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Dream hunt: white-tailed deer hunting in Illinois, USA

all4hunters welcome in Illinois 

Illinois’s designated State animal is the white-tailed deer, and is known for its farmland, forests, rolling hills and wetlands. For centuries, native Americans and settlers relied on the white-tailed deer for buckskin and food. Hunting is wildly acknowledged in Illinois as an important wildlife management tool to sustain the "health and abundance of game species and the balance of our natural resources" from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR). It is so hunter friendly - provisions are made for youth, elderly and disabled hunters.

Abundant population of white-tailed deer

Hunter with a 151 inch buck
Tyler Brenner's 151-inch buck harvested two seasons ago. 

The white-tailed deer can run up to 40 mph, jump 9 ft fences and are strong, fast swimmers. They have a varied diet and during the summer and fall months they seek out higher protein to prepare for the rut and to survive through the winter months. Acorns are a favourite for the deer, they’re high in fats and oils. 

In 1930s deer were absent from Illinois and gradually reintroduced. By 2008 an over population was measured via the increase in deer and vehicle collisions. Coyotes are the main predators, often preying on deer fawns.

White-tailed deer hunting season in Illinois

The hunting season is short: three days late November, four days early December, and muzzleloader-only season in mid Dec. Hunters may also use a muzzleloader permit with a muzzle loading rifle during 2nd Firearm Season Dec. More information about seasons and regulations for hunters.

Tyler Brenner aged 8 with his first white tailed buck. 
Tyler Brenner aged 8 with his first white tailed buck. 

Hunting white-tailed deer 

all4hunters talks to Tyler Brenner, who hunted his first deer with his dad when he was eight years old. Tyler shares his thoughts with us on why deer hunting is widespread, he said, “I’d say deer hunting is the most popular type of hunting here in Illinois as the population of them is so high. It is relatively easy as well. Anyone can go out and shoot a deer. It’s just the quality of the deer that is different between a veteran hunter and a newbie.

Slug gun hunting

Hunter with his 171 inch buck.
Tyler Brenner with his 171-inch buck.

Tyler continues, “I use a slug shotgun to harvest deer as rifles are not allowed for deer hunting in Illinois due to very flat ground and bullets would travel too far. I shoot a Savage 220 slug gun. It’s one of the most accurate slug guns on the market and I’ve taken deer at over 150 yards with it.”

Tactics for hunting Illinois white-tail deer shotgun cartridge

Tyler tells all4hunters, “you could almost say that we grow our deer. We plant a large food plot: we sow brassica, clover and turnips as well as surrounding grain fields of corn and soybeans. Rule number one for us: we never hunt the feed source anymore. We have found that we are way more successful by hunting trails to the feed source and playing the wind like it’s our job. If the winds wrong, we don’t hunt.” The deer live in a large connected system of forests consisting of both deciduous and coniferous trees with creeks running through them. Tyler continues, “we allocate bedding areas and we never step foot on them so they make a comfortable place for deer to stay on our property.”

Hunting deer from tree stands

A shotted down buck
Tyler Brenner showing the site of the buck at the end of the blood trail.

Tyler only hunts from tree stands: he takes a bottle of water, and doesn’t have any breaks for food. The dedicated hunter tells all4hunters, “ I’ve sat in sleet, hail, rain, and snow. The key is layering clothing to add on or take off as needed. I sit all day because the neighbours tend to leave their stands in the afternoon, pushing deer towards our property. Some of our biggest bucks have been shot right at midday.” Tyler has a great relationship with surrounding landowners, they are all in agreement to help grow their local deer herd and only harvest mature bucks.

Dream Hunt?

all4huntersasked Tyler to share the details of his dream hunt: “It would probably be hunting elk in Utah during the rut. Chasing bugling bulls in the mountains. The large mountain ranges are what make it so appealing to me. The elk could be anywhere and you have to find them. Stalk them and set yourself up within shooting distance. That’s difficult. White tailed deer hunting has become pretty easy for us and I’d like to mix it up.”


Who is Linda Mellor?

Linda Mellor is one of Scotland’s foremost shooting, fishing and hunting female writers and photographers. She is the product Ambassador for Venator Pro, a premier hunting company and stockist of the European brand Hillman. With a lifetime of countryside experience, Linda’s passion, enthusiasm and respect for the outdoors and hunting is explored and shared across her writing and photography. 

For more information on Linda Mellor, please visit Linda Mellor's website, Twitter (LindaMellor) and instagram (linda_mellor)

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