What a wild….exhilarating….crazy a$$ experience. Running through the mountains of Maui, weaving through the rainforest chasing jungle bacon couldn’t be any better. Feeling like Tarzan, sliding down wicked tree roots and swinging from vine to vine, a couple of traditional archery mountain men from Alaska endured the experience of a lifetime.
Joining the Pokryfki family for their almost annual vacation to the Hawaii, I was extremely excited to be apart of the family enjoying the white sandy beaches of Maui. Doing some research prior to the trip I learned obtaining a hunting license required a few hoops to jump through. After contacting the Hawaii Department of Hunter Education and emailing them a picture of my driver’s license and Alaska Hunter Education card, I was awarded my Letter of Exemption number. This exemption number is issued to hunters who have completed their Hunter Education Certification course; you need this in order to hunt on any of the Hawaiian Islands. ALL non-resident HUNTERS (even 55 year or older) must have completed a hunter education course in order to receive this “Letter of Exemption form”. And no, bow hunter education cards do not suffice for proper validation. Most definitely a pain in the backside to get your proper paperwork in order to have the privilege of hunting in paradise. Once you receive your letter, you can go the Hawaii’s DNR page and purchase your license for $95 dollars online.
More research told me there were several places where a DIY guy could hunt some pigs, goats, sheep, and or axis deer. You can basically take two animals of every species, so bring plenty of ammunition and make sure to check the local regulations of bag limits on your particular island. All you need is your weapon, a knife, your rental car (extra insurance plan recommended), your license, a good map, binoculars, and whatever else you need to make you feel like you’re “all that is man”.
The adventure started in an archery only area of Maui, rising at 4am and heading toward Haleakala Crater the public land hunt would begin at sunrise. After Vince and I almost got stuck on the volcanic dirt road we were driving the hunting location chose us, we didn’t choose it. Leaving the car on the southeast side of the 10,000ft mountain, I strung my bow and headed up the small creek drainage adjacent to us. Finding relatively no sign near the water source, we continued to move upwards towards tree line. Nearing tree line, Vince and I were rewarded to the shrills and squeals of some kind of pigs working their way through the small drainage. Getting quickly into position, I knocked an arrow on my take down “Dan Ryan” longbow. Feeling very confident at 20 yards, a Polynesian piglet was about to wonder into my danger zone.
Noticing the volcanic dirt all around me was rooted up and still moist, I knew the pigs couldn’t be very far away. Getting the feeling in my stomach that something was close and about to happen, I could feel the adrenaline begin to creep up my spine. Waiting….waiting….waiting the pigs never showed. I suspect they winded our location and gave us the “slippidddeeedooooda” heading towards the safety of the thick brush below. After several hours of glassing for goats and whatever else moved, we returned to the car un-successful but very happy with the experience. The scenery, the colors, vegetation, and raw beauty of the landscape below us were enough to satisfy my need for an escape into nature. It was just so incredible to be hunting such a beautiful piece of paradise and doing what I love most….being a wild man.
Not being a hunting vacation, it was time to kick back with our gals on the beach. Taking in a few well deserved brewskies and playing in the waves was a great way to thoroughly enjoy our family vacation. Vince a true Alaskan, who has pioneered more locations and interesting sports in Alaska than anyone I know, is always a treat to spend time with. Using his customized inflatable stand up paddleboards, we/he uses to navigate the wild rivers of Alaska, we managed to show up…blow up… and surf a few waves. This vacation couldn’t be any better. Our beautiful babes soaking up the sun and watching their men play in the surf….life is so tough. We all ended up taking turns on the stand-up paddle-boards having several very cool encounters with grazing sea turtles, moments none of us will forget.
After of few more days of RandR, Vince and I decided to try a different area of the island. After hiking up several thousand feet, we planted our bottoms on volcanic rock and let our binoculars do the rest of the walking for us. No animals or sign was spotted on this micro-adventure on the west side of the island, a place we would not return. However we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunsets over Molokai, another Hawaiian island, I have ever seen. As the sunset, we scurried back down mountain towards our car and decided we needed a new game plan. On our way back to our château we spotted a very interesting home adorned with animal antlers galore. Being two very curious and interested hunters from Alaska, we had to stop and get the inside scoop. Walking up to the door a voice from above, like one from the Wizard of Oz, yelled out asking us our business. We told him we were curious hunters from Alaska looking for a friend and some Hawaiian hunting wisdom.
Suddenly keys were throne from the sky, and the voice said “common in!” Opening the door and walking into what appeared to be a western themed museum, we met an extremely generous a friendly man named Glen. Glen showed us around his place and became an instant friend, one we will visit many times in the future. A man that has truly seen it all, a retired fireman turned entrepreneur taxidermist deluxe. A man with the most impressive collection of trophy sized elk I have ever seen in my life, boasting one double beamed giant that scored 406. After many laughs and lots of information shared Glen sent us on our way with the contact information for his grandson Mickey. He says Mickey might be able to take you guys out for a day of hunting, if he can manage a day off from work. He said Mickey has dogs and dogs are the key to hunting the jungle beasts that roam here.
Mickey ended up giving us a ring and said we were welcome to come hunt with him and his dogs for one morning. Excited to hunt with a local, Mickey was about to give us the thrill of a lifetime. Meeting in a mountain town outside of Haiku, we meted and greeted and got straight down to hunting business. Knowing Hawaiian cultural traditions were to use knife and dogs, I asked Mickey if longbows were allowed. He said he didn’t mind the fusion of cultures and using a bow would be fine as long as we didn’t shoot one of his dogs. Deal. Mickey signs us in to the hunter check station and lets his GPS collared dogs loose. Three whip-its (looked like mini greyhounds) and two Brittany pit-bull mixes tear off through the jungle like greyhounds at a racetrack. Slipping and sliding through the rainforest , an episode of George in the Jungle just began. The dogs barking and signaling us to the location of the pig they just found, Mickey takes off sprinting leaving Vince and I in the mist. Following the sound of chaos it wasn’t long before we found the barking dogs.
Adrenaline rush from 0-10 in a heartbeat, the fight has just begun. One of the larger dogs comes up besides me and is already mangled and bleeding from the first encounter with the pig. The dogs battling the pig for about two minutes prior to our arrival gave them a few flesh wounds and a taste for the fight. Arriving to the source of the barking to see no dogs or pig, deciphering the tangle of downed tree was the most difficult part. Crawling across logs over a small pool made from a rainforest creek the downed trees were slicker than moose snot. Making one misstep towards what looked like green vegetation and firm ground, my foot found air and my body found water. Falling into the source of the commotion, I couldn’t see anything other than Vince and two dogs that were in the same predicament I was in. A pool of water with no bottom, swimming like wet cats towards dry land. As I perched myself upon another log, managing to pull the larger dog from the water towards the fight, I caught my first glimpse of the jungle dwelling “monsta”. Bigger than black bears I have shot in the past, the massive beast emerges from under the tangle of downed logs with two whip-its clinging to his haunches.
Mickey had circled the endlessly deep pond, the water source Vince and I had yet to find the bottom of, he fearlessly ran at the boar enticing the beast to turn and fight. As I swam across the water and got to shore, clutching my soaking wet bow, I knocked an arrow and joined the fight. One of the dogs was knocked nearly unconscious and was fighting to keep its head above water; Vince with no regards for the iphone in his pocket jumped back in the water and swam to the dogs rescue. The last glimpse I got of Vince as I drug myself from the pond was of him shot-putting the dog onto to dry land and to safety. Turning back towards Mickey and the battle, I readied myself for a shot. The monster pig did not squeal and invited the dogs to duel with him until death. Shucking the dogs like a human does to insects, this large brown boar was not singing “ hakuna-matada” this pig was going down and he planned to take us with him.
Snapping his large tusks and lacerating dogs to the bone, I waited for a clear shot free of harming the dogs worse than the pig. Mickey grabbed the pig’s foot in an attempt to distract him from the dogs, at that moment the boar swung his massive head, larger than a grizzly bears skull, towards my guts. Seeing my stomach centimeters from these impressive animals tusks, I knew the battle needed to end quickly. I came to full draw as the pig spun and sent my Zwickey shafted arrow through the giants’ lungs. The arrow finding its mark, the pig had only seconds to live. Those seconds of life meant this animal was still very dangerous and he proved his viciousness with once last bite on Jaws the Brittany pit-bull mix. As the life let the pig, he managed to produce one last horrifying laceration to the dogs shoulder. A scar that will stick with the dog the rest of his life.
Administering first aide to several of the dogs and doing quick size up of our own injuries, we knew we had to get back to the truck quickly. After grabbing a few quick pictures we hiked back to the truck as fast as possible. Moving slowly to a road nearby, carrying the 161-pound field dressed boar was difficult to manage while walking through the thick rainforest. Meeting a friend of Mickey’s at a nearby road to whisk us quickly back to our vehicle. After a short ride to Mickey’s beautiful home, we cleaned and administered care to all of the dogs. We had to put several medical-staples in the two larger canines, and make sure the wounds would heal cleanly and correctly. The dogs jumped up after we stapled them up, licked out faces and walked humbly back to their kennels for the next battle. Mickey’s family cooked us an authentic Hawaiian breakfasts consisting of eggs, spam, and rice while we took care of the dogs. A well-earned meal that has never tasted so good! The dogs were the true champions of the day and I will forever admired there sweet demeanor and excellent hunting skills.
Mickey, the dogs, and Vince showed mountain warrior courage and I can honestly say I would go to battle again any day with my “brudda’s”. What an epic unforgettable adventure with a twist of cultural traditions mixed with beautiful Hawaiian scenery. I can’t wait to go back next year.
Thanks again to Sammye and Vince for an awesome christmas vacation, and thanks to Mickey the “Boar Masta” and his gang of hounds for showing us how to do it Hawaiian style. Big thanks also is in order for Mickey’s entire family in including his fabulous wife, daughter, and grand father Glen… You guys are da best!