First-time whitetail hunter Tamara Williamson tagged what could be Ohio's highest-scoring typical ever taken by a woman with a muzzleloader. Williamson, of Thomasville, N.C., shot the 170-class 14-pointer at 60 yards during the Buckeye State's late season in January. Here's how she did it.
An enthusiastic target shooter for several years, Tamara often accompanied her husband, Travis Williamson, on hunting trips, but never before as an active participant. “I’ve always been the one in the corner curled up in a sleeping bag,” she says.
That changed this year. “I have several girlfriends who hunt, and I finally decided that if they can do it so can I,” Tamara says. It helped that Travis, owner of County Line Outfitters (; 336-250-2694), had a nice buck lined up for her.
On property he leases on the Muskingum River in Morgan County, Travis captured several trail cam photos of a big 14-pointer.
“There were bigger deer on the property, but none of them was patternable like this buck was,” Travis says. “He was locked down on one little area.”
Still, in three months of trail-cam surveillance, glassing, and heavy hunting, Travis Williamson had only three documented sightings of the buck during shooting hours.
Travis put up an aluminum box blind in a power line cut where the deer came to feed. The blind stood on a bench 500 yards above a bottom of tangled thickets that opened into an 80-acre cornfield. Food plots on the bench drew deer within range of the blind.
Several hunters targeted the deer before Tamara: A young girl who won a lottery put on by the local Jaycees got first crack at the blind; a couple of hunting shows sent camera crews to film hunts. A County Line client had the buck in range but overestimated the yardage and passed the shot.
Travis himself spent 36 hours in the box blind without a break to minimize his chances of spooking the buck on the way in or out. “Everybody went whole hog for this buck, including me,” he says.
After hunting in December without once sighting the 14-pointer, Tamara set her sights on the late muzzleloader season in January. In the meantime Travis got a trail cam shot of the buck on Christmas Day with a 160-inch 10-pointer.
On January 10, the second day of their late-season hunt, Tamara and Travis had just climbed into the box blind when small bucks began to hit the food plot. “We’d had snow on the ground about a week and it was 1 degree out, so everything look like it was set up perfectly for early deer movement,” Travis says.
“We were eating cookies and cutting up and having a good old time when I looked out the window and saw big horns coming at us through the brush,” Tamara says.
“She starts saying, ‘Buck! Buck! Big buck!'” Travis recalls. “It was the 160 10-pointer I’d seen with the big 14 on the trail cam. I told her to get ready.”
“Sure enough, the big buck was right behind, and he just pushed that 10-pointer out of the way like a bully,” says Tamara. She says she wasn’t nervous until after the shot, but Travis remembers differently. “I handed her my toboggan so she could brace the gun on the window, and she must have dropped it three times before she got it up on the sill. It was funny.”
Tamara felt confident when it was time to shoot. “Every deer that had come in over the last few hunts, he’d coach me on where to aim,” she says. “So I knew exactly where to shoot.” When the buck turned sideways at 60 yards, “she made a pinpoint high-shoulder shot and dropped him in his tracks,” Travis says proudly.
Official Boone & Crockett scorers in North Carolina taped the dried horns earlier this month at 186 1/8 gross, 170 5/8 net typical.
Sources have told the Williamsons that the buck is likely the largest typical whitetail shot by a woman with a muzzleloader in Ohio. Repeated inquiries by the Williamsons and by Field & Stream with the Buckeye Big Buck Club (official keepers of Ohio’s whitetail records) have gone unanswered. According to the Longhunter, the record book of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, the highest-scoring typical taken by a woman in Ohio is 160 4/8, and the highest-scoring typical tagged by a female hunter nationally is 167 2/8.
Regardless of where the buck ends up ranking, Tamara Williamson is definitely hooked on hunting. “Once the buck hit the ground the adrenaline just flooded my system,” she recalls. “I was so excited Travis wouldn’t let get out of the blind until I calmed down.
The fact that so many men had been hunting the buck made it all the sweeter. “I said, “I gave y’all a really big head start. You boys had all this time to get it done, then I had to come in and show you how to do it.'” Tamara laughs. “But everybody was real happy for me. I even had people waiting in my driveway when I got back to North Carolina.”
Grouse that it’s merely beginner’s luck and you’ll get an argument from Travis. “This is my fourth year as an outfitter, and she’s been with me every step. She’s ridden discers and cut shooting lanes and hung tree stands and hiked every bit of those hills scouting properties with me,” he says. “She put in the work, and then she showed those boys how it’s done.”