Whitetail Hunting Q&A

Where are we located?

We are located in Pike County IL.  Pike County has a long hunting tradition and is located in West Central Illinois in-between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. For a map or driving directions please visit our Directions Page. (We do not have any other locations.)

Are the deer free roaming?

Yes, all deer are free roaming. No high fences. We are a 100% fair chase whitetail hunting outfitter.

When is the best time to hunt whitetails in Illinois?

Best time to deer hunt in IllinoisIf you are an archery hunter the last two weeks of October and the first three weeks of November are commonly known as the best time to hunt whitetails in Illinois. Followed by opening week of the October archery season. If you are a gun hunter, normally the first gun season is the best but not all years.

There are a number of factors that affect whitetail movement. Even if you come during the very best time to hunt whitetails, if the weather is unusually warm, then deer movement can be slow. The same can be applied for if you come during one of the “slower” time frames, if the weather is more favorable for deer movement, than you can still experience a great hunt! Nobody can control what the weather is going to do or whitetail movement patterns, but we try and prepare for every possible outcome to give you the best whitetail hunting experience possible regardless of weather.

What is your opportunity rate?

60-65%. Some weeks we have 100% opportunity other weeks it has been lower. Weather is the major factor.

What can I do to increase my odds for a successful whitetail hunt?

Practice, Practice, Practice. Miss shots or poor shots is the number 1 reason most whitetail hunters who have an opportunity are not successful. Practice shooting from elevated stands (or something similar). Learn as much as you can about scoring whitetails. This will help take any doubt out of your mind while hunting. One of our guides also wrote this excellent blog called Tips While Hunting at Heartland.

Remember hunting trips are like drinking a milkshake. Planning, preparing, practicing, traveling, being in deer camp, enjoy God’s beautiful outdoors is like drinking the milkshake. Harvesting an animal is the cheery on top. If you learn to always enjoy the “milkshake” all your hunting trips will be successful.

What is included in the price of the whietail hunt package?

Your lodging, meals, guide and access to our private hunting properties are all included in your hunt. There are no “trophy fees” for harvesting a large buck. All hunters are booked double occupancy in a regular room at our Original Lodge unless other arrangements are made. These rooms are smaller but there is plenty of room around the lodge for your gear. Private rooms and larger rooms can be arranged for an additional charge.

How do I get my whitetail archery hunting permit in Illinois?

The easiest way is to fill out the application online or you can call in and have the application mailed to you. For a five day hunt, your total costs for license and tags will be around $475 for nonresidents. Residents the cost is around $50. You will need an annual or a five day hunting license, a habitat stamp and your deer permit(s). Anyone born after 1980 needs a hunter safety number or they can purchase a one time apprentice license. Licenses should be purchased before arriving and can do so online at Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Permits go on sale June 1st and any left over permits September 1st.

What Firearms can be used During the Illinois Gun Seasons?

Illinois first two gun seasons allow shotguns, muzzleloaders, or pistols to be used. Shotguns must use slugs and have a plug in. Scopes and rifled barrels are allowed on shotguns.  The late season muzzleloader is for muzzleloaders only. No rifles are allowed in Illinois for any of the deer seasons.Whitetail deer taken during Illinois firearm gun season

Legal Firearms for Illinois Deer Hunting Seasons:

  • Shotguns, loaded with slugs only, of not larger than 10 gauge nor smaller than 20 gauge, not capable of firing more than three consecutive slugs; or
  • Single or double barreled muzzleloading rifles of at least .45 caliber shooting a single projectile through a barrel of at least 16 inches in length;

Legal Ammunition for Illinois Deer Firearm Seasons:

  • For shotguns and muzzleloading firearms, the minimum size of the projectile shall be .44 caliber. A wad or sleeve is not considered a projectile or a part of the projectile.

Additional Muzzleloading Regulations for Illinois Whitetail Gun Seasons:

  • A muzzleloading firearm is defined as a firearm that is incapable of being loaded from the breech end.
  • Only black powder or a “black powder substitute” such as Pyrodex may be used. Modern smokeless powders (nitrocellulose-based) are an approved blackpowder substitute only in muzzleloading firearms specifically designed for their use.
  • Percussion caps (shotgun primers are legal percussion caps), wheellock, matchlock or flint type ignition only may be used

 

Whitetail Firearm Hunts in Illinois

What regulations are there on shotguns and muzzleloaders for Illinois deer gun seasons?

Regulations on deer hunting firearms in IllinoisLegal Firearms for Deer Hunting in Illinois:

  • Shotguns, loaded with slugs only, of not larger than 10 nor smaller than 20 gauge, not capable of firing more than three consecutive slugs; or
  • Single or double barreled muzzleloading rifles of at least .45 caliber shooting a single projectile through a barrel of at least 16 inches in length;

Legal Ammunition for Deer Hunting in Illinois:

  • For shotguns and muzzleloading firearms, the minimum size of the projectile shall be .44 caliber. A wad or sleeve is not considered a projectile or a part of the projectile.

Additional Muzzleloading Regulations for Illinois Deer Hunting:

  • A muzzleloading firearm is defined as a firearm that is incapable of being loaded from the breech end.
  • Only black powder or a “black powder substitute” such as Pyrodex may be used. Modern smokeless powders (nitrocellulose-based) are an approved blackpowder substitute only in muzzleloading firearms specifically designed for their use.
  • Percussion caps (shotgun primers are legal percussion caps), wheellock, matchlock or flint type ignition only may be used
Is there a trophy fee for whitetail bucks?

No, there are no trophy fees. If you kill a 180″ buck you will not pay any extra.

What broadheads do you recommend for deer hunting?

We recommend fix blade broadheads for whitetail hunting. Wac’Em, Slick Trick, Muzzy are three of our favorite broadheads. We strongly recommend staying away from any mechanical braodheads.

How do I get my gun permit for whitetail hunting in Illinois?

Your Illinois deer firearm permit can be purchased online. You will need an annual or a five day hunting license, a habitat stamp and your deer permit(s). Anyone born after 1980 needs a hunter safety number or they can purchase a one time apprentice license. Licenses should be purchased before arriving and can do so online at Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Permits go on sale June 1st and any left over permits September 1st. Total cost for all licenses and permits will be approximately $367.

Do you have ground blinds for whitetail hunters?

Yes. We have many deer hunters who enjoy hunting out of a ground blind.

What is your average treestand height for whitetail hunting?

The average height of our treestands we use for whitetail hunting is 15-18 feet. We can lower them or raise them to meet the hunter’s needs. We prioritize cover rather than height of the stand..

Can I use a crossbow for whitetail hunting in Illinois?

Crossbows are now legal during the entire archery season in Illinois regardless of age or physical ability.

For more information on crossbow hunting in Illinois, follow the link for an in depth look on crossbow hunting in Illinois.

What is your minimum?

Our minimum is 140″ gross using the Pope and Young or Boone and Crockett scoring system. We manage all our properties for quality deer and having a 140 minimum allows deer to reach at least 3 1/2 years of age. In Pike and Calhoun Counties if a deer can make it past the first two years he has a great change of scoring 140+.

Can we harvest does?

Yes. We encourage the harvesting of does. This helps us have a healthy deer heard. If you do not want the meat we donate it to local families.

Can someone sit in the stand with me?

Our guides do not sit in the stands with our hunters. We feel the less human scent it the woods the better. We also discourage nonhunting guests to sit in the stands with our hunters. If you would like a nonhunting guest to sit with you please call to see if we can accommodate your guest.

Can we add an upland hunt to our deer trip?

Yes you can add an upland hunt to your trip. Many of our hunters take advantage of this. We recommend adding the upland hunt before or after your deer hunt. Trying to fit it in during the deer hunt does not work very well. You make plans to upland hunt in the afternoon then you see a nice buck in the morning so you decide to deer hunt instead in the afternoon. Having the upland hunt before or after your deer hunt is something to look forward to. Here is a link to our main upland page >>

Can we check out your place during the non-hunting months?

Yes. Many of our hunters take advantage of our Resort season to check out what we have to offer. We recommend for you to visit in July or August if that fits into your schedule. Many large bucks are out in the fields during this time of year. Or many hunters like to visit at the end of February and all of March to look for shed antlers.