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
  • View All

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
  • View All

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
  • View All


  • 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

Whitetail Deer Shed Antler Hunting

Hunting Shed Deer Antlers

What is shed hunting for antlers and why do we do it? Shed hunting is simply searching for antlers that have fallen off of whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, and other antlered species usually in the late winter to early spring. A deer will usually start the shedding process after the breeding season when his testosterone level has dropped. In Illinois, some whitetail bucks will shed their antlers as early as Christmas and some may carry them until April.

Deer Shed Antlers Found in Pike County IllinoisWhy do we spend countless hours walking around searching for these antlers sheds?  Besides the thrill of finding a large whitetail shed antler there are some practical reasons for the search as well. Collecting these shed antlers, post season, helps the land manager take inventory of bucks that have survived.  They also provide valuable insight to the habits of the animal that dropped them.  This information could be quite useful for the future pursuit of a particular animal.

Spending hours shed hunting a farm also allows you to see all of the sign that the deer herd has created during the fall.  This is the time of year to thoroughly scout your properties and investigate all of the sanctuary areas that you have set aside the rest of the year.  Stand locations picked at this time of the year are usually much more accurate than during the summer months, as the deer sign from the hunting season is quite visible.  The location of the shed antler can also reveal a possible location to ambush that buck the following winter.

Deer antler shed hunts can be done with friends, family or solo. It's a great way to spend some time in the outdoors. Deer hunting is normally done alone in a tree stand. Hunting sheds is a great way to spend some time with your hunting buddies. What you learn finding dropped sheds will make you a better woodsman in the fall.  

Where to Focus your Search for Deer Sheds

  1.  Southern exposure areas: The south facing side of a hill receives the most amount of sunshine in these months and also helps protect the deer from pre-dominate northwesterly winds.
  2.  Scattered evergreens: Pines, cedars, and spruce trees will block some wind and will provide some shelter in snow and ice.
  3. Bedding: This time of year bucks re-form their bachelor groups. If you can find the areas where these bachelor groups are bedding you stand a very good chance at finding multiple shed antlers.
  4. Shed Antler next to a fence in Pike County ILFood Sources: Available food sources are dramatically reduced during the winter months.  If you have a food source such as standing corn, beans, or winter wheat these should be considered high probability locations.  Other areas such as alfalfa/clover fields and acorn flats should also receive considerable scrutiny. 
  5. Water: This time of the year, most of the water sources are gone or frozen. Areas of available water such as creeks and ponds can yield positive results.  Deer often use their hoofs to break open areas of ice to access water.  This exertion can often cause their antlers fall off.
  6.  Trails and fences: Clearly defined trails should be present around any of the areas that the deer herd is actively using.  Follow these trails from the feeding areas to the bedding areas to search for antlers.  Pay particularly close attention to areas where these trails intersect a fence or ditch.  The jumping motion, to clear these obstacles, may result in the dropping of an antler.


Whitetail Shed Hunting Tips

  1. The most important part of shed hunting is to slow down. Take your time moving through the woods. 
  2.  Keep your eyes down to the ground. Most sheds are found within a few feet of you.  If you are looking out ahead as you walk you are probably missing antlers.
  3. Look for shapes and colors out of place. Don’t look for a whole shed, look for a tine or something that doesn’t blend into its surroundings. Look for a “v” from tines coming off a beam or a “c” pushing off the ground from a main beam.
  4. Binoculars: Carry a light weight pair of quality binoculars to help cover more ground and to help you discern a stick from a tine. Glassing your surroundings will also help slow you down when moving through the woods.
  5. Also, when shed hunting and focusing on the ground, you can easily go a little further then you expected.  Carry some bottle water and snack items so you don’t have to cut your excursion short to retrieve them from your vehicle.


Shed Hunting at Heartland Lodge

Late January through March are the best times to shed hunt in Illinois and the entire Midwest. To gain access to Heartland Lodge’s properties for shed hunting all you need is an overnight reservation.  As if the food and accommodations weren’t enough of an incentive, thousands of acres await the motivated shed hunter.  This is a great way to spend a winter weekend or check out the lodge for a future hunt.  Make your reservation today and bring some good hiking shoes.



Illinois Archery Hunts                                          More videos & pics of succefull hunters

Whitetail Deer Hunting Main Page                      Illinois Gun Hunts

Early Season Whitetail Hunting                           Hunting the Illinois Rut

Late Season Whitetail Hunting                            Real Estate