What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Hawaii? Grass shacks? Visions of white sand beaches? Hula dancers or feasting at luaus? Many travel to the islands seeking the beautiful weather, sightseeing opportunities and five star amenities. However, Hawaii has much more to offer including many outdoor activities. Surfing, spear fishing, deep sea/shore fishing, scuba diving, hiking, and bowhunting just to name a few.
Bowhunting in Hawaii? Really? Many people are astounded to find out that bowhunting even exists in Hawaii. Hawaii is composed of eight major islands, and seven out of the eight major islands have some sort of hunting opportunity year-round whether it be private, public or both. The eight major Hawaiian Islands starting from the north are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii; commonly known as the Big Island.
Niihau known as the Forbidden Island, is the eldest of the Hawaiian Islands. It’s a privately owned island but hunting is available through their guide services. They have hunting opportunities for boar, hybrid sheep, and some exotics which include eland, aoudad, and oryx. Visiting the island of Niihau may be a once in a lifetime experience.
The Garden Isle of Kauai is a common destination for honeymooners. Their lush green mountains, magnificent waterfalls, deep canyons and white sand beaches appeal to many travelers. First class golf courses and beautiful hotels are synonymous with the island of Kauai. It’s a beautiful island that offers hunting opportunities. Goats, pigs and black tailed deer are the game animals which inhabit this island. Black tailed deer are unique to the island of Kauai and were introduced in the 1960s from Oregon. The Na Pali Coast is one of the few areas in Hawaii that offer a pack in style bowhunt for goats and pigs. The trail is easily identified, but hunting the goats may be tough when they are bedded along the steep and rugged cliff sides. Along the way you’ll see spectacular views of the crystal blue ocean and if you’re fortunate you may bump into an animal or two located right along the trail. Many of the hunting opportunities are located on the western end of the island near the famous Waimea Canyon, Hawaii’s own version of the Grand Canyon. Look carefully and you may be able to spot a few goats running to and fro on the canyon walls.
Up next is the Gathering Place, a rightful name for the island of Oahu. It is the busiest island of them all. I call Oahu my home. The capital city, Honolulu, is located on this island. The naval base of Pearl Harbor is one of the many famous landmarks on this island. Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head Crater and the famous surfing beaches of the North Shore are common tourist attractions. Although it’s not the best island to live on if you’re a bowhunter, opportunities are still available. Hunting is open in some areas for wild pigs and goats. The goats are located on the west side of the island. Hunting for goats isn’t for the faint of hearts. These goats reside on the nastiest cliffs and ledges because of heavy pressure. If steep, rocky ledges, heights and hot weather are not your thing, you may want to stick to the pig hunting. The pigs live in the heavily vegetated valleys of the Pali; just be prepared for a quick shot in some dense cover. If you enjoy the nightlife and shopping, with an opportunity to arrow a hog, Oahu may be your destination.
A twenty-five minute plane ride from Oahu will take you to the island of Molokai. Commonly referred to as the Friendly Isle, the people of Molokai will treat you like family. A testament to the friendliness of the island, Saint Damien, selflessly devoted his life to the Hansen’s disease patients who were once exiled to the isolated peninsula of Kalaupapa, which is now a National Historic Site on Molokai. With a general population of approximately 7,500 be prepared for a relaxed lifestyle. Stoplights, retail malls, McDonald’s and night clubs do not exist on this island, and, due to its low population Molokai is rich in natural resources. An abundant amount of fish, sea life and game animals inhabit the island and surrounding waters. Although you can hunt for goats and pigs, Molokai is known for their axis deer. A majority of the deer hunting takes place on the southern and western sides of the island. These sneaky deer love to bed in the cover of the kiawe trees. When the pressure’s on, they’ll nd even thicker cover to hide in whether it be in the entangled brush near the beach or in the dense cover of trees in the forest line. During the morning and evening hours, you may catch them traveling in the gulches heading to and from their bedding or feeding areas. Some prefer to hunt them from a ground blind or a treestand, but if you’re up for the ultimate challenge, spot and stalk is the way to go! Most of the hunting is done on private land, but if you get an opportunity to hunt with one of the locals, you may be leaving with some prime axis deer meat as well as made a friend for life.
Similar in ways to Molokai, the Island of Lanai is a stone’s throw away. In the past, Lanai was known for their plantation lifestyle, giving them the nickname the Pineapple Isle or Pine Isle. For tourists, the island is now known for its two major hotels, Lanai at Manele Bay which is located on the beach and The Lodge at Koele which resides in the mountains. For the hunters, the island is known for mouflon and axis deer hunting. These animals are found throughout the island. Lanai is known for their deep gulches that drain into the ocean below. Most of the hunting is done in hot weather so be sure to pack in a lot of drinking water. The mouflon and deer literally live from the mountains to the sea. This public land hunt takes place every year, beginning with bow season. The axis deer season begins in February and the mouflon season begins in July. Private land hunting opportunities are also available for these two species. This is one public land hunt that I truly enjoy and would recommend to anyone who’s up for a spot and stalk challenge.
Maui offers the best of both worlds, a little city life mixed right in with the country life. Maui is composed of two major mountain ranges, the west Maui Mountains and Haleakala. Because of Haleakala’s elevation, it actually snows on Maui. This island is a great travel destination for the outdoor enthusiast. The beaches and mountain ranges are second to none. Although the hunting areas are primarily done on private land, opportunities are available through guides and outfitters. Axis deer, goats, and pigs are the game animals of the Valley Isle. In some areas the deer feed and bed on rolling hills which makes it tough for bowhunters to get in close. In other areas, you can hunt them in terrain very similar to Lanai and Molokai. The goats can also be found in varied terrain, some living in the deep, rocky gulches, while other herds thrive in rolling hills and pasture land. If hog hunting’s your priority, you’ll probably find them in the dense cover of the mountain ranges. The Valley Isle is a great place to take the family, with something of interest for everyone. Maui is truly a captivating island and is one of my favorite islands to visit and hunt.
Last, but not least, is the island of Hawaii, commonly referred to as the Big Island. The Big Island is the youngest of all the islands and is home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. All but two of the world’s climate zones generate everything from lush rain forests to volcanic deserts. Maunakea and Maunaloa are the two major mountains found on the island of Hawaii. With Maunakea reaching elevations of 13,000ft, snow capped mountains is not an uncommon site for the residents. Beautiful black sand beaches found along the coastline is another unique and major attraction. Many fishing enthusiasts from around the world travel to Kailua, Kona just to get a chance to do some world class sport fishing, but if bowhunting is your thing, then head for the hills as I’m sure you’ll find a place to hunt. The Island of Hawaii offers both public and private hunting. Feral sheep, hybrid sheep, mouflon sheep, pigs, and goats are the game mammals of the Big Island. Bowhunters from across the islands travel to Big Island in search of sheep. On one day you could be chasing sheep in elevations from 6,000 to 10,000 ft and on the very next day, you could be spot and stalking goats sea level on lava rocks. Much of the hunting is done on lava rock terrain which is composed of two types of hardened lava, pahoehoe and a’a. The pahoehoe is smooth and easy to walk on, but the a’a is loose, noisy, and known to eat hunting boots. Careful planning and packing would be advised due to the varied terrain and mixture of climate zones. With tons of hunting and fishing opportunities, Big Island is the sportsman’s paradise.
As you can see Hawaii is much more than white sandy beaches. For me, it’s my year-round bowhunting playground. If the outdoors, beautiful weather and bowhunting peaks your interest, then maybe, just maybe, Hawaii might be your next travel destination. I’m sure it won’t be hard to convince your wife to relax and sunbathe on the beaches of Hawaii, or gear up and go bowhunting with you!
If I were moving to the islands with my family, what would your recommendation be for the optimum combination of traditional bowhunting, quality of life, and vocation - obviously, not necessarily in that order.
Thanks again and keep the wind in your face!
Shoot straight, Shinken
-------------------- "The measure of your life will be the measure of your courage."
TRUTH is TRUTH even if no one believes it
A LIE is a LIE even if everyone believes it Posts: 3575 | From: Tri Cities Washington | Registered: Jan 2009
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Thinking of taking my bride to Maui next year and want to add in a couple days of bowhunting. Can you recommend any outfitters or guides that either cater to traditional archers or that you can speak positively of from your experiences?
-------------------- "I would rather be amongst forest animals and the sounds of nature, then amongst city traffic and the noise of man" - A.D. Williams Posts: 1560 | From: Roanoke, VA | Registered: Jan 2012
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Bob, off hand I don't know of anyone that caters to trad guys and the outfitters that I do know of are rather pricey in my opinion. Hopefully we can get some info going for the Island of Maui.
Tristan, the only public land for axis that I know of is Lanai. It runs for one week in February. You'll have to apply for tags, but all bowhunters get dawn.
Posts: 2987 | From: Hawaii | Registered: Apr 2008
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Thanks Ryan and Terry for this! Lots of info. My wife and I are planning a trip there in February. This is definitely going to help in selecting a island!
-------------------- Black Canyon 64" 3PC LB 58@28 Great Plains 64" 1PC LB 57@28 Great Plains 60" 1PC RC 53@28 Thunder Mtn. 62" 1PC FB 57@28 "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."-Winston Churchill Posts: 1013 | From: Colorado Springs, Colorado | Registered: Jan 2011
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This is a great site, Thank You. Me and my wife spent 13 days in Hawaii. I just returned home on August 3rd. Very beautiful state. We are talking about going back to Kauai in 5 years. Maybe I'll take my bow next time.
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"Expect more than others think is possible" Posts: 639 | From: Michigan | Registered: Nov 2009
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I really enjoyed reading this post, Thank you Ryan Sanpei!
I live on Maui, I only know of Polipoli State Park upcountry to be public hunting land. There are goat, pig, axis deer, pheasant, maybe franklins, and I have read else where on google mouflon sheep are found there too. I have also heard of hunting land in Kula above the Kula Kai neighborhood for hunting, but I don't know if it is public or private land.
Wish I could get together with anybody visiting for a hunt, but I don't have a license yet, still practicing with my bow.
Posts: 37 | From: Idaho | Registered: Jul 2013
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