My hunt for Russian Brown Bear began with my departure from Dulles International Airport. The TSA completed a thorough check for my passport and visa. Similarly, they checked the import/export paperwork for my rifle and ammo.
Arrival at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow
After an 11 hour flight with stopover in Frankfurt, I arrived at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow, ready to go. Upon deplaning, I entered the terminal, and first headed directly to the line for Passport Control. Russian officials requested my passport, visa and documents that I declared for the rifle and ammo. They filled out their own forms for tourist entry and exit; then gave all documents back to me.
A short distance down a ramp, I retrieved my luggage from a belted turn-style baggage carousel. The free luggage carts are about 300 feet away. The locked rifle and ammo cases lay on a cart about 75 feet away. I later found out it was the area for Lost and Found items.
Going through Customs
After I retrieved my luggage and rifle and ammo cases, it was a short walk to the Customs area, where I met the outfitter. At Customs, I declared I was transporting a rifle and ammunition to hunt Russian Brown Bear. So I presented my rifle permit, Letter of Invitation, Voucher. Also I filled out the Passenger Customs Declaration stating the value of the rifle and personal items. Customs thoroughly reviewed all the paperwork. They asked why I was coming to Russia, who invited me and their contact information. Furthermore they asked where and with whom I would be staying to hunt a brown bear. They took the rifle and ammo cases to a separate desk. At their request, I open the cases. They verified the rifle’s serial number and the exact number of rounds declared. After Customs completes their task, they sign and stamp the paperwork.
It is very important that you retain all the paperwork and forms that have been either signed or stamped by Passport Control or Customs. Except for the Customs Declaration, the majority of the information is in Russian. You most likely cannot read it, but it is certainly vital to retain for the reason that these forms are needed to leave Russia.
First View of Moscow
Finally released from Customs to the main terminal of Domodedovo Airport, we got a cab and drove through heavy traffic to our Moscow hotel. On our way, the friendliness of the people and the cleanliness of the city was very noticeable. Likewise were the congestion of vehicles on main highways and the volume of new construction. Above all, I had completed the first step on the hunt for Russian Brown Bear.