Heartland’s Family Hunting Tradition

Heartland's Family Hunting Tradition I grew up with a large extended family and a deep hunting tradition. My parents were both from Pike County, Illinois and moved to Quincy where I was born. We visited my grandparents and extended family often. Many of the visits included hunting. The memories that were created will be with me for the rest of my life.

Growing up, I loved hunting more than I did Christmas (my mom will attest to it.) I loved coming to my grandparent’s house. My grandma was like Aunt Bee from the Andy Griffith show. It didn’t matter if you showed up unannounced on Monday, Wednesday or Saturday, she would have a kitchen full of homemade pies, cakes and other food. She loved making everything from scratch. Many of the recipes you will enjoy while staying at Heartland were my grandmother’s.

I had many uncles and cousins that loved hunting as well. We hunted deer, quail, pheasant, ducks, geese, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and other animals. If it was in season, we hunted it. We each had different dogs to use. They included pointers, labs, beagles and coonhounds.

My grandma passed away when I was young. But my grandpa did everything he could to keep the family tradition going. He wasn’t a very good cook as my grandma did all the cooking. His favorite meal to make was breakfast but he wasn’t very good at it. His eggs were like hockey pucks. Black from all the pepper he put on them and hard enough to play hockey. I think he put the entire can of Folgers coffee in the coffee pot. Your fork would stand up in the coffee by itself. As a young boy I didn’t care for blacken peppered eggs and stout coffee but I wanted to be like the grown-ups and did my best to choke them down.

My grandfather passed away around the time I started Heartland Lodge. Unfortunately, my aunts and uncles started fighting over what little my grandfather had. My mom’s family grew up very poor. They didn’t have an outhouse until my mom was in 8th grade! My family tradition ended when my grandfather passed.

Pheasant Hunting Lodge & Resort I didn’t have time to miss it as I was too busy starting a new business (Heartland Lodge) at a very young age. I was only 25 at the time. Starting Heartland Lodge was like the movie “Field of Dreams.” The Original Lodge was like the baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield.  People thought I was crazy and told me it would never last. It was those doubters that I have to thank. They motivated me to prove them wrong. Now we have people visiting from around the world, just like the cars at the end of “Field of Dreams.”

About 10 years ago, a light went off inside me when doing a welcome meeting with some hunters who visit Heartland Lodge every year. I realized my family tradition didn’t end… it’s being carried on by you, the hunters, who visit the lodge. Many of the hunters also have made visiting Heartland Lodge a part of their own tradition.

As I get a little older and a bit wiser, I reflect back to the memories of hunting with my family as a child growing up. I had some great hunts; the big buck, the covey rises, the mallards falling from the sky, but if I could only chose one memory to go back and relive it would be that breakfast with grandpa. The most cherished memories are not the game we harvested, but the memories created from time spent with family and friends. The harvest is the cherry on top. That is what hunting and Heartland Lodge is all about, creating memories that you will always cherish. I hope you create great memories during your stay with us.

You are now part of our Heartland Family & my family tradition. I look forward to you making new memories and creating traditions that last a lifetime.


Gary Harpole

Harpole’s Heartland Lodge


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Last Updated: October 19th, 2023

4 thoughts on “Heartland’s Family Hunting Tradition

  1. I’m really looking forward to spending time with everyone up there, I also grew up hunting my whole life with family and friends, today the time with friends and family spent hunting means more than the hunt itself. I would really like to try pheasant hunting while there, it’s on my bucket list. Thank you

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