Last week I went on a black bear hunt in northern British Columbia, and was once again exposed to the quaint customs of Air Canada when it comes to flying with firearms. The trip involved flying from La Guardia in New York, to Toronto, to Vancouver, and then to Prince George, BC. On the way back it was the same, except I went to Montreal instead of Toronto.

First, no one at Air Canada is quite sure to do when they are confronted with a firearm. It usually requires a short conference, and the results are always different. Everyone is pleasant and eager to help, but slightly addled when it comes to this subject. Smile and go with the program.

Of the six flights, four were right on time, and two arrived a half-hour early. This was a nice change from the U.S. However, what was not pleasant by a damn sight was Trudeau Airport (named for one of Canada’s dumber prime ministers) in Montreal. I got there a half hour early, and it took me an hour and a half to pick up my duffel bag and gun case, go through immigration, customs, and security, and make my flight to La Guardia with 2 minutes to spare. Another hunter on my trip, who returned home 2 days ahead of me because his wife went into labor prematurely, had the exact same experience.

If you can imagine an airport run by FEMA, with a French accent, this is it. And to top off the experience an American customs officer told me that the standard Form 4457 which you use to register personal belongings before leaving the U.S., was no longer valid for firearms. She was very stern, and she was as full of it as a Christmas goose. When I got back I checked with Customs, and was told that the 4457 is the correct form for personal firearms. What the Montreal dimwit was probably thinking of was the ATF Form Six, which is for import/export.

By all means hunt in Canada, but stay the hell out of Montreal airport, eh?