The Story Of Hook

Clae Mathis | August 17, 2023

The story of Hook is one that starts years back. Hook first showed up on my camera in 2019 as a 2.5 year old. He got his name because his main beams hooked toward each other in the front. His rack looked the same every year after, it just grew bigger each year. In 2020, he was a 3.5 year old, and I videoed him several times. I honestly was looking forward to having a chance at him as a 4.5 year old in 2021, but when I got my first pictures of him that year, I saw that one whole side of his rack was missing. This left me wondering the whole offseason leading up to 2022 if he would return to normal.

July 1 has become the day that I set up all my feeders and cameras. Hook was the first deer that I got on trail camera, and he fit the bill of a 5.5-year-old Georgia 8-point. He was without a doubt the buck that I was going to put all my resources toward. I set up about seven cameras all over the property on trails that he might use. I wanted to make sure I could figure out where he was as much as I could.

The first Saturday of September, I snuck into my Fatboy Blind that I rifle hunt out of in hopes of getting a look at him. I wound up getting incredible video of him, and I could not wait for the chance to hunt him the following Saturday.

Opening morning of bow season, I chickened out of hunting him because I thought I might bump him walking in, so I waited and hunted him opening evening. He didn’t show, and I was crushed even though it was only one hunt because I knew I couldn’t hunt him again until the following Saturday. Sunday evening started the first revival our church has had in years, and I was so tempted to skip out on it and hunt him Sunday evening, but I decided not to. Of course, he was there in daylight Sunday evening through Wednesday evening, which is how long revival lasted. Although I had to coach football practice, I asked what I needed to do to skip because I knew Thursday could be the day. The wind was completely wrong, but since I was coaching football at the time, I had to hunt when I had the chance. I sprayed down about every five minutes with Lethal Field Spray. I also had the windows closed to a very small opening and was concerned this might be a problem.

Hook had been in pictures with what looked like a doe every evening. It was like they were running together. It could have very well been a button buck because I don’t really know why he would’ve been with a doe in September. Anyway, that doe or button-buck came out first and kept looking back into the pines. I grabbed my bow because I knew that he would be right behind that deer. Hook came out of the trees and into the plot. Normally, I would wait until he came all the way in like he had done the last four nights, but the doe began to throw her head up as if she smelled something wrong. I knew the wind had been wrong, and she looked like she was about to bolt. I could see how nervous Hook was, so I ranged him and drew back. I got 37 when I ranged him, so that is what I had set the sight on. I shot and immediately I knew it was bad. The blind shook because the arrow hit the window on the way out. The arrow hit him and made a loud sound, and all I knew was I had hit him low and back. He mule kicked the arrow easily 20 feet in the air and ran off grunting and crashing into trees.

I tried to collect myself, and then I walked out to check the arrow. When I got to the arrow, I found the patch of tall grass he had been standing behind. I ranged back to the blind and this time I got 47. I had obviously ranged some other tall grass when I ranged him. I immediately thought there was no way that this ends well. I had hit the blind with the arrow and now I had realized I had my bow set on 10 yards shorter than it should have been. I left and went home, but on the way I got two pictures of him on one of those many cameras I had set up on trails. He had tried to get to a fence at the back of the property. He obviously couldn’t jump it because the next picture was of him going back toward the pines he had originally come from.

The hunt itself had been adventure enough, but now the real adventure started. I sent the video of the shot to Scott Lopez. Scott has become a great friend of mine, and he and his dogs have helped find several bucks of mine. Anyway, we both agreed it looked like I had hit low in the guts, and that we should give it until about 3 a.m. and then go out and let the dogs track him. I took a nap and then headed back out. I met up with Scott, and he and his dogs went to work. They went straight to the buck. We realized quickly that neither of his back legs were working. I walked up beside him and put another arrow in him. He didn’t make it another 10 feet. The arrow has actually hit him through both knees. It also nicked the femoral artery, so he had a trickle of blood, but it would’ve taken him a lot longer to die if we had waited. What an incredible adventure to finish off the buck that I have known for years. I hated that the shot was the way it was, but that is part of hunting. Things don’t always go as planned. I have never had more pictures of a buck than Hook. I have never seen a buck more in person than I saw Hook. He’s the first Pope & Young buck that I have ever shot. There are so many reasons why Hook was so special to me. One crazy stat about Hook is that he was standing in the same food plot as four other bucks when they were shot. It was always hard for me to believe that he stayed around after all that.

This story and this buck are so very special to me, but they can’t ever be the most special thing. Our relationship with Jesus must always come first. I wanted to skip out on revival really bad to hunt Hook on Sunday evening. I  knew that God would understand, but I realized that wasn’t the right thing for me to do. I know it doesn’t always work like this, but in this case I felt like I was rewarded for my obedience. I am so thankful to God for His creation and the opportunity to hunt whitetail deer.


Out There Outdoors With Clae Mathis

Clae Mathis is a new blogger for Clae is a full-time teacher and high school baseball coach with an absolute obsession with whitetail deer hunting. His outings often include his wife Taylor and two sons, Charlie and Cal. Clae loves the Lord and his family first, but deer hunting falls in right after those. Clae’s YouTube Channel is mostly devoted to deer hunting in Taylor County, but it also contains other types of hunting. Every single hunt he and his family go on is well documented on the channel, Out There Outdoors.

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  1. Andrew Curtis on August 17, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    Awesome story, Clae! I admire your faith and service to God. Many people would have skipped revival and asked for forgiveness!

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