The sound of my alarm clock fills the room and I jolt into consciousness. It’s 5:30 a.m. The idea that I’m readying to hunt forces me awake faster than cold water to the face. I feel rejuvenated even after just four hours of sleep.
My truck careens down the highway at 65 mph. The night sky hovers above me, but there’s a faint glow in the east.
I see my breath in the light of my headlamp. My leafy wear camo warms me instantly when I pull it on over my camo garb. The crunch of leaves echoes in the pre-dawn silence.
I feel the cold from the ladder rungs through my gloves while I climb to my tree stand. My natural predator instincts make my senses acute and precise. I scan the darkness from my 15-foot perch. Early morning light begins to play tricks on my eyes as I stare across the tall prairie grass. Every shadow becomes the shape of a deer making my heart jump.
The Earth continues to rotate, bringing the sun ever closer to the horizon. It’s light enough to see the birds begin to move.
My senses are still heightened when a shadow shoots across the grass to my right. I gaze up and there’s an owl swooping eerily through the trees. The owl perches a mere 20 feet away. Our eyes meet, it realizes I’m an outsider here and vanishes silently back into the trees.
The sun casts its rays across some high clouds to the east. I watch stratus clouds turn from dark purple to a luminous yellow.
My eyes catch movement in the tall CRP grass to the northeast. There’s a small group of whitetails meandering toward me. My body tenses and my hands begin to shake as my adrenaline glands kick a shot of pure excitement through my veins. My bow is clenched in my hand while I slowly clamp the release in my other hand around the draw loop.
I count as five does pass through my shooting lane. The biggest moves into sight and my shoulder muscles tense to pull the bowstring back. I focus through my peep sight, down through my fiber optic pins, and finally on the deer.
I breathe in deep and begin letting it out while my 30-yard red fiber optic pin rests solidly on the small crease behind the doe’s shoulder. I hold my breath and feel the pressure of the release trigger through my glove. My mind subconsciously feels every anchor point of the bow: the crotch of my now loosely squeezing hand, the string as it gently presses against my cheek, and the kisser button pushing against the corner of my pursed lips. I gently begin to squeeze the trigger and hear the whoosh of the bowstring as my arrow cuts through the air at 300 feet per second.