Hunting Feral Goats in Hawaii
Since some people have been interested about hunting in Hawaii, I decided to tell my story about hunting there. To be clear, the trip was actually so I could get married there, but I managed to find the time to slip away and hunt a few days. It was always a dream of mine to get married and honeymoon somewhere kind of exotic. I was always kind of hoping that it would have been Africa, but Hawaii was a close second.
The trip began shortly before Valentine's day in 2009. My best friend Kurt, his new wife, Kerrie and my bride, Susie all flew to the Big island of Hawaii and all arrived late the night of Februray 11th. coming from different places in the country, we were fortunate to all arive within 30 minutes of each other. We made our way to Thrifty car rentals outside the airport and were pleased to meet a young woman who gave us a free vehicle upgrade because of our wedding. Instead of a mini-van, we instead got a Jeep Wrangler. This Jeep was instrumental in hunting the island we were on.
My weapon was my then favorite rifle, a Weatehrby Vanguard in 30-06. I purchased an aluminum gun case which can hold up to 4 rifles. I packed my rifle in one side and took the padding from the other and used the space to pack my clothes and gear. I realize the 30-06 may be a large selection for 40-60 pound game animals, but at least it would be sufficient.
Despite what you may believe about Hawaii, there are actually very many remote locations in the islands and they intend to keep it that way.
Due to the time difference, Kurt and I woke up at 4am our first day there. We were certain our women would sleep until noon. After a cup of coffee from the hotel room coffee maker, we hatched a plan to take the Jeep and the rifle and scout out the public ground south of town.
The trail into the public hunting area was pretty rough, and without an ATV or a Jeep it is impossible to drive. Walking it would be nearly out of the question because it's too far off a trail to travel on foot in one day. The terrain is difficult, to say the least, and traveling across the lava flow is physically demanding and taxing on your skin and footwear. The brushy growth is often too thick to traverse, so the trails are definately the way to travel.
The first day, we hunted transition zones between lava flows and forest habitat. we came very close to goats, often hearing them move away just in front of us. The amount of effort we expended was great and we did not attempt this again. Kurt and I returned to the hotel to find our wives having a nice little hen-party next to the hotel pool. Surprisingly, they were not concerned that we left early in the morning.
For the next few days we had to finish getting some things together for my wedding and we did the tourist thing, exploring the farmer's market and the hippie markets along the sidewalks near the public beaches. We did not find time to hunt again until the 14th. We banked on our women sleeping in this day as well. So we planned our hunt in silent and were commited to returning to the hotel by 9:30 am.
Kurt and I sped to the hunting ground at 5am. When the sun came up, we walked only a few hundred yards and found a group of ewes and lambs running away from us in the brush, but we were after a ram. We proceeded through the lava flow, while the sharp rocks cut through our boots.
It's hard to imagine, rocks so sharp you cannot sit on them or find a place to rest, but this is what the landscape is like. The edges of these long lava flows are where we sighted most of the goats though, so we continued, determined to kill something.
The sun was drawing higher in the sky, Kurt and I were running out of time. We took about 5 more steps and a ram with 16" of horn on each side stood up from his bed. I shot and the ram escape unharmed. In the whole trip we (and I mean Kurt) got one small ram, and the skull and horns are currently on my wall. Depressed at my poor shot, we ran back to the Jeep and hit up the flower shop on the way back to the hotel.
The trip was very exceptional, and as always, Kurt and I were in rare form. Lots of young men believe this about their vacations, but I'm fairly certain Hawaii will remember the time we visited. I could literaly ramble on and on about the adventure we created in Kona, but it's an unrelated topic.
In short though, I was quite pleased with the available land to hunt, the amount of game animals and the willingness of the locals to help us find game. This is why we're planning to return for our 5 year annimersary (in 2 more years) and this time, we will focus on hunting instead of trying to work it into an already busy schedule.
I did learn that anyone importing a firearm must obtain a permit (pay a tax) from the county there, just to let you know if you plan on bringing a rifle. Admittedly, I did not know this then, and frankly it seems like an infraction against my constitutional rights to travel freely between states. Either way, it's worth paying the $10 to keep it legal.
When I return to the big island, I will bring my bow and try to obtain permission to hunt the golf courses on the island. I have been fortunate to travel great distances to hunt, and am glad I have done so, especially on this trip, my deepest regret is honestly that I didn't hunt more. Hunting in new places gives me a better sense of knowing the land I'm visiting and not being just another tourist.