After spotting the huge whitetail several times from his fishing boat the year before, Jeremy Williams finally got a crack at him from the stand
|Rack Report Details
|Time of Year:
|November 18, 2023
|Tioga County, New York
|Thompson Center .308
In early July of this year, New York hunter Jeremy Williams checked one of his trail cameras to find a photo of a massive buck. He knew the deer well; he’d been chasing it for a couple years, and his neighbors had been after it even longer than that. He’d even seen the buck multiple times in person last summer, usually from his fishing boat as he went after catfish in the river that borders his hunting property.
After seeing the buck multiple times from his fishing boat, but never from his stand, Williams finally got his chance.
He’d see the buck casually strolling along one side of the river bank or the other, and he’d have plenty of time to take out his phone and snap a few photos. Williams went all in on hunting the big buck last season.
On October 9th of last year, he got what he was looking for: A daylight photo of the buck in front of one of his cams. Early the next morning, he was in a tree in the same area where the deer had been the day before. The big buck stayed on his pattern and soon walked by Williams’ stand at just 20 yards away. Williams drew his bow, took aim … and missed.
Williams had missed the buck with his bow the year before.
“It was probably the worst shot I’ve ever made with a bow,” he laughed. “I’ve killed lots of deer in the 120-130 range, but this one had me shook. I just flat out missed.”
Williams never got another chance at the buck that year. He went back in after the season and found one side of the buck’s shed antlers. That told him the deer had likely made it through.
Williams found one side of the buck’s shed antlers in early spring.
That early July trail camera photo this past summer confirmed his suspicion. Unfortunately, the big buck disappeared again right after that. “Archery season this year was pretty disappointing for us. We were all after the big buck, but none of us ever laid eyes on him from the stand and we got very few pictures after that one in early summer” Willams said.
They had named the buck “Big Poppa” after a recently deceased family member who had owned the land. Once firearm season rolled around in November, Williams was even more determined to get another crack at the big buck.
The buck had gone from a 6x5 with a kicker last season to nearly perfectly symmetrical 6x6 this season.
On opening morning, Williams got his nieces situated in their stands and waited for his dad to work his way down to his spot several hundred yards away before walking in to his own hunting area. Once he got word that his dad was in position, he headed to the tree he planned to climb for the day.
While the buck stayed in the area, he was rarely seen on trail cameras.
It was just after daylight when Williams arrived at his spot. He strapped into his climbing stand and started up the tree. About halfway up, he paused when he heard something moving through the nearby leaves. Looking toward the sound, Williams was shocked to see Big Poppa standing just 30 yards away. Williams quickly got his rifle up and into position and snapped a shot at the buck’s shoulder. The deer bolted, but stopped again just 50 yards away. Williams took aim and fired again. That time, the buck crumpled to the ground, but Williams soon learned that both shots had connected.
The buck should end up being one of the top typicals ever taken in New York State.
“I was hooping and hollering the whole way down the tree. It was probably the fastest I’ve ever climbed down in a stand. I yelled so loud that my dad and our neighbor, both hunting hundreds of yards away, heard me yelling. They both texted me wanting to know if I had shot Big Poppa,” Williams said.
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The buck was massive by any standards, but particularly for upstate New York. At 181 ⅛ gross and 175 6/8 net (green), the buck should rank in the top 20 typicals of all time taken in New York State.
A 6x5 with a kicker the season before, Big Poppa grew an almost perfectly symmetrical 6x6 rack this year with 24” main beams and G2s and G3’s approaching or exceeding 12 inches on both sides. The rack had only a bit over 5 inches of total deductions from side to side.
“Back in 2011, I was hit in the stomach by a bullet during a deer drive. It didn’t make me loose my love of deer hunting though. Since then, my dad, brother, sister and family have put a lot of work into this property and into doing it right. We pass on young bucks and let them mature and it really paid off. This buck makes all the effort and hard work feel worthwhile,” Williams added.