Planning an Idaho Whitetail Deer Hunt

Never killed a white-tailed deer in my life. I’ve hunted them at least three times and missed one in BC.

This will be an out-of-state hunt and I’m flying. The drive to Lewiston ID is nearly two full days for a slow poke like me. And, with gas at $4 or more, the cost of driving  – including two nights of hotel fees – is about the same as the cost of flying. I have a high school buddy who lives near Lewiston, so when he offered to put me up, I couldn’t say no.

So here’s some info that may be helpful if you are faced with a plane flight to your next hunting destination. Luggage is a big consideration. Of course you will need a locking case for your firearm. Sometimes borrowing a firearm is a preferred option, especially if you’re going out of the county.

On this hunt I will take a deer rifle, muzzleloader and maybe my bow. The airlines will not allow the ammunition to travel in the same case as the rifle and the ammunition will need to be in an original box which provides protection to the cartridges. They can be stowed in regular luggage.

Even though archery equipment, muzzleloaders and high powered rifles are in different categories, the airline will require that they all be in a locked case. I’ll be flying Alaska Airlines and I read over the fine print regarding firearms and luggage. In my case the 7×57, compound bow and muzzleloading rifle can all be carried in the same locking case.

You’ll want to look closely at your luggage and the cost of overweight or oversized luggage. Your rifle case, bow case and possibly a cooler will be candidates for an extra fee. Alaska Airlines has three categories, normal(<50 lbs – $20 fee), overweight ( 51 – 100 lbs, $50) and oversize (63 to 80 inches total of outside measurements – $50, 81-115 inches – $75). If you fall into two oversize categories, you are charged only once, for the greater of the two.

As the number of bags increases, so may the price of each bag. In my situation the cost of the fourth bag will increase from $20 each to $50. As you can see, the cost of your air travel can rise considerably for luggage cost. If I were to travel with four check bags with two of them oversize, my fee could be as high as $380 for luggage alone.

Here’s what I’ll probably do. I’ll carry rifle, muzzleloader and bow in one case that will be oversize by length ($50), I’ll carry one item of luggage that will cost $20. If I bag a deer, I’ll purchase a cooler in Idaho. It will be overweight and over length, but it will remain in the $50 category. Therefore, in addition to my ticket cost of $420, I’ll end up with $70 luggage fee on the way there and $120 on the way home. Making the total cost of air fare $610. (Plus the cost of the cooler.)

My friend lives in country with plenty of whitetails, so I’m hoping that this hunt will be an ice-breaker.

On a 2010 hunt in BC, my hunting partner bagged this nice whitetail from a treestand during the rut. On the left is Jeff and on the right his guide Corey.

The timing of the trip is intended to coincide with the start of the whitetail rut. The middle of November should be the time when the mature whitetail bucks come out to look for does and I’m hoping to run into one. We’ll hunt from tree stands, ground blinds and also still hunt. When I still hunt, it’s almost another form of blind hunting. I may even ship my guillie suit out ahead of time.

The hunting will be close range in thick cover. Just how close remains to be seen. I’ll bring my grunt tube and rattling antlers. I’d like nothing better than to call one in and pop him at 25 yards. I’m feeling the tension already.

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