John Kellett of Conway arrowed a buck Sept. 15 that could challenge the state-record non-typical white-tailed deer killed in 2005.

"I hadn't seen the deer before," said Kellett, a 23-year-old senior and baseball player at Chowan University. "But I knew basically there were a lot of nice deer on the back side of the farm I was hunting."

Kellett got into a 15-foot-tall ladder stand about 5 p.m., a stand placed on an oak ridge overlooking a creek bottom. He carried a Martin Monsterbuck Hunter compound bow, along with Rage two-bladed broadheads fitted to Easton 400 AP arrows.

"After 10 minutes I had eight bucks walk by, but they were all just out of range," he said. "None had less than 8 points."

His brother, hunting about 300 yards away along the same creek bottom, soon text-messaged Kellet these words - "big bear!"

"Then I got the same text message forwarded to me from my dad that said, 'big bear!'" Kellett said. "I answered back 'What's going on?'"

About that time, a buck with an amazing rack of antlers stepped onto a creek bank 40 to 45 yards away. Kellett drew back his bow to shoot because the deer was so impressive, but then the monster started walking straight toward him. The hunter waited until the buck reached 15 yards from his stand, and then arrowed the deer behind the right shoulder.

"He ran 50 or 60 yards after I hit him, and I heard him crash," Kellett said. "After that, I was shaking so bad I couldn't keep my composure."

Still he withdrew after receiving text messages that he shouldn't pursue the buck. So he called two friends, Chris Law and Adam Baldwin. The trio waited two hours before going back at 9:30 p.m. with flashlights, and Law found the buck where Kellett had last seen it.

"It's a main-frame 4x4 with 12 odd points, including two double-drop tines on each main beam," he said. "It's been unofficially green scored from 165 to 170 inches."

Brent Mabrey of Roanoke Rapids arrowed the current North Carolina record bow-kill non-typical on Sept. 27, 2005, in neighboring Halifax County. Its rack measured 176 7/8 inches.

Drap Harrell of Ahoskie's Stoney Creek Taxidermy is preparing the mount of Kellett's trophy.

The "big bear" mentioned in the text messages was a 600-pounder that had walked to a corn pile where his brother was hunting and wouldn't leave.