News & Promotions

  • 9/3/2014
    "Buy it Now" - Special Offer
    Posted by admin
    Buy it Now – Special Offer Many hunters who enter our Ultimate Hunt Giveaway can’t wait until the winner is announced and would like the option to “Buy it Now”. For a limited only during the promotion we are offering our hunts at a very specia
  • Muzzleloader Deer Hunt Special
    Muzzleloader Deer Hunt Special
    Posted by admin
    We are offering our 2014 Muzzleloader only hunt at a special rate for a limited time. This hunt is normally $2,450 and we are offering it for $1,950. There are limited spots and are available to the first hunters who call in. If you are reading this post
  • 12/5/2013
    Book Your 2014 Whitetail Hunt Now!
    Posted by admin
    Now is the time to reserve your 2013 deer hunting dates, especially if you want to come during a prime time. We have some great whitetail hunting dates available, but they won't last long. Most of our prime dates fill up early. We had a good 2012 white
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Tips from our Experts

  • 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
  • The Quiet Gobbler
    The Quiet Gobbler
    Posted by admin
    Well as sad as it is for me to say this; my turkey season has now come to a close. The 2014 Turkey Season was a successful one and added many new stories that I will treasure for years to come. From successful youth hunts, some first time gobblers, and s
  • Deer Herd Health in the Midwest
    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
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Recent Blogs

  • 3.5 Things to Do When You Kill a Doe
    3.5 Things to Do When You Kill a Doe
    Posted by admin
    3.5 things to do when you kill a doe Shooting does, we understand the importance for herd management, the fantastic eating and confidence boosters. We also understand what they mean to big bucks. But are we really taking full advantage of does on
  • The Tools for Deer Scrape Manipulation
    The Tools for Deer Scrape Manipulation
    Posted by admin
    The Tools for Deer Scrape Manipulation Nurse……Scalpel. You hear line this in many TV hospital dramas. Doctors have many instruments to choose from when in the operating room and when it comes time to doctoring a scrape, do you have the proper instru
  • 9/30/2014
    Checking A Tree Stand
    Posted by admin
    Checking A Stand In theory, we should all have checked our tree stands before the hunting season starts, to cut shooting lanes, and to check on the status of your stands. But what if you haven’t had time? I fully understand many hunters do not have
  • Don’t Standout In A Layout Blind
    Don’t Standout In A Layout Blind
    Posted by admin
    Don’t Standout In A Layout. Excited honks crashed the air waves as we responded with calm groans and single clucks back to the group of geese circling our spread. Just a few yards closer is all we really needed for the birds to be in range but as t
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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!!
    - Gil Hubbard, Sugar Grove, IL
  • Always love coming to Heartland.  The staff makes you feel like family.......Like coming home.
    - Geoff Duncan
View More Testimonials

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

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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)

Late Season Whitetail Hunting In Pike County IllinoisThis 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.