Benny Tillerson – SNS Guide and Long Time Friend
Benny Tillerson started hunting deer in Alabama in 1964 and to this day he gets the same thrill that he did when he shot his very first animal.
A retired firefighter captain from Montgomery, Alabama, Benny has hunted for much of his life.
He has trekked to several other States and countries for his hunts and has had the opportunity to take home a variety of animals.
One hot Alabama day, Benny was posted up in the firehouse reading a magazine and on the back page he came across an advertisement about a firefighter who owned a hunting outfit in Casper, Wyoming. When he called the number listed, the founder and current owner of SNS Outfitter and Guides, Sy Gilliland, answered. Quickly those two built a strong friendship and Benny began taking trips out west to hunt with Sy and the other SNS guides.
The three years following were packed with Sy and Benny hunting most seasons together for wild game and exploring the old west with the outfitting crew. When his passion for hunting trips caught up with him and Benny couldn’t resist it anymore – he become a guide himself. As an avid outdoorsman, it only made sense he would join his kind. When Benny returned to Wyoming on his 4th year, he guided his first group of hunters and did quite well. Over the years, he would pack up his gear, leave Alabama and head to Wyoming to guide hunters on various hunts that SNS offered. In 1991, he retired from firefighting and was brought on full time as a hunting guide with SNS. Unfortunately, a few months into guiding he was thrown off his horse and broke his shoulder. But that injury didn’t slow him down, well maybe just for that season it did. To this day Benny remains a valued member of the SNS team landing him his current title of, Camp Manager and Professional Guide.
When looking back on fond memories of guiding, Benny recalls when he took a 20-yr-old girl on her first hunt in 2017 and she went home with a fantastic antelope. She was SO excited. Needless to say, it made Benny’s day and season. As Benny has mentioned a few times, he gets just as excited when he has a hunter take an animal as when he does, that’s a true passion for hunting!
We asked Benny what his favorite camp to guide from is and simply replied, The Orchard. His favorite camp to hunt is the Orchard because this is where his career began. He describes the area as breathtaking.
We also took a second to find out about one of his favorite hunting experiences. Benny replied with “my favorite Wyoming hunt was Elk hunting with Sy.” He described it as the blind leading the blind. They would talk, stop, hunt, laugh, and repeat. Finally, on day eight of the hunt Benny decided that he had given up on a trophy and just wanted to have his Wyoming elk. It was on that day when he took a “little” 5-point. Sy will never let him live that one down. But the fun doesn’t stop there. As much as Benny loves Wyoming, he has also enjoyed hunting throughout England, Spain, Lima Peru, and nearly every state in the United States over the years.
Benny has three grandsons that are crazy about hunting and when he is home in Alabama, they spend 3 – 4 days a week doing something hunting oriented. Projects could be planting food plots, building new hunting blinds, or working on equipment.
Benny loves working for Sy, SNS Outfitters, and spending time in Wyoming. “The company is just amazing – truly a big family. Everyone (the guides, the cooks, and the camp hosts) are all really great friends and really enjoy one another’s company.” He explains how Sy is a great businessman and has organized the company into a great outfitting business. Currently, Benny has been with Sy and SNS Outfitter & Guides for 36 years and is now slowly transiting into being Sy’s “gopher” in town (Casper, Wyoming).
As a guide, Benny talks shop about the playful competition each guide has with one another. “When we’re guiding there is a lot of competition between the guides, because you cannot come into camp with an animal smaller than another guide. But no matter how the day ends up, you have to hunt what’s best for your clients and you’ll always tell the other guides about ‘that really big animal you saw out there’.”
There are a few pieces of advice that Benny shares with a new hunter. It is recommended to be in good physical condition and you need to be able to shoot your rifle. Hunting is worthless if you cannot perform. When you are new to hunting and booking with SNS, or any outfit, Benny recommends doing your research to find an operation that fits your style, since the trips are expensive. If you’re a veteran to the sport, Benny recommends going on an antelope / mule deer combo hunt, this is a fun and unique hunt to Wyoming.
“It’s been quite a ride. I remember the day that Sy sent me a paycheck. I was so shocked that I was getting paid to do something that I love so much. For a person that really loves the outdoors and hunting – this is the way to do it. You get to do your favorite activity every day of the season,” Benny said. “The day I can watch a deer walk through the woods and not get excited will be the day I quit,” he said.