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  • Deer Herd Health in the Midwest
    1/15/2014
    Deer Herd Health in the Midwest
    Posted by admin
    I guess one could say that I stay in tune with the whitetail deer hunting world all year long. I visit hunting forums, social media, websites, read magazines, and subscribe to various blogs and e-articles. I don’t have outdoor television programming at
  • Winter Whitetails…Where to find them
    12/20/2013
    Winter Whitetails…Where to find them
    Posted by admin
    Winter Whitetails…Where to find them With the holiday season rapidly approaching most hunters are probably thinking more about egg nog and Santa Claus than they are about whitetail hunting. There is a select few hunters that love this time of year for d
  • Controlling the Controllable...in the deer woods
    11/19/2013
    Controlling the Controllable...in the deer woods
    Posted by admin
    Controlling the Controllable...in the deer woods In the sport of deer hunting there are many things that are out of our control. Many of these uncontrollable elements of the hunt receive our blame for the lack of our success. Examples of this may inclu
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  • Thank you so much for a wonderful stay (again).  Your staff is impeccable and like family.  Many thanks to Yankee for all he does for the guest. Many thanks to your incredible chefs, I now fear I will starve to death when I go home.
    - Geoff Duncan, Decatur, IL
  • We didn't know what to expect when we arrived.  It didn't take long to realize that we had made an Excellent decision to come here!  Everything is wonderful: food, rooms and the staff is off the charts!!!  Our entire experience was so nice.  A return visit is for sure in our future!!
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  • Always love coming to Heartland.  The staff makes you feel like family.......Like coming home.
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Illinois Archery Hunts

Illinois bow hunting for whitetail deer is as good as you will find anywhere in the country. Archery hunters enjoy bow hunting in Illinois because of its generous season dates and quality of whitetail deer. If you enjoy whitetail archery hunting, then Illinois is the state for you!

Bow Hunting Whitetails at Heartland Lodge & Outfitter

We take archery hunting very seriously at Heartland. All the guides working at Heartland are avid and accomplished archers. Even our housekeeper is a diehard bow hunter. (She currently holds the world record for largest turkey ever taken with a bow by a female!) Bow hunting for whitetails is a year-around job: trail cams, scouting videos and shed hunting in the spring are all part of our annual whitetail scouting program. You won’t find anyone more passionate about whitetail archery hunting than the staff at Heartland Lodge!

Watch this video of Ron Way's 192" Monster Whitetail!!
Read more about Ron's Massive Buck Here>>>

Click the sections below for more information.

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Whitetail Photos

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Illinois Archery Season

Illinois archery season for deer opens October 1st and runs through the middle of January. Illinois has a very short gun season, which comprises only three days during the rut. This reduces the chances of our large whitetail bucks being harvested with a firearm increasing your bow hunting opportunities. Illinois also has a later gun season than other states that falls around the first weekend of December. Both gun seasons are shotgun or muzzleloader only. All of these factors combine to make Illinois primarily an archery hunting state.

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Illinois Whitetails

What makes Illinois such a great bow hunting state to pursue whitetails? There are many factors, but low pressure and great genetics, along with a healthy age structure, make Illinois the best destination for hunting mature whitetails. Within Illinois, Pike County is the premier county for trophy whitetails and we are located in the prime countryside of Pike County. Pike County is located in between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers offering superb habitat. This fertile land has all the minerals whitetails need, along with an abundance of agriculture mixed in with just the right amount of hardwoods and cover that whitetails desire. All whitetails are free roaming when hunting at Heartland Lodge.

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The Heartland Lodge Difference

What makes us different than all the other hunting outfitters in Illinois and the Mid-West?

  1. Long-term deer management. Most of our whitetail properties have been under our management for 10+ years. Some for 20+ years!
  2. No smoke-and-mirrors marketing. All of our deer photos and trail cam photos are from our hunters and properties. Many outfitters post photos of friends’ and families’ deer, along with trail cam photos on properties you will never be hunting.
  3. Our guides do not hunt the properties. Many outfitters allow their guides to hunt the same stands and properties as the hunters decreasing your opportunities.
  4. Personal Service. We stay “small” by choice and only have one deer camp/lodge. We like to develop long-term friendships with all of our hunters. You will see the owner every day at the lodge. Low pressure and low volume on our properties keeps those mature whitetails from going nocturnal. Many outfitters run a high volume operation and you are just a number to them. We want you to be just as excited to return to Heartland as when you first arrived. 
  5. Hunting Tradition - Your stay with us is more than a deer hunt. It’s part of a strong hunting tradition that started back when Heartland’s owner Gary Harpole was a child. Each year new traditions are being created by our guests. It’s our hope that you create your own memories at Heartland with your family or friends and carry on a tradition that started many years ago.  

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Archery Permits in Illinois

Purchasing your archery tag and hunting license is a very easy process. Beginning in June, all hunters can purchase their archery permit online, or alternatively through the mail using our outfitter number. All of our hunters have received their archery permits when applying before June 30th. All leftover tags are then sold directly online or at one of the IDNR licensed venders. There are normally plenty of deer permits even until the end of the season.

Nonresident archery permits come with an either-sex tag and an antlerless-only tag. Nonresidents are limited to one buck during the archery season. But there are no limits to the number of does you may harvest.

Resident hunters can purchase their hunting license direct at any license vender or through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources web site. All resident hunters can harvest two bucks and unlimited does.

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Top Whitetail Archery Hunting Tips

You can hunt in the best location, have an incredible stand set up, and have that buck of your dreams standing at 20 yards, but if you are not prepared, it may not turn out the way you played it in your head over and over. We want to make sure you are successful, and the following archery tips will help you be better prepared:

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice – This is the first tip for a reason, you don’t want the chance of a lifetime to be an errant shot.
  2. Practice shooting at longer ranges – This makes the closer yards seem like a chip shot.
  3. Practice shooting from different elevations – Many hunters just practice from a standing position on the ground. If you are going to be in a tree stand or may even shoot sitting down, practice this.
  4. Practice shooting with the same clothes on that you will be wearing during your hunt. This includes gloves!
  5. Practice using your range finder and estimating yardages. When you arrive in your stand, make sure you use your range finder and have all your yardages down.
  6. If you are able to sharpen your broadheads, then practice with the same broadheads that you will be hunting with. This builds confidence and assures that your arrows are flying properly.
  7. Practice shooting in low light conditions dusk/dawn. Shoot until you cannot see your pins. Try to stretch it until dark. Many opportunities happen first thing in the morning or at last light.
  8. The power of visualization….. When you are practicing, visualize each shot as if you are shooting at that whitetail. Then when you are in the field and are getting ready to shoot, visualize the shot going exactly where you want.
  9. The most important tip is, regardless of how the hunting ends up, to still have a great time. It’s not all about the harvest, it’s about creating great memories that will last a lifetime.

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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.

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