Kelly Moore got what he thought was one of the biggest bucks he’d ever seen on trail camera, but he was in for a big surprise
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||September 26, 2023|
|Place:||Barry County, Missouri|
|Weapon:||Center Point Heat Crossbow|
When a big non-typical buck shows up on your hunting property, you take notice. That’s what happened this summer when Missouri hunter Kelly Moore started getting photos of a deer that he knew right away he wanted to hunt.
The deer was just regular enough to keep Moore interested, but it didn’t seem to have a clear pattern. On September 26, Moore was at work in his shop. He couldn’t help but glance at his phone from time to time and notice the unusually high deer movement on his cameras that morning. He decided to take off early and head to his blind in hopes that the big non-typical he’d been seeing would make an appearance that evening.
Missouri hunter Kelly Moore with his big antlered doe.
“The landowner I hunt on is a good friend and hunting buddy, so I called him up to see if he wanted to hunt that evening. He said he was going out of town, but for me to go ahead and give it a try,” Moore said. He quickly loaded up and headed to the farm.
Someone in the crowd at the gas station lifted the deer’s leg and exclaimed, “It’s a doe!”
Moore was in his blind by 4:15. It didn’t take long for him to realize the increased movement from the morning was going to continue. “I had deer around me just about all evening. I don’t know if there was a 5- or 10-minute stretch that I couldn’t see at least one deer. I spent the evening taking photo after photo with my phone, then sending them to my boys. With every nice buck, they kept asking me why I wasn’t shooting,” Moore said.
The big non-typical ended up scoring right at 158 inches.
While some other bucks were tempting, Moore had already decided to hold off for the non-typical he had seen on his trail cams. And as the evening drew to a close, another deer stepped out. Moore immediately recognized the antlers, but he raised his binoculars just to verify it was the deer he was after. It was.
The doe had at least 16 scorable points.
The deer worked its way to the blind. When it stopped, perfectly broadside at 40 yards, Moore raised his Center Point crossbow and took aim. He heard what sounded like the thwack of a solid hit and watched as the deer crashed off into the underbrush.
Trail camera photos had Moore excited to hunt the deer in the days leading up to season.
After waiting a bit, Moore emerged from the blind and went to look for blood. By this time, it was nearly fully dark. That’s when he realized that he hadn’t packed a light. All of the photos and texts from the hunt had drained his phone’s battery.
After the shot, Moore realized he didn’t have a flashlight or even a knife with him.
Moore had just enough power left on his phone to send one last text to his wife, Johna, explaining that he had shot a deer, didn’t have a light, and was probably going to be late. He continued to look for blood in the deepening darkness. “I was starting to wonder about the shot,” Moore said. “I was really doubting the hit and debating on backing out so I didn’t mess the spot up for future hunts.”
Moore decided that, hit or not, he wasn’t going to find the deer without a light. He started the hike back to his truck. As he was leaving the farm, he met Johna coming in. After receiving the text, she had grabbed flashlights and headed out to help.
“I told her we needed to walk in so we didn’t needlessly drive across the field if I had missed. She hadn’t really planned on tracking a deer and was wearing shorts and we didn’t have any bug spray. She wasn’t excited about hiking back in through the tall grass and brush,” Moore said.
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At that point, Moore decided to go ahead and drive back to his hunting spot. He took one light and went to the spot where the deer had been standing while Johna took another and started searching the direction the deer had gone. As Moore searched for sign, he heard Johna call out. She had found blood on the trail. The shot had connected.
As the pair followed the trail, the blood became heavier. They soon found the deer just 100 yards from the blind. Moore immediately noticed that it was still full velvet. With temperatures hovering in the 80s, he knew he needed to work fast to get the deer out of the field and meat on ice — but then he realized that he’d forgotten his knife, too. Without field-dressing the large-bodied deer, Moore and Johna struggled to load it into the truck, but they finally wrestled it in and headed to town to get ice and check the deer in.
As they pulled into the local gas station, a crowd quickly gathered to check out Moore’s deer. One of Moore’s buddies grabbed the deer’s hind leg to move it for a better view. That’s when he said, “Kelly, this is a doe!”
In the rush to get the deer loaded, and since he hadn’t field-dressed it, Moore hadn’t even looked. “All this time, I just assumed it was a buck. To be honest, I felt a little weird, shocked even, that it wasn’t. I’d heard of antlered does, but I never really expected to kill one. Especially not one this big,” Moore said.
The doe was still in full velvet.
He had been in the process of checking the deer in when the revelation came about. At that point, Moore wasn’t sure exactly which tag to use. He decided to call his local Missouri Department of Conservation agent to double check. After getting no answer, Moore called another agent. Again, no answer. He soon found out that all of his local agents were out of town at a training event. So Moore then reached out to a friend who was a local deputy and, after getting an explanation, his friend agreed to drive over to check out the deer for verification. By that point, Moore had reached someone at MDC headquarters and checked the deer in by phone. “When they asked how many points, we originally counted 18, but looking at it now, I think it will be officially a 16-pointer with a couple more that are questionable on scoring,” Moore said.
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After getting the deer skinned and processed, a good friend measured the rack. “He came up with 157 ⅞ as a very conservative measurement, with the possibility that the final will be even higher. We took a lot of pictures, but just went ahead and caped it out for a regular shoulder mount. Looking back, and realizing now just how special the deer is after all the excitement, I kind of wish we’d skinned it out for a full body mount,” Moore said.