Wayne Ogasawara Sheds Light on the Tradition of Hunting

Karen Shishido
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Big-game hunting often has a reputation of being cruel to animals. However, sitting with my friend, Wayne Ogasawara, and visiting his home, I unexpectedly experienced another perspective; one that nurtures wildlife preservation and conservation. If practiced ethically, hunting brings balance to the ecosystem. Listening to Ogasawara share his hunting knowledge and experience has deepened my understanding of big-game hunters.


A Sansei, Ogasawara has long been connected with the land – born in ‘Ōla‘a plantation on Hawai‘i island, and raised in Wahiawä, O‘ahu with two brothers: Clarence and Roy; and three sisters: Yvonne, Pauline and Myrna.

Green Beret veteran and Wayne’s big brother, Roy, was the one who introduced Wayne to hunting. Ogasawara always looked up to his brother who survived a grisly experience the Vietnam War from 1966-1968. “You should do a story about him,” said Ogasawara.   

Today, the Leilehua High School graduate is the proud owner of Mililani Agricultural Park LLC and leases a total of 133 acres. As the landlord, he rents out his park to farmers with varied agricultural and horticultural crops such as Asian vegetables, bananas, okra, onions, ornamental plants and trees and hybrid lawn grasses. 

Ogasawara also farms and grows papayas, avocados and Tonga’s root crops (ufi), mangoes, lychee and bananas. At one time he had 15 acres of various sweet potatoes, including the Okinawan variety under cultivation. However, due to the labor shortage, he had to give up growing sweet potatoes. Admittedly, he will not give away the secret for his famously delicious avocados.

He resides in Mililani with his wife of 56 years. Together they raised three sons and now enjoy seven grandchildren.

Ogasawara has other hobbies that he is too humble to mention, such as being a lifetime judo enthusiast and a collector of vintage cars.

Safari Club International

Ogasawara’s beautiful home, surrounded by a manicured lawn, also showcases his many mounted trophy animals. An Alaskan mountain goat is proudly displayed as Wayne’s prize trophy. He has been hunting for 40 years and says there is no cutoff age for the sport.

Ogasawara is a member of the Safari Club International — a worldwide organization, with hunters that look to conserve our wildlife community. Safety and professionalism are imperative for hunters; SCI maintains an international record book that lists all game species ranking them by the size of the trophy animals.

SCI has more than 50,000 members and 180 local chapters. Members agree to abide by the organization’s code of ethics, which includes making a positive contribution to wildlife and ecosystems, complying with game laws and assisting game and fish officers. SCI’s headquarters are located in Tucson, Arizona.

Ogasawara relaxing between hunting expeditions in Namibia, Africa, May, 2008. (Photos courtesy of Wayne Ogasawara)

Ogasawara the Hunter

Historically, big-game hunting originated in Europe, but these days, Africa has become a more popular destination. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ogasawara would aim to explore a new country annually, he also took hunting trips to Läna‘i about twice a year.

Each destination has different challenges with its unique environmental conditions. “Australia and Africa is hot,” said Ogasawara. “Alaska is different; cold and challenging. Clothing and footgear cost money. You need waterproof boots; keeping [your] feet warm is important. You sleep under the snow and you don’t bathe for a week. [So you get] smelly!” he laughed.

On many occasions, the hunting groups might just explore nature without finding a suitable trophy animal only to return another day; they do not shoot just for the sake of shooting.

Other determinants that hunters need to be aware of is the size of the trophy animal; to ensure that an accurate shot can be placed for a quick kill; and to avoid wounding the animal.

A display of trophy animals in Ogasawara’s home.

Not shooting accurately could put you and your group in danger, so it’s important to have skilled hunters. “If you wound [an animal] someone else might shoot a second shot,” said Ogasawara.       

Hunting Details

Hunting can be considered a family sport with bow hunting getting to be a favorite among the young. Bird hunting is also popular; however, hunting on O‘ahu has become difficult due to low game population caused by urban encroachment. 

The downside to hunting is that it’s expensive. Like vacations, you’ll need to seek out a travel agent who can connect you with an outfitter with professional hunting guides, vehicle drivers, field assistants to track, cape (or skin) and preserve the trophy animal for mounting (taxidermy).

Each trophy animal has a price which will be established at the time of the booking. The prices for trophy animals can range anywhere between $2,000 to $30,000. There is also a need for lodging at base camp or out in the wilds where temporary tents are erected and staffed with cook and camp attendants to prepare hot showers, toilet facilities and laundry services, much like a hotel! 

Professional hunting guides can be costly, but well worth the price particularly if you are hunting in a foreign country or another state, like Alaska, where the freezing temperatures can be fatal.

These professional guides are most often certified by their country or state to guide hunters. In addition to hunting skills, they are knowledgeable of the game regulations, animal identification, knowledge of the flora and fauna, the native people, firearms, ammunition and are first-aid safety qualified. The question posed to Wayne was “Were you ever in danger?” 

He sheepishly replied, “Yes.” 

The hunter will have to:

  • Prepare travel documents, passport, shot/immunization records, airline tickets and travel insurance;
  • Gather clothing to accommodate the climate conditions of the country;
  • Select the proper caliber rifle and ammunition and arrange for proper firearms and ammunition air transportation documentation; and
  • Select the proper optical equipment, such as binoculars, spotting scope, range finders and photography equipment.
Wayne Ogasawara with his son, Clint, on Läna‘i, July 1993.

Ogasawara teaches and tasks his grandsons to organize hunting trips. He said, “Getting ready, they learn about planning and organization.” It takes approximately one year to plan.

Although sometimes brutal, there are many tasks and virtues that need to be learned and accomplished in the sport of big-game hunting. Patience is a must. A hunter should have a steady hand to silence his targeted animal. Other requirements include bleeding, removing, cleaning and sometimes skinning the animal; being in shape to mount and carry the animal back to camp; enduring all kinds of weather; holding back your frustrations with others; and being able to sleep in different and uncomfortable conditions, just to name a few.

Taxidermy is considered an art in itself and Ogasawara sends his jobs to the U.S. mainland although birds and fish can be done locally in Hawai‘i. Costs depend on the size, complexity of the mounted trophy animal, and preserving its life-like features. 

Ogasawara, demonstrates how he loads his own ammunition by using a combination of select primers, brass cases, bullets and powders and by firing and testing hundreds of experimental rounds, he has achieved his most accurate cartridge. His .300 Weatherby Magnum cartridge, when shot through his custom-made rifle, is capable of placing three consecutive shots in the same hole from a hundred yards away.  

Sustainable Harvest on Läna‘i

Although Ogasawara has traveled the world, he loves hunting on Läna‘i. He said it’s one of the most popular destinations in the world and also very ethical. According to the Läna‘i community website, lanai96763.com), Axis deer hunting has been a flourishing tradition since the 1920s. “Hunting has kept Läna‘i’s deer population in check,” keeping too many deer from eating vital crops and flora.

An April 15, 2016 article on lanai96763.com also stated, “The arrival of Läna‘i’s first Mobile Processing Unit has cleared the way for local deer meat to be sold in stores or on menus in restaurants. The MPU is a compact meat processing facility about the size of a Matson shipping container, and provides a sanitary environment for Pulama Läna‘i Natural Resources Department to skin and butcher their bag under the careful supervision of a USDA-certified inspector.

On Läna‘i, deer hunting is one way to preserve the island’s diverse species and fragile ecosystem.

“‘An inspector must be present during the meat processing in order for us to sell the venison to markets, restaurants or individual consumers,’ said Mike Donoho, senior vice president of natural resources for Pülama Läna‘i. ‘The inspector must confirm the safety of the processing and integrity of the product, a veterinarian from O‘ahu, which includes confirming there are no chemical, biological or physical contaminants in the deer parts that are packaged, and that the animal is free of disease, among other things.’”

Like other hunting destinations around the world, Läna‘i’s diverse species and fragile ecosystem is preserved and enhanced through game management (hunting) and other means including watershed management, erosion control, coastal resources and fisheries management, invasive species control and conservation education.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, there’s not many opportunities to go on hunting trips. In the meanwhile, Ogasawara stays in shape by farming and working out at the gym. He’s looking forward to passing his love for hunting down to his grandchildren.

Karen Shishido is a Sansei born and raised in Nu‘uanu who has worked for the City and County of Honolulu for 36 years in appointed positions under the Fasi, Anderson and Harris administrations. She retired after working with Ann Kobayashi and serving as a fundraising specialist with Partners in Development Foundation.


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