First up is our first-ever report on Harpole's Heartland Lodge in southwest Illinois. If you watch hunting shows on TV, or read any of the "mainstream" outdoor media, you've probably heard of this outfit, which has gotten a lot of attention. Well, here's a first-hand report from Charles Jordan who not only went himself but also took four of his friends, all novice deer hunters, with mixed results:
"I was asked by four Ecuadorian friends to organize a relaxing bow hunt in the US with hopes of harvesting a big buck or two. After searching the web, I chose Harpole's Heartland Lodge (HHL) in Illinois. HHL was reputed to be a 5-star lodge with stellar service and thousands of acres of prime hunting under lease. While the lodge was indeed impressive and the staff accommodating, several issues during our visit left our group with mixed feelings.
"The group flew to Saint Louis where we rented a car at the airport for the two-hour drive. Shuttle service is also available.
"Chief Guide Matt Brunet met us upon arrival with good news. The licenses and tags we'd purchased from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) had never arrived. Matt saved the day by getting permission to print these documents at the lodge. With this problem solved, we made our final payment for the six-day hunt. Hunters at HHL must also sign a contract agreeing to pay a $750 fine for shooting a buck scoring 130 or less B&C. This fine doubles if an undersized buck is shot on the last day of the hunt. A credit card imprint is taken to ensure compliance.
"The main lodge is smartly decorated with two lounges, a big screen TV, pool table and stone fireplace. Because we'd requested double rooms, our group was housed in the auxiliary lodge, which sleeps eight. These bedrooms are small, with no........(continued)