Levi Williamson grew up hunting with his dad, Galan. And on those frequent trips, Levi absorbed some lessons.
“Hunting’s been part of my life since I was 10 years old,” 16-year-old Levi said. “And I’ve been with my dad, sitting in tree stands and walking out with him, since I was even younger.”
When he reached the age of 10, Levi began learning even more tricks of the trade.
“We were going off to hunting camp and stuff like that,” Levi said. “He always taught me to still hunt, so I guess I learned to do that. I didn’t like sitting in a stand. It got a bit too cold for me.”
So, it should come as no surprise that this season — the first that Levi has been legally allowed to hunt on his own, since he turned 16 in May — the high school sophomore from Eddington did exactly what he’d been taught.
“We split up, and I was taking one one side of a ravine and [my dad] was taking the other,” Levi said, describing a hunt that took place on Nov. 5. “I was still-hunting my way through a bunch of pines. I was walking up a little trail where you could look down a ridge. Then I jumped a doe and a little skipper.”
The doe and fawn bolted, but they didn’t go very far, running into thick pines. Levi took a moment to consider their movement, and decided that at least one more deer might be nearby.
“I went up on the mountain and swung around to see if there was a buck following them,” he said. “But before [I got there] another deer blew at me.”
That might be the buck, Levi decided. And if it was, he wanted to be ready.
“I was thinking he was going to follow [the other two],” Levi said. “So after that, I sat on one of his pawings. It was pretty fresh, like he’d done it that morning … I didn’t know where he was, but I was still thinking that he was going to follow them.”
Levi ended up jumping the first two deer again, and listened as they ran out of sight.
“They went east — really far east — out into a swamp,” Levi said. “They had to go out through a big poplar forest, which is really thick. You can’t really see much, but there is a trail that goes right over it, and I followed that trail.”
Then, things got even more interesting.
“I jumped something, and it wasn’t the doe and the skipper. It was something a little bit bigger. I could tell. So I walked down into the poplars and sat for a little bit,” Levi said. “There was nothing. So I found another spot and I sat there.
“Five minutes later, 50 yards away, I could hear crunching and cracking like the leaves were crushing,” he said. “And I could see a flash of white out among some pines.”
Then, the main attraction.
“The next thing I knew, the buck came up [out of the swamp]. It was broadside to me. I had to lean over to see if I could get a shot, but then he turned around and started making his way right up, straight toward me. He was probably about 20 yards away.”
Levi ended up shooting the deer, but said his first impression of the buck was that it wasn’t all that impressive.
“He didn’t look big. He looked like a spikehorn,” Levi said. “But I said, ‘I guess I’ll take him.’”
A new lesson: First impressions can be deceptive.
Levi learned that when he found the buck, lying dead. Instead of a small spikehorn, he found a monster: It would weigh in at 243 pounds, and sported 11 points with a palmated rack.
Then, the hard work: The deer was about three-quarters of a mile into the woods. And who did the dragging?
“I did it myself,” Levi said. “It probably took three hours.
Galan Williamson entered the buck in the BDNs Biggest Bucks contest, and Levi’s deer is this week’s featured buck.
And while Levi said he hopes he has the opportunity to take larger deer in the future, he realizes this one is special.
“If I’d seen a little spikehorn, I’d still have shot at it,” Levi said.
And he said he’ll continue to cherish the times he gets to spend outdoors, hunting with his dad.
“I just love it out there,” he said. “I’ve grown up out in the wilderness, I guess, and I just love nature.”
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. Keep your big buck tales coming! Enter our contest at https://outthere.bangordailynews.com/2016/10/28/hunting/its-time-to-unveil-the-bdn-biggest-buck-contest/