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
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Late Season Whitetail Hunting

Hunting late season whitetails can be a very interesting time to be in the deer woods. In Illinois, we consider late season all of December through the middle of January. There can be a huge difference in deer hunting from the beginning of December to the middle of January. There are several different whitetail phases during this time. There is the post rut, secondary rut and getting ready for winter phases.

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


Post Rut of Illinois Deer Hunting Season (December 1st- 10th)

From the last week of November until around the 10th of December there is still some rutting activity going on. Those big whitetail bucks are looking for the last does that did not get bred, or that came in very early and were not bred, so they are back in heat. This can be a great time to harvest the dominate trophy whitetail buck in the area since he will be out looking for the last does that are in heat. The average highs in Pike County Illinois during this time is the upper 40’s and average lows are in the high 20’s.

Illinois second gun season and late muzzleloader-only season falls during this period. Illinois second gun season normally is the first weekend in December and last 4 days. This deer hunt starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday. Many gun hunters take advantage of the extra day and gun hunt whitetail during this time. The Illinois muzzleloader-only deer season is normally the following weekend. This whitetail hunt starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. We offer an archery/muzzleloader combo deer hunt during this time of year.


Secondary Rut of Illinois Deer Hunting Season (December 11th-20th)

The whitetail does that did not get bred during November start to come back in during this secondary rut time period. This is a time when big trophy whitetail bucks are still looking for those does that come back into heat. When a doe comes into heat in the area you are hunting, you may see the dominate buck reappear. This can be very productive in killing a monster whitetail.

Also during this time, many of the bucks are starting to build back their fat reserves for winter. Going through the rut they have lost a lot of weight and need to build back what they lost. As a result of these factors, patterning bucks from bedding and feeding areas can be very productive during this time. The average temperatures drop a little during this period to the mid 40’s as a high and mid 20’s as a low.


Late Season Whitetail Hunting in Illinois (December 21st-January 15th)

This is one of the favorite times for the guides and staff at Heartland Lodge to hunt. While most hunters are done for the year, Heartland starts dialing in on whitetail bucks that are getting ready for winter. Setting up on bucks traveling from bedding to feeding areas can be very productive. Unless weather moves in, hunting the early morning hours and late evening hours are the most productive during this time of year.

Illinois has two late season firearm doe hunts. The first hunt normally starts on the last Thursday of the year and ends on Sunday. The second hunt falls at the end of Illinois deer hunting season, around January 15th. This hunt starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. These firearm tags are offered over the counter to Illinois residents. Currently, Pike County has no limits, so you are able to fill the freezer up with some venison!

Heartland Lodge also offers a “Doe Derby” for archery hunters in December and January. This is a great way to enjoy four nights and three days of whitetail deer hunting for a very reasonable price. You can still harvest a buck, but you don’t have to pay for it unless you do. You can also harvest an unlimited amount of does. This is a great way to enjoy some time in the woods or check us out for next year.


Top Whitetail Deer Late Season Hunting Tips

  1. Wear the proper gear and dress warm. This may sound simple, but you can’t shoot a whitetail if you are cold. 
  2. This is a good time to layer your clothes. Wait until putting on the outer layer until you are in the stand. Sitka clothing offers a great layering system. 
  3. Patterning bucks from bedding to feeding areas is easier during this time.
  4. Food, food, and more food. Late season is all about the food. If you have a food source, you are going to have whitetails.
  5. Plant some late season food sources that will still be there when all other food sources are gone. Brassicas are great before any heavy snow arrives. Standing corn and milo or sorghum are both excellent if you can keep the deer from touching it until late.
  6. Have the poundage of your bow set at the poundage that you can comfortably pull back during cold weather. It’s much harder to pull your bow back when it’s cold, so make sure you don’t have too high of poundage.
  7.  Practice shooting wearing the same gear that you will be wearing while hunting. Heavy coats, gloves, etc., should also be worn while practicing.


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.