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Recent entries


Stay on Target

What is a poacher?

Wed, October 27, 2010

What is poaching to you?  According to, poaching is this:

1. to trespass, esp. on another’s game preserve, in order to steal animals or to hunt.
2. to take game or fish illegally.

    The reason I am bringing this up is that it frustrates me to no end what so many sportsmen will do without considering their actions poaching.  Poaching has a very negative connotation to the sportsman, and rightfully so.  However, I believe many people only consider poaching to be sliding out at night with a high-powered rifle and a spotlight in order to shoot a deer.  That is not how I see it at all.
    I feel that any law broken to make it easier to take game is poaching.  In Illinois, this could mean bow hunting during the youth shotgun season without wearing blaze orange.  I know people that go to their stand during shotgun season and as soon as they get there, they shed their orange.  It could mean sitting in your stand five extra minutes after shooting hours because you can still see your sights.  Even putting out that mineral rock during the summer to get better trail cam photos is still poaching because it enables you to illegally draw deer in to an area to see what might be lurking on your property.  Some people even think it is no big deal to hunt over bait.  I have even heard it     said that planting a food plot is no different than baiting.  There is one huge difference…baiting is illegal in Illinois and those who do it are poachers!
    Most people I know claim that they hunt for self-satisfaction.  Let’s face it, only a small percentage of people can make a living from the sporting industry.  The rest of us do it because we love the challenge of the hunt.  If we cheat to gain a competitive edge on the animals we are hunting, what have we accomplished?  If the laws being broken are minor, ticky-tack laws and we feel that it doesn’t give us a big advantage, then why break the laws in first place?  I compare this to baseball’s steroid users.  Their apologists will say that steroids do not make that big of a difference.  If they do not make a big difference, then why would somebody risk their reputation and career to use them?  How many people would go out and play golf by themselves, and then cheat to shoot a better score?  If you would not do it in a round of golf, then do not do it in the tree stand either.


The Best of Times

Thu, October 21, 2010

    Bow season in Illinois lasts almost 3 1/2 months.  During that time frame, I bow hunt as much as possible.  The bottom line about shooting big bucks is that you cannot shoot one if you are sitting in the Lazy Boy (in most cases).  Basically what I am saying is that the best time for me to hunt is anytime that I can be in the stand.  That being said, there is no doubt some days are way better than others. 
    What days and times would you choose if you had only 5 half-day hunts?  To answer this, I will look at my own historical data.  My best five archery bucks were shot on the following days: October 7th p.m, October 9th a.m., November 7th p.m., November 8th a.m. and November 24th p.m.  Now, it would be silly for me to say that those would be the 5 hunts I would choose.  Based on harvest days and sightings, I would probably choose 1 afternoon hunt during the first 7 days of October, 3 morning hunts during early to mid November (perhaps November 8th, 9th, and 10th), and I would choose an afternoon hunt during the Thanksgiving weekend.  If I was taking a 5 day hunt in Illinois, I would try to take it around November 8th through November 12th.  The week of Thanksgiving would be my favorite week, but I know a significant number of mature bucks will have been harvested by this time.
    I still believe that one of the most important factors for optimal mature buck movement is the weather.  I am certain many of you share my feelings on this, but I have still not figured out a good way to control the weather so I will leave this out of the equation.  Something else that needs to be mentioned is my location.  I hunt in the southern part of Illinois (Rend Lake area south to Shawnee National Forest area).  I am sure the dates I give would vary slightly if I lived in northern Illinois.
    I am interested to see what dates and times you all would pick.  Some of you probably noticed that I left out the entire “week of the teens” in November.  I did this intentionally.  It is not my favorite time to try and kill a big buck due to fast moving, rutting deer.  I also think that more mature deer spend less time on their feet then than the 3.5 year old bucks that are all revved up.  I still hunt hard during that time because it is an amazing time to be in the woods and you never know when something crazy could happen.
    So, what are your favorite days?


Lights, Camera, Action

Sun, October 17, 2010

    My name is Darin DeNeal and I live with my wife Marj and our two dogs in Thompsonville, IL.  I am excited about blogging for Heartland Outdoors. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois, but I spent a few years living in Macomb while I was obtaining my Agriculture Science Degree from WIU. I spent parts of four years guiding hunters on the famed King Ranch in South Texas. I have been competing in national archery tournaments for the past 17 years winning a few national titles along the way. My shooting background also extends into sporting clays where I was once a Level I Instructor. I am an official Pope & Young scorer as well as an Illinois Big Bucks Recognition Program scorer. My blog will bounce between shooting sports and bow hunting whitetails during the respective seasons.
    Now that we know each other, I am ready to start blogging so lets kick this thing off!  While I have a passion for bowhunting that only others bowhunters would understand, a few years ago I realized I wanted more.  I wanted to preserve my bowhunts for future viewing.  I wanted to film my hunts.  Several of my friends were already doing this, and it sounded like something fun.  I quickly came to the realization that if I wanted to have a video of any of my hunts, I would have to do it myself.  None of my friends are willing to give up their valuable hunting time to perch themselves above me on a crisp November morning and I do not blame them one bit. 
    The answer to my dilemma was to self-film.  Like I said, others were doing this, and so I knew it was possible.  This meant purchasing a camera arm that mounts to a tree and a video camera.  After a few years of doing this, I wish I could say I have it perfected.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  However, I have learned to do this to a level that I can at least generate a mediocre video and have a bunch of fun along the way. 
    The biggest challenge I encounter while self-filming is zooming in to an acceptable level while capturing the hunt and impact of my arrow on video.  I have found that one must not try and zoom in too much, but I also do not want to make a 200-pound deer appear smaller than a coyote.  Another challenge is to find a position to mount my camera to the tree that enables me to do everything I want.  I still do not know the clear-cut best way to do this because it seems to have to do with the stand setup.  Sometimes I like the camera on my right and eye level with me and other times I want it waist level and to my left.
    On October 9th of this season, I was hunting a bedding area in the morning and I laid down what might be my best footage to date.  At 8:45 a.m., a mature 10 point comes in and gives me a 15 yard shot.  I managed to capture the footage and I was left with not only a beautiful Pope and Young caliber whitetail, but a chance to relive the moment time and time again.

Watch the video for yourself.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

If you are ready to experience a whole different sort of bowhunt along with some new bowhunting frustrations, I suggest you give it a try!  Believe me, the new hassles are worth it so get out there and get the camera rolling!



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