If you are flying as a hunter, a successful turkey trip will require you to fly with your wild game and here's how to do it.
I spent more time preparing for my first media hunt learning about where I was going. I didn't spend too much time thinking about what I would do if I was successful. Curious, but "not worried about it" was the attitude I ended with. I was just basically thinking, I'll figure it out when the time comes.
That was until I got to the Hooray Ranch. We spoke about if we were successful, they would provide us with packaging and a carry on cooler that would work for the flight home. Needless to say, hunting at the Hooray Ranch, I was successful.
As the guides packaged up our birds and we readied to deport the next morning after a new products meeting, I was still curious. I wondered if this cooler was going to be bulky, or made of styrofoam and be fragile, or if it would even hold up. Luckily, it was none of those things. It was a custom designed cooler for Hooray that carried as a backpack. This worked great and kept my turkey cold the entire trip which was needed. The only problem was the cooler leaked, and when I arrived home, I found a solution.
First, let me stress the importance on properly packaging the turkey. If you have the opportunity to vacuum seal your turkey meat, I would think this is your best bet. Especially if you do not plan on eating the bird soon after you arrive home, it will allow you to freeze the bird for a longer period of time. It will also ensure no water touches your meat. Thankfully, the guys at the Hooray hooked us up and vacuum sealed our turkey breasts.
They also included in our cooler the feet and beard from our bird. The turkey fan, however, was sealed in another bag that was put in my checked bag. This worked great and I had no issues upon arriving back home. I did think about it, however, just from straight fear that something could happen next time, an alternative idea. Next time I will bring a cardboard mailing tube as I think this would work perfect to protect the turkey fan from any possible damage with my checked luggage.
As I mentioned earlier, the cooler I used leaked. I loved the ease of use, but even checking it through the scanners, ice had slowly melted into water and the water leaked through the zipper all over the place. It was quite messy and even one of the TSA's had commented about it. When I arrived home, I found a cooler I had order prior to my trip that I really wish I had for the flight. The cooler was the Yeti Hopper Flip 12.
This cooler is quite portable, durable and best of all, it's 100% leak proof. I took my turkey out of my backpack cooler and put it in my Yeti. Not only did I want to see if it would fit, I wanted to let it sit for some time and see if the ice would melt, creating water. The turkey fit with plenty of room for extra ice. Ice is better than ice packs, in my opinion when flying, because you can legally fly with ice. You can legally fly with ice packs as well, however they need to be completely frozen. If they are not completely frozen, they may not allow them to go through security.
Space nor ice was an issue for the Yeti Hopper Flip 12. By the end of the day I came back to check and there was only a little bit of water in the bottom of the cooler. It wasn't even enough to give the zipper a real good leak test. With that, I filled it up with water and tested it. To my surprise, it really is 100% leakproof, just like it says. You can even stand and put weight on it and it didn't leak.
This was something I overlooked as I mostly use hard shell coolers and the thought of a cooler leaking never really crossed my mind. That was until I started using soft sided coolers and of course, started flying with them. I've found a way that I could fly my turkey meat and be so confident in it not leaking. This helps in knowing I could use it as a carry-on or put it in my checked luggage.
If you are flying for a turkey hunt, maybe a waterfowl or upland bird hunt, and will have a smaller portion of wild game to fly home with you, here is your ultimate checklist for your flight:
- Yeti Hopper Flip 12
- Cardboard Mailing Tube
- Ziplock or Vacuum Seal Bags
You put a lot of time and effort into your hunts, not to mention money. Don't get caught ruining your meat or having to leave without it. Keep your game cold and the water off of your meat and gear with these tips.