News & Promotions

  • Book Your 2015 Whitetail Hunt Now!
    Book Your 2015 Whitetail Hunt Now!
    Posted by admin
    Now is the time to reserve your 2015 whitetail deer hunting dates, especially if you want to come during a prime time!! We have some great hunting dates available, but they won't last long! The 2015 season should be one of the best in many years. If yo
  • Trail camera not just for big game
    Trail camera not just for big game
    Posted by admin
    Nowadays, just about everyone is using trail cameras for hunting, but the real question is, “Are you getting your money’s worth out of your camera and using it to its full potential?” Most hunters dust the camera off about mid-August to early September, s
  • 12/10/2014
    Gift Certificates - The Perfect Deer Hunter Gift
    Posted by admin
    Still have to play Santa and need a good idea for the hunter in your family? A gift certificate for a whitetail hunt at Heartland Lodge is a perfect Christmas gift for that special someone on your list! This unique gift will be one that they will never fo
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Tips from our Experts

  • Early Summer Whitetails…What Should(‘nt) I be doing?
    Early Summer Whitetails...What Should(‘nt) I be doing?
    Posted by admin
    For many of you die hard whitetail hunters there is an itch that you feel right now. An itch that, you so very much, would like to scratch. Turkey season is over, you have already drowned several dozen nightcrawlers, the green fields are growing, and th
  • Before the Spring Thaw…
    Before the Spring Thaw…
    Posted by admin
    As we enter the last week of February most people grow anxious for the warmth of spring. Although I share in this enthusiasm I know that there is work to be done before the flowers start to bloom. This is the optimum time of the year to make habitat imp
  • Here Comes the Fall...
    Here Comes the Fall...
    Posted by admin
    This time of the year is an exciting time for whitetail hunters. September marks the start of many states deer hunting season and for others it is the final month countdown to go time. With all of this anticipation there is usually a flurry of activity
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Recent Blogs

  • A Hunting Honeymoon = The Perfect Honeymoon
    A Hunting Honeymoon = The Perfect Honeymoon
    Posted by admin
    In just a few days, some friends of ours will celebrate their 7th wedding anniversary and of course, seeing their anniversary on the calendar reminded me of their wedding back in 2008. The groom is an avid hunter…and the bride was (and still is) his perfe
  • Are Deer Drives a Thing of The Past?
    Are Deer Drives a Thing of The Past?
    Posted by admin
    “Loop around this wooded funnel in the corn field and walk through, push something to me.” My father had just given a near holy task to me as a 12 year old boy, push a deer to him. As a young boy, spending a morning freezing with my dad was darn special
  • Building Your Waterfowl Blind Bag
    Building Your Waterfowl Blind Bag
    Posted by admin
    Building Your Blind Bag Wind howling, my brother and I looked at each other and traded our gear out quickly. Taking the bows out of the truck, we loaded our duck decoys, shotguns, boats and headed for the swamps. Mallards flew high, teal whistled b
  • Deer Hunting with a Climber Tree Stand
    Deer Hunting with a Climber Tree Stand
    Posted by admin
    Breaking from traditional stands and venturing to new areas offers hunters the chance to discover un-pressured animals and territory. Often times your traditional spots go cold part way through the season leaving you frustrated and discouraged. Don't
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  • Anticipation!! I booked my hunt with Heartland Lodge in July of 2014 for the last week of October 2015.  I must say I have never had to endure a wait this long or this exciting.  My wife says I'm unbearable to live with.  I have all of my gear packed and ready to go (except my bow, got to practice) and can't wait to get to Illinois for my first ever Mid-West hunt.  I guide whitetail hunts in South Texas and I'm really looking forward to being the one guided this time!! I promise to write about my experience with Gary and Heartland Lodge when my hunt is complete at the end of October.  Ahh the ANTICPATION is killing me!! Happy hunting and shoot straight!!
    - Rick Myers-Beeville, TX
  • The experience was absolutely great!! While my son and I didn't shoot a deer, we had a great time.  We could have shot deer but chose to wait on a trophy. We can't wait to come back!!
    - Eric Stratman-Quincy, IL
  • Every time I come it's harder to leave.  I feel like this place is my home away from home!  I always speak highly of this place and do my best to get the word around.  It means a lot to me that everyone on staff treats me as their friend.  The personal touch and getting to come hunt with my friends is what keeps me coming back
    - Jim Palermo
View More Testimonials

Early Season Whitetail Hunting

The Illinois whitetail archery season begins on October 1st. Most of the month of October is considered early season whitetail hunting in Illinois and the entire mid-west. October deer hunting can be divided up into three different hunting times: opening week, mid October, and late October (considered pre-rut).

Click the sections below for more information.

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Whitetail Photos

Trail Cam Photos

Orig Lodge Virtual Tour

New Lodge Virtual Tour

Rooms Virtual Tour


Opening Week of Illinois Archery Deer Season (Oct 1st-5th)

October 2nd WhitetailThis is a very exciting week to be in the woods hunting whitetails! There is something special about being the first hunter in a deer stand on opening day of the archery season and the anticipation can be very high. In Illinois, the weather during this time is normally perfect for morning and evening hunts. The average lows in the mornings are in the 40’s, and in the evening, the temperatures are typically in the 60’s. In a normal year, most of the crops are already harvested or are being harvested during this week. This can stimulate some extra deer movement as the deer adjust to the changing landscape. Whitetail deer are sometimes still on their summer routine and can be patterned during this time. Opening week is normally a very good time for bow hunters to be in a tree stand in Illinois.


Mid October Whitetail Hunting in Illinois (Oct 7th-18th)

Hunting in the middle of October is a transition time for deer. Whitetail patterns change from a summer to a fall pattern. This is normally a result of a change in their food source. In Illinois, their favorite food, acorns, start hitting the ground and most of the agriculture crops are harvested by this time. Whitetails are gearing up for the rut, and during this mid October time, bucks seek out the acorns that will supply them with all the nutrients they need to sustain them through the long rut. Whitetails can lose up to 25% of their body fat during the rut and acorns are full of nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, and fats to help replace this body fat. Deer hunters that understand what is happening during this time of the year can be very successful in harvesting large whitetails if they focus on acorns and hunting around oak trees during mid October.

More scrapes and territorial rubs are also found during mid October as the whitetail bucks are starting to establish their dominance. As a result, light rattling or grunting can sometimes be productive at this time, especially towards the end of this hunting period.


Late October Whitetail Hunting in Illinois-Pre Rut (Oct 19th-31st)

Bow hunting in late October can be one of the best times to be whitetail hunting in Illinois! The weather is perfect, the trees are in full color, and the pre-rut is in full swing. If you like calling, then make sure you pack your rattling antlers and grunt tube as whitetail bucks are establishing their dominance and respond well to calling during this time. Early breeding also is happening during this phase of the rut. Bucks start traveling their rub routes checking scrapes. A few does do come into estrous at this time. If you are lucky enough to have a “hot” doe around you while bow hunting, you are going to also see a lot of buck movement as well. This is a very good time to harvest the dominate buck in that area as he is going to want to breed those first few does that come into heat. For the does that are not in yet, a lot of chasing starts to happen, especially with immature bucks. As a result, experimenting with scents and decoys can be productive during this time.


Early Season Bow Hunting Tips

  1. Opening week: Pattern a buck during the summer and try to harvest him during the first week while he is still on his summer pattern. 
  2. Mid October: Head to the acorns. Archery hunting close to acorns can be very productive! 
  3. Late October: It’s time to be a little aggressive. Try calling, rattling and using scents.


Fall Turkey Hunt Option

Enjoy bow hunting an elusive gobbler while in your stand. You can have the option of hunting turkeys and whitetail during your fall deer hunt.

It’s nice to be sitting in the stand and if a flock of turkeys come in, you have the option of shooting one with your bow. Your fall archery turkey permit is an either sex tag, so you could shoot a hen or a gobbler.


For more information on our deer hunts go to our main Whitetail deer hunting page.