Boddington's Adventures

Onerous new rules for international travel with firearms are on hold--for now.

By Craig Boddington

It almost seems like it was just a bad dream! Effective April 3, 2015, the rules changed for Americans traveling outside the United States with firearms. Some customs officers and airports attempted to implement the new procedures a couple of weeks prior. Other officials never got around to implementing it, because just twenty days later, on April 23, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) went back to the old system we’re familiar with: the U.S. Customs Form 4457.

The reversal is a big win for our team, with the charge led by our most powerful friends: National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and Safari Club International. The situation remains worthy of discussion, however, because what we really got was not a reversal, but a reprieve while CBP figures out how to properly implement a new system for temporary export of firearms by hunters and shooters.

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California's Central Coast is a great place to hunt big pigs.

By Craig Boddington

On the eve of a pig hunt on California’s Central Coast I was talking to a friend, an experienced hunter with broad African experience. He admitted that pig hunting is one of his favorites. I understand that, because I also like pig hunting.

As a young editor I was trapped in Los Angeles for fifteen years. California’s Central Coast was an easy place for an occasional getaway, and it seemed a natural place to settle when, twenty-odd years ago, I finally escaped the editor’s desk. Back then we had good deer hunting, but a main attraction was the year-round hog hunting, and remains so today. Yes, it’s sort of in my backyard, not exactly a far-flung adventure. However, like the concept of “trophy,” what constitutes “adventure” is open to interpretation. Wild hogs yield excellent pork, and a big boar with good tusks is a rare creature, and in all ways a most underrated trophy.

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These days it's easy to take our electronic gadgets into the wilderness with us.

By Craig Boddington

There was a time not so long ago when we literally “checked off the net” on hunting trips. I sort of liked that. Once you’re out in the blue there really isn’t much you can do about a minor catastrophe at home, and in genuine emergencies there have long been ways to get messages through. Unfortunately, "checking out" doesn’t work very well these days. In our Internet-powered information age, many of our friends, relatives, and business contacts naturally expect that we can (and will) remain in touch no matter where we are.

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Hunting free-range red stags in the U.K.

By Craig Boddington

The stag was tending hinds in a clearing just on the edge of the thick fog. He was too far to count points, but the rack was very big, seeming to dwarf his body, which, in turn, dwarfed the bodies of his hinds. The stag’s roars carried clearly across the dell, and we watched the herd for quite a while as they drifted in and out of the mist.

Unfortunately that was all we could do, because we were near our boundary, and the herd was well out of our area. But at least we saw him, and he was well worth seeing. We were hunting private land on the edge of the New Forest in southwest England. Well, it was "new" when created by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century! And these were free-range English stags, the same red deer that got Robin Hood into trouble, as the legend goes.

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What if you get to your hunting destination but your bag doesn't?

By Craig Boddington

We all worry about it. In my experience it doesn’t happen all that often, but it does happen: You arrive just fine at your hunting destination, but one or more of your bags doesn’t.

The best way to ensure that your bags arrive with you is to arrive in plenty of time for your first flight, and absolutely do not let your travel agent book close connections. For me that means at least an hour on domestic flights, and about two hours on international connections. But even with the best planning flights can be delayed, and sometimes, for whatever reason, your luggage doesn’t make the flight.

The only hedge against this is to pack your carry-on bag as if it’s the only bag you will receive. (Once in a while it will be.) Just the other day, traveling from California to South Africa (via Phoenix and New York) it happened to me: My gun case made it in just fine, but my duffel bag did not.

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