Travel Trocities – Airport officials seized my gun case

Linda and I have suffered many travel trocities, but today I’m going to tell you about a couple of mine, experienced on hunting and fishing trips. 

The first occurred on a trip to fish the Leaf River in far northern Quebec. Some guys from the coast picked me up for the ride to Montreal, where we’d catch a plane that took us part way there. Then we got on a float plane to the sporting camp on the Leaf.

At the Montreal airport, we parked the car in a government lot, figuring it was the safest place. But when we returned, our vehicle had been stolen. We spent hours that night trying to find a rental car, and didn’t leave the airport until after midnight.

About a month later, our vehicle was found in Halifax about to be loaded onto a ship and taken to the far east. We found out later that lots of vehicles were being stolen in Montreal and Quebec, and shipped to the far east.

Gun Case

I enjoyed a bunch of annual trips to North Dakota with friends to hunt wild pheasants. For the first two trips, I borrowed my friend Harry Vanderweide’s gun case, with no problems.

But on our third trip, I was called out back at the Portland Jetport and told my gun case could be pried open at one end so I could not use it. Luckily another a friend had room in his case for my shotgun. I put my gun in his case, and decided to let my empty case fly with us to North Dakota because I had already checked it in.

On the way home, I thought the small North Dakota airport would have no problem with my case, but again I was told I could not use it to transport my gun. After transferring my gun to my friend’s case, I took Harry’s case and stuffed it in a trash barrel inside the airport. Half of it stuck up out of the trash barrel, and I took a photo to give Harry a last look at his case.

About an hour later, we were sitting inside the airport waiting for our plane when all the alarms went off, and a loud voice told us to evacuate immediately. I thought, oh no, I hope this isn’t about my gun case!

The lady who told me I couldn’t use my gun case ran by us, so I hollered, “I hope this is not about my gun case,” and she turned toward me and said “No, it isn’t.”

The airport was emptied and we stood outside for a long time. The airport only had one entry spot, so it took a very long time to get all of us back in to the boarding area.

Later we learned that an electrician working at the airport had accidentally set off the alarm.

When I got home, I immediately purchased my own gun case, and had no problems after that.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.