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Goats galore: a Hawaiian vacation promises good hunting and relaxation at a reasonable price.

AS JOE AND I top the last rise, we finally see our destination, The humidity is 100 percent and a constant stream of sweat down our backs, The tropical landscape rolls out in front of us. To our left are huge rocky spires with cliffs 1,000 feet high, To our right is a large lush valley with a freshwater stream that runs to the ocean.

Standing here in this exotic location has left us mesmerized. We have hiked 9 1/2, miles to this point and we are speechless.

Suddenly, rain starts pouring down, but in the intense heat this cool water pouring from the sky is a blessing. Standing on top of the world, our faces point to the sky. We take every moment and raindrop in. It is absolutely magical.

Stirred from our daydream, we head down the red banks, but before we've gone far we spot our quarry, wild goats, walking through a low saddle to our left. Each animal files down the trail one at a time, and we quickly take up ambush points. The goats appear all at once, nearly 50 of them, in all colors and sizes. The nannies and kids move through first, not 20 yards away. My husband is hiding 60 yards uphill from me on a separate trail. The larger billies are in the back. Moving close to our positions, the billies break into a run that does not end until they are well out of sight. They are heading down the cliffs toward the ocean and safety.

Nearly all of the animals have passed when, looking up the valley, I spot two black billies, still unaware of the danger. I whistle and give Joe hand signals to let him know they are coming. As the billies near his position, I motion and Joe draws his bow.

AAH, KAUAI, THE GARDEN island of the Hawaiian Island chain. This hunt had been a long time in the making, and as we strolled out of the airport terminal, I had one thing on my mind--lounge lizard! The warm, humid air poured over me like a waterfall, and I was ready for the beach.

Who was I kidding? Relaxation would come later. What I really had on my mind was hunting. Yeah, that's right, hunting!

Joe and I had traveled to Kauai on what we hoped would be the ultimate adventure/vacation. We planned to hike and bowhunt for feral goats for four days along the Na Pali Coast on the northwest side of Kauai. The remaining days we would spend trying to avoid being shahkbait (pigeon for pale, untanned people).

When most people think of going on an exotic hunt their first concern might be cost. Joe and I figured out how to do a self-guided exotic archery hunt for next to nothing. It's simply a matter of taking time to do some research.

Prior to arrival, we looked into such things as Hawaii hunting licenses, archery permits, a camping permit, and trail information. One other necessity was finding a location to store our luggage while we were in the backcountry (see Author's Notes for details).

We found certain gear important, such as good hiking shoes, sunscreen, plenty of bug repellant, and lightweight raingear. But the most crucial item was a water purifier. Streams and waterways on Kauai can carry a water bacterium called leptospirosis, which is bad news for humans. After purifying, we also boiled our water, just to he safe.

Once we arrived on Kauai we picked up a few last-minute items and sundries before heading to the trailhead. In so doing we learned another important lesson--on Kauai you're on Hawaiian Time. There is no hurry. So you just have to get in the rhythm and hang loose.

AFTER TAKING CARE OF those details, we finally found ourselves at the beginning of the Kalalan Trail. With our backpacks loaded we cinched down the straps, put double knots in our shoelaces, and began our 2-mile trek to the first campsite. Apparently Kauai had received some rains of biblical proportions a few days prior to our arrival, which left the trail extremely muddy and slippery, causing the soles of our boots to work overtime.

We meandered in and out of rich vegetation into open clearings with a beautiful sparkling ocean hundreds of feet below. The color contrast between the red dirt, green foliage, fuchsia flowers, black lava rock, and turquoise ocean looked like an artist's paint palate. To think we were here hunting is truly amazing. After crossing a small stream, Joe and I arrived at the 2 mile camp, set up our tent in the dark, and called it a night.

The next morning, we rose early as the curtain of darkness was pulled up. After loading our backpacks, we headed out with goats on our minds. The Kalalau trail is not easy to traverse. Narrow passages, eroded cliffs, slippery mud, and sheer drops to the ocean kept us on our toes. They also comprised the perfect ingredients for breath taking beauty--and goats galore.

Along the trail, wooden mileposts marked the mileage, and just past the 5-mile marker I spotted three billies feeding 100 yards above the trail. The situation looked good, but I knew my first shot had to count. The vitals on these animals are extremely small, and the goats have a habit of jumping off the nearest ledge any time danger is near.

I dropped my pack and nocked an arrow. Joe stayed behind to give me hand signals if needed, and I began my climb up the steep, grassy hillside, while the billies were feeding, they meandered between some large lava rocks and a few small trees. Staying low and behind a rock, I was out of their line of sight.

Sneaking to within 15 yards, I could barely see the brown billy's back behind one of the rocks. Slowly I climbed a bit higher to get a clear shot. The sun shining directly in my eyes was almost blinding me, so I focused hard and steadied myself. Raising my Hoyt bow, I put my 20-yard pin on the goat's vitals and launched an Easton carbon shaft.

Thump! With a grunt all the goals ran around the bill, but I was confident of a good hit. Quickly I spotted my fletching sticking up from the thick grass and picked up my blood-covered arrow. As I began following the crimson trail, Joe waved to tell me he'd found him. The billy ran 40 yards around the hill to a rocky cliff.

Getting him down proved a bit of a challenge. After a short rock climb, Joe lowered the goat to the bottom of the cliff: We were ecstatic! We quickly boned out the meat, and once it was cooled down, we wrapped it up and headed out.

We continued hiking and glassing for the next 2 miles. Goats were scattered here and there along the way, but we saw none close enough for a stalk. At the 8-mile marker, we entered some thicker foliage and heard rustling off the trail. We figured it must be goats. With an arrow nocked, Joe sneaked in and out of the thick ferns and tropical trees as I followed close behind. Soon we spotted a white, black, and tan goat, and at 20 yards Joe drew his PSE bow and released a perfect arrow. Two goats in 2 miles. Was this for real?

THE LAST SECTION of the trail is the most strenuous, and as we pass the 10-mile marker, the rain begins to pour down. And shortly after we are on the red banks and Joe is holding his bow at full draw. As the first billy steps clear, he spots us, but it's too late. Joe's arrow is in flight and finds its mark.

The black billy makes a beeline for a brushy ravine but tumbles just short of it. We slowly slip and slide down the bank of mud to collect Joe's trophy. After hugs and photos, we make short work of field dressing our third goat.

Now weighed down with 50 pounds of meat goats weigh between 25 and 65 pounds on the hoof--we stop at the last river crossing. After wrapping the meat, we seal it into a dry bag and submerge the bag in the river. We weigh the bag down with rocks, knowing it will remain cool and will be ready for us to pick up on our way back.

We have only one more mile to go to hit the beautiful Kalalau beach. The hunt has been great. Now we've earned the next leg of our vacation--lounge lizards at last!

The author hails from Cameron Park, California. This is her first story for Bow-hunter.

AUTHOR'S NOTES

We spent three days on the Kalalau beach, exploring, swimming, watching goats and dolphins, meeting all sorts of friendly birds and people, and helping to keep Kodak in business. It was quite an adventure and a perfect couples vacation. We loved it so much we already have bought our plane tickets for next year.

By spending a little time and research, you too can enjoy a wonderful exotic archery hunt priced very reasonably. Four days of hiking and hunting, and six days of relaxation cost us less than $2,500. That included airfare, lodging, and food for two people.

HUNTING INFORMATION

* Na Pali Coast (Hanakapiai-Kalalau Archery Area), Unit G

* Unit G open season all year long for archery

* Archery permits are valid for three consecutive hunting days, with no bag limit.

* $130 for a hunting license and archery permit

* You may need a letter of exemption for license, so check well in advance.

* Contact: Division of Forestry & Wildlife, 3060 Eiwa St., Lihue, HI 96766; (808) 274-3433

CAMPING PERMITS

* Rates are $10 per person/per night

* Sites are limited, so book early

* Contact: Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, Division of State Parks, 3060 Eiwa St., Room 306, Lihue, HI 98766; (808) 274-3444

LUGGAGE STORAGE

* Kayak Kauai (808) 826-9844 located in Hanalei

* Website is www.kayakkauai.com

* Storage runs $4/bag per day

* Their store carries water, stoves, fuel, etc.

LODGING

* Makaleha Mountain Retreat (located near Kapaa)

* $135 nightly for two people, three night minimum

* Accommodates up to six people

* Great Jacuzzi to rest your aching bones

* Website is http://www.makaleha.com

TRAVEL RATES

* Airfare from the West Coast runs $360 to $600.

* We paid $1,027 from San Francisco for the two of us (price included a 10-day car rental).

TRAVELING WITH EQUIPMENT

* Bows, broadheads, and skinning knives can be sent with checked luggage.

* You may choose to rent fuel canisters there to avoid any possible headaches.

* With all of the recent airline regulation changes, I recommend contacting your airline for specific details.
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Author:Rodriguez, Nancy
Publication:Bowhunter
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:1795
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