The state of Hawaii has both axis deer and blacktail deer. Axis deer can be found on Maui, Lana’i, and Moloka’i, while a small herd of blacktails live on Kaua’i. The Aloha State has 8,000 – 10,000 axis deer, but doesn’t estimate the blacktail population.
Blacktail hunting occurs on state managed lands and very few animals are harvested each year. Last year only four blacktails were taken. About 700 axis deer were killed on the three islands they inhabit.
The state generally considers deer a blessing and a curse. Axis deer first arrived in Hawaii in the 1860s as a gift from Hong Kong to King Kamehameha V., the monarch who ruled at the time. The government views axis deer hunting as a boom to the economy on Maui, Lana’i, and Moloka’i, but the deer are seen as a nuisance when they periodically show up on the island of Hawaii. The species has done substantial habitat damage on Maui, so the government remains steadfast they stay off the big island. But somehow the species is occasionally seen on Hawaii. Locals suspect hunters bring them from nearby islands to retaliate against government agencies for converting vast tracts of hunting grounds to forest restoration lands.
Axis deer hunting should be good next February, when archery season opens on Lana’i. Muzzleloader hunting generally takes place in early March and rifle hunting from mid-March to Mid-May. Exact hunting dates haven’t been set.
“Late spring rains have kept the range green throughout most of the summer, resulting in healthy animals,” said Shane DeMattos, wildlife biologist with the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
Because of wildfires, the Kekaha Game Management Area (GMA) will be closed to hunting in 2014. There are no major regulation changes to report.
While public hunting on the islands of Maui and Moloka’i is very limited, the Lana’i Cooperative GMA on the island of Lana’i is the hot spot for the district of Maui.