Pigs In Paradise
November 04, 2010
Hawaii's feral pigs are a problem for farmers and a blessing for bowhunters.
Wildlife venturing into urban or developed areas is becoming an increasing problem. With no natural predators, the feral pig population is thriving in Hawaii. As man encroaches onto their turf, it's inevitable for some sort of interaction to occur. On the Big Island, for the small macadamia nut farmer, feral pigs pose a special threat. Not only do they literally eat away at profits; they damage crop plantings and also root in areas that lead to land erosion. Occasionally, a person may even unwittingly stumble across a pig and receive a scare. If they're lucky, that's all the experience amounts to and they're able to walk away with just a funny story to tell their friends.
I'ˆarrowed this first boar with my Black Widow recurve.
Glen called one morning to let me know that he had seen another pig on his property around 6 a.m. and that if I was interested, to come on up. I dialed my hunting buddy Shawn to see if he wanted to tag along. He knew Glen owned a macadamia nut farm and that the pigs would be fat, so it was an easy decision.
I arrived at the farm in the late afternoon to meet Glen. Shawn was running late and would meet me in the field. After checking my gear, I accompanied Glen to the back of the property. It was impossible to overlook the piles of cracked macadamia shells scattered under trees, the diggings alongside the gravel road, and the amount of tracks everywhere. The only things missing were neon signs saying, "Pigs this way!" I questioned Glen about the size of the pig he had seen, and he estimated that it was roughly three feet long. That size would be perfect for meat and wouldn't be one of those backbreaking escapades to load in the truck. Sounded like a quick and easy hunt and an early return home. I should have known better.
We searched the area until we came across several small piglets without a sow in sight. After watching them root around for about 15 minutes, I noticed a small, dark spot outside of the fence line under a tree to my far left. I moved to within 50 yards of the unidentified mound and glassed again. It looked like a pig, but I still wasn't sure. I moved another 10 yards and checked again. Sure enough, it was a pig. Glen sidled over and mentioned to me that it was the same pig he had seen that morning. I positioned myself so that I was downwind and walked along a stretch of dirt road, making sure not to make any noise while I closed the distance. At five yards, the wind shifted. The pig stood up, and I was momentarily shocked to see his actual size. A split second later, he decided to charge.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Glen moving up the road. His movement distracted the pig and caused him to shift his attention and direction. I quickly drew my Black Widow recurve and aimed for his side as he ran past me. With the adrenaline pumping through my system, my arrow hit him a little too low. The boar disappeared into the long grass. After checking with Glen to make sure he was okay, we both walked back to my truck and waited for Shawn.
When Shawn arrived, I told him the story and off we went in hopes of locating a blood trail. To our surprise, we found hardly any blood. I could not understand it. I replayed the shot over and over again. Fifteen minutes passed, then half an hour as we continued to search, but still no pig. Nearing an hour, I suddenly saw Shawn jump back, and I knew he had found something. I ran over. We couldn't believe our eyes. Turning to Glen, I jokingly said, "Three-foot pig? You need to call us over for more of these three-foot pigs." At 250 pounds, it was the biggest pig I'd ever shot with my bow.
Shawn Hayashida used a Shrew longbow to take this fine sow on the second day of our hunt.
With all the excitement, we decided to come back the following day. We walked to the edge of the property to check for fresh sign. The entire area showed extensive damage. As we continued to hunt, Shawn saw a faint shadow moving along the edge of the haliconias. He walked down the next row of plants, anticipating that the pig would walk past that spot. It practically walked into him. With his new Shrew longbow in hand, at full draw and sitting on his back heel, he sailed the arrow through her. The sow ran a few feet and expired. Our luck was running hot -- two good pigs in two days. We quickly decided to come back the following day for another round.
Day three was a bust. It continued to rain throughout the week. When it finally stopped on Saturday, Shawn couldn't make it out to the farm. He phoned with his regrets but did offer to help me remove any animals that I may be fortunate enough to take that afternoon.
I checked in with Glen and explained that Shawn and I wanted to start a bait pile using papaya down at the lower field. Glen offered to help unload the fruit, but I told him that I'd take care of it. Driving down to the field, I was almost to the dumping spot when I noticed a worn trail cutting through the tall grass. Applying the brake, I slowed down to check it out. I soon realized that by doing so, I was now stuck. The road was like mud soup, and I had 500 pounds of rotting papaya in the back of my truck. What a lovely afternoon this was turning out to be.
I climbed out and gathered rocks and broken branches to put under the tires for traction. Thank God I was able to get the truck moving again. I drove to the spot we had selected earlier and unloaded the papayas. When I got back to my truck to move it up to the road, it was stuck again! This time, I called Glen. He drove down and helped me get out. I immediately drove my truck to dry land and walked back to hunt, all the while thinking that this entire fiasco was ridiculous.
When I got back to the trail, I could hear pigs fighting in the distance, so I nocked an arrow and looked for movement in the bushes. Soon, it was like a tank was plowing through the brush. I couldn't see any boars, but I could definitely hear them. About half an hour after the noise died down, I could hear a slow, steady rustling coming my way. Sure enough, a good-sized boar came out of the grass. As he got closer, he turned right. As he approached 20 yards, I drew back my Widow and sent my arrow into his rib cage. He did a quick sprint before I watched him go down. What a way to end the day!
This is the second boar I'ˆtook with my Black Widow recurve. Hunting at the macadamia farm was great!
I took Shawn up
on his offer and called him for help in carrying the pig back to my truck. As we made the trek up the muddy obstacle course, I regaled him with all of my mishaps that afternoon, and we both had a great laugh. As the sun broke through the clouds, I couldn't help but think how lucky we were to be able to lend a hand to a friend and have fun hunting boars, all the while acquiring more stories. Ah, just another day in paradise!
Author's Notes: On my hunt, I used a Black Widow recurve set at 53 pounds at 28 inches.
Hunting is available on six of the Hawaiian Islands, although there are differences in available game, bag limits, and seasons for each. A hunting license is required on all islands and should be acquired prior to arriving. Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Re-sources Division has a website that offers helpful tips and simple instructions for applying for a license. To contact them, call (808) 587-4220 or visit www.eha-waiigov.org/DLNR/hunting/.
Due to the geographical diversity, mouflon sheep, feral sheep, feral goats, pheasants, chukars, francolin, quail, doves, sand grouse, and Rio Grande turkeys may be found on the Big Island of Hawaii. Feral pigs are present on all of the islands except Lanai. Blacktail deer can be found on Kauai, while axis deer inhabit Molokai, Lanai and Maui. Plan your trip to Hawaii today and experience paradise.
Guide services are also available on several of the islands, and arrangements can be easily made when planning your trip. Contacting a knowledgeable and reputable guide who can take care of details and inform you of any special circumstances will alleviate most of the worry, ensuring a more enjoyable hunt.
For Guides on the Big Island of Hawaii
'¢Eugene Ramos, Hawaii Hunting Tours, PO Box 58, Paauilo, HI 96776; (808) 776-1666
'¢William Duarte, Jr., Mauna Loa Out-fitters/Hawaii Hunting Tours, PO Box 41, Holualoa, HI 96725; (808) 322-4113
'¢Pat Fisher, Parker Ranch Hunt Club, 67-1435 Mamalahoa Hwy., Kamuela, HI 96743; (808) 960-4148
For a Guide on the island of Maui
'¢Jeffrey Grundhauser, Arrow One Ranch, LLC., 505 Pulehu Road, Kula, HI 96790; (808) 878-2683
I owe special thanks to Richelle Krueger, with whom I have collaborated with on my articles.
The author is a traditional bowhunter from Hilo, Hawaii.