The other night I was regaling some non-hunting friends with tales of traveling with guns, and they asked me which countries were the worst and the best as far as being a pain in the ass to the armed traveler.

“The best,” I said, “are New Zealand and South Africa. They haven’t abandoned the concept of common sense in airports. The worst is Canada.”

To appreciate flying into Canada with firearms, one must first separate the near-miraculous incompetence of Air Canada (which surpasses even that of United Airlines) from the antics of Canadian Customs and Immigration. The latter, as part of their training, are taught that 1) If there were no Americans in Canada, there would be no armed crime 2) Every American who comes to Canada with a rifle or shotgun also has a handgun somewhere in their possession (Taking a handgun into Canada for any reason is absolutely illegal.) and it is their job to find it. I was once detained at an airport in one of the western provinces by an Immigration official who insisted that I get a work permit in order to hunt deer and possibly write about it. By sheer chance I had with me the card of Canada’s Minister of Tourism, who had recently visited the Field & Stream office and asked for our help in promoting tourism to Canada. I showed her the card and guaranteed her that her life during the coming week was going to be a lot more interesting than her life this week.

The effect was galvanic. She hauled out her book of regs and in seconds managed to discover that a work permit was not necessary.

But that was pure luck. Usually they will screw with you until they get tired of it, or until you miss your connection, but no use to worry about that because the flight will be late anyway.