Over the past 10 years, Patrick Williams of Belews Creek has passed on hundreds of smaller bucks in hopes of killing one for the record books, and his persistence paid off on Nov. 22 with a dream buck that will almost certainly qualify for the Boone & Crockett Club’s all-time record book and rank among the top five non-typical bucks in state history.
Williams buck, killed in Rockingham County, carries 22 scoreable points and green scores 208 2/8 gross inches and 200 1/8 net inches. It can be scored officially after a 60-day drying period; if it scores above 195 points, it will make the record book, and if it scores better than 197 2/8, it will rank as North Carolina’s No. 5 all-time non-typical.
Williams killed the buck 75 yards from a ground blind with one shot from his .300 Win Mag. He’d previously seen the buck in several trail camera photos over the weeks before gun season opened.
“I knew that he was there, and I did my homework on him to try to get him where I wanted him,” said Williams, whose trail camera photos had all been taken at night.
Williams felt like cooler weather would shake things up and get the deer moving during the daylight. Several weeks ago, he set up a ground blind but was careful about going into the woods to retrieve trail-camera photos and set up stands. He built the ground blind during a pouring rain when he figured there was little chance of bumping into the buck.
“I went in, brushed up the blind, and got out fast. I didn’t want to mess him up before I got a chance to hunt him,” he said.
Williams didn’t plan to hunt the stand until the wind direction was exactly right; in fact, he went to the stand one afternoon the previous week, but the wind began swirling and he pulled out at 4 o’clock.
“I went ahead and got out early to make sure I didn’t mess him up, but it was time to make a move because the pressure was coming in on Sunday, and this deer was showing up real close to daylight hours,” he said.
Williams typically doesn't hunt on Sunday, but with weather conditions falling into place, he felt like he needed to hunt that afternoon, so he slipped into the blind.
“It happened fast. The deer came in chasing does, only giving me one opportunity to take a shot at a lifetime buck,” said Williams, who got down on one knee, spun around, pushed open the blind window and squeezed off a shot through a small hole in the brush.
“It happened so fast and I really had no idea if I had hit the deer or not,” said Williams, who took a friend’s advice and decided not to look for the deer until the next morning.
“As bad as I wanted to go look, I didn’t,” he said, admitting he wound up pacing a lot on Sunday night. “I didn’t sleep a wink all night. I was physically sick wondering what had happened.”
When he got back in the woods, he scouted all around the stand and couldn't find any sign or blood. He finally picked up his binoculars and started looking closely at all the trails leading away until something caught his eye.
“I could see an ear in the thicket. I knew I had hit him,” said Williams, who found the buck in the thicket. “I was in awe. It is a deer of a lifetime for me.”
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