Dustin Hooks is a full time firefighter for the City of Charlotte and when he started getting daylight photos of a monster 13-point buck on his 200-acre Orange County family farm, he quickly scheduled a few days away from his Midland home to take his chances. Just before dark on the first afternoon in the stand, his grunt call helped lure a 150-inch whopper within bow range to give him the best 27th birthday present ever.
“I started getting photos of this buck back in the middle of September, but they were all nocturnal shots until last week,” Hooks said. “I got several photos of this buck between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and I knew it was time to make a trip.”
On Oct. 27, Hooks loaded up and headed to Orange County for a few days and on the first afternoon, he climbed into a stand overlooking an old cutover in hopes this buck would make an appearance.
Shortly after 6 p.m., Hooks caught movement out of the corner of his eye.
“It was two does and I knew I needed to keep watching that area,” he said.
With daylight dwindling, Hooks saw a big-bodied deer come out of the wood line 120 yards away, but it was getting darker by the minute and he couldn’t tell if it was even a buck or not. He pulled out his Flextone Bone Collector grunt call and blew it a couple of times to get the deer’s attention.
“As soon as I grunted to him, he turned right to me, changed directions, and started to trot right towards me,” he said.
The deer was heading his way, but disappeared in the overgrown saplings and bushes in the cutover area. Then, the deer reappeared 50 yards away and continued to walk in Hooks’ direction until it was 30 yards from his stand.
At this point, Hooks wasn’t sure if it was the same buck he had on camera. But he didn’t care. It was a huge buck with a head full of horns that sent Hooks into a different mode.
“Shooting mode kicked in and the deer turned broadside at 30 yards and I shot,” he said.
The crossbow bolt landed right behind the deer’s shoulder making solid impact. Yet, the deer ran off out of sight and Hooks began to worry.
“I was shook up and wasn’t sure what happened. But I felt like I made a good shot on him,” he said.
After a 1 1/2 hour wait, Hooks came back and ended up finding the deer piled up less than 100 yards from where his bolt had made a double lung impact.
Hooks’ buck has 13 scorable points with an 18 ¾-inch spread and 24-inch main beams to contribute to the tremendous 151 1/8inches of antler.
“I have been waiting for one like this my whole life,” Hooks said.
A diehard bow hunter, Hooks borrowed his dad’s crossbow for the first time just to try it out. It might be his good luck charm.
“If I kill bucks like this, I will start bringing the crossbow with me every time,” he said.