Buying Illinois Deer Hunting Land For Sale
Purchasing Illinois Deer Hunting Land Specifically for Upper-Age Class Whitetails
There are hundreds of farms for sale right now in Illinois being marketed as Illinois deer hunting land. How do you choose one from another when the ads all say something like- “big buck factory, whitetail paradise, dream deer hunting farm, the perfect deer hunting set up, one of the best deer hunting farms I’ve seen” and so on and on?
I’ll admit, it’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm that ensures when you are looking at a listing on the internet that shows Hi-Def drone footage, big buck trail camera pictures, big tracks, and well used trails. Several hunters make a mistake of biting on a piece of Illinois deer hunting land before thoroughly researching the surrounding areas. They walk a farm, see some deer trails, old rubs and they see a summer trail camera picture of a nice deer and they pull the trigger. Fast forward to deer season and all too often they are disappointed with the lack of mature whitetails on their property. Before you buy a piece of land that you are specifically going to manage for whitetail hunting, start from the outside and look in. Here’s a few unbiased features to look for when you’re on the hunt for a quality piece of deer hunting land for those upper age class bucks.
Here’s a quick overview of what we’ll cover in this article about deer hunting land in Illinois:
- Landowners & Parcel Sizes
- Terrain Features & Whitetails
- Habitat & Preferred Food Sources
- “Huntable” Ground
- Finding a Whitetail Honey Hole
- Property Access
Adjacent Landowners & Parcel Sizes
One of the most important features to look at is adjacent landowner parcel sizes here in Illinois. Size does matter in this instance and generally bigger is better. No two pieces are the same, so there’s no blanket rule but you should take a look at the terrain features, water, roads, houses and percentage of available whitetail habitat in the immediate surrounding parcels. You have to come to terms with the fact that your neighbors will have an impact on the quality of deer that you will be able to hunt. If you have 6 different landowners and they all let 2-4 guys hunt their ground, then you have 12-24 guys not including yourself, hunting for that “trophy” whitetail. Granted, not all hunters are after a mature whitetail but the odds of a buck growing to maturity dwindles with higher hunter density on neighboring parcels.
Most whitetail hunters across the Midwest are familiar with the “neighbor that shoots anything that walks past”. I hunted a small acre parcel that was surrounded by 3 different landowners who also own small acreage. During gun season, every deer in the woods is helter-skelter looking for a rock to crawl under! It does not make for a very enjoyable hunting experience. In the ideal situation, you would want your land to be connected to or adjacent to a large tract of timber and diverse habitat or large pockets of inadequate hunting.. i.e. large agriculture fields or cattle pastures. Large parcel sizes and large areas of hard to access property, create isolated pockets of habitat that help bucks reach maturity.
Terrain effects deer movement, habitat, and the location a mature buck will bed. When you’re searching for a piece of ground, identify the different terrain features on the property and how they correlate with your neighbors’ properties.
Rolling hills and bluffs are always positive terrain features to see on a potential hunting parcel. They are also advantageous from a whitetail’s perspective. They make it easier to escape, create more edge habitat and creates more “space” for mature bucks. For the hunter’s perspective, they help create natural travel corridors, undetectable access routes, and treestand locations with predictable thermal currents and make deer movement more predictable.
If you are looking to consistently harvest mature bucks, you have to have terrain features that make him feel secure and stress free. Hills, ditches, and creek/river bottoms are all terrain features that mature bucks seek out and you should as well when you’re looking for a deer hunting property.
Habitat & Preferred Food Source on Your Deer Hunting Land
Again, you have to pay close attention to the surrounding area. Zoom out on an interactive map online and look at what the surrounding whitetail habitat looks like. Does your parcel have the only available cover in the surrounding area or is it interconnected with other quality habitat? What does your potential farm lack that other surrounding properties have and vice versa? You should pay specific attention to food sources and bedding cover. Is your land going to hold deer on your farm during hunting season, specifically during the time you will be hunting?
For the majority of hardcore hunters, it will be during the pre-rut and rut in late-October/ November and the early parts of December. During that time frame, grains such as corn and soybeans are high on a whitetails list of preferred food sources along with quality woody browse. If the timber acres are open and lack sufficient undergrowth, you’re going to have a hard time getting whitetails to use it as a bedding area during the late fall and winter months. Fortunately, this can be an easy problem to fix with a select timber cut harvest or hinge cutting. Early successional habitat is fairly inexpensive to create, however it may take a little more time and effort to create.
Are you getting the most bang for your buck? Don’t waste your hard-earned money on land that’s not hunt-able. Negative attributes to look for around a potential hunting property are easements, houses, walking or ATV trails, or any other source of human presence.. Roadways are one of the most common causes of reducing a parcel’s hunt-able acres. Other than access, roads typically have no advantages. Nobody likes to sit in a stand right on top of a road and have their hunt ruined by curious onlookers or a jogger. Hunters also have to be aware that some states have restrictions on how close one can be to a road when hunting.
Finding a Trophy Whitetail Honey Hole in Illinois
You probably know or have heard about the quality of bucks that live on and around state parks, power plants, nature preserves and other ground that doesn’t have hunting pressure. Land adjacent to these types of hunting “honey holes” can be tough to find. They usually don’t stay on the market for long and go for a premium price. There are other sometimes overlooked deer hunting honey holes. Take for instance land around Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. Heartland manages approximately 2,000 continuous acres surrounding the lodge that has been strictly managed for trophy whitetails for over 20 years! Finding an area where several large tracts of land and adjacent landowners that have the same quality whitetail desires will consistently produce mature whitetails year after year.
Accessibility to Your Deer Hunting Land
This is a very important feature that often times get overlooked. This should probably be at the top of the list actually. Ideally, you’ll want to have multiple points of access to a hunting property. This makes choosing treestand locations easier and bumping less deer off your property and on your neighbors. Long, rectangular-shaped parcels can be hard to access, while irregular shaped parcel will generally have more access points that allow the hunter to slip in undetected. Before buying a deer hunting property, you’ll defiantly want to make sure you can access the majority of the farm without disturbing the deer herd in the surrounding area.
Let’s Begin the Search for Your Ideal Deer Hunting Property in Illinois!
Finding and owning your own piece of whitetail heaven is a dream several-thousand deer hunters have on their bucket list. Land ownership brings a whole new satisfaction and perspective to hunting. It becomes less and less about the kill and more about spending time with friends and family and creating lasting memories that endure a lifetime. All created from your own slice of prime deer hunting property here in Illinois!
If you are a passionate whitetail hunter and interested in buying quality whitetail hunting ground in Illinois, whether it be 20 acres or 500 acres, get in contact with me at 217-982-4039 or email@example.com and I’ll be happy to discuss your hunting goals and desires and help you find your own whitetail honey hole! Even if we do not have a property listed that you are interested in, I’ll be happy to represent you as a buyer and make sure we find a quality deer hunting property here in Illinois.
Licensed Illinois Broker
Pioneer Land Company
320 W. Washington St.
Pittsfield, IL 62363
Last Updated: September 15th, 2022