Ya’ll heard about my friend, Bruce, a couple of weeks back when I wrote about hunting the Vancouver bulls in Hawaii. Well, Bruce drops me a line from time to time, usually including some photos or video of his excursions there in paradise. It gives me a chance to live a little vicariously, albeit with a strong dose of jealousy. Hawaii is one of those places I really want to hunt, but the logistics involved have just been a little too daunting so far. Check out his most recent story, and I think you’ll see why I’m so eager to get over to the Big Island, and join him on some of these adventures.
Got up at 3:45 AM yesterday and drove along the west side of Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea, like its sister mountain Mauna Loa, is gigantic around the base and rises up to almost 14,000 feet. Parked up on a ridge at 8000 feet and hiked down to the Parker Ranch fence line. The terrain is grassy with small trees that might remind a Californian of large manzanita or pinon. Classic mule deer country. The hiking is really tough. Every 300 yards or so is a deep ravine that must be traversed and that means grabbing rocks and branches and clawing your way up the far side, and that’s the easy part. Going down is really hairy. And consider that I left my house at close to sea level and 2 hours later I’m hiking at elevations between 7000 and 8000 feet with a backpack and carrying a rifle and that in 14 months I’ll be 65. WHEW!!!
I hiked for about an hour and only saw 3 pigs but none was over 60 pounds, so I passed. Another hour and nada. This is very dry country, not the kind of real estate you’d associate with Hawaii but more the dry foothill terrain of Tehachapi in California or elsewhere along the East slope of the Sierras. I hiked over to a large ravine where on a previous hunt I found a small spring that trickles down the lava and forms a pool the size of a bathroom sink. I set up an ambush site on the hillside above and waited. 5 minutes later 3 small pigs in the 50 pound range came by and drank. They left and 10 minutes later a sow with 3 very small piglets came by and started to drink. They turned and looked down the canyon and took off uphill at a sprint. I knew they hadn’t seen or winded me so the only thing I could figure was they saw a boar heading their way. I lay prone and rested the 7mm mag rifle across my backpack and waited.
It had been drizzling—more a windy fog rolling through—and I hadn’t checked my scope for awhile. Within 30 seconds, a boar came ambling up, took a few gulps, and began feeding on the grass. I got ready to shoot but my scope was fogged. I wiped the lenses off with my shirt and could see well enough to shoot. At the shot, he slowly turned around, started trotting off, and dropped after 25 feet.
It wasn’t a large boar, maybe 140 pounds or so, but it was big enough. I boned out the good cuts, dragged the carcass over behind a rock and out of the way of the spring, and headed uphill to the 4WD gravel road that belts Mauna Kea and would lead me back to my truck. It took 45 minutes of lung-busting walking to get up to the road. Pig tracks were everywhere and there was no sign at all that any human or vehicle had been in this area for some time. Within 1 minute, a sow and 3 piglets ran across the road and disappeared into the fog downhill. 5 minutes later, a huge boar crossed the road and disappeared into the fog. I trudged along for another 5 minutes and saw a small herd of good-sized pigs on the road but the wind was at my back and they took off. I arrived at my truck 2 hours after packing up the meat and heading uphill. I was pooped, to say the least.
As I loaded up the truck and unloaded my rifle, I looked uphill and saw hundreds of fresh sheep tracks in the dirt. Mauna Kea is home to Mouflon sheep and apparently a herd had come this way while I was out busting my butt looking for porkers. I was thinking how good a sheep ham would taste, slow roasted on the barbecue, crusted in peppercorns, Hawaiian salt, and garlic butter.
I began the long drive out and stopped at the base of a cinder cone to sight in my 300 Win Mag, newly loaded with Barnes TSX 165 grain bullets [your suggestion, Phillip]. Right before I shot, I noticed another herd of pigs, 6 of them, trotting up the hillside to my left, maybe 100 yards away. They were probably siblings and were in the 70 pound range. I watched them until they disappeared into the brush. I returned to the task at hand and two shots later the rifle was dead on and will be my go-to rifle for future bull hunts.
Go home at 6:45 PM. Long day, lots of meat, lots of memories.
My wife and I left SoCal 6 ½ years ago and have made our home on the Big Island. The hunting here is superb, but it’s rough country. I’ve long ago lost count, but this is probably pig number 40 for me here. Add to that 12 Mouflon sheep and 6 or 7 Vancouver bulls and some Spanish goats [no more of them for me because the meat is only so-so at best] and you’ve got world class hunting, all on public property. On the pig hunt I just described, I never saw another human or another vehicle.
I’ll go after Mouflon on Friday and maybe try for another bull the week after that. Age is beginning to creep up on me and I want to get in as much of this wilderness hunting as I can while I’m still able to do it.
Aloha for now.
Great story, and if that doesn’t wet someone’s chops to pack the guns and bows and head to the islands, I don’t know what will! Sea-level to 8000 feet and back in a day, with fresh pork, mouflon sheep, vancouver bulls, and all sorts of other wild meat there for the taking. I understand the bird hunting can be awesome there as well, with francolin, pheasant, wild turkeys, and other species.