I can now say that I have successfully archery hunted on the island of Maui. I killed one goat and one pig. Looking back, I am still confused on how the hell to hunt Maui on public land. I have hunted all over the U.S. including Alaska, so I am accustomed to reading each state's regulations or proclamations. When I first started doing research for the hunt I quickly became confused and irritated with the Hawaiian state hunting website. Much of their information is convoluted and vague, so to get real answers you almost have to visit the island and learn as you go. Read this article and you may become even more confused or perhaps you at least know how to better prepare than I did. I had one day to bowhunt on my vacation because my wife is nice and agreed to let me bring my bow. If I were to go there just for a hunt, I would allow for a full week so I could better explore all the units. So good luck and read on, I hope you get a chance to hunt Maui because it is a unique experience. PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU BETTER DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING YOU READ HERE AS IT MIGHT HAVE CHANGED OR I COULD HAVE COMPLETELY GOT IT WRONG.
Obtaining Your LICENSE - I bought my non-resident hunting license online for around $100, but first I had to send proof of Hunter Education. You better have that! To get this letter of exemption just download it, fill it out and upload it on their website with your proof of education. That's the first hurdle.
THE TRUTH - I did not kill my animals on public land. I have a friend who lives on Maui and he brought me to private property where I hunted for deer, goats, and pigs. I hunted for about 5 hours and in that time I killed two animals and could have have killed a few more. The opportunity was incredible and defies all my previous archery adventures. It was a target rich environment, however often times so beautiful that it was fairly distracting. That was a first for me. Seriously, I can't remember any other hunt where I stopped to just look around at the landscapes every so often. I had a blast and recognize that it was a unique opportunity that probably would have been way different if I had stuck to my original plan of hunting units C and E.
THE BREAKDOWN All of the islands have designated public hunting areas that can be hunted without a guide. Gaining access to most private land will require hiring a guide that has the hunting rights to the land. At the time of this writing I do not believe there are any public land spots that have axis deer to hunt on Maui. There are whispers of a few starting to have deer, and I do believe they will eventually will with deer numbers on the rise, but when I was there, you pretty much had to hire a guide or pay a trespass fee to access deer on private. One of the biggest downsides of public land is that open hunting days is regulated by the state and often times there are only two or three days each week when hunting is allowed. As with all public land hunting there is hunting pressure to contend with as well.
There are 6 public hunting units (A,B,C,D,E,F). Unit A is open daily, year round for feral pigs and feral goats. Located on both the West Maui and East Maui sides. Unit B is a JUNGLE. It appeared to be impossibly thick and steep to me, but I could be wrong. It's only open Saturday and Sundays year round for feral pigs and goats. Located on the West Maui side. Unit C is open to feral goats year round, pigs are only open February through June. There's great access to this unit and bring hunter orange so you can hunt the rifle unit legally with your bow. This is definitely a great unit to hunt. Located on the SouthEast side. There's a fairly obvious check station you can drive to and hunt from there on foot. If you are looking for goats, wear hunter orange and head north. The further, higher and deeper you go the better. This is the Polipoli area and it's no secret, so expect other hunters. Unit D is a JUNGLE. Only open Saturday and Sundays year round for feral pigs and goats. Higher density of animals, worth checking out and located on the NorthEast side. Unit E archery only unit and only open for pigs year round. Access it by walking through other units. This is a unit to definitely check out. I believe you may encounter feral goats but you are not allowed to hunt them. Located on the SouthEast side. Unit F is only open Saturday and Sundays year round for feral pigs and located on the West Maui side.
TIME TO GET SERIOUS The island of Lanai offers mouflon sheep, axis deer, and wild turkeys and if I go back, this is where I am going to hunt. There are three public hunting areas (1, 2, 3) where both mouflon and axis deer can be found. Unit 3 is an archery only unit where big game hunting is restricted for safety reasons and where I would start my hunt. Units 1 and 2 offer several seasons for firearm, archery, and youth hunters. Season dates and open hunting days vary between species and hunt weapon type. Check the regulations and rules closely prior to traveling to this island. The bag limit is one deer and one sheep per person per year in all units. You have to draw a tag for the deer hunt on Lanai on public land and the same is true for mouflon. I looked up the odds and for archery, they are pretty damn good. I believe you can get a ferry to the island for $30 one way, you'll want to rent a jeep.
DEER HISTORY The Hawaiian Axis Deer is a native of India. The first Hawaiian Axis Deer were imported in the 1860's to the island of Moloka’i as a gift to King Kamehameha from the government of Hong Kong. Deer numbers have multiplied and today there are hunting opportunities for these deer on the Islands of Molokai, Lanai and Maui. Again, I would look into drawing a tag for archery on Lanai. Axis Deer have reddish-brown coats marked by white spots arranged in random rows along their sides. Bucks have darker facial markings with a more pronounced “scowling” expression the older they get. Bucks generally lose their velvet in the spring and come into rut during the month of June. Trophy bucks range from 30 to 36 inches and when I was on the island I only saw one hard-horned buck and the rest were in velvet with a long ways to go on growing their antlers. I was in Maui early February.
GOAT HISTORY Spanish Goats were introduced to Hawaiian Islands in 1778 by Captain James Cook. Goats can be found on all the major Hawaiian Islands with the exception of Lanai from sea level to over 9,000 feet. They prefer rocky terrain and open lava fields in the drier areas which means the leeward side of the island. I shot my goat fairly low in elevation but saw several way higher up on the mountain in the lava fields. I think the higher you go, the bigger they get, but that's just based on what I observed. The goats are small animals with mature billies weighing up to 100 pounds. Shot placement is key, goats vital areas are much further forward than other game animals. I shot my goat right in the shoulder at 50 yards, but I think quartering away shots tight behind the shoulder are probably best. Goats are generally found in herds and station sentinels to keep watch, this I witnessed first hand. This means if you get busted by the sentinel, they will alert the rest of the group with a warning call: a quick snort which I definitely heard with my own two ears. The goats rely on their vision. Keep behind cover and you can move quickly into range.
PIG HISTORY Polynesian Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) The Hawaiian Pua’a is a descendant of the small Asiatic domestic pigs introduced by Polynesians in the early colonization period (400 AD) and the larger European domestic pigs first introduced by Captain James Cook beginning in 1778. They are found on almost all the islands. Pigs are wide spread, but consistently located in the rain forests and open mountain meadows. Pigs forage for vegetation and worms by rooting in the ground. They are a great spot-and-stalk challenge as their sense of smell is legit. Their eyesight is their weakness which allows bowhunters to close the distance. Hawaiian wild boar can grow to over 200 pounds with trophy Pua’a sporting teeth over 4 inches long. They are good table fare.
LOGISTICS I think we can end on going over logistics or at least things to have on your radar. Obviously print your hunting license and plan on picking up tags if applicable (some areas do not require them). Traveling with a bow is easier than you think. I generally take off my quiver/stabilizer and group all my arrows together with a rubber band. I think a hard case is important. I take off the broadheads and store them separately in a case so not to cut any strings in the case. I also pack a ton of clothes around the bow so it doesn't get beat up. One last item is to bring a ton of arrows as it could be a target rich environment. As far as where to stay and renting a vehicle, do your homework. I think going on vacation with a couple days of hunting is totally doable. We rented a condo and bought all of our food at Costco. Car rental rates are steep during peek times, but try to get a jeep for certain. Once you find a place to hunt, check to see if you need to sign in and like I mentioned before, some of the best public land areas are rifle units so bring your blaze orange vest and hunt with your bow legally. I am pretty sure you can use mechanicals and lighted nocks as well, but double check. As far as meat and trophy care goes, plan on donating your meat to a local or getting it completely frozen. I donated my meat so I don't know the rules on taking home your meat. I also didn't keep the head on my goat so I don't know the particulars on brining home your trophy. If I was concerned about that I would have hunted early so I could get it boiled and ready for shipping. I am sure you could find somewhere on the island to have some taxidermy done and shipped home. Just make damn sure you know the rules and read everything you can before you depart. The more time you study the better. If you don't have a Premium or Elite membership to onXhunt for your phone than I doubt you would be able to hunt confidently. I used my phone the whole time on airplane mode tracking my every step and making sure I was hunting where I was allowed, you will want to to do the same. GOOD LUCK!