Friday afternoon, said he decided to bring his pheasants back with a carry-on bag.
He held up a small red bag that was packed with ice to keep the pheasant meat fresh, he said.
People are allowed to bring take coolers as carry-on or checked baggage, but each one counts as an individual bag, according to a spokesperson for the TSA.
Some hunters who plan to bring many birds home prefer to ship their birds through package delivery services, who have specific methods for shipping pheasants, said Samantha Oakes, a sales associate with the UPS Store in Aberdeen.
The UPS Store has designed a box with Styrofoam lining that uses frozen gel packs as cushioning to make sure the pheasant stays cold and intact while it's shipped, which many hunters have taken advantage of, she said.
"They are really popular. Hunters come with normal coolers and use ours," Oakes said.
The boxes come in three different sizes: the smallest holds one to six birds, and costs $19; the next size up hold seven to 12 ($32); and the largest holds 13-18 pheasants ($37.95), Oakes said.
"A lot of hunters prefer to ship pheasants home rather than carry them on a plane or use their own coolers because it's cheaper and more convenient," she said.
An ordinary cooler would have to be boxed in cardboard and shipped at normal rates, which winds up costing more than the specialized coolers anyway, Oakes said.
It's typically a good idea to have the package shipped overnight to ensure the birds don't sit in a warehouse too long, she said.
Delta Airlines, which serves the airport in Aberdeen, has a few different options for people who want to travel with their own hunting dogs or other pets, according to delta.com.
If the dog can fit in a kennel small enough to fit underneath a seat, and is at least 10 weeks old, it can be carried onto the flight for a fee of $125. A person can only carry on one pet.
Dogs and other animals that require larger kennels can be checked in for a $200 fee, or shipped as cargo if booked 24 hours in advance, with fees of varying rates depending on the breed.
For more information on Delta's animal policies, visit http://bitly.com/T3kLWe.