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Agriculture – September 1, 2010

Hunting Helps Ranch Survive

Photo: istockphoto.com

I’ve been hunting archery since I was a kid,” says Jeff Grundhauser, owner of the 5,500-acre Arrow One Ranch in Kula, Maui. And for more than a decade, his prowess with a bow has helped keep the ranch afloat.

In 1999, hoping to take advantage of a herd of more than 800 wild Axis deer that roamed the property, Grundhauser fenced off about 1,000 acres of prime habitat and began offering guided hunting trips to bow hunters and an occasional high-powered rifle hunter. The result was new income for the ranch and a way to keep the deer population in check. “Basically, what I’ve done is use hunting to manage the deer herd,” he says.

Guided hunting is popular with both visitors and locals, and plays an significant part in the Islands’ economy. Grundhauser, for example, charges $1,250 for two days of guide services, lunch and drinks, and the opportunity to take up to three deer: a trophy buck, and two does for meat. The fee includes the cost of preparing the trophy and the meat. “In a good year, I might make $50,000 or $60,000,”
says Grundhauser.

Even so, it’s a modest operation. “I couldn’t take 200 people a year,” he says, “That would wipe out the herd. I try to take 50 to 60 people a year, but this year’s going to be quite a bit less because of the economy.” Still, the hunting income supplements the ranch’s meager income from cattle operations and renting plots to truck farmers.

Grundhauser points out that Arrow One Ranch isn’t alone. On Lanai, hunters are estimated to contribute more that $2 million to that island’s economy.

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