After he knocked down his first-ever buck, Hunter Knowles got some good advice from his dad.
The 18-year-old shot a small 6-pointer on private land in Bossier Parish on Nov. 23, ending a string of three does he had killed since he started hunting about age 12.
“He said, ‘Alright, you killed your first buck now. Don’t shoot anything unless it’s a wall-hanger,’” Knowles recalled
Hunting in the same box stand just three days later during the Thanksgiving holidays, the Parkway High School senior took that advice to heart when a 17-point non-typical brute stepped out of the woods about 5 p.m.
“He walked out and he stopped about halfway between the woods and the shooting lane,” he said. “When he turned his head, I saw nothing but a lot of rack and a drop tine.”
Fortunately, he fired his .30-06 before he had too much time to think about how the big buck would look on his wall.
“When I saw him and he looked at me, I picked up my gun and put the cross hairs on him and I shot, so I wasn’t shaking,” Knowles said. “But after that first shot when he dropped, all the adrenaline came through, like ‘You really just dropped that big deer.’”
The buck fell on the spot about 180 yards away, but continued trying to get up and head back into the woods. Knowles fired twice more before the big buck finally stopped moving.
“I was shaking and excited, and I didn’t even know if those other two bullets even hit it,” he said.
He got his answer as he approached the buck, which turned out to still be very much alive. He called his dad on his cell phone as he watched the deer for about 15 minutes from only 10 yards away.
“I said, ‘Dad, this thing is about to get up and run.’ He said, ‘No, don’t shoot. Trust me, just let it die,’ and he started heading out there,” Knowles said.
But right after he hung up, the buck got up on all fours and took a couple of steps. Knowles didn’t want to take any chances, so he shot him again in the chest, finally taking him down.
“I know it sounds like overkill, but that deer was just too big to let go,” he said.
Indeed it was.
The big buck weighed in about 230 pounds, with 17 non-typical points and a drop tine on his right side. He had a 24-inch inside spread, and green scored 163 5/8 inches Boone and Crockett.
“You see some little bodies with big racks and some big bodies and small racks, then you see small racks and small bodies,” he said. “This one was big all the way around. He had a big body, a big rack and a thick neck.
“Everything about it was just big.”
Before that final kill shot, he texted his dad, Wendell Knowles, to let him know that he had, in fact, shot a real wall-hanger.
“I told him to get ready to spend about $400,” Knowles said with a laugh. “He said, ‘You got a big one?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah.’”
When he picked his dad up in the UTV to go retrieve the buck, his father asked him how big he thought it was.
“I told him I hadn’t even counted, but I thought it was 17 or 18,” Knowles said. “He said, ‘Hunter, there’s no way.’ I said, ‘Dad, I swear. Wait ‘til you see it.’
“He was almost more pumped than I was.”
Read other stories about big bucks killed this season by clicking here.