The Return of the Laramie Kid

This is one of the best shoot ’em up love stories we’ve read in years, and we’ve been reading Zane Grey since he was Zane Black. With not just love-for-family, or young-love-conquers-all vignettes that bring a lump to your throat, this fast-paced, cleverly woven cliffhanger deals with the love of justice and the law courageously administered in defense of innocents.

We thought we knew every wild-west story line, but were repeatedly ambushed as the author skillfully led us up box canyons to bushwhack us with a twist we didn’t see coming. The action-packed plot is an easy read but so clever is Vaznis, the reader who anticipates what’s coming gets blind-sided time and again.

The story revolves around three boys whose parents were killed in, or unjustly lynched for, a mysterious hotel fire. Reared by grandparents who shielded them from the truth, their quest for understanding uncovers a plot to steal millions in gold from the Army, by an entrenched criminal enterprise that plans to also rob the local bank.

The story colorfully tracks these boys into manhood, and they emerge as men with a mission. Why did the loving grandparents keep secret the story of their fathers? Who were their fathers as men, and why did one who was actually a hero associate with a killer and outlaw? What was this outlaw’s role in the monstrous and on-going conspiracy? Were trusted businessmen and the respected sheriff involved?

This is a story of heroes, but the reader will seldom meet the real heroes until the story completely unfolds. In a storyline filled with intrigue, only at the end is it revealed who the good guys are. Reveal is the operative word here: You’re a good man if you can figure out what’s coming next. Yes, “a Ranger always gets his man,” but seldom has the chase been as exciting and believable.

This is the author’s first western novel, and we heartily call for it not to be his last. Not one in ten Hollywood shoot ’em ups is written as well.

- Don McLean
Guns of the Old West Magazine


The Man with 17 Lives

How could a super-macho guy who rides Harleys, hunts bear and can swear like a trooper write a persuasive book about the existence of God? It turns out he’s a great writer. In fact, he has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Bill Vaznis book, “The man with 17 lives”, is written in a casual conversational style that quickly draws you in and holds your breath until he finishes his story. And the book has many stories. Bill’s experience of God is different from mine. His book has shaken me from my smug cosmic slumber to question some of my long-standing notions including free will and whether God intervenes in our life. Bill’s serious medical problems have afforded him the luxury of dying and then coming back to life a number of times. In an almost surreptitious way, he tells you what that’s like.

- Tom Kwasnik, PhD, Clinical Psychologist


The Man with Seventeen Lives 


Life is a journey and this book is about a part of that journey. It is not a religious book so if you are reading it to be comforted by religion, you will be greatly disappointed. This book is about reality, the reality of God reaching out in a man's life to show him that not only does God exist, but He breaks into our lives to open the door for a relationship with Him. Religion is man-made, reality is God-given. This book is about a man who has experienced both the victories and the vicissitudes of life and during it all has seen the hand of God, heard His voice, and tried desperately to figure out who He is and why He does what He does.   

I've known Bill for almost 50 years. He is, in all respects, an ordinary guy with some extraordinary talent in writing, photography, hunting and fishing. This book outlines how God has showed Himself to this ordinary guy in many different ways from his childhood years to being a seasoned citizen. I've watched as Bill diligently tried to make sense of it all as he examined how God showed up in his life: saving his life sometimes, meeting him as Bill crossed the line to eternity then returning him to life, and speaking to his heart in desperate times as Bill needed to hear from Him.   

I don't know if this book will answer any questions, as a matter of fact, it may create many more questions than it answers. If it is read carefully it may open some eyes to the real possibility that God exists. If read with an open heart and a non-critical attitude one may find this a refreshing read and a life-changing experience. I don't know what you are looking for, or what you will find, but I can assure you that you will be touched by the raw truth and the humble, honest self-disclosure of a man searching for his own answers and finding them in the reality of God. 


Rev. Kenneth A. Marshall

Assistant Pastor

Greece Assembly of God


The Man with Seventeen Lives: 

I’ve had the honor of having a personal relationship with Bill Vaznis for a number of years, and have known him professionally for over thirty years. The outdoor writing community is a small, tight knit group where your accomplishments are well-known. Knowing the person behind the name however is often is another deal.


 As Bill and I grew to know each other, I learned of his trials and challenges, and I shared mine. Suffice it to say, life has given us both a lot better than we deserved. During our many conversations, we discussed God and the Bible. I don’t know Bill’s heart well enough to tell exactly what his status is with Big Guy, but I do know that he and I shared moments of prayer when things were pretty bleak. This tells a lot about the character of a man.


Bill’s book, The Man with Seventeen Lives, is a straight from the gut story that if evidence were ever required to prove that God works in our lives until our mortal existence has accomplished it mission, this is it. As well as I thought I knew Bill Vaznis, reading I learned what he had gone through over the years. Again, his adventurous story is proof that we do not know our ultimate earthly mission or when it is accomplished.


The book is also proof of the many blessing we receive that cannot be accounted for in the here and now. Many times it takes years of hindsight to see the hand of God in our life. Bill’s book is a rare, honest look back at the tremendous influence of God in our lives.

I not only recommend Bill’s book, which is well-written and full of personal insight, but once you’ve read it that you assess your own life. God is a loving father and for a fortunate few he invests a lot of effort.



-Don Kirk

Publisher, Southern Unlimited


The Man with Seventeen Lives:

I was with Bill the day after his swim in the Salmon River!! I believe every word he wrote! Maybe someone really is pulling the strings on we puppets! We shall all find out eventually. I was one of his writer staff for five years, and, aside from his describing his dunk in the Salmon River the previous day, he never even hinted about his misfortunes, only that his stomach at al were removed.


-Ed Hall


The Man with Seventeen Lives


There are two takeaways from Bill Vaznis’ book “The Man with Seventeen Lives” – I take that back as there are clearly more, but two come to the forefront in my humble opinion.

One is that God works in mysterious ways, by bestowing upon us both hardship on one hand and overwhelming joy on the other.

Two, is that Bill Vaznis is one tough hombre who would have found opportunities to lie down and quit had he been a lesser man, with a lesser faith in the Almighty.


This is the perfect book to put your own life into perspective. Sometimes we feel there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and the obvious action is to retreat in one form or another. Bill shows us that even when there appears to be no end in sight to misery, faith and intestinal fortitude rule the day no matter the day. I can say this with certainty: I will never look at Bill the same having experienced his compelling life through this book. Do yourself a favor and read it . . . it may change your life.


-Max Prasac

Outdoor Writer and Author

Editor’s Note: Max Praasac is the pen name for Marko Radielovic

Senior Writer for the National Rifle Association.



Bill Vaznis is certain that he has met God, heard God’s voice, and been saved repeatedly from dying by God. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a religious book. It’s not, but it does give insight into how many people see God apart from scriptural or doctrinal standards. It isn’t written for Christians, but Christians might see themselves in it. Read this well-written personal memoir of a curmudgeon who jumps from one crisis to another, keeps on going, and is likely to outlive all his peers. If nothing else, you'll finish the book rooting for him and saying "Long live Bill Vaznis!"  

—Steve Sorensen 




Bill Vaznis is a sportsman like you and I. He’s passionate about hunting and fishing. He’s so passionate about hunting and fishing that he made a living at it as an outdoor writer and editor.

More importantly, Vaznis is a survivor, sometimes beating odds that were stacked against him. He has cheated death at least 17 times and he wrote a book about dodging death so many times titled The Man With 17 Lives. The book’s catchy subtitle is “Superman Ain’t Got Nothing’ On Me.”

Cats ain’t got nothin’ on him either. Felines are often credited with having nine lives. Bill has just about used up the equivalent of two cat’s lives.

The Man with 17 Lives is Bill’s autobiography and he’s been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for the death-defying story of his life.

Vaznis has survived two serious bouts with cancer, heart attacks, motorcycle and automobile accidents that had nothing to do with his outdoor pursuits. Plenty of his brushes with death are related to hunting and fishing, however. He almost drowned on three separate occasions, for instance.

Two of those near drowning events occurred while fishing for steelhead on Great Lakes tributaries. He fell in the large rushing rivers both times. He was wearing hip boots on one occasion and chest waders the other time. The trapped air inside his chest waders kept him above the water until the current brought him to shore.

He thought he was definitely going to drown during his most recent fall in a river, which happened only a couple of years ago when he was wearing hip boots. Vaznis had beat cancer for the second time and had recovered from treatments, but he was still weak. Nonetheless, he took advantage of the opportunity to try to catch a steelhead when he fell in a deep pool he was fishing that was 20 feet deep.

That time his hip boots filled with water and were pulling him down.

“I grew weaker and weaker,” he wrote, “and finally resigned myself to the fact that I was indeed going to die and in a couple of minutes my life would be snuffed out.”

Vaznis also stepped in quicksand while fishing. He had his share of close calls while hunting, too. He was almost trampled by moose one time and a rut-crazed bull elk tried to skewer him with its antlers. Then there were the times that he was thrown from the backs of mules and horses he was riding during wilderness hunts. Another time, he was lucky to survive a float plane flight in weather not suited for airplane travel. You get the drift of the types of close calls Bill has had. His bouts with cancer posed the most serious threats to his life, of course. If you are interested in reading his life’s story, the book can be ordered from


-Richard P. Smith



I have had the pleasure of knowing Bill Vaznis for 30+ years. We first met in a caribou camp in Northern Quebec, where as usual, his big personality filled the camp. Our shared interests led us on a few hunting adventures together. Throughout the years, Bill would talk about his surgery, almost always in a humorous way, never with a “why me” slant. He was certainly lucky in every sense of the word.

The mortality rates for chondrosarcoma alone are dismal. The mere surgical risk for a hemipelvectomy is daunting and fraught with complications that can easily be fatal. Severe and sometimes chronic pain, loss of ambulatory strength and even loss of limb or life are not unknown. Hemipelvectomy is risky, complicated and never a sure bet. Throw in pulmonary embolism, heart disease, and esophageal cancer and your chances of survival are nil.

Yet Bill climbed mountains (literally and figuratively), hiked for a day and night to get a Billy goat and never once complained. After what he had been through, the climb was nothing. He made his fame hunting bears and despite his many close calls was always positive. We talked one night in Manitoba under the Northern lights and the subject of God came up. Bill told me of his experiences and I listened with fascination. Now reading about the struggles in his life that he never dwelled on or even mentioned, I understand that he has always been blessed. I am happy to have him as a friend. I always told him he had nine lives like a cat. This book is evidence of that. Thanks for sharing, Bill


-Jeff Seitzinger, M.D.

Birmingham, Alabama surgeon


The Man with SEVENTEEN Lives

Read the words and feel the thoughts that go into each phrase. You will feel better about yourself, unless you are an unthinking cad without hope. Then get some hope. Walk a path through life in harmony with anything or anyone encountered, learning as you go. Take charge of your life. These are spiritual messages I get from Vaznis’ words. I did not know that other people had these kinds of thoughts, which is one of the more profound jobs of the writer. Give meaning to thoughts many people try to ignore, thus releasing some of the burden reader’s bear. You say guardian angel, I say spirit guardian. Thanks for the Book, Bill; you have cleared some of the fog from my spirit.


-Mike Bleech

Outdoor Columnist 

Warren Times Observer and the  Erie Times - News 




For a guy whose job involves lots a lot of reading each day, I really don’t do as much reading as I would like.  

I don’t mean the kind of reading I do daily as editor of New York Outdoor News
( , chewing through copy with the computer or equivalent of a red pen as we prep for one issue of NYON and another, and another.

I am talking about the relaxing, recliner-by-the-wood stove, evening sit-down with a good book, whether it’s John Gierach, Jack O’Conor, Tom Kelly, Datus Proper, E. Donnall Thomas an d so many others.

It happens once in a while, but not often enough, especially since out post-holiday time is among our busiest, as we gear up for sport show season and get ready to produce and dole out free copies of NYON at these events.

And sometimes you don’t to look far to find a great read. In fact, a couple of New York authors recently released books that are well worth a look and have already been met solid reviews.

Bill Vaznis is a nationally known outdoor writer whose work has appeared in New York Outdoor News over the years. I’ve gotten to know Bill a bit during that time, but after reading even chapter or two of his “The Man With 17 Lives (Superman Ain’t Got Nothing On Me)” I have a much better glimpse of the Lima (Livingston County) resident.

Bill’s adventurous life has taken him across North America in search of big game – most notably black bears. Along the way he has been published in most of the major hunting magazines in the country, including Deer & Deer Hunting, Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and Petersen’s Hunting.

But his sporting adventures only tell a sliver of his story. Along the way he’s battled a myriad of health issues-serious ones, not the kind that serve as a mere speed bump in his journey. Cancer, the kind with long names and low survival rates. Hear disease.

He hasn’t complained during any step along the way, hasn’t taken a “why me” attitude. But his struggles have given him, perhaps, a greater appreciation in God’s Work in our daily lives. And the book, while hardly considered a religious writing, does give some insight into Bill’s own life and His influence on it.

The book has met with superb early reviews and is even in line for consideration as a Pulitzer Prize winner; semifinalists have yet to be announced.

It’s available through and online at

 -Steve Piatt


The Man with 17 Lives

When outdoor communicator Bill Vaznis informed me his new book was under consideration for a Pulitzer Prize, I had to request a copy to review. It wasn’t the book I expected. Then again, maybe it was. After all, when an author details surviving 17 near-death experiences that individual is certain to reflect on his own mortality and his relationship with a higher power. But don’t get the idea this book is about religion – it is not. It is however, about one man’s personal communication with his God undertaken during his life-and-death experiences in the Canadian bush, American wilders and waterways, as well as multiple health crises which should have ended his life, all wrapped in well-written gritty account which you will difficult to put down.


17 Lives, 6 Books — Lima Man Lives to Tell It All


GENESEO — Hunting enthusiasts will likely know Lima resident Bill Vaznis for the hundreds of articles and photos he has published in hunting and outdoors magazines nationwide. Fans of western novels may recognize him as the author of The Laramie Kid series. Like most people with stories to tell, though, Vaznis is branching away from his familiar territory into an autobiographical world full of even more tales.

While Vaznis is known for his two western novels, The Return of the Laramie Kid, and The Laramie Kid and the Dirty White Stetson, he recently released an autobiographical novel, The Man with 17 Lives, in which he describes several near death experiences throughout his life. Both Vaznis’ autobiography and The Dirty White Stetson were published earlier this year. Although Vaznis has an undeniable talent for writing, which he says he developed while working towards his social work master’s degree, his first steps towards a writing career came from his love of photography.

“I had a bunch of bear hunting photographs, and I sent them out to Harris Publications in New York,” Vaznis said. “The editor there used to be the editor for Field & Stream, Outdoor Life and Sports and Field all during his career. So, I was working for the (US. Department of Veteran’s Affairs) at the time, and he calls me at my office and says, ‘These photographs are great. Do you have a story to go with them?’ I said, ‘Well, no I don’t.’ He said, ‘Get one to me right away.'”

With that, Vaznis spent a month writing his first article, and upon submitting it was offered a full time position writing hunting and outdoor life stories. Vaznis wrote for many of Harris Publications’ bow hunting and deer hunting magazines, and has also written for other nationally published hunting magazines such as Bowhunting World, American Hunter and Field & Stream.

Vaznis’ move to writing came at the perfect time for him to get away from a VA that he claimed was coming under more nefarious control.

“Our VA was infiltrated by organized crime, and although I mention it in (The Man With 17 Lives), I didn’t go into much detail,” Vaznis said. “Those guys played rough. The Feds got them all, there were seven guys indicted for racketeering.”

Vaznis said that his time at the VA was a good experience despite some of the darker sides he saw and fought against.

“I’m glad I was a social worker for the VA. I learned a lot, but it was time to move on; I was burned out when I left there,” Vaznis said. “There were a lot of good people at the VA, dedicated people who work for peanuts compared to what they could get on the outside. But it’s just ripe for abuse. The power game, people who lay in bed at night figuring out how they can get ahead by screwing somebody over — we had those people in there”

After leaving The VA and social work to pursue writing, Vaznis authored three hunting books, one of which, 500 Deer Hunting Tips, is still in publication. Although Vaznis enjoyed writing about hunting, he says that what he really wanted to write was fiction. Some of the story leads that Vaznis would write for his hunting stories were fictional descriptions of something  a deer or a bear might be doing in the forest as a hunter waits for them. Vaznis’ first opportunity to write a full work of fiction came after the Christian publishing company Alive Communications contacted him about editing a book written by Ted Nugent.

“I know Ted. Ted’s written for me for a long time, and Ted’s got his own style of writing I call Nugisms,” Vaznis said. “The average editor will screw up those words.  He calls a bear a RugSteak, and the average editor will think, ‘No, that must be a misprint.’ So they’ll make it one word with no caps.”

Alive Communications told Vaznis that they had a book that Nugent had written and when they asked Field & Stream  to edit the book, the magazine refused due to concerns of Nugent’s constitutional personality and rough language. The book with Nugent ended up taking multiple years to get through the editing process. At one point lawyers got involved to discuss what content would be allowed in the book. It was during this time period that Vaznis pitched his own idea for a novel.

“I talked to my editor and said, ‘Listen, I’ve got an idea for a novel called The Return of the Lone Ranger.’ I gave him some ideas on it, and I wrote the first three or four chapters,” Vaznis said. “I sent it to him, then he called me on the phone and said, ‘You have to finish this, this is a great idea for a book.’ The thing with Ted was still on the front burner, but I started doing research on the Lone Ranger, and lo and behold this was right when Disney was coming out with The Lone Ranger with Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp. So, I called my editor at Alive Communications and said, ‘Disney owns the rights to The Lone Ranger now.'”

Even though his editor assured him that the property was too old to be owned by anyone, Vaznis decided to play it safe and change the name of his hero to The Laramie Kid. Vaznis did leave many references to The Lone Ranger in his novels including naming one of the Native American characters after Jay Silverheels, who played Tonto on The Lone Ranger TV series. Vaznis has also written and published a second volume in his Laramie Kid series, The Laramie Kid and The Dirty White Stetson, and he is currently working on the third installment of what he hopes to be a long running series.

Vaznis has also written a book describing his life, and more specifically the many times it has nearly ended. The Man with 17 Lives takes readers through Vaznis’ numerous brushes with death, and highlights 17 specific times that, according to Vaznis, he would not be alive if it were not for God’s intervention. The book offers Vaznis’ reflection on his days riding an obscenely fast motorcycle he named Thunderchicken, multiple close calls while hunting, and numerous medical emergencies, including two bouts with cancer. Vaznis says that his close calls with death have inspired much of his fictional work writing westerns.

“They are loosely based on my own near death experiences (or) friends of mine that have had near death experiences,” Vaznis said. “Or, when I worked at the VA, several people, co-workers, and people outside the VA that talked to me about their near death and after death experiences. So that was sort of fodder for the engine.”

Throughout Vaznis’ writing, as well as his life, God has been a recurring theme, but Vaznis has an appreciation for the subtle way in which he feels God has influenced his life and those around him.

“You don’t have be a church goer, and you don’t have to be a Bible thumper to know that God exists,” Vaznis said. “He’s in our lives and you just have to listen for Him, He’s there. It’s something in the back of your ear that says that’s not a coincidence. There are no coincidences in life.”

Vaznis’ three self-published books as well as 500 Deer Hunting Tips are available at and on Vaznis plans on publishing all of his future work through the website as well.


-Tim Henry


The Man with 17 Lives

I have not read a book in decades! If anyone knows me, I'm not much for sitting around putting my nose in a book. This book, written by a good friend Bill Vaznis is worth picking up. He's donated several prizes to the big game trials over the years. My kids actually noticed I was reading a book and found it amusing lol! This book covers some of Bill's near death experiences and life stories. Everything from fast bikes and cars, to black bears staring you down just feet away! 

A lot of us can relate to the hunting stories that he has written about in his book.