I’ve just returned from a triumphal (meaning I survived and the animal didn’t) tahr hunt in New Zealand. Getting there, from New York’s JFK airport means first flying to San Francisco, then to Auckland, New Zealand, and then to Palmerston North, NZ. This takes about two full days of travel, provides you with some excellent adventures in the airlines, and gives you plenty of time to meditate. Here are the results of my cogitation.


“Consistency” and “airline firearms regulations” are not words you use in the same sentence, or possibly in the same lifetime. Get to the airport early and be prepared for whatever idiocy lies in store. At least it will never be the same idiocy that you’ve just gone through.

At the New York City airports, the police are required to examine your guns before you can send them down for the ramp apes to misplace. Not only have all the cops been courteous, but a great many of them are either hunters themselves, or have a relative who hunts. More of them than not have wished me good luck when they were finished looking at my gun.

There is a 52 percent likelihood that the information you get from any airport employee is wrong. If guns are involved, the chances rise to 86.1 percent. At San Francisco airport, where we were to clear customs on our return, Mr. Charles Banks, Esq., and myself were told to go to three different places to claim our rifles, all of which were wrong, and one of which turned out to be the TSA office, where we were informed–quite testily–that the TSA was not in the business of handling baggage.

The rifle cases turned up in the middle of the baggage claim area in the hands of a young woman who had absolutely no idea of what to do with them, so we grabbed them and ran.

Checking in for the flight from San Francisco to JFK, my gun case was checked by a young TSA agent. As he pulled on his latex gloves, he fixed me with a sly, mad grin, and said:

“Lots of people get nervous when I put on my gloves.”


“But hey, why can’t you have a little humor in security?”

This is my kind of TSA agent.