The Story Of Buster

"Out There Outdoors" With Clae Mathis

Clae Mathis | December 1, 2023

Romans 8:28: We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, and are called according to His purpose. 

I will start by saying that whether I get the chance to shoot these bucks or not doesn’t mean God loves me any more or less. All of my blessings are not wrapped up in the harvest of these deer, but they are extremely important to me. God knows this, and this year He chose to bless me immensely. This has been my best year I have ever had in Georgia, but it didn’t come without a lot of trials and a whole bunch of hard work. 

All of this story takes place on my small tract of land in Taylor County. Like I said in the story for Junior that came out a couple of weeks ago, I bought this land in 2020. It has been such a blessing to our family already. Anyway, last season I had taken my No. 1 target buck the first week of bow season. I then began going after Junior every chance I could. Junior was proving to be a ghost, and I didn’t have the patience last year that I have this year apparently. I wound up shooting a big bodied 8-point on Nov. 3 thinking he was a different buck. The day before that a buck showed up that I thought was Junior at first, but after taking a closer look, I realized it was a different buck. He was actually the buck I had in my mind to shoot the afternoon of Nov. 3. His name was Buster.

Buster didn’t show up very many times after he first showed on Nov. 2. I looked back at my pictures from that food plot the year before, and realized that some of the pictures I thought were Junior were actually Buster. He didn’t show up very much from that point to the end of the year in 2022, so we never really got a chance for anyone to try to hunt him.

This year when we got cameras back out in July, I admittedly was only looking for Junior. He was on camera pretty quickly, but I kept getting confused because I couldn’t tell if there were two bucks or just one because they never were in a picture together. I finally realized that the other buck was Buster. Buster made his way on the shooter list pretty fast. He looked a lot like Junior. They had the same shape and everything, but he just wasn’t quite as big. Anyway, Buster was on camera in the swamp in daylight often. Junior never daylighted, so I knew that if I was going to get a chance to shoot one with a bow there, it may very well be Buster. 

Buster on camera this summer.

Hopes were high for opening day this season. I knew I was hunting the biggest buck I had ever hunted in Junior, but I also knew that Buster had daylighted the day before. Anyway, I had an awesome sit that evening. I saw a ton of deer even though it was extremely hot. From my blind I could see a ridge back behind that was out of range, but it seemed like the deer were walking that ridge to come around the 4S Draw that I had out in front of me. With about 20 minutes of light left I saw a good buck walking that ridge. I saw that he was still in velvet, so I knew it was Buster. It took him about 10 minutes to get there. He was not taking very many steps each minute. He finally got comfortable enough to walk out of the tree line toward the 4s Draw. He gave me a perfect 25-yard broadside shot opportunity, and I… shot right over him. I hadn’t practiced like I should all summer, and I was dealing with target panic pretty bad. I tried to do a “drive by” and drop the pin on him as I brought it down, and didn’t get it far enough. He ran off and blew twice, and I was crushed. We had such a good run on our YouTube channel the last couple of years, and I couldn’t believe I had that awesome opportunity on opening day. I had no idea the ways that God was going to use this miss to teach me so much this season. 

I began shooting my bow like crazy. I shot from like 5 yards away for two weeks without backing up just trying to fix all of my target panic problems. I had a ton of confidence after that, and I was shooting very well. It didn’t much matter at that point though because I got my butt kicked by the deer all of September and October. The bucks were all showing up after sunset, and leaving before I ever got there in the mornings. I wasn’t sure it was ever going to happen for me this year. On Nov. 2, in the middle of the chase for Junior, Buster showed back up. I had not seen him since the evening I missed him in velvet. It was good to see him for sure, but just like Junior he was in the middle of the night. The chase for Junior was winding on, and finally on Nov. 11, I was able to take him. Junior was my biggest buck ever, and one of the longest chases I had ever gone through on a buck as well. Buster had so much to do with why I was able to even be there to shoot Junior. You see, Buster had shown up just a little bit after dark on November 10. I had a feeling with the cooler temperature we had on Nov. 11, he might show up in daylight that evening. Junior showed up instead of Buster and that night is in the books. 

After taking Junior, Buster went missing for the next few days. I was hunting another big 10, but he wasn’t showing up either. He is actually dead as I type this as the neighbor got him a few nights ago. Anyway, Thanksgiving break was here, and I was never sure where to even sit because all of the bucks were either chasing or locked down, so I had no idea which of these bucks that I was hunting was still around. On Nov. 21, I got some pictures of Buster late morning in the same food plot I took Junior out of. I knew then I would go after him. I hunted him that evening, the following morning and evening, but he was a no show. He was showing up to eat in the food plot afterwards, but I wasn’t seeing him in daylight. 

Buster showed up on trail camera two days before Clae was able to take the big 8-point buck.

I wasn’t planning on hunting Thanksgiving evening because we were hosting some family. It turned out that we had to have our Thanksgiving “supper” at around 2 p.m. because my first cousin’s wife had to be back at home. She was on call and had to be within a certain distance of the hospital. They left around 3:50, so I was able to go straight to the stand. I made a deal with my wife Taylor before I left. We had a trip planned to go to Blue Ridge with her grandparents. The original plan was they would leave Friday morning, and her granddaddy and I would come up Saturday morning and only stay one night instead of two. I told her if I shoot Buster tonight, I will come on up with y’all for both nights. It was a slow hunt even though the weather and wind were perfect. Finally, as it was down to the last 20 minutes of light, a yearling stepped out literally 15 yards from me downwind. This is the same yearling that was in the food plot when I shot Junior. She’s always there, but she is usually early. This time she was almost too late. A few minutes after I hear something from the same direction. I look over and there is Buster. He stood for just a second, but then took off running toward the yearling. I panicked for a second, but he put on the brakes quickly and stopped right in the food plot about 40 yards away. I didn’t have time to really get my camera on him, but I clicked record anyway. He took a couple of steps, and I squeezed off a shot. He mule-kicked and took off looking pretty hurt.

I immediately called Taylor to tell her I had shot him and that I would hopefully be riding with them the next day to stay both nights in Blue Ridge. I got out of the stand, called my daddy to tell him, and waited on my two friends Caleb and Connor to come help me recover him. While waiting, I watched back the footage and realized that by some miracle, Buster walked right into the frame before I shot him. An absolute miracle. We couldn’t find blood at the shot site, so we just walked around toward where he had gone in the woods. We eventually found some blood and found him not far from there. We celebrated him right there. We drug him out, took some pictures, and loaded him in the back of my Ford Excursion. Caleb and Connor hustled to a thanksgiving supper of their own, and I rode Buster around to show him off as well. I cannot put into words how thankful I was to take Junior and Buster out of the same food plot on my small 20 acre property. My goal is to always work harder than everyone else to try to make sure the deer want to stay around my property. Those two bucks also complete my best year ever in Georgia.

Clae Mathis with Buster, Clae’s second big 8-point buck this season from his Taylor County property.

Now, I have always believed in the words in Romans. The verse I shared at the beginning of this something I live by. I truly believe that God works all things for our good. God’s idea of our good isn’t always the same as our idea of our good, but sometimes they line up perfectly. In my case I feel like God worked several details out for my good. He didn’t have to. I don’t deserve anything more than anyone else, but this year God used so many details to bless me that there is no way its an accident or coincidence. The first thing that happened thats hard to imagine is that both of these bucks stayed around my small property for most of their lives. They were always around my place and somehow avoided ever getting shot by anyone else. The next thing that I feel God used was me missing Buster opening day. That seemed like something so awful and devastating for me at the time, but it turned out to be a huge blessing. The reason that Ive been able to see it as a blessing is because if I had killed Buster on opening day, he wouldn’t have been around later obviously. Well, if Buster hadn’t shown up November 10 in my food plot, I wouldn’t have been sitting there November 11 for Junior to show up. Another thing is that if my cousin’s wife didn’t have to be at home on call on Thanksgiving at a certain time, there is no way I would’ve even been hunting that evening. God worked out so many details for me this year. I give all the credit and glory to Him alone. I worked my tail off for these bucks, but would’ve never been able to get through the trials that this season brought me without God’s guidance and direction. I also know that sometimes we think things are so awful that we won’t make it through, like the night I missed Buster with a bow, but it turned out to be an incredible blessing that led me to Junior and even Buster himself again. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities God gives me at these bucks. He has also given me some good luck for sure. I have always said “the harder you work, the luckier you get”, but the end of that should say “with God’s guidance.” I hope everyone reading this gets a chance to see God’s hand at work in their lives this obvious, but even if you don’t it doesn’t mean he isn’t working. He is always working things out for our good one way or another. Love God, Love Others, and God bless you!


Out There Outdoors With Clae Mathis

Clae Mathis is a 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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