News & Promotions

  • Save On 2016 Whitetail Hunts!
    Save On 2016 Whitetail Hunts!
    Posted by admin
    Now is the time to reserve your 2016 Whitetail Hunt. Prime dates get filled a year in a adance so don't wait to book your
  • 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
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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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  • 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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Hunting Trophy Whitetails in the Mid-West

Hunting trophy whitetails is one of the most challenging hunts in the world. You have heard a lot about Pike & Calhoun Counties being the premier spot to hunt these illusive animals. The following will make your overall experience more enjoyable when deer hunting anywhere in the mid-west:


If you have never hunted the mid-west it is very easy to have high expectations because of all the hunting shows that are filmed here. But sometimes weather and deer movement prevent that from happening. One week everyone in camp will see shooters, the next week its possible no one will see shooters. No one can control this, but what you can control is the overall experience regardless if the deer are moving. Have a positive attitude and have fun! A fun camp is a large part of the over-all experience.

#2 Mental

This is the number one challenge for most hunters. Each day that passes and a hunter does not see a shooter buck their spirits drop a little. Your chances of harvesting a buck on the last hunt are as good (actually better) as your first hunt.

  • Seeing Bucks-You are not going to see shooter bucks every time you sit in a stand.  One, 30 second opportunity on a 5 day hunt, is a successful hunt. This opportunity may come the last 30 seconds of your hunt.  There will be days, possibly multiple days that you will not see a shooter buck.
  • Guides-(If using one) Trust your guide. He wants you to harvest a buck as bad (sometimes worse) than you do. Hunting these bucks in the mid-west may be different than you are use to, so rely on your guide to help you be successful.

#3 Scent Control

Large bucks primarily use their nose to survive in the wild. We will do everything possible to play the wind correctly but sometimes thermals and wind changes cannot be controlled. Good scent control can help your odds when this happens.

  • Clothing-Keep your cloths as scent free as possible. Wash them in scent free soap before leaving and store them in a scent proof container.  Scent eliminating clothing is highly recommended.
  • Boots-Knee high rubber boots should be used.
  • Lodge-Do not wear your hunting clothing and boots inside. These should be stored in your scent free containers.
  • Spray-Use scent eliminating spray to help control odors.

#4 Practice

Every year more deer are missed than actually harvested. The number one reason is that guys are not prepared for their hunt. Michael Jordon practiced the game winning shot over and over. Visualize and practice your killing shot over and over before you arrive.

  • Confidence-Practicing will give you the confidence you need to be successful.
  • Shot Placement-A good shot is the key to recovering your animal.
  • Sighting In-Don’t wait to sight your bow/gun in when you get to camp.

#5 Scoring

Taking any doubt out of your mind by learning how to field judge & scoring trophy whitetails before you arrive. If you fill your tag with a small buck you will never harvest a trophy whitetail.

#6 The Hunt

Everything above will prepare you for that moment when that buck of a lifetime presents himself within shooting range. Make sure to slow things down and take a clean and ethical shot.

  • Range Finder-Please bring a range finder and range all the yardages around your stand. Keep testing and repeating these yardages to yourself as you are sitting in the stand. Misjudging yardage can cost you the deer of a lifetime.
  • Angle-Do not take a quartering to or straight down shots. At best you will hit one lung and you will not find your deer.
  • Moving-Always stop the deer before releasing the arrow. A simple whistle can do it. You have plenty of time, so don’t rush the shot.  
  • Aim-Don’t try to tuck your shot right behind the front shoulder. Many times the deer will move his shoulder back as you are releasing the arrow resulting in shoulder hit. The kill zone is much larger than you think so aim at least 6 inches behind the front shoulder.

#7 Safety

This is the most important of all the things listed here. A sure way to ruin a great trip is by getting hurt.

  • Stands-Most accidents happen on the last step getting in and out of the tree stand. Pay extra attention during this time and make sure you have at least have two body parts (arm & leg) on a strong support while climbing. (Don’t ever rely on a limb.)
  • Harness-Always wear a safety harness while in the tree stand.
  • Ice & Snow-Pay extra attention when conditions are worse than normal.

Being a Trophy Hunter vs. a Deer Hunter

Many years ago I went on a Muskie fishing trip with a friend. We fished for 8 hours and only had one swirl at a top water lure the entire day! After we loaded up the boat and were in the truck, my friend said, “Wasn’t that an awesome day!” I looked at him like he was crazy! I am a bass fisherman and am use to having action all day. I soon realized that mentally I was not cut out to be a Muskie fisherman. Being a trophy whitetail hunter is very similar to being a Muskie fisherman. A deer hunter is similar to a bass fisherman and needs to see deer to be happy. Trophy Hunters can hunt each day and even several days without seeing a deer knowing that at anytime that monster buck could walk by. To better your odds of harvesting a trophy whitetail you must be willing to adapt to the trophy hunter mentality.  Gary Harpole, Owner of Harpole’s Heartland Lodge.