Guided Whitetail Doe Hunts

First doe harvested with archery equipment Over the last 28 years of whitetail outfitting many things have changed in the whitetail hunting world, one thing has stayed the same: hunters love to eat venison. At the lodge we have seen more and more interest in harvesting does for meat to bring home, whether it be for the holiday tradition or for special occasions throughout the year. Venison has become a highly treasured meal in today’s “processed” world.

Not only is venison good for you with several rich nutrients and vitamins, but harvesting does is good for maintaining a healthy deer herd at the lodge. Pike County, IL is widely known for its optimum deer habitat and rich soils. Left uncheck, our deer population would continue to expand past its quality carrying capacity leading to poorer quality deer herd. Overpopulation leads to smaller racks on bucks due to several factors including less woody browse and other available food sources in winter (after a long rut, whitetail bucks can lose 30% or more of their body weight, late winter food sources are essential to developing the following year’s antlers), longer and more erratic rut and higher probability of disease outbreaks. By keeping our doe numbers in check, we are in turn helping produce larger, healthier bucks that can reach their optimum growing potential.

Best time to doe hunt at the lodge?

Inside view of birthday getaway cabin

October Doe Hunts:

Overall deer movement in October can be very predictable, especially over our food plots. Does will be seeking out our clover, grain and brassica plots during this timeframe. Many of our food plots are smaller in size, specially designed for bowhunters (crossbows are allowed as well). You will also have the benefit of the fall foliage on the trees making it easier to pull your bow back or get into position in the moment of truth. October is also a great time to introduce youth, spouses, friends and family, or new archery hunters to deer hunting. The mild temperatures, good deer movement and supportive guides and staff, creates a warm welcoming into whitetail hunting. It’s a relaxing time to hunt with no pressure on the hunter. Most likely you will have an opportunity but even if you don’t, it will still be a great trip. A deer hunt at the lodge will surely be treasured for many years to come.

Hunting does in the early season is a great time to enjoy activities at the lodge, local area attractions, changing colors of the leaves, comfortable temperatures and great deer hunting. This is the perfect time to bring your significant other to enjoy the lodge, whether sitting in the stand with you or relaxing at lodge. We have luxury suites and private cabins with two-person jetted tubs, fireplace, TV, and ultra-comfy king beds that many guests from around the country enjoy throughout the year for their honeymoon, anniversary or romantic getaway.

Fall vacation pumpkin setting

*P.S. one of your greatest selling points to your significant other: Heartland Lodge was selected the #1 romantic getaway in the state!!*

The leaves turn into vibrant yellow, orange and red in early October and typically peak around the 20th. Mid-October is also when several local fall festivals.

and events take place in our area for you and your significant other/ family members to enjoy. The lodge offers an array of activities to enjoy- sporting clays, rental UTV’s, four fishing ponds, bonfire with smore’s, horseback riding trails and much more!

*The lodge has deep-rooted family hunting traditions, traditions that helped to spur the creation of Heartland Lodge. Learn more here >>

December & January Doe Hunts

Spend the Holidays hunting whitetails at Heartland Lodge Fill your unfilled Illinois deer tags or start a new holiday hunting tradition at the lodge with a doe hunt! Every season, we have several groups of doe hunters that enjoy hunting the late season as does congregate over winter food sources. It’s the perfect time to bring your significant other or family members to the lodge and put meat in the freezer for winter! In fact, we have several families that enjoy bringing their entire family for a holiday hunting retreat! The lodge is the perfect couple’s romantic retreat as well! With several lodging options for large groups and a gourmet meal plan, let the lodge staff, guides and chef’s do the heavy lifting while you enjoy spending quality time with your friends and family.

We offer 4-night, 3-day doe hunts for a very reasonable rate that includes all your meals, lodging, game cleaning and guiding! You can also pair your late season doe hunt with a waterfowl or upland hunt! You can either hunt on the day of your arrival/ departure or you can hunt half days during your whitetail hunt.

Guided firearm doe hunts Guided Firearm Doe Hunts

We do offer a limited amount of doe hunters during our firearm seasons. You can harvest two does during the firearm seasons. Illinois’ first gun season always falls in November on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Opening day is on a Friday and the season ends on Sunday. These three days normally fall during the peak of the rut, creating some exciting days in the stand! Illinois’ second gun season always falls the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend (normally the first weekend in December.) The second gun season starts on a Thursday and ends on Sunday. You will need to apply for firearm tags (archery tags can be purchased over the counter) in May if you are an Illinois resident or June-August 15th for non-residents. Sometimes there will be leftover tags that can be purchased over the counter, please contact us for more information on a firearm doe hunt at 217-982-4039.

Benefits of Venison

Venison Stew

Not only does venison have rich and flavorful qualities, but it also has phenomenal health benefits as well! Less calories and lower saturated fat than other red meats and it is extremely high in protein. It’s packed with a variety of nutrients and vitamins such as B vitamins, zinc and iron. There are endless amounts of recipes that can be looked up online that are easy to prepare and taste absolutely amazing!

One of my personal favorite ways to cook deer meat is venison stew, mainly because it’s extremely simple to create. Dice up your favorite veggies and toss them in a slow cooker- 1/2 pound of carrots, 3-5 large yellow potatoes, 1 onion, 1/2-pound white mushrooms, one can of diced tomatoes and one can of green beans. Slice up your venison in 1″ cubes (make sure to remove all the fat), sear it with olive oil or bacon grease and mix it in with beef stock, a little bit of red wine, Worcestershire, Italian seasoning and come back 8-10 hours and you have a rich, hearty, healthy meal for your friends and family to enjoy! This is one I always prepare for the holidays, that family and friends always look forward too!


Last Updated: October 18th, 2023

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