Jeremy Williams likes to hunt his family’s 500-acre parcel near the Susquehanna River in south-central New York. He goes down to the river often, and last summer he spotted a giant buck near the bank while catfishing. Williams watched where the deer bedded, and then came back to place trail cams in the area. By October, he’d learned the buck’s habits well enough to make his move.
“He was only 20 yards away from me on Oct. 10,” Williams tells Outdoor Life. “But I was shaking so bad I missed him clean, sending my arrow three feet over his back.”
Eager to redeem himself this season, Williams kept an eye on his trail cams and he kept getting photos of the buck. A few other hunters in the area had spotted the buck, too. But he wasn’t an easy deer to pattern.
“I’d been bowhunting him on [our] family’s land in low, thick areas because I believed that’s where he lived and bedded,” Williams says. “But as the  bow season wound down, and gun season was about ready to start, I figured I better change tactics to get him.”
Williams decided he’d hunt from a climbing stand on top of a steep hill instead, where he thought the buck might be cruising the ridgelines for acorns. He thought the height might give him an advantage, and he also swapped his compound for a .308, even though he prefers to hunt with a bow when he can.
On Nov. 18, the opening morning of the Tioga County regular season, Williams climbed into his tree. He didn’t have to wait for long. Around 7 a.m., the buck stepped out of the timber only 30 yards away.
“He was well within bow range when I shot him, and I wish I’d had my bow with me that morning,” he says. “He only ran about 50 yards, stopped, and I shot again.”
Both hits were good, and Williams waited for a bit before recovering the buck—only the second deer he’s ever taken with a rifle. Williams didn’t weigh the deer after field dressing it, but he estimated its weight around 200 pounds.
It’s a classic, wide 12 pointer with a green gross score of 181 1/7 inches. He’ll have the buck scored officially after the 60-day drying period is up, and Williams says there’s a chance it could be a new Tioga County record. The current record, another 12 point, had an official score of 180 1/8 and was taken in 1989, according to Williams. (No typical whitetails appear listed in the Boone and Crockett record database for the county.) Williams says both deer have similar-looking racks, which is a testament to the good genetics in the area.
“The buck killed in 1989 was taken just across the Susquehanna from where I shot my deer,” he points out. “And a shed from my deer I found last year was just 200 yards from where I shot him. He died not far from the river where I first spotted him while catfishing last summer.”