Early Season Whitetail Hunts in Illinois
January 24th, 2023 – Pike County, IL Outfitter Report – “If you are interested in an early season archery hunt for the 2023 season, now is the time to book before we are completely sold out! We are filling up quickly for early October with opening week already sold out. We have a few remaining hunt slots for mid-October and the October pre-rut weeks! Call 217-982-4039 or E-Mail to inquire about our early season guided whitetail hunts!”
This is a very exciting week to be in the woods hunting whitetails! There is something special about being the first hunter in a deer stand on opening day of the archery season and the anticipation can be very high. In Illinois, the weather during this time is normally perfect for morning and evening hunts. The average lows in the mornings are in the 40’s, and in the evening, the temperatures are typically in the 60’s. In a normal year, most of the crops are already harvested or are being harvested during this week. This can stimulate some extra deer movement as the deer adjust to the changing landscape. Whitetails are sometimes still on their summer routine and can be patterned during this time. Opening week is normally a very good time for bow hunters to be in a tree stand in Illinois.
Click here for more information on our Opening Week of Whitetail Season Here>>
Hunting in the middle of October is a transition time for deer. Whitetail patterns change from a summer to a fall pattern. This is normally a result of a change in their food source. In Illinois, their favorite food, acorns, start hitting the ground and most of the agriculture crops are harvested by this time. Whitetails are gearing up for the rut, and during this mid-October time, bucks seek out the acorns that will supply them with all the nutrients they need to sustain them through the long rut. Whitetails can lose up to 25% of their body fat during the rut and acorns are full of nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, and fats to help replace this body fat. Deer hunters that understand what is happening during this time of the year can be very successful in harvesting large whitetails if they focus on acorns and hunting around oak trees during mid-October.
More scrapes and territorial rubs are also found during mid-October as the whitetail bucks are starting to establish their dominance. As a result, light rattling or grunting can sometimes be productive at this time, especially towards the end of this hunting period. Mature bucks are still in their core area and can become patternable going from one food source to another. We tend to adjust some of our cameras over scrapes during this time and can really dial in where and what the bucks are doing during Mid-October.
Bowhunting in late October can be one of the best times to be whitetail hunting in Illinois! The weather is perfect, the trees are in full color, and the pre-rut is in full swing. If you like calling, then make sure you pack your rattling antlers and grunt tube as whitetail bucks are establishing their dominance and respond well to calling during this time. Early breeding also is happening during this phase of the rut. Bucks start traveling their rub routes checking scrapes. A few does do come into estrous at this time. If you are lucky enough to have a hot doe around you while bow hunting, you are going to also see a lot of buck movement as well. This is a very good time to harvest the dominate buck in that area as he is going to want to breed those first few does that come into heat. For the does that are not in yet, a lot of chasing starts to happen, especially with immature bucks. Decoying also works great during this time of the season. Typically, several of the mature bucks are still in their core areas and do not like newcomers!
More information on our Pre-Rut Bowhunting Packages >>
Opening week – Pattern a buck during the summer and try to harvest him during the first week while he is still on his summer pattern. By monitoring trail cameras and glassing in the evenings, you might be able to find a buck that has a consistent pattern on his way to his evening food source. During this time alfalfa, clover, and early dropping white acorns are a deer’s preferred food source during this time of year.
Mid-October – Head to the acorns. Archery hunting close to acorns can be very productive during this time frame. There’s a common misconception during this time of year, commonly referred to as the “October Lull” that whitetails don’t move and yet many studies have shown that daylight mature buck movement starts to increase this time of year as they begin to expand their range in preparation for the rut. Hunting active scrapes close to an oak grove can yield results, especially when paired with a cold front.
Late October – It’s time to be a little aggressive. Calling and rattling work best during this time frame than any other part of the year. Hunting close to doe bedding areas and travel corridors that connect to a food source can extremely productive as bucks start to search for the first does entering into estrous.
Enjoy bow hunting an elusive gobbler while in your stand. You can have the option of hunting turkeys and whitetail during your fall deer hunt. Typically, Illinois fall archery turkey season last the entire length of the archery season. Turkeys can also become very patternable during the fall and winter as they group up in large flocks.
It’s nice to be sitting in the stand and if a flock of turkeys come in, you have the option of shooting one with your bow.
|2023 Archery Dates Available:|
|More on our Archery Hunts>>|
|October 1st–5th (Opening Week - 5 Days of Hunting) Click Here For More Info.||SOLD OUT!|
|October 9th-12th (4 Days of Hunting)||$2,650|
|October 14th-16th ( 3 Days of Hunting)||$2,150|
|October 18th–20th, (3 Days of Hunting)||$2,150 (3 spots remaining!)|
|October 23rd-27th, (5 Days of Hunting) Click Here For More Info.||$4,150|
|October 29th-November 2nd (5 Days Hunting)||$5,250|
|November 4th-9th (7 Nights, 6 Days Hunting)||SOLD OUT!|
|November 11th-15th (5 Days Hunting) Click Here For More Info.||$5,250 (2 spots remaining!)|
|November 24th- 28th (5 days of hunting) Click Here For More Info.||$2,550|
|6 Night, 5 Day Dec. & Jan. Hunt||$2,250|
|4 Night, 3 Day Dec. & Jan. Hunt||$1,750|
|4 Night, 3 Day Dec. & Jan. Doe Reduction Hunt Click Here For More Info.||$1,250|
|Fall Turkey Hunt Option (More Info Here)||$250|
|2023 Firearm Dates Available:|
|More on our Firearm Hunts>>|
|November 17th-19th (Shotgun, Rifle or Muzzleloader)||$5,500|
|Nov. 30th–Dec 3rd (Shotgun, Rifle or Muzzleloader) 4 Day Hunt Click Here For More Info.||$4,150|
|December 8th-10th (Muzzleloader Only) 3 Day Hunt Click Here For More Info.||$2,950|
|7 night, 6 Day Dec. Archery/Muzzleloader Combo Hunt Dec. 5th- 10th||$4,700|
|**includes guides, meals, accommodations & game cleaning|
Click Here For More Info. on Legal Rifles
All bookings are double occupancy in regular room at the Original Lodge, unless other arrangements are made. Private rooms can be arranged if available. All rooms have private baths. As part of the care and maintenance inside our lodge, we ask that you bring slippers or wear socks. Boots and shoes are removed in the mud room. The Original Lodge is for hunters only October – December 25th. Prairie Ridge Lodge is for hunters only the entire month of November.
- Non-hunting guests are welcome. The rate is $125 ($150 in the fall) for each night for a regular room. Call for pricing on other rooms.
- Non-hunting guest meal package is $80 per night.
- If non-hunting guest would like to sit in the stand with hunters, the fee is $150 per hunting day. (we have limited space in guide vehicles)
- Private rooms are available upon request.
- All Lodges/ Cabins have WIFI
- $125 for a private regular room (Jan-September) each night at The Original Lodge.
- $150 for a private regular room (Oct-Dec) each night at The Original Lodge.
- $175 for the Angler room (Queen Bed) each night at The Original Lodge.
- $200 for the Whitetail suite (King Bed & Whirlpool) each night at The Original Lodge
- $250 for the Luxury suite (King Bed, Whirlpool, & Fireplace) each night at Prairie Ridge Lodge
- $350 for the Private Luxury Cabins (King Bed, Whirlpool, Fireplace & Private Deck) each night at the Luxury Cabins
Enjoy one of our Luxury Suites during your stay. For only $125 per hunter (per night – based on double occupancy) you can stay in one of these incredible rooms. Each spacious room has two king size beds, Whirlpool, fireplace, gun holders, private decks and entrance. Prices are valid only when purchasing a hunt package above, otherwise our regular room rates apply.
If you are looking for a rewarding and fulfilling job as a whitetail hunting guide at one of the best whitetail hunting outfitters in the country, look no further than Heartland Lodge!
All of our whitetail hunting guides are experienced, accomplished deer hunters. We manage over 5,000 acres of the best whitetail hunting habitat in the country for trophy whitetails. We put in several acres of food plots, run trail cameras and scout year-around. Whether it be glassing summer bean fields in July or shed hunting in February, you will be hard-pressed to find more compassionate deer hunting guides. Our guides take great pride in our ability to pattern deer and give our clients the best guided deer hunting experience available. Please follow the link below for more information.