Bowhunting Strategies -Nikita Dalke


My 2013 whitetail buck

My 2013 whitetail buck. Photo: Nikita Dalke

How I got Started 

Like many people, I started hunting with a rifle. My husband introduced me to archery in 2005, and I was very interested in trying it; however, I didn’t get into it right away.

Getting the Right Bow

After I was done with college and had saved up some extra money, we went to one of our local archery shops so I could give it a try and get my measurements figured out. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a bow in shop that would fit my 24 inch draw length, so we made a trip to Cabelas where I picked up my first bow. From that day on, I practiced year round, and have bow hunted for the last six years. l currently shoot a Bowtech Heartbreaker.

The Keys to Bow hunting Success

  • Checking your equipment regularly is a good habit to get in to. Look for wear or damage. A few weeks to a month before season, I will double check the strinq, cams, and limbs for any wear or damage. If the string is frayed or shows signs of wear, this is the time to change it. Even if your string looks good but is a few years old, it’s good to have a professional take a look at it to determine if it has stretched and should be replaced.

  • Do it Early. You want to give yourself enough time to have things changed, just in case you have to re-sight in your bow before the season starts.

  • Check your Arrows. A week or two before season, I like to double check my arrows, flexing them and looking for damage.  Then I shoot all of them with a broad head on and afterwards number them from one to however many l have, as to which ones fly the best and group best.

  • Sharpen broad heads or change blades. I sharpen my broad heads after checking the overall arrow and stick my top five arrows in my quiver to save them for hunting.

7 Practice Strategies

When preparing for a bow hunt, the age old saying of “Practice Makes Perfect” couldn’t be more true. It’s good to practice in all types of terrain and weather conditions. Weather can change rapidly, going from sunny and warm to snowing in a matter of minutes, and it’s good to be prepared for it.

My Strategies

1. Practice every day. I shoot year round, but one month before season I like to practice everyday, even if I can only get one arrow shot for the day. In a hunting scenario, sometimes all you get is that one shot, so you have to make it count. Shooting in three feet of snow and -20°C temperatures is not exactly fun, but shooting year round is ideal for keeping your muscles in shape.


Practice can be fit into daily life. Photo: Nikita Dalke

2. Practice in the House. During the cold months I like to shoot in the house, Keep in mind that accidents can happen and things may get broken or you could put holes in the walls. Shooting at five to ten yards doesn’t give you the distance you would normally shoot at, but it will help keep your poundage up and form strong.

3. Close Your Eyes. An exercise I like doing is shooting right up close to the target at about five yards with my eyes shut. First, you pull back and anchor then once you’re lined up on the target-close your eyes. Don’t worry about trying to hit a bulls-eye, just focus on your form, your breathing, and your trigger. l will usually start with this at the beginning of my shooting session and when lm having an off day or find I’m punching my trigger.

4. Practice Your Hold. Another good exercise for close distance is practicing your hold. Pull back and hold it for as long as you can to build up your comfort and resistance being at full draw. That whitetail you draw back on may take his time coming Into your shooting lane, but if you practice holding then you will be prepared for when it happens.

5. Imitate Real Life. It’s good to get away from the range and take your targets to the bush. One of my favorite strategies is to imitate possible hunting scenarios, such as shooting on angles (uphill / downhill), shooting behind trees and brush, shooting while seated, and shooting off my knees and with the target partially behind stumps, logs, and brush.

6. Shoot Farther than You’ll Hunt. I love shooting out to forty, fifty, and even sixty yards. It’s good to practice at farther distances than you would hunt because the longer distance is more difficult.  This forces you to have better form, a steadier hand, and steadier breathing giving you a smaller margin of error on your part.

3-D shoots can be fun and challenging. Photo: Nikita Dalke

3-D shoots can be fun and challenging.
Photo: Nikita Dalke

7. Use 3D Targets. Outdoor 3D shoots are a great way to practice for hunting season. You have an actual animal like form to shoot at in real life scenarios. This gives you a better idea of what you will actually be shooting at instead of a block. It also helps train your eye at guessing distance.

Go Out Scouting

My husband and I hunt on public land and mainly do spot and stalk. We tend to do most of our scouting in August, where we hike and glass. When we are in an area that has lots of activity, we will set out trail cameras. Trail cameras are a great set of eyes; they help do part of the scouting for you, and you get visual evidence of what is in the area. They are definitely worth the money and can save you a lot of hiking time. Trail cameras can help you determine if an area is worth pursuing or not during the season. I like to set up cameras in areas with lots of good rubs, animal bedding areas, and areas that have well used trails.

Only Take the Right Shot

A successful bow hunt! Photo: Nikita Dalke

A successful bow hunt!
Photo: Nikita Dalke

Although l have only been bow hunting since 2008, I let my first arrow fly in 2012 at an animal. I had many chances on Elk, Whitetail, and Black Bear, but there was always some reason for me to let them walk: A poor shot, wind change and the animal ran, poor shooting light, or the animal wasn’t of legal size but all the patience and hard work finally paid of when I got my first archery Whitetail, a doe at 40 yards in October of 2012!


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