For many, Hawaii, particularly Maui, is a tropical vacation getaway with sandy beaches, great food, luxury resorts and unlimited sun. Something that has been a secret for many years, but is now becoming a “must do,” is hunting in Hawaii, particularly hunting Axis deer.
Sponsored by Remington Outdoor Company
On the island of Maui, free range Axis deer roam the mountains. Being born and raised in a family that owns and operates a hunting outfit for Axis deer, Maui Hunting Safari, I have grown to love hunting this majestic species of deer. Not only are they beautiful and unlike any other deer species, but also, their venison is one of the best in the world. There is no regulated hunting season for Axis deer on the island of Maui on private land. We recommend hunting between the months of April and August, as the bucks will be hard antlered. Being a guide, here are some of my top tips for hunting Axis deer in Hawaii.
Like hunting many of the other deer species, there is a “prime time” that you want to be in the field for Axis Deer. The prime times are early in the morning and in the evening. Right at sunrise, the deer herds are moving, heading back to the forests to bed for the day. Late in the evening, the deer are once again on the move, making their way from their bedding areas into the fields to feed during the night in the cooler weather. These are both great times to find herds of Axis and hopefully, get on the one you are looking for.
In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes that I see hunters make in Hawaii is walking during the prime time. Axis are skittish and travel in herds – meaning that there are a lot of eyes. This combination makes it extremely challenging to move when the deer are moving. One of the successful strategies that I use when I am guiding is I will sit in an area that I know the deer will cross as they move to their bedding areas, sitting on a vantage point. That way I can see the entire herd as they are moving to pick out the big bucks. Using this strategy, the hunter and I are staying put, making it harder for the deer to spot us, decreasing the chances of spooking the entire heard.
Anyone who has had me as a guide knows that I 100% advocate for good shot placement, especially on the Axis deer. Axis bucks in Hawaii are known to be tough. Despite what many hunters may practice in the other states, lung shots on Axis in Hawaii is not ideal. With the adrenaline from being shot and seeing the rest of the herd running, big bucks are known to run a long way if you don’t get both lungs, making tracking very difficult, especially on the island lava terrain. I always recommend that my hunters focus on shot placement, specifically aiming for the middle of the shoulder. If the hunter is able to break both front shoulders the likelihood of the buck getting away has significantly decreased. From my experience, this shot placement has been the most effective for harvesting big bucks.
As a guide, my caliber of choice when recommending rifles to my hunters are Remington .308 or Remington 30.06. I like the calibers .308 and 30.06 because these calibers perform great, they’re versatile, and over the years we have had the most success with them.