Hawaii Hunting a Non-Resident Hunter’s Perspective

11 years, 9 months ago 3
Posted in: Hawaii Hunting

Hawaii Hunting

So you are interested in hunting Hawaii, here is a down and dirty review as compared to the rest of the United States

Is the information easy to find?

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources ‘Hunting in Hawaii’ page is at the top of the search results.

Grade: A

Website: is it easy to use and understand?

The first link most hunters would look for would be ‘hunting seasons’ which isn’t anywhere to be found on this page. Checking the ‘Game Mammal Hunting Guide (With Maps)’ link leads to a 56 page PDF file written in bureaucrat-speak, such as this:

§13-123-14 Designations of public hunting areas.

(a) This subchapter designates the public hunting areas within the State and regulates the activities therein.

(b) Public hunting areas are shown in the following exhibits which are located at the end of this chapter and by reference made a part hereof:

(1) Exhibit 2. “Showing public hunting areas for game mammals on the island of Kauai.”
(2) Exhibit 4. “Showing public hunting areas for game mammals on the island of Oahu.”
(3) Exhibit 6. “Showing public hunting areas for game mammals on the island of Molokai.”
(4) Exhibit 8. “Showing public hunting areas for game mammals on the island of Lanai.”
(5) Exhibit 10. “Showing public hunting areas for game mammals on the island of Maui.” and
(6) Exhibit 12. “Showing public hunting areas for game mammals on the island of Hawaii.”
(c) As hereinafter used in this chapter, references made to Exhibits 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, or 12 shall mean the exhibits listed in this section.

Even worse, on the front page is the following disclaimer:

This is not an official copy of “Chapter 123. Rules Regulating Game Mammal Hunting.” The format has been changed to make it more useable by the public. It is subject to change without notice. An official copy of Chapter 123 should be consulted to make legal interpretations. Consult legal notices for any changes in special conditions, bag limits, seasons and open areas as provided by §13-123-4 (Emphasis mine – Niko)

Shortly after that, at the bottom of the page, the document states that it was ‘printed January 2003.’ So, despite being on the official website, despite having been presented as the Game Mammal Hunting regulations, this is unofficial, it was printed nine years ago, and no notice need be given of changes to these printed rules. I haven’t found any of the information I’m looking for yet, and I already don’t want to hunt here.

Grade: D

Does the state hold a lottery system for non-residents or are over the counter licenses available?

Both, the lottery system is for designated areas and/or specific methods – for example on Kauai during Rifle Season (which includes Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Archery) hunting dates are assigned by lottery. There is an archery only hunt that is non-lottery based, however the chart states: ‘See annual deer tag instruction sheets for specific hunting days.’

Grade: C

How much does it cost to hunt, and is there a short term license available?

A resident hunting license is $10.00, nonresident hunting licenses are $95.00. Please note: you MUST either have a Hawaii Hunter Education Card or a Letter of Exemption to hunt Hawaii. Letters of Exemption can only be obtained free of charge by hunters possessing an out-of-state hunter’s education card BUT the forms must be mailed in and you must receive the Letter of Exemption before continuing. I see absolutely no mention of big game or deer tags, or any other fees, other than a note that states that this fee includes a Wildlife Conservation Stamp. It would appear that $95.00 is the entire cost of a nonresident annual hunting license that covers all legal game. At that price, a short term license isn’t really necessary, and I’m certain there aren’t many average hunters who want to pay for round trip tickets to Hawaii twice in one year, so Hawaii managed to walk the line between an expensive nonresident tag and losing out on revenue due to nobody buying an annual license other than residents. Well done.

Grade: B

Are the hunting seasons easy to find and laid out in a logical manner?

The hunting season are presented in a manner that is almost the exact opposite of logical, though entirely by accident I found a piece of information that makes up for the main seasons being written by somebody on a Starbucks bender. Here is an example of one of the deer season listings:

One weekend: The seventh full weekend preceding the last full weekend of October.

I am completely at a loss to explain ‘full weekend,’ since in my 42 years, I have yet to see a calendar with “Friday, Saturday, Monday” or “Friday, Sunday, Monday” on it. The only explanation I can cobble together is that the meaning is ‘full weekend of the month of,’ so if either weekend day is the last or first day of the month, it would be a partial weekend. However, while digging for a different piece of information, I ran across this:

Hunting on Private Land Game mammals may be hunted year-round on private land. Hunters must possess a valid State of Hawaii hunting license and have the permission of the landowner. Hunting fees, permitted hunting weapons and methods and other prohibitions and requirements for hunting game mammals on private land are established by the landowner.

The ‘Hunting on Private Land’ season is on the Game Mammal Hunting (Summary) page, which is even more unofficial than the official unofficial 56 page document from 2003. There is also a chilling note in the opening paragraph:

Occasionally, the Division of Forestry & Wildlife (DOFAW) may modify or cancel a hunting season in a particular area to adjust for changes in weather conditions or animal populations.

Add that to the ‘no notice required’ and ‘unofficial’ disclaimers, and a hunter could save for three years, get everything else in order, and find out when he lands that the Division of Forestry & Wildlife just cancelled his or her hunt.

Grade: D

Is public hunting available, if so, are the rules different? If the rules are different, are they easy to understand?

All six major islands offer public hunting on ‘Game Units,’ each of the offices responsible for the game units are listed on the Game Mammal Hunting Page. There is also a link to Title 13, Chapter 123, Rules Regulating Game Mammal Hunting, Hawaii Revised Statutes”. While I was worried this link would lead to more confusing information (and at first it does appear to do so), the links on that page provide maps and Game Unit specific rules, such as the ones for Alakai Wilderness Preserve on Kauai. My only concern with these maps and regulations is the age: the Alakai information was clearly set down on paper with an impact typewriter and photocopied many times, even the maps remind me of the old mimeograph copies from the 1970′s. However, having a printable copy of the maps and published regulations (which may or may not be official, or have changed with no notice, or been cancelled) is much better than long, confusing legal phrasing.

Grade: B

Are there major issues in hunting this state as a non-resident?

If you have to hunt Hawaii, I would just call Bowhunt Hawaii www.BowhuntHawaii.com They will take care of all you need to know. If you are a DIY, contact the Hawaii state DLNR and ask for official documents, ask about the history of the area you have chosen to hunt, if the hunting there has been cancelled or not recently, if so, why? The wording of the official unofficial rules and the summary of the official unofficial rules would make me nervous considering the expense of travelling to Hawaii. The other major consideration here is that you MUST mail in the Letter of Exemption request and have your returned Letter of Exemption before you will be allowed to purchase a hunting license.

Grade: B

Summary: C+

Hunting on Hawaii seems to be a matter of pinning down exactly which island you want to go to, which is very much defined by which islands you can hunt deer on in this case. After determining that fact and finding out what days you can hunt, or if you are extremely lucky you have an invitation to hunt private property, in which case you can hunt any time you can get there, you simply need to pin down the current regulations by calling and asking for the most official information you can get. Check yearly weather patterns to ensure you won’t get there in the middle of storm season, and above all, make CERTAIN you have obtained your Letter of Exemption from the Hawaii hunter’s education course, or you will not be hunting.

Thanks to 323 Archery Shoot for this post.

3 Responses

  1. BillHoo says:

    I might also note that there are several links (some dead) to the location of various versions of the Request for Letter of Exemption. There are also several different links to DLNR’s Hunter Education that look nearly identical. But only one that has up to date info on the Letter of Exemption to include another letter indicating you do not need a letter of exemption of you are out of state and can present prove of hunter education. (You have to root around and click FORMS at the top of the page) Examples below (the last two links appear to be the most recent and includes the letter that says you don’t need a letter of exemption!





  2. Cody lee says:

    Can a Canadian resident buy a non resedent hunting license in Hawaii and hunt on public land? Thanks,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *