January 2015 my wife and I took our first trip to Maui. As breathtaking as the beaches are, I was even more struck by the beautiful mountains and volcanoes. We spent the first few days exploring and came across a great little taco truck north of Lahaina. While we were waiting for our tacos, we noticed a brochure for Lopaka’s Hawaiian Adventures. Lopaka guided wild boar hunts. This wasn’t what piqued my interest. The hook was the hunting method, no guns or archery. The traditional island method utilizes only spears or knives. Now I’m interested. I called Lopaka and he was very personable. He was a native to Maui, had hunted this land his entire life, and clearly had a passion for his work. We set a date for our hunt and met at a strip mall parking lot that day at 5:30AM. Lopaka took us up to the mountains and we worked the dogs through some punishing terrain. Steep mountain sides and rocky ravines were no problem for the dogs; they are primarily pit bull mixes and are fantastic athletes. Each dog is fitted with a GPS collar and Lopaka keeps track of them with a hand held GPS location unit. After hunting for more than four hours, we called it a day. The dogs did get on a pig for a short time. They were on a trail on a ridge far above us, when rocks the size of bowling balls started rolling down toward us. Lopaka quickly moved us behind a tree to block any potential accidents. Not something you have to worry about when hunting whitetail in the Midwest! Lopaka said the lack of rain made it more difficult for the dogs to get on pigs and said if I ever get back to Maui, we should try again. Not thinking I’d ever return, I resigned myself to the likelihood that my hog hunting experience in Hawaii had ended. Thankfully, the story didn’t end there. February 2017 and thanks to frequent flier miles and credit card points we have finagled another trip to Hawaii! I reach out to Lopaka before we leave to schedule another hunt. We talk for a while and catch up on our respective hunting exploits since the last time we hunted together. Having the experience from the last hunt, I am aware of the equipment needed and pack my own gear versus using Lopaka’s. He will supply rubber boots, backpack, lunch, water and knife. However, I brought my own ten inch Bowie knife and LaCrosse Aerohead boots. We met at the same parking lot, 5:30 AM. Lopaka had a new four door pickup, seems he had to upgrade due to a new member of the family arriving. He now has two kids in car seats to accommodate. Today though, the only passengers were his six hunting dogs in the bed of the truck. They were in high spirits as we drove through abandoned pineapple fields looking for pig tracks in the dirt roads. Lopaka had to shush one of the dogs, they were ready to work. We spotted fresh tracks, pulled over and let the dogs out. The dogs have different roles and strengths, a couple were more dedicated trackers. They would work out ahead and to the sides. Lopaka said they would generally stay within 500 yards unless they were on to something. The rest of the dogs would hover between us and the tracking dogs until the chase began. Then they would attack en masse. We hiked along with our head lamps on to cut the darkness as the dogs worked through the morning. I grew up coon hunting with dogs, but this is different. Hounds will communicate throughout the hunt, different barks for searching, when they get on a track, baying as they get closer and a separate sound when the coon is treed. These dogs made no sound while they worked, making the GPS collars even more beneficial. Lopaka said the only sound will come when they are literally on a pig. As the sun came up over the mountains, we stowed our head lamps and I was able to take in the scene. Below us a few thousand feet was the ocean and Lopaka said to listen closely. We could hear the humpback whales! My wife and I had been watching them the day before, one of my most favorite experiences in Hawaii. Above us to the east, we could make out a waterfall in the nearby mountains. We had a light misting rain from time to time, perfect for the dogs to catch scent. We weren’t having any luck. We had hiked about four or five miles and were making our way back to the truck, presumably to try another spot. The terrain was flat, on top of a ridge, with high grass and shrubs about waist high. The tracking dogs were out at ninety degrees to either side and the other dogs were with us. Lopaka was showing me their location on the GPS, to our right and left. Just then we look ahead and a sapling tree at 10:00 is moving! That’s our pig! The trackers begin to converge and the rest of the pack bolts ahead out of sight. Lopaka begins to walk faster, and then breaks into a trot. I am keeping up with him, when we hear a fight break out. Lopaka breaks down the ridge to our right in pursuit. This is jungle now. Trees and plants are all over our head, visibility of only a few feet and a ridiculous decline. The only good thing is that we’re going downhill. Lopaka is moving through the botanical maze much easier than this overweight, middle aged, mainlander can. He is also motivated to get to the melee before the hog does any damage to the dogs. In my effort to keep up, I slip and fall pretty hard on my back. However, given the steepness of the hill there isn’t much of a spill and I get up and carry on in an effort to catch up. As I’m scurrying down the cliff, I notice a stinging in my right hand. I look and see a nickel sized hole between my thumb and index finger. Clean cut and the tendons are visible. I can move it fine. I’m more pissed than in pain. I holler for Lopaka, “Hey, do you have a first aid kit?” He turns around, grabs some gauze and a wrap out of his back pack and we’re back at it. It was like a pit stop in Daytona. I’m on adrenaline now, if I wasn’t already. We hear the pig below us, step out of the dense jungle and the dogs are on him like ugly on an ape. Dogs are all over his ears and head. This hog is huge! Lopaka hands me his knife (so much for using mine), he goes in and grabs the hog, and I put three thrusts of the knife behind the right shoulder as the dogs and Lopaka are holding on for dear life. The hog is squealing, the dogs are going crazy, and then like the air coming out of a balloon it’s over. One of the dogs has a cut under its jaw and the rest are fine. We take a few pictures and load the 275 pound hog in the truck with the dogs. Lopaka takes me to the Doc in a Box and I get eight stitches in my hand. Meanwhile crowds are gathering in the parking lot looking at the hog. As we leave people are asking to take pictures of it and us. The next day I meet Lopaka and pick up some of the meat. We take the backstraps, tenderloins and one ham. The rest we donate to the folks that allow us to hunt the land. The fine folks at the Marriott let us freeze the meat overnight and we shipped it home with us in a cooler. We will have a luau this year and share our harvest with friends and family. Lopaka is preparing a Euro mount of the tusks for me. Between that and my hunting scar, this will be one hunt that is hard to forget.