Story by Lehia Apana | Photography by Mike Neubauer
The text arrives at 6:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, followed by the photo: snapped branches, yanked irrigation lines, and sludge-filled craters where neat rows of kalo and ‘awa plants used to live.
The message is from my husband, Brad, who is walking our dog near the entrance to our farm on Maui’s north shore. No explanation needed. “They” are wild pigs.
This isn’t the first time these destructive invaders have made a buffet of our growing beds. Resolved to take action, we call up a friend, who calls up his friend—because that’s how things happen in Hawai‘i—and by the following afternoon, reinforcements arrive in the form of an eight-foot-long, rectangular wire trap.
We secure the contraption in a shady corner, tie the tripwire, and strategically place a trail of food scraps leading into the trap, à la Hansel and Gretel. “Call me when you catch something,” our new friend advises, and drives off.
The timing was uncannily fortuitous: I volunteered to write this story, and was going on a pig hunt the very next day. Seriously. A few weeks previous, I contacted Lopaka Wilson, a hunter who grew up off-grid in a West Maui valley. Elder family members taught him to hunt, fish, cultivate and forage for food, and expeditions “into the valley” were the equivalent of a supermarket run. Lacking electricity, a cooler served as the family’s refrigerator.
“Hunting was always about subsistence,” Lopaka says. “At our house, you didn’t get to go hunting again until the cooler was empty.”