The sound of my alarm permeates the room as I jolt to a conscious state. It’s 5:30 a.m. and the idea that I’m readying to hunt awakens me faster than cold water on my face. Any other reason for a 5:30 wake-up would be blasphemy, but for hunting I feel rejuvenated even after my four hours of sleep.
Regardless of the low temperatures, the ignition turns in my hand and my truck roars to a start. The chill of the morning cuts through my jacket so I turn the knobs to high heat.
My tires hum against the asphalt as my truck careens down the highway at 65 miles per hour. The night sky still hovers above me but a faint hint of light can be seen to the east.
I can see my breath as it wisps through the beam of light coming from my headlamp. My leafy wear begins to warm me instantly when I pull it on over my camoflauge garb. The crunch of leaves under my feet reaches my ears with a hollow vibration that only comes with the silence of pre dawn.
I can feel the cold from the metal ladder rungs through my gloves while I climb to the top of my treestand. It’s archery season again and my senses are acute and precise. I scan my surroundings from my 15 foot perch, but the darkness of the early morning is still too much for my pupils to absorb. The low light plays tricks on my eyes as I stare out across the Rombough family farm. Every dark shadow turns into the shape of a deer making my heart pump, forcing blood to rush through my extremities.
The Earth continues to rotate, bringing the sun ever closer to the horizon of the Dakotas. It’s light enough to see now and the birds begin to move. The lighter it gets, the louder the hum of bird songs becomes. My senses are still on high and I can see a shadow shoot across the grass to my right. I gaze up to see an owl eerily swoop through the trees. The owl ceases flight on a perch a mere 20 feet from me. Our gazes meet as the owl realizes I’m an outsider here and it wastes no time vanishing into the trees once again.
The sun begins to cast its rays across some high clouds to the east. I watch as the stratus clouds turn from a dark purple to a luminous yellow all while the sun’s rays come closer and closer to breaking over the horizon.
My focused eyes catch movement in the tall CRP grass to the northeast. I hone my focus to the area and realize that a small group of white-tails are meandering in my direction. My body tenses, my hands begin to shake and my adrenaline glands kick in with a shot of pure excitement. My bow is clenched in my hand while my other hand slowly moves to clamp the release around the draw loop.
I count as one, two, three, four, five does pass through my shooting lane. The biggest one moves into sight and my shoulder muscles tense to pull the bowstring back. I focus through my peep sight, down through my fiber optic sights, and finally on the deer. I breathe in deep and begin letting it out while my 30-yard red fiber optic sight comes to steady on a small area 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 my bow: the crotch of my loosely squeezing hand, the string as it gently presses against my cheek bone, and the kisser button that pushes against the corner of my pursed lips. I gently begin to pull back on the trigger and hear the whoosh of the bowstring as my arrow cuts through the air at 300 feet per second…