Here are a few keys to success when it comes to deer hunting on public land:

  1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Start with the internet, and download maps from the State. They have pdf maps of most of the public hunt areas.  Google earth is another great way to get a satellite image of the terrain, so you can look for natural funnels, water, and crop fields/feeding areas (and it’s free).

    9-pointer taken at Midewin Tallgrass Prairie
    9-pointer taken at Midewin Tallgrass Prairie
  2. SCOUT. Get out BEFORE the season and cover as much ground as you can. Familiarize yourself with the terrain and deer patterns.
  3. BE PATIENT. If you can pattern the deer, you have a great chance of scoring on a buck if you are persistent. If other guys are hunting nearby, or pressure increases in the area, start hunting main travel routes and escape trails. As other hunters bump deer, you will have a good chance of catching one on an escape trail. Or look for remote woodlots, ditches or small patches of cover and set up well before light. As hunters fill the woods, I guarantee they will push deer (especially big bucks) out to little remote spots.

Here are few off-the-beaten-path spots to bowhunt for deer. These are open to the public, but don’t receive a huge amount of hunting pressure. And there’s plenty of room to stretch your legs and get some remote access to big bucks.

Panther Creek- this awesome property has over 16,000 huntable acres! With 6,500 acres of timber, this spot has a ton of prime spots to kill a big buck. Get more details here.

Marseilles State Fish and Wildlife Area- hunt here once, and you won’t even thinkyou are in Illinois. The interior of the property is loaded with thick timber and deep ravines (big buck heaven). There are a lot of site-specific regulations, so get the details here.

Argyle Lake State Park – west of Macomb, Illinois, this is another great spot for big deer. With only 900 huntable acres, it’s not as big as some other parks. But it makes up for it with the terrain, it’s mostly timber and deep draws. Get more info here.

Matthiessen State Park- just South of Starved Rock, this little honey hole is LOADED with deer, and not many guys know about it. Definitely worth checking out this season. Get details here.

Leave a Reply


Your browser is out of date. It has security vulnerabilities and may not display all features on this site and other sites.

Please update your browser using one of modern browsers (Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, IE 10).