Colquitt County 18-point Expected To Gross In Low 180s
Bill Willis went through a roller coaster of emotions before recovering this buck.
Mike Bolton | January 20, 2022
Trophy bucks have a way of evoking every emotion possible from a hunter. Grown men have been known to dedicate every waking hour to the pursuit of a particular trophy buck. Trophy bucks have made grown men cry.
In a span of about eight hours, deer hunter Bill Willis, of Lenox, underwent a roller coaster of emotions that went from exhilaration, to devastation, to pondering giving up hunting after more than 50 years, to relief and finally to exhilaration once again.
The 18-point buck that Bill took on his Colquitt County family farm was, well, in his own words, “quite an adventure.”
Bill, 63, was destined for a life of deer hunting once he took a 10-point buck at age 12. Five decades of hunting produced some decent bucks through the years, but none quite like the one that showed up on his game camera on Nov. 12.
“We had no idea that there was a big buck like that around here,” he said. “We had never seen that buck before.”
Suddenly, the big buck started appearing on the game cameras quite regularly. There were four photos of the buck during the day and one at night. Bill knew that with the rut in the early stages, there would be a chance that either himself, or his son, Will, who also hunted the properly regularly, might get a chance at the buck-of-a-lifetime. The only problem was, could the father and son’s weird schedules ever coincide with the buck’s schedule. Will had a new baby and getting away to go hunting was tough. Bill works maintenance primarily on the graveyard shift and that schedule can change when he is called in suddenly.
The father and son primarily hunted two main places on the property where they had erected stands. Bill would hunt his stand only to receive a game trail photo of the big buck at Will’s stand. Will would get away for a short hunt at his stand and a game trail photo would reveal that the buck was near his father’s stand.
On Sunday morning, Nov. 21, Bill decided to change strategies.
“There’s a creek on the property line of our 800-acre family farm and does are always coming across that creek,” he said. “We have a stand there, and I decided to hunt that stand. That’s where we got the night photo of the big buck.
“The place has a lot of longleaf pines and you can see up under them. There are hundreds of scrapes in there. I’ve seen does and some bucks in there every time I went, but I never saw anything shootable.
“The stand is really just a ladder strapped to a tree, and it’s only 5 feet off the ground. It doesn’t even have a gun rest or anything. It would really be ideal to have a ground blind in there.
“I got in the stand at about 7 a.m. and at about 7:25 I saw a buck about 80 yards away. I knew it was him because was so much bigger than anything I had ever seen before. I’m left-handed and he came out on the wrong side. I knew I would have to shoot right-handed if I wanted a shot.
“He was behind an oak tree. I got my .308 up. He would have to step into a small opening and that would be the only place I could get a shot before he stepped off into the swamp. The wind was blowing over my right shoulder at about 8 mph right into his face. I held that gun up for 5 minutes, I know. He finally stepped into the opening and looked right at me and alerted. I knew it would be now or never. I knew my gun was good left and right, but my gun was kind of going up and down. I shot. He whirled and ran into the bottom. I thought I had made a bad shot.”
Bill decided to wait 10 minutes before getting out of the stand and looking for the buck. When he got to where the buck had been standing, he was devastated. Instead of a whole deer, he found hair, stomach contents and very little blood.
Bill called his son and they decided to wait four hours before they began their search. All they found then was more stomach contents. They would later discover that the bullet had entered behind the shoulder and ripped open the deer’s belly like it had been sliced with a knife.
“I was sick,” Bill said. “There was no way this buck was going to make it.”
Will called a friend who had a tracking dog. I have some health problems, so I just had to sit on the truck. I finally heard the dog bark two or three times. I knew the dog had crossed the property line. We called the landowner and told him what was going on and he gave permission to continue.
“I called my wife and told her that I wish I had never pulled the trigger. I was thinking that if they don’t find the deer, I might not ever hunt again.”
The dog had trailed the deer close to a mile and it had made a horseshoe-shaped run and was getting near where it had been shot. The blood was fresh and the dog was getting more excited. It was only a matter of time and the dog eventually won. At about 2 p.m., Bill had his buck of a lifetime.
The main-frame 10-pointer has 18 total points and grosses in the low 180s.
“The taxidermist said it appeared the buck was 6 or 7 years old,” Bill said. “It had a good spread. It has to dry for 60 days before it can get an official score and I’m waiting on that.
“I know that will be the biggest buck I will ever take. It took me over 50 years of hunting to get that one.”
Colquitt County Best Bucks Of All-Time
|1||206 3/8 (NT)||GA DNR||1990||Colquitt||Gun||View|
|2||177 4/8||Tim Carter||1990||Colquitt||Gun||View|
|3||175 4/8||John Underwood||1976||Colquitt||Gun||View|
|4||200 1/8 (NT)||Jacky Stanfill||2002||Colquitt||Gun||View|
|5||172 4/8||Alan Whitaker||1996||Colquitt||Gun||View|
|6||195 3/8 (NT)||Olen P. Ross||1976||Colquitt||Gun|
|8||168 3/8||Daryl Mund||2016||Colquitt||Gun||View|
|9||190 5/8 (NT)||Andy Croft||2021||Colquitt||Gun||View|
|10||163 6/8||Delbert Brown||1971||Colquitt||Gun|
Other Articles You Might Enjoy
Way to stick with it and what a great buck!!
Congrats!!! If you have spent any time deer hunting we all have made a shot that we wish we could take back.And shot on your own farm makes it even more special!!!