By Jimmy Kearns
Watch Captain Hook "walk the plank"
In the winter of 2008 I started getting pictures of a nice 10 point with a unique hook off of his right antler. I like so many others, always give names to deer that make numerous appearances on my trail cameras. With this particular buck I settled on the name Captain Hook. He was running with a nice 140 plus 10 point that I called the Black Eyed 10. I was fortunate to find one side of Capt Hook while on a turkey scouting mission in late April. I looked hard for the sheds from the Black Eyed 10 but came up empty handed. I found out in June that he had been killed late in bow season by one of the neighbors. This is just part of the game for those of us managing or hunting small properties.
As the summer of 2008 rolled around I was once again getting numerous pictures of the Captain. This time it was at one of my mineral sites. I was pleased to see that he had added inches in both mass and length along with an 11th point. It was at this time I decided to make him number one on my hit list.
I knew that 2008 would not be a normal hunting season for me. I had agreed to be the assistant Varsity Volleyball coach for the Alexander Lady Spartans. What an amazing group of young ladies. I have always enjoyed the early season but it is usually designated for my son J.K. and targeting the doe population. This year would be different. I knew the time commitment for volleyball would be extensive and I wanted to fill my buck tag early.
I started by glassing a secluded clover plot during July and early August. Captain Hook would show up before dark on most occasions. On one evening good friend and contributor to this site, Tyler Thomas and I went down to glass the field. Tyler was able to get 5 or 10 minutes of quality video of Captain Hook in full velvet. In late August I planted numerous small food plots with a mix of cereal grains and clover. The very same mix you can read about in the food plot section. By Labor Day the fields were all planted and the stands were all hung. From this point on I didn’t go anywhere near these small isolated food plots.
On the evening of the last Saturday in September the bow opener had finally arrived. That afternoon I gathered my gear and headed for my stand. I was hunting a favorite plot called the figure 8 field. The wind was light out of the NW and it began to rain as I approached my stand. I feel the rain helped to quiet my approach as well as my climb into the stand. I hadn’t been in the tree five minutes when the first deer a young 4 pointer stepped out into the field. The stand itself is in a small groove of small diameter hickory and persimmon trees. For this reason I had to remain standing the entire evening. The evening brought a steady stream of does fawns and young bucks past the stand. None of these deer looked my way or even acted like they caught any of my scent. The early movement coupled with no spooked deer was starting to build my confidence that the Captain might make an appearance.
Thirty minutes before dark I had a nice 3.5 year old 9 pointer feed all around my tree. At one point he was directly under my tree and got a little whiff of something he didn’t like. He let out a quick snort, more like a hiss and ran about 15 yards. To my relief he immediately calmed down and went back to grazing on the wheat/oats/rye and clover. Even though I knew my hunting would be limited it never crossed my mind to shoot this 125 inch youngster. Moments later I saw movement in the thicket at the back end of the field. As the deer slowly moved through the brush toward a wild apple tree I knew it was Captain Hook. He eventually entered the field and displayed his dominance over the younger 9 point. When he moved into a shooting lane I softly grunted him stopped and made a nice double lung shot at 22 yards. I knew he was not going far but he did make it quickly out of the field. I waited 20 minutes and went back to the truck. I called good friends Jeff Grinstead and Buz Brandes to bring lights, cameras, and help with the tracking. The blood trail was good and the track was short. He had only gone about 60 yards and was piled up in and open oak flat. I was truly blessed to be able to harvest such a fine animal on my own land and be able to share in the recovery with good friends.
I video myself on most of my bow hunts. I was fortunate enough to have the camera rolling on the hunt for Captain Hook. Take a moment to view some of the footage from that exciting hunt. Also take a close look at the nice 9 pointer that was hanging out with the Captain for you just might see him in an upcoming edition of Big Buck Profile.
Side note: The Lady Spartans volleyball team went on to be the 2008 Division III State Champs. It had little to do with my coaching but it sure was an awesome experience.