Pike County, IL Deer Hunting

Pike County, Illinois is world renown for being one of the best places in the nation to harvest a trophy whitetail. The combination of multiple habitat features promotes quality deer numbers and produces year after year, multiple world class deer. Pike County lies in between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The bottom grounds are some of the most fertile farm ground in the Midwest, which is a key component for growing big antlered deer. It’s not uncommon to see a 2 ½ year old buck sporting a 130” rack!192 inch

Pike County, Illinois Hunting Terrain

Once you travel past the flood plains of the two major rivers, and move more towards the central part of the county, river bluffs dominate Pike County hunting terrain. Typically, most of the “flats” on top of the bluffs will have been cleared of timber for farming purposes. This has created ideal edge habitat that whitetail deer thrive in. Big timbered hardwood draws provide both shelter and food for a healthy whitetail population.Pike County Landscape

Another attribute that leads to exceptional deer habitat is that Pike County was once known to be the hog capital of the world. Many of the old time farmers would raise pigs in open fields or hog lots; the trend now is to raise hogs in confined buildings. Since then, many of the old hog lots have been left idle, creating thickets and early successional habitat that is another piece of the puzzle for growing mature bucks.

Hunting whitetail deer in Pike County can be one of the most exciting hunts one could ever experience. Relatively low hunting pressure combined with ample habitat and a quality deer population produces one of the best opportunities for deer hunters to harvest a once in a lifetime buck. The rolling terrain creates many natural funnels and pinch points that deer hunters can take advantage of during the rut which is one of the best opportunities for taking a mature buck. In fact, Pike County consistently ranks near the top of the Boone and Crocket club’s highest number of trophy whitetails per county every year!

Bowhunting in Pike County, Illinois

Bowhunting in Pike County continues to be one of the best places to bow hunt whitetail deer in the country. Its unique terrain features and extraordinary habitat create some fantastic bow hunting opportunities for trophy whitetail deer. Most hunters refer to Pike County being smack dab in the middle of the “Golden Triangle” for bowhunting whitetails.IL Bowhunter

Since Illinois gun seasons are relatively short, mature deer have a better probability to survive. The shotgun seasons combine for only one week out of the entire season. This also reduces the amount of stress and pressure put on deer which in turn leads to better deer movement and bowhunting. 

 The best and one of the most exciting times to come to Pike County to bow hunt is during November. Especially the first two weeks. Mature bucks are on the patrol cruising for the first receptive does of the season. This is when the terrain of Pike County really enables one to take advantage of the terrain; by setting up in travel corridors during this time can be extremely effective. Read this remarkable bowhunter’s story he had while hunting in Pike County during the pre-rut.

Gun Hunting in Pike County, Illinois

There are three gun seasons in Illinois with the first season beginning the Friday before Thanksgiving. In the first two seasons, hunters are allowed to use shotguns (slug only), muzzleloaders, and qualified pistols; the last season is muzzleloader only. Illinois does not allow any high powered rifles.

 The first season is three days long ending on Sunday. Opening weekend is a great time to come and hunt Pike County, with the rut in full swing, opening weekend is known to be one of the most extraordinary times to be in a deer stand in Pike County. Often some of the biggest bucks of the year are killed on opening day.
Read this story on a massive buck killed opening day last year in Pike County   at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, the buck had over 8 inches of mass at the bases of the main beams!

Pike County, Il Deer  Illinois second gun season falls the weekend after Thanksgiving. This season is four days long, beginning on Thursday and ending on Sunday. This season tends to be very popular because the extra day hunters can stay in camp. Also, the weather can start to turn cold this time of year really getting the deer up and moving.

 Illinois last gun season falls the weekend after the second gun season. This season is muzzleloader only and last for three days (Friday-Sunday). Deer will typically start to move towards the late season food patterns during this time. With the right temperatures and the possibility of snow accumulations, hunting during this time can be very productive. Colder temperatures can sometimes be the ticket for drawing out the old buck after dropping up to 25% of its body weight during the strenuous rut. Gun hunting in Pike County, Illinois continues to be at the top of many gun hunters bucket list of places to hunt. For more information on gun hunts in Pike County click here.
Read this story about how a hunter capitalized on a once in a lifetime buck while hunting a late season food source…

Pike County, Illinois Outfitters

There are multiple Pike County, Illinois Outfitters that provide guided and semi-guided hunts for hunters looking for the opportunity at a once in a lifetime buck. This is a popular option for those hunters who do not have enough time to scout, put up tree stands, acquire land access, ext.. Hunting through an outfitter can be a great way to up your odds for hunters who only have limited days to hunt in a season. For more helpful information and tips about picking a whitetail outfitter in Pike County click here.


Harpole's Heartland Lodge is one of the finest whitetail outfitters in the country located in Pike County, Il.
Harpole’s Heartland Lodge is one of the finest whitetail outfitters in the country located in Pike County, Illinois.

Shed Hunting In Pike County, Illinois

Shed hunting in Pike County, Il has become extremely popular within the past few years. Looking for giant shed antlers in the bluff country of Pike County can be a strenuous workout, yet the payoff can be finding the biggest shed of your life!

Pike County, Il Shed

In Pike County, most bucks will start to shed in late January and throughout the month of February. The key is to focus on cover that is adjacent to late season food sources such as winter wheat, corn, and bean fields. Deer will often bed down on southern facing slopes to take advantage of the suns rays during the long winter months. The sun not only helps deer to conserve energy, but helps to melt away snow in these areas first allowing deer to browse on open ground. Many times the closest, southern facing hillside with adequate cover, near a quality late season food source is a great place to find shed antlers. For more tips on shed hunting click here.


Last Updated: September 19th, 2016

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