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Freezer filler, thriller

Julie Williams with the big buck she shot near St. Mathias.

Peering through her over-magnified scope, the deer was a bit of a blur.

Life has been that way ever since for Julie Williams.

Hunting opening weekend with her family near St. Mathias, where she grew up, Williams bagged a trophy buck — and much more attention than she could have ever imagined. Or wanted.

But 10 days later, she was OK with the fame that comes with shooting a nine-point buck with a gross green score estimate of 172 that field dressed at 245 pounds.

“I’m not a very public person,” said Williams, 34, of Pillager. “I’m a private person. It’s bigger than I wanted it to be. I would have been happy with a little one. But it’s one of the most memorable (of her approximately 20 deer hunts through the years) because of how much hype there was around it. I was hoping another big one would come out. I can see why people get into this (trophy buck hunting).”

Williams shot the deer at about 3:45 p.m. on the Sunday of opening weekend in the firearms deer hunting season. She was hunting with her family of nine adults and one youth on family land in Permit Area 249 — a managed area that allows for up to two deer per hunter.

“We (her family) are not hard-core hunt-until-you-drop people,” she said. “It’s more the family fun of getting together.”

She shot the buck from her stand at about 160 yards, but never really got a good look at it — she said she had her scope on high power so only saw the buck’s big body through the scope, although she said she got a glimpse of antlers somewhere along the line.

“Them moving around so much must have made the deer skittish,” she said of her father and brother, who were in separate stands upwind from her on a windy opening weekend in the area. “So (the buck) decided to leave the area and came past me. I didn’t even have time to think about what it was — I saw a flash of antlers.

“I knew I hit him.”

The deer ran about 100 yards before dropping on the property of a neighbor — a retired taxidermist.

“He knew it was big,” Williams said of the neighbor. “He was so excited. He was shaking his hands in the air. My dad thought he was mad.”

That’s when Williams, too, realized what she had shot. Her first reaction?

“Wow, that’s really big. And how are we going to drag it out of here?”

She and her neighbor did, and she immediately called her husband, who was hunting near their home in Pillager.

“He’s the trophy buck hunter,” she said.

“I told him, ‘I kind of shot a buck tonight.’ He was walking in from his stand. I said, ‘I think it’s bigger than the one you shot’ — he shot a big one a couple years ago. I said, ‘Let me send you a photo.’ He said, ‘I’m coming down right away.’

“I thought, ‘That will be a lot of meat — we’re more of a meat family. I told him (her husband) we could put the mount on the wall by the fireplace by his mount and he said, ‘Oh, no, we’ll do a full-shoulder mount.’”

The scorer said the rack was “eight points with a drop tine,” Williams said. “The gross green score estimate was 172, but with deductions, he said it would be around 164.

“I didn’t know anything about this before,” she said of the Boone & Crockett scoring system. “I’m learning.”

And learning what it’s like to be a trophy buck hunter.

Well, not entirely.

“I take my little heater into the stand with puzzles to work on,” she said of her idea of a good hunt. “It’s my quiet time. I like just sitting there.”