Hunting Feral Goats in Hawaii

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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.


Retired2hunt's picture

  Great story ndemiter!  To


Great story ndemiter!  To be able to go to hawaii to get married and get a couple of days in hunting is... is unbelievable!  Congrats on the memorable time and the great story - including the marriage.  I lived in Hawaii for 2.5 years and know exactly what you described for lava rock laden areas that rip up your boots and where you cannot even sit down.  It is a great state and also great hunting areas.  Unfortunately at the time I spent more time in the ocean than what I did hunting.  If I had to do it over again I would flip it to spend more time hunting.  Thanks for sharing your story as it brings more of my personal memories of Kona, Hilo, and Kileaua.  Thanks!


ManOfTheFall's picture

Great story and pictures.

Great story and pictures. Congratulations to your friend on the ram. Hopefully next time you make it there you will be lucky enough to take one.

Critter's picture

That's a great story and

That's a great story and reminds me of when I was over there in the mid 80's.  I happened to run into a guide that had a pig hunt open the next day.  I mentioned that I didn't have my rifle with me and he told me not to worry that he would lend me one.  While I had a great time chasing them around the ranch that we were hunting on my ex-wife didn't share my enthusiasm and she let me know it.  To cap all things off on that trip our travel agent had screwed up our reservations so as our plane landed in Oahu the plane back to the main land was taking off so we ended up spending another night over there.  For some reason she just couldn't see the humor in it.  Come to think about it she didn't even enjoy the fishing trip that I took over there either.   

Ca_Vermonster's picture

That is a very nicely written

That is a very nicely written story!  And the photos that you have with it are great.  I have not been to Hawaii in almost 10 years, on my honeymoon.  Didn't get too much hunting done on that trip.. .lol

I have always heard great things about the hunting ther, whether it's the traditional turkey or wild boar, or the more exotics like the above mentioned feral goats. It sounds like you had a great trip out there, even if it was a short time.  Glad too see the locals were willing to help, and it looks like you have a nice plan to get out there again.  My 10 year is coming up, but I don't think I could sell my wife on a hunting trip.  I do have a buddy who lives on Kona though.... Wink

Thanks for sharing!

ndemiter's picture

i like the alternative

i like the alternative approach to hunting vacations. instead of trying to sell your wife on hunting while on vacation, "allow" her to come and vacation on your hunting trip ;)


it's seriously easy to hunt there, might as well take a rifle if you go back. there's mouflon and sika deer in some places as well, but i didn't see any of those.

hunter25's picture

Thanks for a great story and

Thanks for a great story and some amazing pictures to go with it. A trip to Hawaii for something like this is in the early planning stages for me at this time. When I read you had been there and done this I was anxious to learn more. I had expected when you wrote about your trip it would be a story of what ranch or outfitter you went with so I was very happily surprised to learn that you went totally do it yourself and that the opportunity was available to do so. My preconcieved ideas about the situation over there was totalyy wrong as usual. Although I like the way you went about your hunt and I'm sure the way you plan to do it again, I doubt my wife will be quite that understanding. I convinced her that this would be fun and I could pull it off while we are there on a pleasure trip but I doubt I would get as many chances to sneak away as you are able to. If I get the chance to go in the next couple of years it will most likely be with one of the outfitters on a day hunt deal on one of the private ranches. The cost for most of the goat hunts is not to bad and after it's over I can get back to enjoying it with her and making her happy as well. Probably won't be next year but possibly the year after that as I have too much planned already and she will be going back to the Phillippines for a few weeks next spring and using up all her vacation time there. By the way as near as I can figure out there is no legal hunting over there by foriegners.

arrowflipper's picture


Another wonderful story by ndemiter.  Several things amaze me about your story, but none as much as your new wife "letting" you spend all that time hunting.  All I can say is "WOW"!!  She is one special gal.  You picked yourself a keeper there my friend.  Does she have a hunting background or come from a hunting family?  Don't lose this one my friend.

Another thing amazing me is the sharpness of the lava.  I don't know what the soles of your shoes were, but it's amazing that just walking on the lava cuts through it.  The people over there must just avoid walking on it or wear some special type of shoe.  And the feet of the goats must be some kind of tough.

I loved your pictures..... they gave us a feel for what the terrain was like and the environment the goats live in.  Loved the picture with the goats.  By the way, have you heard how they taste?  I tried to eat my mountain goat but he was way too tough to navigate through.  Have you eaten any of that goat or talked to someone who has? 

OK, you ended up with a set of horns 16 inches long.  What is considered a trophy?  How long do they get?

I am not surprised about the gun tax you were charged.  I doubt that it is a big money maker for them.  If they wanted to make money, they should charge a tax on bikinis.  Or maybe a tax on just looking at them??  We are finding new taxes on hunting items and the ability to hunt all the time.  Just got some information yesterday that the state of Washington is now going to charge a fee on parking anywhere near a fishing or hunting spot.  In order to park near government land, you will now need to purchase a $30 pass per year.  OH, but it's not really just $30; when you buy it by phone, on line or at a store, they tack a $5 service charge onto that.  So from now on, starting in July, to park your vehicle near state land, you will have to pay $35 per year.  The $10 you were charged for a gun permit seems to be pretty fair.

Again, thanks for another great story.  Keep that fine wife ndemiter!