Deer Forecast-West

Lanai

As in years before, the best go-to destination in Hawaii for quality axis deer is Lanai, the smallest island in Maui County. The herd here is estimated at 5,000 animals. Even though the weather has been dry, hunters on Lanai should still see success in the 30 percent range. Public hunting on Lanai takes place Saturdays only between mid-February and mid-May, and a lottery draw is required. Nonresidents heading to Hawaii should focus on guided axis deer hunts on Molokai or Maui, where the success rate is greater than 80 percent and the season on private land is yearlong. Some of the state's larger blacktail deer, comparable in size to West Coast blacktails, are on Kauai, the northernmost island of the Hawaiian chain. Hunting is primarily on public land and open to hunters who obtain a permit; there are rifle, muzzleloader and archery seasons here. Hunting is restricted to weekends. Look for bigger blacktails in the thick, steep, rugged country west of Waimea Canyon. But hunter success isn't very good-usually under 5 percent. According to John Cumming, a biologist with the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, for the past five years Hawaii has experienced a drought that has hurt deer production. This year, precipitation patterns have improved, but more rain is needed to bring conditions back to normal.