Blake Knoll, a 39-year-old independent insurance agent from Marksville, has his friend, Michael Neal, to thank for helping him scout and place his stand in position for the best chance at a huge buck he was hunting on Corbett Farm Hunting Club in Avoyelles Parish. Knoll was in the right place at the right time under perfect conditions to zip an arrow through the vitals of the big 11-point buck.
“I have been on the waiting list for membership of this club for awhile but when the property owner changed the rules to bow hunting only, I was able to get in the club beginning this season,” said Knoll.
The club, consisting of some 6500 acres, lies adjacent to the Lake Ophelia Wildlife Management Area. Prior to this season, both gun and bow hunting was allowed but beginning this season, the rules were much more restrictive in that crossbow hunting was not allowed, only compound, recurve and long bow. Each member may have up to seven private bow stands.
The club’s rules state that members may only take one buck scoring 150 inches or more along with two cull bucks. If a buck is judged to be over 6 years of age, it may be taken without penalty regardless of the score.
“I got into the club this past September and began putting out feed and trail cameras and once the acorns began dropping I started getting photos of this particular buck I planned to hunt,” Knoll said.
The area he and a good friend, Michael Neal, zeroed in on as a good place to put his stand was across a slough after determining the buck was bedding along a nearby swampy lake.
“The wind had to be just right for me to have a chance at seeing the buck without being detected. Friday night, Jan. 3, my phone ‘pinged’ indicating I had a trail cam photo and it was of the big buck. Saturday morning, the wind was just right for me to cross the slough and slip into my stand without the deer picking up my scent,” he said.
Around 9:00 that morning, Knoll saw the movement of a deer walking through the woods but all he could see was the deer’s legs. With no shooting lanes in that direction, Knoll had to wait until the deer made a movement that revealed the antlers of a big buck.
“When I got a look at the antlers, I knew it was the one I was after,” he said. “I had some feed out and thought the buck was headed for the feed when he stopped at 50-60 yards and stood there for a long time. He passed up the feed and began walking away and I figured he’d be gone. Then, he made a U-turn and started back my way, passing up the feed and coming to within 30 yards of me. I was at full draw but had to rest my bow on my leg and rotate my position. I had no shot because of all the brush as the deer stopped and stayed there a good three minutes.”
Knoll shoots left handed and would have preferred that the deer would move to his right but instead, he stopped, looked Knoll’s way and began sniffing the air as if something had spooked him. The deer bolted back some 10 yards and stopped.
“Where he stopped, there was an opening over his vitals the size of a paper plate. I am confident of taking a 40 yard shot so I released the arrow and could tell I had hit the deer with what I felt like was a good shot. I thought I heard him crash not far away,” Knoll added.
Waiting an hour to be sure the deer was down, Knoll walked to where the deer was standing, found lots of lung blood and located the buck that had run 50 yards before expiring.
“I shoot a Matthews bow with Easton Axis arrows and a Grim Reaper broadhead which really did a great job on the buck,” he said.
The buck sported a rack of 11 scorable points with one side featuring heavy palmation. Brow tines were split and main beams measured 21 and 22 inches each. Bases were over 6 inches each. Inside spread was 19 ½ inches and the buck estimated to be 6 ½ years old weighed 235 pounds. Knoll’s taxidermist scored the rack with 166 3/8 inches of bone.