Rack Magazine

The “$61,000” Buck

The “$61,000” Buck

By Ed Waite

Photo: Twelve-year-old Seth Williams poses with the first of two bucks he shot last year in Wisconsin. He was with his dad, Mark, inside a turkey blind, when the tall-tined whitetail showed its gray face.

One of the most e-mailed photographs to arrive in deer hunters’ inboxes last year was of a boy straddling an enormous whitetail in the back of a truck, which appeared to be parked outside a Cabela’s store. That was Seth Williams of Bagley, Wis., whose blue eyes were glinting beneath the camo toboggan.

Seth was sharing a blind with his dad, Mark, during the state’s 2009 youth hunt, the first time he was of legal age to participate. He’d missed out on that opportunity the previous year because he hadn’t yet turned 12. He wound up taking a doe, though, during the regular gun season.

“Seth was not feeling well on Sunday, Oct. 11, day two of the youth hunt. We didn’t go out until midafternoon, and we set up a turkey blind at the edge of a large clearing,” Mark said. “The field was part of the half-wooded, 400-acre farm.”

As father and son made their way to the hunting area, they jumped some deer, although they never saw them. As the day progressed, they spotted does, but no bucks.

“About 4:30 p.m., I saw a buck down in one of the depressions about 40 yards distant. About all I could see was the shoulder and head, but I knew it was a shooter,” Mark said. “Seth couldn’t see it, and I couldn’t figure out why. I kept telling him where it was, but he still couldn’t see it.

“Finally, I actually grabbed his head and pointed him toward the deer. Turns out, he was too low to see what I was seeing, him being only 12. I guess I was talking too loudly, trying to get Seth to see the buck, because it started moving away from us pretty quickly. Fortunately, it stayed right out in the open, though angling away from us,” Mark added.

“When I finally saw the buck, it was already out of the low spot and going away pretty fast,” Seth said. “My dad was going to let me rest the gun on his shoulder, but then decided he was probably shaking too much for that. I ended up resting the rifle on the blind’s window.

“By that time, the deer was out about 150 yards,” the boy continued. “When I found the buck in my scope, it was probably 200 yards away, not running fast, but loping. As soon as I got on it, I pulled the trigger.

“I didn’t see any reaction from the deer, but I thought I made a pretty good shot,” the boy said. “Anyway, it made a sharp turn to the right and disappeared into the woods.”

Mark and Seth sat in the blind for another 20 minutes before taking it down and packing it for travel. By then, they felt it was safe to start looking for the deer or a blood trail.

Seth Williams“Dad and I walked out into the field to where we thought we had last seen the buck. There wasn’t any blood anywhere. So Dad told me to stay there while he went in the woods to see if he could find some,” Seth said.

“Not long after I got into the woods, I heard deer running and thought it might be the deer Seth shot,” Mark said. “I hollered at Seth to get down and ready.

“I eventually found blood, and it had to be from the one Seth shot. We were the only people hunting there. I marked the spot and worked my way back to the field, convinced I was following the trail backwards. When I got to the field, I called Seth over and we started following in the other direction,” Mark added.

“After walking about 150 yards, we saw a deer lying within 50 yards of a side road, next to a barbed-wire fence. We thought it must be road kill because our blood trail wasn’t leading in that direction,” Seth said. “We walked over to have a look, never thinking it was my buck. It was lying on its back, and the head was down in a deep ditch.

“When we got right up to it, we still couldn’t see the head until Dad grabbed hold of it and pulled. That’s when we knew it was a monster, and it was still limber,” Seth continued. “We were both teary-eyed. This was the biggest buck we had ever seen, and we were really excited!”

Since the sun was setting, they decided Seth would stay with the deer while Mark went for the truck.

It took Mark about 20 minutes because he stopped to gather the blind and some other gear they’d left. He was a bit out of breath, but he still managed to call his wife to tell her of the deer.

“When Mark called, he was so winded I could barely understand him,” his wife, Cindy, said. “I actually thought something was wrong; that one of them was hurt.

“I finally made out that Seth got a buck and it sounded like a 6-pointer. Then Mark caught his breath a little more, and I understood it was a 16-pointer … and it was huge.

“I was so excited, I had tears in my eyes. I wanted to get in the car and drive there right away, but I didn’t know where they were,” Cindy continued. “So Mark told me to take Jaci (Seth’s younger sister) and go to the friend’s farm and meet them there. Jaci and I arrived before they did, and we waited anxiously for the guys.”

As he drove to the place where Seth waited, Mark called a couple of his other hunting buddies to ask for assistance. They arrived soon after Mark got back to Seth. It was a pretty wild party down in that ditch. Eventually, they got the deer field-dressed and into the truck, and then they drove to where Cindy and Jaci were waiting before continuing on to the check station.

“The next day, we drove it up to the Cabela’s store in Prairie du Chien to show some friends. Pictures were taken and stories told and retold, and we guess that’s where the rumors began,” Seth said.

“The Internet story with my picture in it spread all around the country. It said Cabela’s offered me $21,000 or something like that, and I turned it down … and then the manager supposedly went in and called the main office, and they told him to offer me $61,000.

“Well, they never offered me anything,” Seth added. “I just want everyone to know that. We wouldn’t have taken it anyway!”

“Seth had been getting antsy about what he was getting for his birthday,” Cindy said. “I’d told him that if he could get a wallhanger, I would pay to have it mounted. Guess I better start saving my dollars because this one sure is going to the taxidermist.”

Editor's Note: On Thanksgiving Day, Seth managed to tag another very nice 10-point buck. The family has decided to have both deer mounted on a shared pedestal.

Hunter: Seth Williams
BTR Official Score: 182 6/8
BTR Composite Score: 201 1/8
Centerfire Rifle

— Photos Courtesy of Mark Williams

This article was published in the November 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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