A PRIMER ON TRAVEL IN MEXICO
My most recent trip to Mexico confirmed my long held view that most foreign travel is relatively trouble free, PROVIDED you have the right documentation and PROVIDED that you have paid attention to the rules for importing firearms into a foreign country and for exporting your game.
Remember, that is what you are doing, you are bringing in a dangerous weapon into a foreign country with a different form of government.. Pay attention to what follows and you should avoid 95% of the problems. WE cannot be 100% on top of every rule change in a foreign country, so be pro-active and check web sites etc, before you leave for current information. We try like heck to be on top of this stuff though. Usually we are. But changes happen all the time, so protect yourself. Also, in general, we like YOU to make 3 OR 4 extra copies of every single document you bring along.
ONE IMPORTANT NOTE: Hunters have been missing their return flights from Phoenix to their homes, due to long USDA lines to clear trophies. ALLOW A MINIMUM OF 3 HOURS IN PHOENIX TO CLEAR YOUR CAPES- OR RISK FORFEITURE AND TAKE ONLY THE HORNS HOME.
HINT: HAVING YOUR US CUSTOMS 3-177 FORM PRE-FILLED OUT MAY GET YOU INTO LINE FASTER! (GO ON LINE TO US CUSTOMS TO GET THE FORM DOWNLOADED).
If you are from a foreign country and are not importing game into the US this is not of concern. You may have your own countries forms to deal with to get trophies into your country of residence, though.
Second important note: Work over your cape and skull repeatedly until it is super clean. Saves you much pain at the inspection station manned by the USDA!
DOCUMENTS NEEDED on arrival in Mexico:
• PASSPORT: with at least 4 open pages and at least 6 months to expiration. If you need updating or a new one, get going at least 90 days pre-hunt!! Apply at local Post Office.
• US CUSTOMS FORM 4457: Normally requires a separate trip to your nearest Customs office. Bring your gun or guns along in a case and have some ID. They hand you about a 4”X6” short form to fill out with serial number. They check gun and serial number, then they stamp it and sign it. Keep it with your passport. Make copies! It is good forever on any later trips. (HINT- In the description portion say something like: Winchester Model 70 bolt action caliber 7mm Mag, serial number XXXXX. I usually just say “with scope sight”- as I often change scopes out depending on the hunt. That saves me going back and getting a new 4457 just because of a change in scope.) If you have highly valuable cameras or electronics or lap tops etc- get those on a form also. It can save you paying import taxes on goods you already owned prior to leaving the US.
• ID: A second form of Picture ID such as a drivers license.
• A current US hunting licenses: Not mandatory but often helpful.
• Outfitter contract. We will supply you with that- make sure you bring it in multiple copies!
• Gun permit form: Lately the airlines require you to have a copy with you or they will not let you take your firearms. The old practice of the outfitter keeping it for your arrival- is not accepted.
• DO NOT FLASH MONEY ANYWHERE IN MEXICO- keep cash locked up!!
• CALL BACK TO BMOA’s HOME OFFICE IN AN EMERGENCY-SOMEONE WILL HELP. 307-637-5495.
• BE PATIENT AND COURTEOUS- MEXICO RUNS AT THEIR PACE-NOT OURS.
• MAKE SURE YOU SEE YOUR LICENSE AND GUN PERMIT BEFORE YOU START HUNTING. WE USE REPUTABLE OUTFITTERS BUT MISTAKES CAN HAPPEN AND YOU ARE THE ONE WHO NEEDS THE LICENSE.
• NO MATTER WHAT- BRING YOUR TROPHY AND CAPE HOME WITH YOU.
• HAVE YOUR LICENSE AND GUN PERMITS WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES, INCLUDING ON YOUR WAY HOME FOR USDA.
• DO NOT GET TALKED INTO DOING ANYTHING ILLEGAL BY ANYONE – IF IN DOUBT ASK.
• DO NOT LET ANYONE TALK YOU INTO GIVING THEM OR LOANING THEM EXTRA MONEY- WE HAVE TAKEN CARE OF EVERYTHING ALREADY AND WE WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT.
• YOU MAY WANT TO BRING ALONG DUCT TAPE AND OVERSIZE RUBBER TUBING FOR PROTECTION OF ANTLER POINTS. YOU CAN ALSO TAPE CARDBOARD TO THE ANTLER POINTS. OR DO AS WE DID AND HAVE THE GUY AT THE AIRPORT WRAP AND TAPE IT FOR YOU.
• BE SURE TO ARRIVE AT HERMOSILLO AIRPORT AT LEAST 2.5 TO 3 HOURS EARLY FOR FLIGHTS HOME. IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME TO GET THE PLASTIC PACKING/WRAPPING OF YOUR RACKS AND CAPES DONE THERE.. THERE CAN BE A LINE OF 10 TO 15 HUNTERS. COST IS AROUND $25-$30. WELL WORTH IT!!
• AVOID UNSAFE ESTABLISHMENTS (BARS ETC), ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT IN HERMOSILLO. STICK TOGETHER. THERE IS NOT A BIG PROBLEM, BUT IT IS A POOR COUNTRY SO USE COMMON SENSE AS TO WHERE YOU GO.
FOR EXITING MEXICO WITH GUN AND GAME:
1. You will need all of the above documentation including your license as it is proof you had a legal hunt. That must be proven by you to import trophies. We strongly urge ALL CLIENTS TO CONTACT USDA IN PHOENIX (602- 280-8801) BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE USA – AND VERIFY WHAT ITEMS YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO PRODUCE! THINGS CHANGE!!
2. You will need your Mexican hunting license. If the outfitter suggests shipping your trophies at a later time — be certain you are satisfied with the arrangements, otherwise bring your trophies along as extra baggage. WE ALWAYS PREFER BRING THEM HOME, REGARDLESS OF COST. You have zero recourse for lost trophies! The license proves you legally harvested the animals and have the right to remove them from Mexico. Neither Coues nor Mulies are on the CITES list, so you do not need those documents.
3. You ABSOLUTELY MUST COMPLETE A USF&W Form 3-177-IN ORDER TO IMPORT HUNTED TROPHIES – which is a US customs declaration. You list the skin and horns and skull on arrival into US. Best to do this before you fly out from Hermosillo. We can supply you with a sample or go to http://www.fws.gov/le/declaration-form-3-177.html AND PRINT OFF THE FORM. Fill it out in 4 copies! (Bring some carbon paper or you must hand fill in all 4. You will tender the form to USDA on arrival in Phoenix where they carefully inspect the cape and head.
You must have US Fish and Wildlife/USDA inspect your trophy on your return to US. For most hunters that is in Phoenix. Failure to do so can result in confiscations and even heavy fines (fines are rare though)!! The Dept. of Agriculture is insisting on opening and inspecting imported trophies. They look for bugs such as ticks, fleas, etc- then the cape is forfeited! You must check it over carefully before you leave. No frozen capes- if frozen they are confiscated- no exceptions! So if frozen, thaw it before you travel! Salting is fine, but remove all wetness before you leave, and the salt too. Combing out the hair and drying up all liquids is a must. A clean cape speeds you along. Skulls must be clean too- no brain matter or tissue or liquids! Spend the time yourself to clean everything well. Saves you pain and saves your cape..