News & Promotions

  • 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
  • Book Your 2015 Whitetail Hunt Now!
    12/9/2014
    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
  • Two Awesome Bucks Out of The Same Treestand!
    11/4/2013
    Two Awesome Bucks Out of The Same Treestand!
    Posted by admin
    For the past two years John Brewer has spent the first week of November at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. Many of our hunters have a favorite week, and they return to camp at that time every year. The reason for creating this habit may be based on previous
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Tips from our Experts

  • Here Comes the Fall...
    8/27/2014
    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
    5/23/2014
    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
    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
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Testimonials

  • 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
  • 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
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Top Ten Secrets to Killing a Booner

I have hunted whitetails for over 30yrs and have guided hunts for over 16yrs. I have learned more from listening to my hunters over the years and taking knowledge from them all. Below is a list that combines the minds and years of the most successful hunters I have met. These strategies have helped me successfully harvest multiple Boone and Crockett Whitetails. I hope they help you too.

Gary Harpole, Owner Harpole’s Heartland Lodge

 

# 1 Hunt Where They Live

This may sound simple but, you can't kill what is not there.  If you truly are on a quest to kill a Boone and Crockett class buck you must hunt areas that have a history of producing B&C class bucks.  This is the most important factor in success.  People who kill lots of big deer hunt areas with lots of big deer. Plain and simple.

# 2 Keep It Simple

To many hunters “over think” hunting whitetails. Once you learn the “formula” stay with it and only tweak the details to put the odds in your favor. These 10 steps will give you 90% of what you will need. The last 10% is luck. You have to be lucky when hunting these elusive animals. Master these 10 steps and you will see multiple booners on your wall.

# 3 Mental

You have to always be in the right mindset. Hunting mature whitetails is more mental than it is physical. Mentally it can wear you down, and if you are not sharp each and every time you enter the field, the advantage goes to Mr. Whitetail. This includes having a great deal of patience & spending as many hours in the woods as possible. You will learn more this in our next e-mail called Hunting Trophy Whitetails.

# 4 Marksmanship

Successful hunters consistently hit their target.  Sounds redundant but it's true.  Not only is it unethical to go hunting with poor shooting skills but you are also wasting your time and money being in the woods. The luckiest, most patient hunter, with the best gear, hunting the best property in the world must still be able to make the shot at the moment of truth. You will be spending hours, days and weeks in the field, spend a few minutes every day to shoot your bow and make sure your gun is sighted in before you hunt. It amazes me how many hunters invest money and time with us but don’t invest time in tuning their shooting skills. Also, using a range finder should be as important as the ammo you are shooting.  If you don’t know the yardage how can you hit the target?

# 5 Woodsmanship

This is a trait that every consistently successful hunter has.  Knowing when to draw your bow, when you can move, being able to sit still, using your eyes and ears, when you can use a flashlight and when you can’t, reading sign, etc.  The better you hone your woodsmanship skills the more animals you will harvest.

#6 Luck

This could easily be higher on the list.   Every hunter no matter how skilled must have a little luck on his side.  To have everything come together and to put a Booner on your wall takes some luck.  But no hunter consistently kills trophy class bucks on luck alone.  If Jack Nicklaus made a "hole in one" on a Par 3 it was certainly luck, but it was his skills that put him close enough to the hole in the first place.

#7 Wind/Terrain

To kill a Booner this must always be on your mind.  Before you go to bed, when you wake up, while you’re walking to your stand, while you're sitting in your stand; you must always be thinking about the wind.  If the Booner smells you, you will not kill him.  But a very important aspect of the wind that many people disregard, is how the wind affects the bucks your hunting.  Most mature bucks will not spend much time walking with the wind at their back.  Where they eat, sleep, drink and travel all depends on the wind direction.  You must set up your ambush in a way that the wind is favorable for the buck to show up in the first place and then not smell you in the process.  This is where you have to analyze the terrain versus the wind to pick the most favorable ambush location.  It's difficult to do but a necessity.

#8 Preparation

The average hunter starts hunting when he gets to his treestand.  Successful hunters start hunting hours, days and weeks before then.  They take every scent precaution they can, check the wind, check their gear, etc.; all before leaving their house.  You must plan where you will park, how you will enter the woods, what direction the wind is based on your access, how early do you need to be in the stand, how can I access & leave the stand without spooking deer, should I use a flashlight?, should I wait until it's light enough for me to see, if I jump deer should I press on or wait? You also need to be a weatherman, make sure the weather conditions are good for the stand you will be hunting. You may only get one chance to harvest that buck of a lifetime.   All of these things are vital to putting the odds in your favor.

#9 Pay Attention To The Details

 As mentioned above you want to simplify things as much as possible. The less you have to “think” about the better. But on the things you need to think about pay attention to every detail. My philosophy is that 80% is everything we have mentioned in these 10 steps, 10% is luck, and 10% is the details. I break each detail out to increasing/decreasing my odds by a 1% or maybe just a 1/2% but that one detail can make the difference between harvesting the buck of your dreams or not. I always hold my bow versus hanging it. I would not have killed the largest buck of my life if I had to reach for my bow. When walking to the stand do you take your time and blend in with the other wildlife or do you walk straight to the stand?  Have you taken every scent control possible or do you smell like bacon & eggs?

#10 Managment

Management is a key part of harvesting Booner bucks consistently. Yes, large bucks have been killed on public ground but to harvest them consistently you must manage your property. Allowing your bucks to reach mature age is essential. If you are always killing your 2 1/2yr old deer you will never harvest a booner. Doe management is a must in areas that have an over population of does. Most of the time a mature buck in nocturnal but during the rut if you have a balance herd your chances of seeing him go up dramatically compared to if have too many does. If he doesn’t have to “find” does in heat chances are he will only move at night. So if you even want chance at seeing a monster you should start with shooting does.   Food plots, trail cameras, many stand locations, etc. are also essential tools of a properly managed farm and can certainly improve your odds if executed correctly.  I placed this last on the list simply because it is not a requirement for killing Booners.  Many people consistently kill giant deer on public ground and small farms, but I can assure you that someone with all the luxuries of management at their disposal will certainly have more opportunities if they apply the other 9 skills.  You have to allow them to grow up and also harvest your does.

Special Thanks!

A special thanks to Corey Wilkinson, good friend and hunting buddy whom I exchange hunting strategies with on a daily basis during the season. He helped me create this list. Also to all the hunters who have hunted at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge.  Gaining their knowledge over the years has been priceless.