Clayton: There's hogs in them thar Hawaiian hills!
Just last week, I spent a few days in Hawaii with my bride of 50 years and youngest son and his fiancé. Lisa and I were celebrating our 50-year wedding anniversary and our son proposed to his bride to be on a moonlight evening on Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu.
Visiting Nutridge Estate high atop a mountain above Honolulu and dancing to Elvis’ famous version of "Blue Hawaii" with my wife of 50 years while looking down on the lights of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and the distant Pacific Ocean was a moving moment.
But, not to fear, this week’s column is not about moonlight nights and romance! You might be able to take an old Texas woodsman out of the woods but even in an island paradise, chances are very good he will find a way to bring the topic of hunting to the forefront. Such is the case this week!
For several years, I had heard and read about Hawaii Safaris (www.hawaiisafaries.com), owned and operated by Patrick Fisher. I spent some time visiting with Patrick and learned a few things about the hunting opportunities that I’d like to share with you. Patrick hunts thousands of acres on several of the Hawaiian Islands.
Wild boar, I learned, are widespread over many of the islands, even in the mountains above Honolulu where we were staying. Most hunters come to Hawaii to hunt free-range Polynesian boar, axis deer, Spanish goat or black Hawaiian sheep, but there are plenty of game birds on the islands as well including black and gray francolin, lace-necked and mourning dove and large numbers of Rio Grande turkey. Chickens range wild all over the islands. Most are a cross between the wild red Jungle fowl and domestic chickens.
It seems that through the years, the winds from hurricanes distributed many of the domestic birds throughout the countryside, where they crossed with wild chickens. Many of them very much favor game chickens we are used to seeing here in Texas but appear to be more brilliantly colored, probably because of their Jungle fowl breeding. We encountered lots of chickens, even in the cities and settled areas and on the remote ranches we toured.
The "town" chickens appeared to be semi domesticated and somewhat tame, but the ones we saw in the remote area were as wild as grouse I have hunted in the Rocky Mountains. I would absolutely love to hunt them with my air rifles and, of course, bring along a Dutch Kettle. I think it would take a bit of cooking to make them tender but was told they are excellent eating. This is definitely on my hit list when I go back someday to hunt!
While scouting one of the ranches, I kept getting glimpses of brown animals about twice the size of a really big squirrel darting about. I was told these were mongoose that were first introduced to some of the islands in 1883 by the sugarcane industry to control rats. Well, rats are most active during the evening hours and mongoose are up and about during daylight hours. Now, there are still plenty of rats and… mongoose as well. These lethal killers are now considered pests. They kill ground-nesting birds and eat their eggs and also the eggs of the protected sea turtles. Another possible hunting opportunity, although I have no idea of how one would go about hunting them.
One evening while there, we scheduled a visit to Nutridge Estate for a traditional Hawaiian party. I would call it a Luau but it was really much more than that. Our host, Dave Lopaka Millwood (Honolulu Dave), and staff, showed us a great time and gave us a good insight into the Hawaiian culture. The evening could best be described as a big family outing. By the time the evening was over, all 40 or so visitors had become one big family. We enjoyed a great traditional Hawaiian meal, watched some awesome native dancers doing the dances of their ancestors, threw Hawaiian spears on the lawn and later in the evening, danced to some great music.
Hunters have the innate ability to seek each other out and "Honolulu Dave" just had the look of a hunter! I caught him unoccupied and asked if he ever hunted boar around Nutridge Estate.
“Killed a 300-pounder with my crossbow right down that trail not long ago,” was his reply as he whipped out his cell phone to show me the photos! Nutridge Estate is appropriately named; there are hundreds of macadamia nut trees on the property as well as banana and coconut. Wild hogs being hogs, regardless where you find them, come to the estate to enjoy a smorgasbord of fruits and nuts. The nuts have a hard shell and Dave says you can hear the hogs cracking them from a long distance. He takes his crossbow and eases along the jungle trails until he hears a hog crunching and eases in downwind for the shot.
I didn’t have the opportunity to eat any wild boar, but I have the feeling the meat would be exceptional, given the abundance of fruit and nuts they have to eat. Dave joked that the meat from wild boar tastes just like macadamia nuts. Well, I doubt that but we Texans know well that wild hogs that have been eating a steady diet of shelled corn around our feeders make excellent eating. Stands to reason a wild hog in Hawaii fed on bananas and macadamia nuts ought to be pretty tasty as well!
Listen to “Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends” on radio stations in several states or online anytime at www.catfishradio.org. Watch "A Sportsman’s Life" on YouTube and Pride Outdoor Network.