Important Advice For DIY Hunters

We here at BMOA have many clients traveling to many destinations all over the globe. Many go to Mexico, South America and Canada. Others travel much further to places like Africa, Australia, Russia, Mongolia, Europe and various island such as New Zealand. Realize two things are happening- you are exporting from a foreign country- and secondly you are importing into this country. Two sets of rules. The rules for exporting sport hunted trophies from a Foreign country vary widely from country to country and from specie to specie. And our own US Rules for IMPORTING TROPHY ANIMALS CAN VARY WIDELY WITH SPECIE AND COUNTRY. If that is not enough, it gets even more complicated if you have taken a CITES specie. Then more rules apply. CITES listed animals have detailed export requirements from the country of origin. ( Elephant, leopard, lion and much more).  And CITES animals will also have strict import requirements to get them into the USA. While volumes can be written on this topic, we suggest the simple rule for most of us is that any CITES import into the US will require the services of a licensed Customs Broker. It is what we ourselves do!!! And from most countries around the world, we do not even attempt to do it ourselves. But Mexico and Canada are exceptions, where we routinely do it ourselves. Contact us for suggestions on Customs brokers we know and trust. Such agents have been trained, have passed exams and are licensed. While not cheap, they can often avoid trophy forfeitures for minor problems, and save a great deal on storage charges as well. No one likes spending money but here is an instance where good advice is valuable.  What about non-CITES animals such as deer or elk taken in a foreign country such as Canada or Mexico? The ability to bring your trophy back as luggage can save you up to 6 months and more of time – and perhaps a thousand dollars or more in import related expenses and shipping. Not all countries will allow this, but some do. The saving can almost pay for the taxidermy. Canada and Mexico will allow this, assuming a non-CITES animal such as elk, deer, moose and usually bear. How to bring home your deer or elk trophy as airline baggage. The Cape normally cannot be frozen!!!  Just salted and “flint dry”. Any folding requires hair to hair, skin to skin to protect against damage. Avoid skin to hair contact. Flint dry requires salting and cleaning, drying and resalting- a process that can take several days. Fluids are a no-no- so dry is the order of the day! You will normally want to have a collapsible cooler or a duffle bag lined with heavy plastic garbage bags. Leakage will cause you big headaches with US Fish and Wildlife on entry to the US. If you kill on the last day, you likely will have problems with leaking unless you work hard to get the cape dried out. DO not freeze it! Make sure you put a name tag on your cape. The tag should have your complete contact information on one side and your taxidermists contact information on the other. A deer cape if folded or rolled can fit easily in a small duffle or cooler. The Collapsible coolers that hold two six packs will suffice normally. Elk or bear require bigger duffels or coolers. I like duffels as I can usually fit them in my luggage. BE SURE TO PROTECT THE HORNS USING PIECES OF HOSE, DUCT TAPE, CARDBOARD, BUBBLE WRAP ETC. YOU MAY NEED TO BRACE ANY WEAK SPOTS. BREAKAGE WILL PRECLUDE A TROPHY FROM RECORD BOOK ENTRY NORMALLY. Skull caps MUST be absolutely free of flesh and liquids. Boiling is often best- but do it with care. Brain tissue is a total no-no!! Here is a suggested list of what you will need- or get the outfitter to have it on hand for you.

  • Bubble wrap and lots of duct tape
  • Garden hose-at least 5/8”. I often buy hose at a hardware store so I can get wider diameter.
  • Duffle bag or cooler- do not try to import it frozen.
  • Name tags  with wire or zip ties ( laminate them- and include your taxidermists info on the back)
  • Heavy trash bags- several with zip ties or string
When you check your luggage if they are not protected,  e sure to request “SPECIAL HANDLING” for fragile goods. Expect to be charged, and again, no leakage permissible. Frequent travelers may have charges waived sometimes. ON ARRIVAL AT US CUSTOMS: Once you pickup your luggage, proceed to Customs. Be certain to declare your trophy- failure to do so can result in forfeiture!! You will need to have prepared in ADVANCE -a USF&W form 3-177-1. You can obtain one on line from their web site. You can find this form at Type in 3-177 into the search box. The form is in a pdf format. Or ask us. Fill it out as much as possible in advance. You will need AND MUST HAVE – the scientific name for your species!!!  ALSO HAVE YOUR GUN FORM- THE 4457 FORM!! LIST OF SCIENTIFIC NAMES: Desert Mule deer:    odocoileus hemionus crooki; Rocky Mtn mule deer:   odocoileus hemionus hemionus; Coues deer:    odocoileus virginianus couesi; Whitetail deer: odocoileus virginianus Black bear:  Ursus americanus Grizzly bear: ursus arctos horribilis Brown bear: ursus arctos middendorffi When you appear at US Customs with your trophy, you will also need in your possession – your foreign hunting license; the game tag (on the horns hopefully- but do not tape it so tight it cannot be removed and viewed!) Also, any other paperwork showing the place of harvest and the outfitters license. The idea is to be able to prove it was a “legal hunt”. Once you clear customs, re-check your bags for the next flight. Again folks, volumes can be written on this topic- but this gives you a good start! RANDOM THOUGHTS: