Illinois Gun Hunts

Illinois firearm whitetail hunting, especially in Pike County, has been a tradition at Heartland that dates back to when Heartland’s owner, Gary Harpole, grew up hunting as a child.  The anticipation of opening day of Illinois’ whitetail gun season was more exciting than any holiday or occasion. The firearm season was spent at Gary’s Grandpa’s house. (This home still stands next to Heartland and now Gary resides there.) The Illinois gun season always opens on a Friday and all the local schools close for the occasion. Gary grew up in Quincy, but just the same, he would get excused from school and make the exciting drive to the area where Heartland Lodge is now located.

The excitement was shared not only by Gary and his grandfather, but his entire family and relatives. Uncles, aunts, cousins and friends would all stop in at Grandpa’s House to catch up on the latest deer stories. Saturday night, everyone would bring the wild game they harvested and cook a feast fit for a king. The hunts themselves were always memorable. Nothing was as exciting as sitting on a log, or a five gallon bucket (before they installed tree stands), watching that monster buck appear at first light and feeling your heart pound as if it was going to come out of your chest. The meat pole was always the tree in Grandpa’s front yard. It was a tradition in Pike County that everyone drove around looking to see what their neighbors brought in. Best of all were the traditions and memories Gary made with his Grandpa and family that will last a lifetime.

Those same traditions are being carried on at Heartland Lodge. Gun season is a very special time at Heartland. The evening meal and orientation meeting the night before is filled with anticipation and excitement. Many whitetail hunters will be hunting the same properties that Gary’s family did for generations. Most importantly are the new traditions that are being developed with fathers and sons, grandpas and grandsons, and friends that will last a lifetime.