November 13, 2023
Breaking News Bucks is presented by ARCUS hunting brands. To find out more click here.
At just 15 years old, Luke Kelly has possibly taken what many consider the benchmark of big whitetails: a buck that could make the Boone and Crockett book. And he killed it outside of the rut in Mississippi with a crossbow!
The magnum whitetail first appeared on a trail camera in 2021 during early archery season, but he didn’t hang around long. In 2022, the giant returned, and Luke spotted him twice. On each occasion, unfortunately, it was too dark for a shot. Then he was gone again for the rest of that season. This offbeat behavior earned him the name “Disappearing Act.”
The property was logged during the summer of 2023. The crew left in August, and the big deer returned right on schedule. So, Luke and his father, Larry, put 15 trail cameras out trying to narrow down his travels. Disappearing Act appeared every night on only one camera. Then, for no discernable reason, he began daylighting. The week before the bow opener, Disappearing Act was showing up every afternoon.
So, Luke’s friend, Eli Acker, made the trip over from Ole Miss for the second afternoon of the archery season to video the hunt. Predictably, the big deer didn’t read the script and never showed. School and other activities kept Luke out of the field until the following Sunday, and bad wind almost cancelled the next hunt. Luke was worried that the deer would be leaving soon, and he told his dad, “I just have to try now!”
After getting dropped off, Luke climbed into his shooting house overlooking the previous year’s food plot. “The wind was swirling in every direction,” he recalls. “But a bunch of deer started coming into the field.”
One of them was a 150-class 10-point, very tempting for a young hunter. However, Luke waited, hoping his target deer would show up. And 30 minutes later, he spotted the buck coming out of the woods only a few yards away. The bruiser nudged his way into the field just as some of the other deer caught the young hunter’s scent and spooked, taking him another 50 yards from Luke’s position.
“I ranged him and pulled the trigger,” Luke says. “He dropped a little and ran back into the woods.”
Larry and Eli came out to help with the search. Ultimately, they all made the decision to call in a dog tracker. Eddie Moorman and his dog, Cash, were in the area; and within an hour they were on the track.
“Cash was all business when he got there,” Larry says. “Then I heard a lot of yelling and realized they were celebrating. Cash had done his job!”
Trail camera photos from other folks who were after him helped Luke determine that Disappearing Act was at least 8 1/2 years old, and the impressive rack green scores 179 4/8.