Most people attend church for spiritual reasons, and 42-year-old Charlotte landscaper Octavius Williams is no different.

But last Nov. 14, he offered thanks to friends at a church in eastern Mecklenburg County because their permission to hunt allowed him to arrow one of 2012's top whitetails.

"Some of (the church members) had been after me for 2 1/2 years to hunt deer behind their church," said Williams, who explained that deer often walk at night around the church yard and cemetery, triggering motion-sensor lights and alarms. That commotion upset local residents, who fear that break-ins may be in progress.

So with prodding from his friends at church - and knowing he'd be the only hunter allowed on the property - Williams agreed to try and thin the herd. He didn't know his efforts would result in the buck of a lifetime.

Because the church is in a suburban area where firearms hunting is not allowed, Williams bought a PSE Nova Synergy bow, G5 striker broadheads and field points and practiced shooting for a year before scouting the property. He also joined a hunting club across the South Carolina border, the Dirty South Boys (DSB), headed by Warren Thompson, who shared plenty of hunting and archery tips.

On Nov. 14, Williams finished work at 4 p.m. and drove to the church.

"I wasn't going because it was late, but something said I should go anyway," he said. "But when I was walking to my stand at a field edge (75 yards from the building), I jumped four does and thought the afternoon was shot."

Still, Williams set his Mossy Oak climbing stand in a tree within 10 yards of the field.

"I'd already cleared out a shooting lane to the field," Williams said. "Deer come out and walk across this field into another patch of woods behind the church, or they sometimes walk behind the church, through the cemetery and through the field where I had my stand."

About 5:15 p.m., a large buck began to chase does in the field. Luckily, the animal stepped into Williams' shooting lane, 20 yards from his stand.

"I was standing and my heart was pounding," he said. "I put the 20-yard sight pin on his shoulder and took the shot."

The arrow struck the buck's left shoulder, but the animal didn't react.

"He stood still for maybe four seconds, then walked about 15 yards," Williams said. "I thought I'd missed him, then he took off running with his tail down."

Williams waited until dark before climbing down, then walked to the field and found his bloody arrow, but no other signs of a hit. He telephoned Thompson and soon, his friend and other DSB members arrived. With flashlights, they trailed the buck behind the church.

"Warren found the buck on the trail behind the church," Williams said. "He said, 'Oh, my God. Here's your deer. I've never seen one this big.'"

The whitetail weighed an estimated 230 pounds, and its rack sported 14 scoreable points. With an inside spread of 21 1/2 inches, the head has been gross-scored at 156 Pope & Young inches, among the best archery kills of the season in North Carolina.