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The Back 40

Considering Buying Property?

Thu, July 28, 2011

I think that most hunters who have hunting rights on others’ property or who hunt public land, have entertained the idea of owning their own piece of hunting land.  I was one of those hunters.  My desire to own my own land came from my home address.  Many moons ago I used to live in Chicago.  Not the suburbs.  Chicago.  Try getting permission to hunt when you have to tell the farmer that you live in Chicago.  The only ace I had in my pocket was that I knew someone in the banking industry that would allow me to hunt foreclosed properties.  I never really got to get used to hunting one place for too long.  It sure teaches you how to adapt quickly though.  After a while though, those inconsistent hunting rights began to dwindle so I was forced to pay farmers a hefty amount to hunt.  I used to pay one farmer $400 to hunt his ground…$400 per weekend!  Needless to say that got expensive, which got me to thinking.  If I have to pay that much to hunt a 3-day weekend, I can probably afford my own land.  The search began.

My goal was to find about 40 acres of ground within 3-3 1/2 hours from my home.  I looked at a map and drew a 200 mile radius around Chicago.  Hunting Wisconsin was out of the question for me.  I believe you were only allowed one bow tag per season back then which certainly didn’t warrant the expense of buying land.  That left me western and southern Illinois.  I found out quickly that western, particularly northwestern Illinois, was far too expensive for a hobby.  I was newly married with one on the ground so finances were kind of tight.  I began my search by calling taxidermists in certain areas of interest.  Boy would the internet have helped back then (1992).  After many calls and conversations, I took a real liking to Peoria County.  I found a realtor and the search began.  After looking at about a dozen properties, I found the one I wanted.  What a great property that was. 

I hear this line from many hunters.  “Man, I wish I could own my own property.”  Can everyone afford it?  No.  But I do feel that most people can.  It just depends on how committed you are to hunting and if you’re willing to cut back in other places in order to afford land.  It is a big commitment.

If you’ve ever entertained the idea of owning your own piece of hunting ground, now is the time.  Properties are selling for far less these past few years.  Without too much work, you can find ground, good ground, for 3K per acre.  Buy 40 acres and you won’t even have to buy your deer tags.  You can get two bow tags and two gun tags free when you own at least 40 acres. 

So how do you pay for this land?  Cut back in places, put in a little overtime, whatever it takes.  The hardest part isn’t making the payments, it’s coming up with the downpayment.  Most banks want a hefty amount down.  Sometimes 30% or more.  However, if you buy the right piece of property with the right financial mix of timber and tillable, you’ll have an income stream to help with the payments.  For example, If you purchase 40 acres at 3K per acre, your total cost is $120,000.  If that property is half timber and half tillable, you can create a decent income stream from the tillable.  If you cash rent to a farmer, your 20 acres can bring in a yearly $3,000 if rented at $150 per acre.  Even better (and this is what I do), plant your 20 acres in alfalfa hay.  20 acres of alfalfa hay will produce about 4,000 square bales per season/year.  Find a farmer to mow, rake, and bale it for a 50/50 split.  That still gives you 2,000 bales per year.  At $4.50 per bale, that’s a whopping $9,000 per year.  Divide that by 12 months and you have $750 per month to put towards your payments…and that’s if you don’t do the hay yourself.  Do it yourself and it doubles, minus your initial equipment costs. 

There are some things to think about when looking for and purchasing property though.  First and foremost, never let your heart doing the buying.  Keep your head in the game.  If you keep your head in the game you increase your ability to buy it right.  Buying it right can mean many different things.  Like making sure the specific area has a good deer population.  Making sure there aren’t any outfitters renting anywhere near the property.  Things like that.  Never overpay…not these days anyway.  If you like fencing, and you should, know that it’s very expensive (even if you do it yourself)…so a fenced property is a nice added value.  Be sure to look at aerials, not just of your intended place, but of the entire area to make sure it’s a deery area.  Cost compare the surrounding area…the entire county.  Check soil types and crop yields from previous years, especially if you have tillable ground.  Check for timber quality.  Is there road frontage or do you have to use an easement?  Easements are a huge no-no for me anymore.  They always end up causing arguments.  Don’t buy it because a guy shot a 190” off the property back in 1984. 

Property can be a great investment if bought right.  You can save $800 a month and stick it in your bank, or you can put it into land.  Here’s the difference.  You can’t have fun with money in the bank, but you can have a blast with money in land.  And with a little luck, you may make some money in the end.  You may also make money along the way helping you to make the payments.  Money derived from CRP, cash rent, farming, livestock, hay, etc.  Is buying land for everyone?  Absolutely not.  But if you want it bad enough, if you have enough passion for hunting, it can be done.  Not only by the super rich, but by the average person.  The time is never better than right now.  Don’t kick yourself 15 years down the road saying, “I wish I would have…it would have been paid off by now”.  Mine is paid for now, so now the money I make on hay goes directly to me.  Exactly where I want it to go.  I use that money to improve the land.  Food plots, equipment, new fencing…  The more of us little guys that own land there are, the fewer opportunities there are for the outfitters and the better managed our deer herd will become.  There’s a real sense of pride in owning a piece of land.  I always thought I was a pretty thoughtful hunter in terms of game management, but owning my own ground really set it in stone for me.  It sounds nuts, but I’d rather spend a week on my property than go to Cancun.  It’s my favorite place on Earth. 


Nice article John, it’s where i want to be someday, day care and house payments have to go first but that is next in line…...just hope the markets are favorable in 7 years…......time will tell

thanks for putting this together as a guideline

Posted by Flatlander on July 28

Thanks, FLATLANDER.  I’m just a money-whore at heart.  Not that I make that much, I just like it that much.  Money may not buy happiness, but it does buy everything else.  And a lack of it sure can buy some sadness.  These days everyone want to buy a house at the top of their price range…a truck at the top of their price range, etc.  When I lived in Chicago, we flipped our first house…never even lived in it.  Then when we bought our first house to live in, we bought an apartment building that had an income.  People can always be a little smarter with their money.  I bought a brand new truck a long time ago.  I’ll never do that again.  What a waste of money.  Buy it a year or two old and let the first owner take the hit.  People just need to stop spending $400,000 on a house just because that’s what they were approved for.  My wife watches all the HGTV shows, and if I see one more realtor showing young couples houses that are above their price range, above their pre-approved amount, I’m gonna shoot my TV.  They’re getting as bad as used car salesmen. 

I think the land prices will be what they are now for quite some time.

Posted by Treehugger on July 28

John, where do you live that ground is going for 3 grand an acre? I just had 80 acres 100 yards from where I live go for over $450,000 the tillable ground around 30 acres and rated medium at best. This property got $250 a acre cash rent. My best friend just bought 5 acres timber $60,000 it had an old house on it that appraised out at $0 he fixed it up. He got everything remodeled and it appraised out at around $120,000. Tillable farm ground rated high around here is bringing almost 10 grand an acre with farm ground rated poor bringing is close to 5 grand. I live in a small town here Sangamon County (pop 140) and lots sell for at least $3,500. Heck 3 grand an acre now is like in the 70’s when you could buy timber ground in Pike County for around $250 an acre.

Posted by berlin on July 28

John, great article…  This is more informational to guys unlike the articles about eating lobster in Boston.  Keep up the good work…  Won’t be long and we will be sitting in our stands…  Im on 7 pm - 7 am at work this year so it should be a interesting Thank God I can work 3 12’s as nurse though.

Posted by shedhead on July 28

John even if you bought it today for $120,000 and ran your loan over 15 years at 4% the monthly payment is $885. So your $750 made from bales won’t make the payment alone, Then there are the taxes that have to get paid on top of that.
Don’t get me wrong, it is what ever a guy wants to do with his money that makes a difference. I am one of the old timers that belives in working for a living and also doing work for a landowner to get permission to hunt.

Outfitters have been the ruin of Illinois deerhunting in my humble opinion, and when I no longer can gain any permissions I will take up the trapline again.

Posted by kirkv on July 28

BERLIN…Go to  Sure you can pay $6000 an acre, I just sold some for more than that, but with very little effort you can find the $3000-$3500 an acre land in many counties.  I bought a 50 acre piece a few years ago for just under $200,000…totally fenced…with water…and excellent soil (220 bushels per acre).  The land is out there.  Other properties around mine are going for twice that amount and aren’t any better than mine.  It just depends on how bad the seller wants to move it. 

SHED…I do likes me some lobster, but never been to Boston.

Posted by Treehugger on July 28

For anyone interested, the best “bang for your buck” is Fulton County!
With affordable values anywhere from 2500-3200 an acre you have opportunities at farms with revenue as well as great habitat!  Fulton is producing more 170 class deer than any other county…I know of 15 different 170+ deer taken just this past season!! 
The biggest obstacle currently is with the lenders now requiring 40% down, which in effect will/should reduce prices somewhat! 
Also, the new “timber tax” MUST be addressed as one can get around thru the different programs such as the timber management plan and the wildlife stewardship plan which in turn will reduce your taxes considerably!

All in all…there is nothing more rewarding than being a steward of YOUR OWN property!!


Posted by LandGuy on July 28

KIRKV…You’re right.  Hay won’t make the entire payment for you, but what I said was, “you have $750 per month to put towards your payments.”  Towards your payment is the operative word.  Also, did you figure in the downpayment, making the money you borrow less?  Even so, $135 out of pocket every month is pretty darn good.  I’m sure most of us waste that much on one thing or another (Ludy’s) every month.  You’re right though, it’s just about where you want to spend your money.  Land is a great investment though.

Posted by Treehugger on July 28

Boy, I pitched that one right over the middle of the plate for you didn’t I, Don?  smile  You are right though.

Posted by Treehugger on July 28

Don’t purchase property with anyone else, even family.  Thru an inheritance, I am a 25% owner of 200 acres in Calhoun County.  One of the owner’s allows all his grandkids to turn the property into a ATV course, all 11 of them.

Posted by buckbull on July 28

It just kind of surprised me with the land value around here, I figured it was going sky high around the state also. TH, the ground averages well over 200 a bushel an acre here to, and I have no idea what they get now since most of the farmers around here went to the 22” rows. The cash rent even surprised me, can’t say for sure but I bet pasture ground for cattle brings mors than $150 an acre. I wouldn’t mind buying my own property to hunt if the price was right. I hunt private property, I was born & raised here, even the farmers I hunt & fish on tell me I can do what ever I want, they know I respect them & their ground. My grandparent knew theirs, my folks went to school with theirs. Like I’ve stated, 50 years old, hunting 30+ years and never been ran off of anybody’s property. You can say I was born lucky and with good friends and neighbors.

Posted by berlin on July 28

John…don’t know when you purchased your land, I assume prior 2008 for you didn’t mention the new tax assessments for recreational ground in the state of IL.  The new assessments require that any land purchased since 2008 will be assessed at 33-1/3% market value for land that is considered recreational ground (i.e. timber ground). For land purchased after 2008 you can have a hefty tax bill unless you enroll in programs which can reduce the tax assessment. These programs are the Conservation Stewardship program or the Forestry Mgt program.  These are 10 year programs and require that specific protocols relative to use of the land and land improvement practices be followed to stay in the program. Unless you want to have a large tax bill every year, you have to enroll in one or both of these programs.

Posted by Cooper on July 28

COOPER, I bought my last one in July of 2008.  Not mentioning the taxes was just an oversight that I forgot to mention.  Like you said though, you can have taxes seriously reduced by enrolling in programs.  My old place that I bought back in 1993, 40 acres, had a tax bill of only like $100 or something like that.  This new timber tax would actually be a great discussion.  It encourages farmers to knock down any windrows or anything else they deem garbage ground.  Bull doze it and farm it.  Wipe out the habitat.

Posted by Treehugger on July 28 15 booner typicals over 170” in Fulton county last season!  You gave me my good laugh for today on that one buddy!  Spoken like a great realtor!

I can buy all the average hunting land I want in west central Illinois right now for $2000 to $2400 an acre-and could probably find some for around $1800- My buddy just went to a Sullivan Auction 4 wks ago on the brown/adams line-102 acres- They were the highest bidder at $2000 an acre- the bank required $2200 min. to sell, and they agreed- 50/50 timber -tillable- nice pc-

You can go into Southern IL right now and find deer ground down as low as $1200 an acre- $1500 will buy the world down there-Just look at Buy-A-Farm .com-

It is truly a great time to purchase hunting ground right now, since the Peak of 2007 when it was all $3000 to $4000-

Posted by walmsley on July 28

Nice article John!
back in the 90’s, I bought 160 acres in Schuyler co. for $400.00 per acre. I begged my friends to buy the adjoining 200 (broken up) just so we could manage the entire area. They thought I was crazy buying “scrub” ground at that cost. We all know where this story is going LOL.
Anyway, back in the days when I had three small children, house payments, etc, I did what I could to make it work. I even sold off a few hunting rights from some out of town guys, but I made it clear that I was going to hunt the same farm as to keep control over my property. I farmed the tillable and made a few bucks there too!
I paid the ground off and used it as a tax right off…legally! It really helped the bottom line. From there, all of the income was mine. Eventually I sold it off thinking I wouldn’t be hunting any longer; what was I thinking??? When I was ready to buy more ground last year, I saw some amazing Fulton, Schuyler and Hancock co. farm ground go in the low $2000 range. Believe me, you can still find them! Even if the property prices fall after you’ve purchased them, you’ll always have solid value in your portfolio…in my opinion!
No offense to land brokers out there, but I have found auctions and private owners to offer the best in value.

Posted by Marc Anthony on July 28

Thanks, Marc. 

Buying land isn’t for everyone.  But if you’re a die-hard, if you eat, sleep and breathe this stuff year-round…landownership is for you.  When I said that my place is my favorite place o Earth, I meant it.  It’s certainly not the nicest place around or the best hunting spot around, but it’s mine.  There’s something to be said for taking less than average hunting ground and turning it into something great.  When I sell my house and get moved to the new farm, I’ll be searching for more land again.  Anyone want to buy a house?

Posted by Treehugger on July 28

Good post, John. And Marc is right too. If you can, avoid realtors and brokers and pay attention to auctions and private sellers. We just tacked on an additional 10 acres to our small property this year by approaching the adjoining landowner directly and making an offer. They accepted our ‘low ball’ offer of $3k per acre. This is in Macon County near Decatur so it was a great deal at that price. We don’t have much (now it’s up to almost 30 ac), but we don’t need much. ... and it’s ours.  And I agree that most of us could afford our own land if we set it as a priority. Some of us would still rather sit elbow-to-elbow with other hunters on public land.

Posted by Walston on July 28

Walston, having been born and raised in Macon County, that was a GREAT buy on that 10 acres-

A good buddy, north of town on the Sangamon, had his neighbor contact him to see if he wanted to buy 67 acres- at $10,000 an acre- he declined-thinking he’d come way down-not long after, a Doctor showed up from Taylorville- He paid it!

Posted by walmsley on July 28

Sorry, I meant to type $4k per acre. Still an outstanding deal. We had a feeling that they were looking to sell so we approached them before it hit the market.

Posted by Walston on July 28

you’re right, still a great deal- Every patch of timber/brush in Macon has HOUSING wrote all over it-

It almost equals what the flat black is bringing in many cases-

Posted by walmsley on July 28

WALSTON, great point.  I actually bought my first property owner financed for the first five years.  The owner wanted it that way so he could collect some interest and defer the big pay day.  These days, I’ll bet you wouldn’t have to come up with the big downstroke if owner financed.  Sometimes that’s the only way a seller can find a buyer.  Like I said earlier, if I get some things off my plate and unload my house, I’m going land shopping again and I can’t wait.  It’s amazing how a big profit can make a wife believe in hunting land.

Posted by Treehugger on July 28

The other big thing to remember is leaving yourself enough room to buy stuff for your property.  You’ll immediately want to get a tractor, mower, disc, hunting cabin, etc, etc.  If you buy something and go to your max range for a monthly payment then you may not be happy when you can’t afford other things to improve your property.  The other thing is the distance from your home if you don’t live on the property.  You have to factor in how much you’ll be able to go to your property in between baseball, softball, scouts, etc that your kids are in if you have them.  The farther away the less you can go maintain food plots, check cameras, etc.

Posted by pete1972 on July 28

I don’t think the finanacial side of the question is as simple as being committed to hunting.  Owning and hunting a tract of land is certainly one way to do it.  I’ve thought about it, and if financial resources were unlimited (or at least less limited), I’d buy.  The thought of managing my own habitat is appealing, but so are other things.  I hunt out of state a little (Wisconsin, which is a bargain) and would like to more.  That’s expensive too.  I’d like to start hunting out west.  So, for me, its not so much about tweaking my lifestyle and coming up with a little more money; it’s about how to allocate the hunting budget.
Frankly, travelling to hunt is more appealing to me.  I grew up in norhtern Wisconsin, where there is considerable public land available to hunt on.  The idea of making a huge committment to one particular 40-acre tract, where I’d end up hunting more often than not as that’s where I’ve spent the lion’s share of the hunting budget, does not appeal to me as much.
So while I’d like to be a landowner, I can’t prioritize it.  It’s at best a second choice (maybe third choice, if I can ever get my hands on that 16’ deep-V I’ve been dreaming of, but hey, that’s the fishing budget).  I certainly do not mean to criticize anyone who has other priorities—just my thoughts on the subject.

Posted by Murdy on July 28

Murdy touched on it.  If you ever get a taste of chasing Elk in the rocky mountains you’ll change your priorities real quick.  Nothing, and I mean nothing beats chasing bugling Elk in the mountains.  Once I get my kids out of college I’ll be considering a move to wyoming or montana.  My profession allows me to work from home so I have options that many do not have.

Posted by buckbull on July 28

I have to admit that I love chasin whitetails but I agree with BUCKBULL on chasing elk.  There isn’t anything better than having a bull screaming so close that it sends chills down your back.  I can’t get enough…. I have considered being a traveling nurse just so I can spend more time out west come hunting season.  You can always buy ranch tags in New Mexico and some states offer a general season tags.  Im so ate up with the west I have been known to take a week in the spring just to go shed hunting.

Posted by shedhead on July 28

Walmsley…. read more careful what you wrote, “ 15 booner typicals over 170” in Fulton county last season!  You gave me my good laugh for today on that one buddy!  Spoken like a great realtor!”

and then read what he wrote, “Fulton is producing more 170 class deer than any other county…I know of 15 different 170+ deer taken just this past season!!”.

He is a great realtor….. he only stated that he knew of 15 booners- he only made you belive that they were all Fulton County by his lead in statement. You got bit smile

Posted by The Colonel on July 29

I don’t want anybody to take this wrong, I am happy for all of you that haved bought all your own hunting ground, I know you all worked hard to get it and deserve what you got, but I do have a few questions. I am not saying that 20 to 50 acres is not a small amount of ground, but a lot of you mention about putting out food plots and trying to manage the deer on your property, how in the heck can you manage deer on that amount of property? Yes, I know deer bed in pretty much the same area and all that, and maybe it is a different where I live since my area does not have a lot of big timber, a lot of small timbers, hedgerows, creeks, pastures, but I have always watched deer feed and move from these places that can be more than a mile away or more and cross several different properties, I can even show you places and have the owners comfirm this that they have the same deer come thru every 3 days. So I am just wandering how you manage the deer on a 50 even 100 acre plot? The next question is, if you bought your property where no one knew you how well was you accepted in that area? Being from a small town and rural community I know it can be tough to get to know the locals, but I also see the new guy on the block not helping himself either. I have noticed a lot of you mention having places that the property owner next to you lets every Tom, Dick & Harry hunt the fence line, which kind of surprises me. Most land owners I know (farmers) will let a few people hunt, but not just let everyone go. I am not sitting here pointing out anybody by no means,I like reading everybody’s comments, everybody here makes valid points on issues and it nice to see others peoples thoughts and views from around the state. Yes I know this is off topic of buying property, but I think it still deals with problems a new land owner may run into, and if I did buy a small tract of land how could I manage that plot with different land owners around me.

Posted by berlin on July 29

BERLIN…It certainly would be nicer and more effective to manage 500 acres versus 50 acres, but you work with what you have.  The idea with small property ownership, which is most of us, is to get enough owners in your immediate area to agree to manage for deer.  With enough owners on the same page, management is very possible.  It’s tough to manage when your neighbor shoots everything in sight, but you can make a difference, even if slight, by managing your own.  If your neighbor shoots everything he sees, the deer will catch on and move…hopefully to your property if you give them what they want/need.  It’s tough to let a 3 year-old walk by you when you think there’s a good chance your neighbor will shoot him, but that’s what you have to do.  You have to take your chances and hope your neighbor never gets a crack at him. 

In terms of being the new guy on the block, it can be difficult.  I live in a small town and I’ve been told a lot that people from big cities like Chicago are rude.  I can tell you first hand that many times the exact opposite is true.  That being said, there are some people who just have no idea how o fit it and get along.  They’re usually too argumentative.  When buying land outside of your area, you have to be the nicest guy on the block.  That doesn’t mean you have to put up with trespassers, it just means you should try your hardest to never give people a reason to dislike you.  Don’t ask for favors, give them.

Posted by Treehugger on July 29

colonel, I’m sure he’s a great Guy, and Realtor- No Dis-respect, but I know what he meant! And it cracks me up.

“Fulton is producing more 170” class deer than any other county”-

I take it “Class” means gross- because it does NOT mean net. And no one knows how many “Gross” 170’s come from any county-Fulton is no longer on the top of the list for producing True Booners. But still not a bad place to be!!!!

Posted by walmsley on July 29

Tim, I think you can buy your Fulton County land directly from Jim Thome.  I think he owns everything there.

Posted by Treehugger on July 29

Neighbors.  As we all know, the most important thing in real estate is location, location, location. It’s even more important for owners of small hunting properties that really have to depend on the actions of neighboring landowners to successfully manage deer. Neighbors don’t have to enter a contractual agreement to implement a deer management plan or anything, but knowing what your neighbors are up to and how well their behavior could fit your hunting objectives is key. We looked at our neibhors (which are mostly horse/cattle owners and ag fields) and decided that our best bet would be to provide quality bedding habitat on our property. We really don’t try to create food plots but our little chunck of land provides probably the best bedding habitat for miles. All that could change, however, if we had different landowners next door.

Posted by Walston on July 29

you know, I’ve never met Jim, but his brother Chucks came to my house to get his Booner bowkill measured, and he was a super nice guy!!  A good thing looking at the size of him! Everyone tells me Jim is the same way- Chuck told me to come up sometime, and I should. I hear the Lodge is really something.

Posted by walmsley on July 29

One thing is true with hunting land ownership: The more you own, the more headache’s you’ll have.

Posted by walmsley on July 29

No excuse for trespassers,your lucky to have landowners next to you to work with. Where I live there is a small number of us that bow hunt and add a few for shotgun so we have a real good idea of what is taken each year. Do some of you guys that have trouble with the neigbors ever really talk to them, maybe they are not very good hunters, or beginners, have no other place to hunt, or whatever reason they do what they do, but they are just smart enough to know you have food plots and deer are going there. My buddy and I take guys with us a few times and let them use our stands if they lost their place to hunt until they find a new place. Most of us can talk to somebody and know if we can get along with them with in a few minutes, maybe if you take one of them with you sometime onto your place hunting, it may cut down on your problem some, and if you live away from that property it can gain you a couple sets of eyes and ears to watch when your away. And for deer management, I applaud you guys for trying but it seems like such a up hill battle for some of you unless you can get landowners together in at least a 1000-2000 acre area. TH as always your comments are pretty much on the mark in what I see and believe, not knowing you but from your posts I would say you would be a good person to know and a good hunting partner. Any more comments on my questions?

Posted by berlin on July 29

A Wise man- “The Colonel”- once told me- “You’re never gonna grow big bucks to your lands potemtial, until you live there!”—So True-

Posted by walmsley on July 29

Now I am one also to believe that genetics is more important than anything else in getting bigger bucks and then deer management to let the good ones age and get bigger. A lot of hunters say food plots help also, which in some areas where food sources could be difficult to find it would make for healthier deer is understandable. But in all honesty, does anyone believe or can prove that say what maybe a 150 class deer could end up being a 170-180 class deer? Or would having food plots help him even that much. I do have places I would put out food plots not to hunt over or bring deer in, but to get a few nicer bucks. I know some of you guys are in this business, but I also know not all bucks are born to be wall hangers either.

Posted by berlin on July 29

BERLIN, I am very lucky to have neighbors that all agree, for the most part anyway, to manage for deer.  We do have one kid that hunts a neighbor’s property that I hear will shoot the 100-110” bucks.  I wish he wouldn’t do that, but one guy isn’t going to kill our overall goal.  We currently have three property owners who all agree on the same type of management plan.  The other two owners were there way before I was which is a good thing.  Between the three of us, we own about 400 acres or so that are all attached in one long run…about 3 miles straight.  It’s a fairly narrow strip of land which means we can have guys all around us shootin’ up the town, but at least we have some say in what gets killed and what gets a pass.  I was told by one guy that they don’t shoot anything under 170”, which I don’t believe to be true.  But, that must at least mean that they are looking to keep the big ones around.  My personal standards are actually lower than my neighbor’s.  I have become more of a head hunter the past five years or so, but the bottom line for me is that I still love shooting 140’s as well.  If shooting only booners is your thing, that’s great.  But in my book, you’re not wrong for shooting a 140ish buck…as long as it’s not a 2-1/2 year-old 140’s…that one would have too much potential to shoot at a young age.  Hunting is still an individual challenge.  For someone that only gets out a couple weekends per season, a 125” buck could be considered a monster.  I know I considered my first Poper, 125-4/8”, a monster at the time.  The point is, if you’re looking to buy land, you may want to introduce yourself and get to know the neighbors before signing the papers.  Make sure you have the same goals.  My neighbors and I have some differences…they think we should all shoot a bunch of does and I disagree completely, but for the most part, we have the same goals.

Posted by Treehugger on July 29

This is just one guy’s opinion, BERLIN, but I believe that most deer want to be about a 145” when grown up.  The 170’s+ are not the norm.  They are like the 6’-6” man.  I agree that not all bucks have the potential genetically.

Posted by Treehugger on July 29

I hunt on all farmers ground, if it’s brown they want it down which we don’t do. Week end before the 1st gun season last year had a 130-40 eating acorns right under me, let him go I thought what the heck. Didn’t get to hunt much early, that was the last shot I had all year bow or gun, but he will be nice this year he was probably 2 1/2. We have some really nice bucks but the big boys stay out in the open fields and waterways and are really hard to get, rut is about your only chance. Last post I agree I am 6’3” and a lot people say I am far from the norm! But still does anybody think food plots increase mass?

Posted by berlin on July 29

I think nutrition does help in antler growth as well as overall health.  I spent a lot of time in the Forest Preserves of the Chicago suburbs, and the biggest of bucks had very little mass.  They’d be tall, wide….all the god stuff…but pencil horned.  These deer had age, they probably had decent Illinois genetics, but they didn’t have the food.  These deer actually ate bark off the trees in the Winter.  I watched them do this.  Their bodies were very ribby and their racks were always pencil thin, so yes, I think nutrition has a lot to do with antler growth.

Posted by Treehugger on July 29

I did post earlier that if food sources were lacking that yes food plots would help. Nutrition is also a big factor into the equation. OK I can hunt quite a few spots in a general area but say right in the middle you go 1 1/2 miles each direction now remember this is also a lot of open farm ground also. There is plenty of corn & beans for food, even through the winter, plenty of grass, several fields of wheat here and there, and even hay fields. I am sure they hit some gardens to and even have access to a small apple orchard and at the edge of this area they even come into my yard for apples, now I know that a lot of the deer that are on the far side really don’t come as far as where I live but still 3 mile is not that far for a deer. We do have some pretty healthy deer, and they don’t lack for much. I don’t need to hunt over food plots, not condeming those that do,or to draw deer in. Say a 4 1/2 yr old buck 150 class, would putting in a food plot get him to 160-170 or bigger. Would food plot be worth my time and money? The hunting pressure in this area is not real bad either, picks up during gun which is understable. And yes, there is also a lot of oak trees in this area also.

Posted by berlin on July 29

I think the best thing about food plotting is not to grow bigger antlers, but to keep them as healthy as possible year-round.  It sounds like your place has year-round food already.  As far as your question about the 4-1/2 year-old 150” buck goes, I’d say it’s anyone’s guess.  At 4-1/2 though, I’d say he has a very good chance of getting a bit bigger.  How much bigger is again anyone’s guess.  If you have any 170”+ bucks on that same property then I’d say his chances increase even more as the genetics are there.  Do food plots help him grow more than he would without the food plot given that you already have year-round food available?  My guess is no, as long as your food sources are high in carbs in protein which corn and beans are.  Food plots are planted to concentrate deer, provide a food source year-round, and to pull deer from surrounding areas.  I’ve tried most of the buck seeds out there, and I’ve come to the conclusion that none of them work as good as beans for a hunting plot.

Posted by Treehugger on July 29

I agree about the beans to, a lot of people think i’me crazy saying to hunt bean fields right before the pre rut & rut but that is where I see them the most at that time of year. Turkey love em to, Hunting a cut bean field right after a fall rain and the beans start to sprout again they go crazy eating them, shoot one and clean it, looks they have been at the local Golden Corral dining on bean sprouts.

Posted by berlin on July 29

Yes, we do have some BIG boys in this area, problem is they stay out in the middle of nowhere in the fields and waterways. Hunting a spot now that holds a few deer, pain to get to. DNR was watching a buck there a few yrs ago, guaranteed to put you in the top 10 in the IL. record book gun or bow he got hit on Interstate 72 middle of summer, beams coming out of his head as big as a beer can. I know he has kids running the area but havn’t seen em yet. My partner & I do hunt pretty hard most the time, see and get some nice deer, probably let to many nice ones go. But during rut you see the really big boys out in the open fields. Damn hard to get to. I know of a stand of trees 10-20 in the middle of a 400-500 field. water is close by and this is within the location I have written about, they need nothing. But if you ride a ATV out to the clump of trees when the crops are out I swear about every time you WILL chase a 180 or bigger out of it, but I know during rut they come and find the does at night then run out in the open and you can’t get to them. I don’t really care about gun season except maybe to get lucky and catch one of them coming in during the day and a good way to fill the freezer with some does. But Oh Lord give me 2-3 seasons with a rifle and let the revenge of 30 yrs of the frustrating me begin.

Posted by berlin on July 29

Tim…No offense taken!  I’m gald I’m able to give you a good laugh, I just wish my wife still thought I was funny!!  Everything I wrote above is just my opinion..take it for what its worth (not much!) I truly love Fulton and that (15+ 170 inch deer) is true but based on GROSS like you had thought!
Net scores dont matter much to me, like most of you I’m sure..I appreciate the beauty over score!  I still believe Fulton is on top based on land prices, trophy potential and minimal outfitting as compared to Pike, Brown and Adams counties!  Go north..values go up, east and values go up, head south value does goes down but you will inherit new problems (I leave that open to imaginations!)
Us “land brokers” do have a poor reputation as there are at least 4 dishonest for every honest broker out there! 

(Love this site!!)

Posted by LandGuy on July 30

Landguy, truthfully, I only know of ONE, rough ground LICENSED realtor firm with “shady” dealings here in west-central. For the most part: Pretty good folks- Got a job to do and a living to make- And lord knows there was a ton of money made here in the past 15 or so years. things have slowed down like everything else after the 2007 economy boom peak- And that’s a Good thing for folks now wanting to buy ground for the first time.

You’re north/east/south scenario is very true. and will be intersting to see what happens in the future- I remember just 20 years ago when locals thought paying $250 to $300 per acre for timber was insane!

Posted by walmsley on July 30

Back in ‘93, when I bought my first piece, land prices around Peoria, Fulton and Knox were around $700-$800 an acre.  I paid $1500 an acre for mine and everyone I ran into told me I got ripped off.  I laughed all the way to the bank in 2008.  Even though I overpaid back then, I had good reason to do so.  It was very difficult property to access for trespassers/poachers, there were scrapes all over and huge rubs.  Plus, it had a 3-4 acre area in the middle of the timber that was thick with cedars and I knew it would be an awesome bedding area…it was.

Posted by Treehugger on July 30

good posts! Think I’ll go get me a Jimmy Johns!

Posted by yellowstone on July 31

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