Opening Week of Deer Season in Illinois
Bowhunting the First Week of October
The opening week of archery season can be a great time to get an opportunity at trophy whitetails in Pike County, Illinois. Deer season starts on October 1st in Illinois every year. We offer a 6-night, 5-day bowhunting package for this opening week hunt. After a long spring and summer of running trail cameras, putting in food plots, prepping treestands and scouting, the whitetail guides at the lodge are excited to start chasing several of their target bucks they’ve been keeping tabs on all summer. Through the use of trail cameras, scouting, glassing and food plots specifically created for our early season bow hunts across our 5,000 acres that we intensely manage for mature bucks, our clients are put in quality position to harvest a trophy whitetail.
Now booking 2023 opening week bow hunts! Call 217-982-4039 or E-Mail Zach@HeartlandLodge.com for more details!
Find the Food- Find the Whitetails
Food sources are key in attracting and holding deer during the early deer season. Ladino clover, oats and rye food plots are still full of moisture and lush green at this stage of the season and deer readily prefer them while the rest of the woody browse in the timber starts to “dry” and becomes less palatable to deer. Several of our food plots are small, ambush style plots that are strategically planted to funnel deer past our treestand locations within bow range. These smaller “kill plots” that are tucked in close to bedding areas are an extremely effective method of hunting mature whitetails during this time of the season.
Opening Week Morning Hunts
Morning hunts during the opening week of the season will either be in transition areas where deer are funneling back into bedding from their destination food sources or in hardwoods around white oaks. Acorns are whitetails #1 food source throughout much of the fall, several of our stands locations are within bow range of mature white oaks. Morning hunts can be just as productive as evening hunts during opening week so long we have the right weather conditions.
Opening Week Evening Hunts
During the early part of October, whitetails are most predictable and patternable when headed to their evening food sources. The last hour of light is primetime as does and yearlings filter through, the more mature deer are usually the last ones to arrive at destination food sources. Any weather front during this time of the season can really get the deer moving earlier in the evenings and can make for a very exciting hunt. The buck pictured was harvested a few years ago during our opening week hunt after a high-pressure front moved through the area.. The buck was eating in one of our small clover plots headed to a bigger soybean field about a 1/4 mile away. He ended up scoring 176″ and weighing 276 pounds!
Deer Hunting Conditions in Early October- Pike County, Illinois
At the beginning of October, temperatures can vary greatly here in West-Central Illinois. The average day time high is around 70 degrees and overnight lows are averaging around 50 degrees for opening week. It’s not unusual to see a huge swing in temperatures over 5 days while staying at the lodge. Erratic weather fronts and temperature swings are actually better for deer movement rather than a constant weather pattern. Right before or after a high- or low-pressure weather front moves through, we’ll see a spike in deer movement. Over a 5-day hunt, we’ll typically see at least one form of weather system move through our area. In the years I’ve guided, I’ve seen 90-degree temperatures and also heavy frost with highs in the 50’s for our season opener!
The benefits of hunting early October V.S. later in the season are:
- foliage is still on the trees, making it easier to draw back on deer in bow range
- comfortable sitting conditions- If you’re thinking about bringing your hunting partner along or youth hunter, early October makes for a comfortable/ fun hunt
- bucks can still be patternable during this time and are still in their core range
- more hours of down time in between hunts – days are still long in early October, go on a horseback ride, hike some of our trails or shoot a round of sporting clays around lunch
Deer movement is typically confined to the early and mid-morning hours and later in the evening before sunset. Hunters at the lodge will usually come in for lunch around 10:00-11:00 and head back out around 2:00 (lunch is served at noon). During our opening week hunt, we’ll hunt out of a combination of stands and blinds. We have ladder stands, lock-ons, ground blinds and box blinds for our bowhunters.
If you are interested in an opening week archery hunt this season, call 217-982-4039 or E-Mail me today at Zach@HeartlandLodge.com for last minute whitetail cancellation hunt spots available and special pricing!
I hope to see you at the lodge this season!