Being the loving and caring husband that I am, I told my wife that when she graduated from college I would take her anywhere in the world she wished to go. She told me that she had always dreamed of going to Hawaii every since she was a little girl. Hawaii, crud! I was hoping she would pick New Zealand (red stag) or maybe Australia (water buffalo). Oh well, a deal is a deal, Hawaii here we come.
Since I was not going to be able to hunt red stag or water buffalo on my... I mean my wife's trip I thought I would make the most of a bad situation and googled hunting in Hawaii. To my surprise quite a bit of information popped up concerning hunting in Hawaii. The hunt that really caught my eye was for mouflon sheep on the island of Lanai. After looking at several sites, I finally called Patrick Fisher of Hawaii Safaris.
Pat seemed like a nice guy and I knew he had a great reputation as a guide and outfitter. August is the rut for mouflon he told me, and the best time to hunt. There was no way we could fit August in our schedule so we settled on a mid January date. Pat said we should still see quite a few sheep and have a chance at a trophy ram. Okay, time to get in shape for my sheep hunt...I mean my wife's Hawaii dream trip.
As the time to leave neared my wife began to act like I do before a trip to Africa. All of the literature around the house was Hawaii themed. She was constantly on line checking things to do in Hawaii, Hawaii weather, restaurants in Hawaii, and all she wanted to talk about was Hawaii. I have to tell you it's not so much fun when the shoe is on the other foot.
Shortly before we were to leave Pat called me and said that he or Steve Gelakoski would pick us up at the airport in Lanai and take us to the hotel to drop our bags and then on to the rifle range and do a little scouting. Steve is Pat's man on Lanai and is a super guy to hunt and hang out with, and it was Steve who picked us up. He showed up at the airport in camo with binoculars hanging off his neck and told me that he had a nice ram spotted and hoped we could find him again in the morning.
Hawaii gun laws are very restrictive so I arranged to rent one of Pat's rifles. It was a Remington 700 .270 Win with a camo synthetic stock and a Trijicon 3X9. The rifle was dead on so Steve took us to where we could see the area we would hunt the next day. Oh my, I hadn't expected this, it looked like the Grand Canyon only greener. One quick look at the terrain and I knew I wasn't in sheep shape. I began to regret all of the sweet potato pie and other goodies I had eaten over the holidays. My wife took one look at the mountains and said she was going to the beach in the morning, I wished I was going with her.
Steve dropped us back off at the hotel and said he would pick me up at 5:00 AM. My wife set the alarm for 4:30 but it wasn't necessary as my body was still on central time and I was up before 2:00. I checked and rearranged my daypack several time and at 4:30 I went out to wait on Steve. It was nice and cool and the Cook Island pines kept me company until Steve arrived. We stopped and grabbed a cup of coffee at Steve's house and were on our way.
Lanai was suffering from drought conditions, everything was dry, and sun baked. The higher elevations had received a shower, the grass was starting to green up, and Steve hoped it would pull some rams into the open. We parked the truck in a little grove of trees on the edge of a tremendous canyon. As we waited for it to get light, we heard rams butting heads. As the sky began to lighten, we eased out of the truck and walked to the edge of the canyon.
As we peaked over the edge we immediately spotted a ewe about a hundred yards below us. Steve was sure he could hear others but the steepness of the canyon wall made it impossible to see them. We backed up and began to go up the trail to look in another part of the canyon. We only made it a few hundred yards when we spotted several small rams. They were playing king of the hill on a rock pile and I must say, they were quite amusing.
As Steve peeked in the next canyon, he quickly pulled back and said there is a shooter ram right below us. I slid a cartridge in the chamber as he set the shooting sticks up. He looked again and said to take the one on the left. I got up on the sticks and as the ram was quartering slightly away I put the lighted dot behind his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. Instead of a collapsed sheep there were rams going everywhere.
We had heard the thump of the bullet so we knew he was hit hard but all of the rams had run into the steep part of the canyon and were soon out of sight. We waited and watched and soon saw a group of rams come up on the side of the hill and kept looking back behind them. Steve figured they were waiting for the ram I had shot. We walked down to where they had went out of sight and began looking for my ram.
It was very steep and the gravel was loose, making it a little hard going downhill. There were a lot of tracks and no blood trail so we split up and began to look. There was a big brush thicket and I worked my way down one side of it and ended up a ways down the hill. I looped underneath it and decided to head back up and look for blood again. I was about 75 yards from where the rams had went over the edge and suddenly there he was. He was still on his feet so I had to give him a finisher and down he went.
Oh, what a beautiful ram. I was beside myself with gratitude that I had found him. As Steve made his way up to me we spotted two more nice rams and a few ewes. As I sat down to take it all in I was in awe of the beauty of the land and the sea and this perfect little ram. I could see down the canyon all of the way to the Pacific and in fact we watched whales breach from our perch on the mountain.
We took some pictures and then caped and boned the ram out. We loaded the meat and the head in game bags and headed back to the truck. we made it back to the truck by 9:00 and Steve said that it was the easiest recovery he had had all year. There are some places on the island where recovery is impossible or an all day affair. Steve called Pat to give him the news and shortly after a friend of his called.
As Steve told him about our hunt he said he wished he could see the ram, and since I had taken a few pictures with my phone I could email them to him. He received them while still on the phone and said, man, that's a big belly on that thing? I asked Steve if he was talking about me, or the ram. The game manager wanted any deformed horn rams taken out so we continued our hunt. I missed a shot at a ram across a canyon that probably would have taken me two days to get over and back so we headed back to the truck to check out another area.
As we traveled to the other area we saw many axis deer and more sheep but nothing we wanted to shoot. Steve drove up a long ridge that ended looking over several canyons and we got out to glass. As our scent drifted in to the canyon, we began to see deer and sheep sneak out. We saw another beautiful ram that would be a real trophy in a couple of years. We ate a sandwich, drank some water, and headed back down the mountain.
We faced the Pacific on the way down and the whales were really putting on a show. We literally saw dozens of whales breaching and laying on their sides slapping their huge fins against the surface. I almost forgot about hunting when a group of axis does jumped up and took off. The does ran through a lava rock canyon and in turned jumped a great ram and a ewe. As we looked the ram over Steve noticed the does had jumped a deformed horn ram.
I jumped out of the truck and was trying to load the gun and Steve said he didn't think he would stop. Within a few yards of cover that would hide him, he stopped and turned broadside. I got a quick shot off and down he went. He no more than hit the ground than he was up and with one jump, out of sight. We jumped back in the truck and drove as close as we could and walked across the lava to where we had last seen him.
We only walked 70 yards or so and found him stretched out, but taking no chances checked him to make sure he was dead. These are tough little sheep although they weigh no more than 100 pounds. One horn was only four or five inches long and reminded me of a tahr horn. The other horn circled around and had grown so that it would soon grow into his upper jaw. It was already tight against the skin and Steve said we had done him a real favor.
Steve asked if I wanted to go look for more rams but my conscience got the better of me and I decided I better go and spend some time with my wife. On the way out, we jumped some more axis deer but Steve didn't see them because he was watching a whale.
Hawaii turned out to be a great trip. After the hunt, we spent time whale and dolphin watching, fishing and exploring. We saw quite a few green sea turtles and ate some great but often strange food. The people were friendly and helpful and the weather was too good to be true. The beaches were beautiful and often void of people, but I found myself continually looking longingly up on the mountain.