Doug Malinowski, owner of a landscaping business in Hillsborough, discovered on Sept. 27 that the fourth time was a charm.

That's when, hunting alone from a tree stand in Orange County, the 28-year-old deer hunter arrowed one of the great bucks in North Carolina archery annals.

The 17-point non-typical - a 7x6 mainframe with four abnormal points - has been scored at 183 5/8 gross and 175 7/8 net non-typical points. As a typical, it nets 165 1/8 inches.

If the net score holds up after the mandatory 60-day drying period, Malinowski's buck would the No. 2 non-typical bow kill ever recorded in the Tar Heel state.

Its typical net score of 165 1/8 would rank it No. 5 all-time among North Carolina symmetrical racks.

Malinowski, who began hunting as a 14-year-old freshman at Hillsborough Orange High School, had never before killed a buck that scored more than 135 Boone-and-Crockett inches.

"I really didn't get into archery hunting until four or five years ago," he said. "Today I understand what's needed a whole lot more than when I started. I know what's going on now."

Malinowski knew he had a big buck on his hunting property because his trail cameras had snapped two photos of the deer during 2010, both at night

After setting up his camera at the same place in August, it snapped hundreds of daytime and nighttime photos of the big buck.

The day Malinowski arrowed his trophy buck, he worked until about 4:30 p.m., sped home, dressed in full camo – including face mask (but no gloves) – and headed toward his favorite stand while carrying a compound bow.

"I put (the stand) up in some mixed woods," he said. "It had hardwoods, pines and thickets. The deer bed in the thickets."

Malinowski had cleared a shooting lane about 100 yards in front of his Gorilla tree stand, which was about 30 feet high in an oak.

"The first time I saw him was opening day (Sept. 10)," he said. "He was with a doe about 30 yards out, but when I stood up, my safety harness scraped against the tree and the doe got spooked.

"(The buck) tried to smell me; then he followed her away."

Malinowski spied the buck a second time two days later at 7:40 p.m., at a range of 20 yards.

"But it was too dark to shoot," he said.

The third time was Sunday, Sept. 18. Malinowski had just returned home from a deer-hunting trip to Maryland, and he hurried to his stand that afternoon.

"(The buck) came in about 6:15 or 6:20 p.m., but when he turned broadside to me, two does were facing me, so there was no way I could pull back my bowstring without getting busted," Malinowski said. "They finally walked off, but he remained, only he was facing me - I had no way to shoot.

Then he walked off - again."

How many times would this magnificent, high-racked buck get within bow range without presenting a decent shot?

Once more, as it turned out.

"The fourth time I hunted the stand, I was certain I'd never see this buck again," Malinowski said. "I was sitting there daydreaming about where I ought to move the stand when I saw him coming."

The buck was walking in Malinowski's shooting lane 100 yards away. Then the buck worked to the hunter's left, but Malinowski knew the deer would come underneath a blow-down maple tree.

"As soon as he cleared the maple, he charged the does in a corn pile I have there," he said.

Malinowski drew his Mathews Z7 extreme, set at 70 pounds of draw weight, put the 20-yard pin of his sight on the buck and let fly, sending the two-bladed Rage broadhead in the buck's direction.

"I knew he was 19 yards out," Malinowski said. "I'd ranged him with my HHA sight pin."

The buck jumped straight up into the air, and then tore down the shooting lane.

"I saw him wobble, then collapse 65 yards away," Malinowski said. "He never twitched after he hit the ground."

Although the buck's inside spread measured only 13 7/8 inches, it had G2s that measured 10 7/8 inches and 9 4/8 inches. The G3s taped out at 10 7/8 and 10 6/8 inches .

Jerry Chilton's 1995 Rockingham County buck tops the state's ranks of typical archery bucks at 165 4/8 inches, while Brent Mabry's 2005 Halifax County monster leads the non-typical bow class at 176 7/8 inches.

This means the Orange County buck could challenge either record if Malinowski's unofficial scorer made a slight miscalculation. Bucks must wait 60 days before being scored officially.