The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Taking your Firearm Hunting in Foreign Countries
As a hunter, your gun is your best friend. You have spent many hours with it, target shooting, in the stand, bumping around in the back of the truck; it becomes more than just a gun to you. Of course, no matter where in the world you are hunting, you want to take your best friend with you, but that is not always possible. When planning an international hunting trip it is always important to know the rules and regulations around carrying your own firearm for hunting purposes.
First, every country is different. In Wild West terms, I will do the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in reverse, starting with the unfriendly or not-so-friendly countries. Argentina offers great hunting opportunities for fowl, red stag, black buck and other species, but you cannot bring your own gun. Outfitters will offer many options for rifle and shotgun rental and ammunition. You might miss your best friend on this trip, but it will still be a great experience.
Another Spanish speaking country that offers beautiful scenery, wonderful hunting and great food, but difficulty with guns is Spain. The Ibex grand slam might be on your list of dream hunts, but if you want to take your own rifle, you need to start your planning at least six months in advance. Paperwork must be filed through the Spanish Consulate in the United States. Depending on where you live, this office could be located in a few different cities and you must file with the right one for your resident location. Getting representatives to answer phone calls or respond to emails can be an issue. This is another country where it is best to coordinate a rifle with your outfitter.
The last on my list of difficult countries: Australia. I love Australia, the beauty of the outback, the friendliness of the people, the remote locations where all you see for miles and miles are red dirt and wallabies, but if you want to bring your own gun, be prepared. There is a lengthy amount of paperwork that must be filed before you leave. This includes police reports from your hometown, submitted to Australia and returned to you. The process should be started a minimum of three months before you leave. This also requires a fee of over $100 USD, but it must be paid in Australian dollars. Your outfitter will help you with all of this, but it is an added headache for you and them. There is now also the issue of leaving the country. Additional paperwork must now be filed in order for you to take your gun out of the country when you leave. If you are planning on doing any additional touring while on your Australia trip, please leave your gun at home. Each state requires you to have a firearms license to transport your firearm in that state. You cannot get a firearms license unless you are hunting with an outfitter in that state. Therefore, if you are hunting in the Northern Territory and you bring your own gun, you have permission to have the gun in the Northern Territory, but if you would like to travel to Sydney after your hunt, you do not have permission to have a firearm in New South Wales. My advice, use a firearm provided by your outfitter when hunting in Australia.
Now that the Ugly is out of the way, the Bad. These countries might have a bad reputation on the global front, but they are quite friendly to firearms for hunting. Two of my dream hunts, an Ibex in Turkey and the big boy Marco Polo in Tajikistan. Both countries might make the news politically, but your outfitter will get your gun through on arrival. Make sure you communicate with your outfitter and let them know what you are bringing so they will have everything taken care of when you arrive.
Finally, the Good. New Zealand. My favorite place to hunt, so far, and an easy country to bring your own firearm for hunting. There is a $25 NZD fee on arrival and your guns will be inspected by the police as you go through customs. That’s it. Make sure your firearm is in a hard case with lock, stored with no ammunition in the chamber and the magazine is separate if it is full. Now you are free to enjoy the beauty of New Zealand and the wonderful hunting opportunities that abound in this country down under.
Africa has been left for last, one because it is fairly simple, two because it is a continent, not a country. There are quite a few countries within Africa to hunt. Make sure you coordinate with your outfitter in case there are specifics for your desired location. There is usually just paperwork on arrival. An agent can be pre-booked to meet and greet you and get your firearms through quickly. It is worth the money to take this route.
The most important part of traveling with firearms is preparation. Make sure you ask your outfitter what needs to be done for your specific hunting location. Talk to other people who have been to that country hunting and get their opinion and experience. It might be difficult to leave your best friend behind on your hunt of a lifetime, but that is a better option than getting it confiscated by the government of a faraway place. And that, is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of traveling with firearms.
By Lora Gene Young
Lora Gene Young is an avid outdoors-woman from North Carolina. Lora guides hunts in both New Zealand and Australia and is also a member of Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.