View Full Version : Getting your meat back when flying???

January 20, 2008, 09:07 PM
I'm going to be doing a archery whitetail hunt in Kansas this year and I've debating driving vs.flying. I would be flying from Balt. to Kansas City. Money wise it looks like it would be cheaper to fly esp. with gas being what it is right now....not to mention I wouldn't have to take additional days off of work to drive. My biggest thing is going to be getting the meat back, I'll have the chance of getting two deer...what are my options for getting the meat back without costing me an arm and a leg???

January 20, 2008, 09:20 PM
The best I've known to do was get some of those styrofoam coolers and some dry ice. Get your meat into quarters big enough for the coolers, pack 'em with dry ice and tape 'em up. Put your address on them and send them UPS or something for guaranteed delivery of a certain time. I don't know how cheap it would be but that's the best way I know.


Art Eatman
January 21, 2008, 09:46 AM
I recently got some elk meat UPSed from Colorado to Terlingua. I was told that Dry Ice was a no-no; "hazardous substance". (Don't ask!)

But it got overnight service via air, and arrived rock solid. It was packed in styrofoam, inside a cardboard box. A pair of frozen gel packs had softened, but were still cold.

January 21, 2008, 11:44 AM
I fly out to my land in MO from WA every year for the whitetail season. We generally have plenty of meat to go around. We butcher the deer, cut and wrap them and take the meat to a locker plant nearby that lets us store it in their freezer. I have a soft sided cooler I bring along that weighs nearly exactly 50 lbs when full, just under the luggage weight limit on most airlines. I just check it like a normal piece of luggage. Has worked flawlessly for me. I have also used the styrofoam lined box too, also works great. With both methods, I pack the meat in the cooler just prior to going to the airport and it is always rock solid when I get home.

January 21, 2008, 12:35 PM
I've heard that mailing your meat back costs some major $$$$....at least that's what I heard from guys who flew Elk meat back from out in Montana to back east. My concern is that between my buddy and I we might have 4 deer total...sounds like a lot of coolers. I'm not totally up to date on what your allowed with the airlines....sounds like it's a 50lb. max. per "luggage"

January 21, 2008, 12:46 PM
I'd take the prime cuts of meat back on the plane as an extra piece of luggage. Absolutely no dry ice is allowed on commercial airplanes. I think it cost me around $50 to fly by bear hide back this way from AK much cheaper than UPS or FedEx. The hide was still frozen solid when I got it to my taxidermist. You will want to have the meat already processed and packaged to maximize what you can bring with you.

Ship the rest back by carrier service or donate the rest to locals who want it. If you contact KS DNR they should be able to tell you how to donate the meat that you can't or don't want to haul back. You could even deduct part of the hunt as a charitable contribution on your taxes, but that would probably be just the processing fee.

January 21, 2008, 12:50 PM

Yes, 50 lbs max is the limit now on most if not all major carriers, but you can have 2. However, I generally have a suitcase I need to check with my gear, hence the single cooler. Check your airline to see how much an additional cooler or an overweight one would be, it may be a lot cheaper than shipping it.

January 21, 2008, 08:55 PM
Thanks for all your replies guys! I know the outfitter said they have a butcher who will process/wrap it and "flash freeze" it for $80 a deer. I'm not %100 sure what the flash freezing but I'm assuming it is what it sounds like. I just assumed I would have to mail the meat back, that it all wouldn't fit with my regular luggage...I still have some more research to do. Thanks again!

January 22, 2008, 02:07 PM
I had a couple cut up mule deer flash frozen one time in Cody, WY at a meat place. I think it is a very cold freezer that they blow air through. All I know is one hour later, it was all frozen solid. A lot cheaper than dry ice also. Make sure you also check airlines about dry ice. I know they used to not allow it. If you have it flash froze, you will not need any dry ice, just some kind of cooler.

January 23, 2008, 12:19 PM
So how did you get yours back, just pack in the cooler and take on the plane? How many coolers were your two mulies....had to be a good bit of meat? Did you go over the weight max. and have to pay extra $$? I would guess that I would have slightly less meat to bring back then you did. Thanks!

January 24, 2008, 10:38 AM
On that trip I drove, from Missouri. Those 2 were about 110 lbs or so. That much should fit in 2 48-qt coolers. However, when I drive, I take along a homemade 350 quart cooler. We had 400 lbs in there one time. 9 deer/antelope. There are some piss-walloping big bucks in Kansas. I shot a big bodied whitetail buck this past season in MO and we got 103 lbs of boned meat off of him. An average doe will probably yield about 40-45. Big ones pushing 60 or better.

January 24, 2008, 12:57 PM
Yeah I know they can get some big bodied deer, the Outfitter told me that got one last year that weighed 202, field dressed! All this talk of getting the meat back and didn't even think about the horns/cape back....think I can buy another airline seat for it? haha This flying thing is sounding like not that good if idea anymore.

January 24, 2008, 02:57 PM
You can take it back on the plane with you, as one of your checked baggage items.

Max weight is usually 50lbs per container, no more then 4.4lbs of dry ice per container (airlines usually round up to 5lbs), and must be vented.
The styro coolers are commonly used because they have a vent.

Just let the airlines know ahead of time.

January 25, 2008, 12:17 PM

The outfitter will usually cape a buck for a small fee. Then freeze the hide with the meat and either send the horns home or put them in your luggage. That 202 buck would probably yield 80 lbs of meat, easy. That's what you might be up against.

January 26, 2008, 06:54 PM
Yeah I should probably ask the outfitter, I'm sure he's dealt with this before....although I think most of his clients drive. I'm just trying to get a ballpark figure with my gear and venison from 2 deer how much it's gonna cost me. I might just have to take as much meat as I can get it two coolers and donate the rest...or give it to my outfitter. This is my first out of state hunt so its gonna be a learning experience!

February 13, 2008, 12:33 AM
I'm a little surprised by all these claims that no dry ice is allowed on a plane. I went out to South Dakota to do some pheasant hunting this winter and returned home with 15 birds. Stuck em in 2 coolers - STUFFED WITH DRY ICE - and brought them on board as carry ons. Neither Northwest nor TSA had any problems with it.

February 13, 2008, 02:46 PM
I brought some venison from Alabama to Pennsylvania with no problems at all. I just had it vacuum sealed then frozen solid in the deep freeze and simply put it in an Igloo. You could barely tell it had been out of the freezer at all 8 hours later.

Silver Bullet
February 14, 2008, 12:19 PM
I haven't done this myself, and I haven't done the math to see if it would be cheaper, but if it were me, I'd consider adding a third piece of checked luggage if necessary. The airlines limit you to two checked bags @ 50 lb at no extra charge, but you can apparently go over that ("Excess Baggage") for a fee.

This from Delta's web site:

You'll be charged an excess baggage fee each time you go over any one of the free allowances.
For example, if you have an extra piece of baggage that goes over the weight limit and the size limit, then you'll be charged 3 times:
once for the extra bag,
once for going over the size limit, and
once for going over the weight limit.
Fees are for each additional bag, each way.
The fees listed below apply to all areas of travel, however some areas may have additional restrictions.

Amount Fee
Additional bag—within the United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico
$75 each
Additional bag—all other areas $125 each


Amount Fee
51–70 pounds $50 each
71–100 pounds $100 each
Over 100 pounds not permitted


Amount Fee
62–80 inches—total of length plus width plus height $100 each
Over 80 inches—total of length plus width plus height
not permitted

February 14, 2008, 02:55 PM
Might want to be careful with United. Most will be charged for more than 1 checked bag now.