Illinois Deer Outfit


Published: February - 1999

Continuing subscribers will remember correspondent Kathy Etling's report in the December, 1997 issue (see pages 2-4) on a deer outfit in Pike County, Illinois, an area famous for its big whitetails. The name of the outfitter was Honey Creek Outfitters, and at that time it was co-owned and operated by Dale and Nathan Carter, along with their friend Jayson Heavner. Well, a lot has changed since Etling's report, and here is an update she just sent us: "Dale and Nathan Carter are still offering deer hunts as Carter's Hunting Lodge, but Jayson Heavner now has his own hunting operation called Honey Creek Ranch. He's running it on 1,500 acres of family-owned land, solely for bowhunters and muzzleloaders. His rates run a moderate $1,000 for five days of bowhunting (arrive Monday, leave by noon on Saturday), or $1,500 for a five-day muzzleloader hunt.

That's less than most Pike County outfitters charge, but then Heavener runs his hunts a bit differently. First, hunters stay in a three-bedroom cabin with a fully-equipped kitchen and bath. Hunters provide their own food and do their own cooking. He asks his hunters to arrive on a Sunday and go into town to get their licenses ($126.50 total for a non-resident hunter). This license allows the taking of one buck and one doe. Once licenses are taken care of, he takes them out to show them boundary lines and stand locations. The first day he may put them on stand, but then they're pretty much on their own. This past year, Heavner had 15 paying hunters. Five out of the 15 killed bucks scoring between 128 and 135. All hunters saw big deer and several managed to videotape them. Thirteen of the 15 rebooked on the spot.

Heavner's land is a patchwork of timbered cattle pastures and fields planted in corn, soybeans, alfalfa and clover. There are a few woodlots, but none of those dense stands of timber that can make whitetail hunting so tough and unpredictable. "When people hunt here they see deer," Heavner told me at press time." Big deer....". He went on........(continued)

 
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