Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Pheasant Hunting in the Heartland

Most hunters don’t think of Illinois as a place to go pheasant hunting but the truth is Illinois was one of the early states that pheasants were first introduced into North America. Pheasants were successfully liberated into Illinois, eight years before South Dakota first released their first pair of pheasants. Illinois pheasant hunting can be as enjoyable as anywhere in the country.

Harpole’s Heartland Lodge is located only 80 miles from the location that pheasants were first introduced into Illinois in Pike County, IL. Pike County is famous for its giant whitetails, great upland hunting, abundance of turkeys and waterfowl. Located in-between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers makes this area ideal for wildlife.

Pheasant hunts at Heartland Lodge are in CRP fields that were converted from fescue into native prairie grasses providing idea cover all year. Milo food plots are strategically placed throughout all the fields to also provide an ample food source for pheasants. Heartland manages approximately 5,000 total acres.

The style of hunting pheasants is different from states that primarily use flushing dogs. Pointers are used to pheasant hunt the CRP fields and fence rows. Once the pheasants are flushed the pointers also retrieve the birds. Heartland mostly uses German Shorthair pointers but also has English pointers, English Setters and some Britney Spaniels.

Heartland Lodge is an Orvis endorsed wing-shooting lodge that not only provides excellent pheasant hunting, but great meals and accommodations as well. There are two main lodges that consist of twenty rooms along with two spacious recreations rooms that have pool and card tables along with big screen televisions with comfy leather couches to enjoy. All meals at Heartland Lodge are made from scratch just like your grandma made when you were a kid.

The best feature about hunting pheasants in the heartland is carrying on the strong hunting tradition that was started by Heartland Lodge’s owner many years ago. It’s those same traditions that are being created by all the hunters and guests that stay at the lodge. New memories are made with friends and family every day at the lodge.

Enjoy some great quail and pheasant hunting in the mid-west. This pheasant hunting lodge is gaining national attention as one of the premier hunting lodges in the country.

Terry Abney
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grouse Hunting Secret Tidbits that Make for Success

By Naomi K. Shapiro

I know. We're ALL expert ruffed grouse hunters. Right? Well, after many fruitless hunts, I can tell you that I've long since been humbled, and instead of the "I can't miss this season" arrogance, I started listening to the little tidbits that far more experienced grouse hunters have provided me—and which have all helped. And yes, I'll admit somewhat ruefully that I still get skunked -- but not QUITE as often!

First and foremost (no "duhhs" please!), if you're going to go into the woods, find an area that has a good grouse population. Many hunters don't do this. The weather is beautiful. The woods are beautiful. Grouse SHOULD be in those woods- -but often are not. Population cycles, forage, weather, predators - -they can all have a negative impact on whether a hunter will be successful in any given area.

What you should do is check out a hunting area you're interested in LOCALLY. Go to a sports shop, talk to people (most times you'll be in "small town America' and lots of folks will be hunters and willing to help- - so maybe a cup of joe at a local cafĂ© will give you some much needed info), and then scout an area. Check with your state department of natural resources (DNR), or like agency, and find out about an area's grouse population – which can and will vary by year! If there, for instance was a fabulous grouse hunting season the past year, you can pretty well figure that the coming year, may be good, but not quite as good as it was last year- -or could be even far less than "good." One just doesn't know with grouse, so it's essential that you do all the checking you can before you hunt a particular area.

I've found that when you turkey hunt or deer hunt, or even set a trap line, you can get some "feel" for the grouse population in that area by listening for "drumming," or hearing a grouse move, or see them flying around. If you notice a lot of grouse, you can pretty-well be sure that it's a good "woods" to hunt. By the way, if you don't already know this, recognize that you're not able to "lure" a grouse "in" as you would for instance with a wild turkey. With grouse you have to go out and pursue.

A cardinal "no-no" and one of the biggest mistakes that wannabe successful grouse hunters make, is that when they walk in the woods, they walk down a path or an open area. You won't catch "flies with honey" doing that. Grouse may not be rocket scientists, but they're not THAT stupid. You need to get off the main trail, and get "down and dirty." It's that simple. And no, it's not as easy as walking a trail - -and if you spot someone on a trail because they don't want to "dirty" their custom tailored hunting outfit, and sporting a shiny new gold-etched shotgun, you just KNOW that the only grouse they're going to see is one on a dinner plate that they ordered in a fancy overpriced restaurant. There are brambles, and brush, and thickets, and insects, and ticks –but if you're dressed properly, and have the right footwear those things are easily dealt with. Get 10 maybe 15 yards off the trail and you'll see many times more birds than the "trail hugger" ever hoped for. Trust me on that one!

Once in the woods, don't start charging through the woods waiting for a bird to flush. Slow down, and sashay through the brush and obstacles. Every so often, STOP, and just stand there for a minute or two, and then if you've been standing for a bit, stomp your foot. Here's why that's successful. When a grouse is hidden in the brush (and they do have fabulous camouflage - -some of the best in nature), they'll just stay hidden as you walk by, and they'll watch you walk right past them. But, if you every-so-often stop, that'll make them very nervous. The longer you stand there, the more anxious they become, and then if you make a sudden movement and do a "stomp", they'll flush immediately, as they just can't stand it anymore.

When you flush a bird like that, and then shoot and get it, don't forget there'll probably be more than one in that immediate spot. Stop after your initial shot. The other grouse (there may be five or six more right there) who've been sitting there will get nervous and flush as well.

Then there's a tried-and-true "trick" that many grouse hunters never think of. Most hunters don't realize that grouse are NOT "upland game birds" in the true sense of that phrase. You're going to find lots of grouse in areas like around swamps and beaver ponds. Maybe they'll feel secure from predators on a dry knoll, with tufts of grass sticking up in a tag alder swamp. Don't think that grouse will always be up "high and dry." Far from it. Look at "high and dry" of course, but don't forget "low and wet." Grouse will appear far more protected from predators and hunters in what they feel are difficult areas to get around in - -like swamps and ponds. A good friend of mine, and super grouse hunting guide has told me any number of times that the most successful grouse hunters often find their quarry in swamp and pond areas rather than in the hardwoods.

So, I hope you'll "chew on these tidbits" for awhile and adopt them in your grouse hunting scenarios. I really do believe that if you "chew" on what I've suggested, you'll also soon be "chewing" on ruffed grouse at your dinner table.

More Grouse Hunting Articles From
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lending a Paw- Some Well Trained Dogs

A few short video clips from a friend of the site that I though you might all enjoy:

Lending A Paw- Video of a dog that opens doors for his master:

Go On Release-  These dogs are trained to go on the release words "Play" or "OK".  Watch as their trainer tests their hearing.  Incredible video that demonstrates what a dog with good training can do:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Crate Training A Puppy

As many of us have probably learned, house training a new puppy can be a challenging and stressful time. What you have to realize is that learning these new lessons is sometimes hard for them as well. They instinctively want to learn and please their owner. I would like to share some tips on potty training/crate training.

First and foremost we have to understand that they are still very young and being left in a crate for 10 hours at a time is impossible for them. Their body is not capable of such a long period of time until they are 4-5 months old at least. So if you lock up your puppy and go to work thinking it will be fine until you get home, your more than likely going to have a nice messy surprise when you arrive back. Try to find a friend or family member who can go take the puppy outside at some point (more than once is ideal) or try to make it home on your lunch break at least. A 6-8 week old puppy should be taken out every 1-3 hours!

The training that comes during the 2-4 month age is very important for them to continue accident free. We have crate trained numerous puppies for ourselves and for customers and one of the biggest things I can stress is CONSISTENCY and POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!!! Using the same commands and the same "potty" area every time you take the puppy out will also help them to understand quicker. When they take care of their business don't be shy about praising them!! That is a huge part of them learning that they did a good job.

Each time they are in the process of eliminating repeat numerous times a specific command like "potty" or a command of your choice. By doing this, when they get older you will say the "potty" command they will begin the process. Again, be sure to praise the puppy when he finishes!

Setting up a routine schedule for feeding times is just as important. Feeding times need to be just as consistent as any other part of training. 2-3 feedings per day for a limited time, which means giving them their food and allowing just 20 minutes to eat. They will eventually learn that when the food is given they need to eat now or it won't be there for them later. The puppy will need to be taken outside shortly after eating, usually half an hour to an hour later. DO NOT feed your puppy then put them in the crate and leave without being available to let them outside. You will have accidents to come back to when you return.

Make the crate a sanctuary for your puppy like his own private space. If you use the crate for punishing behavior they will shy away from entering it willingly. Associate favorable things with the crate, like the pups favorite chew toy or even throwing treats in for him to chase and come back out to you. Leave a surprise in the crate for them to find on their own like a different chew toy or treat.

Some pups can have what they call nervous wetting, which is they squat and urinate during the excitement of greeting you. This is not something you should punish them for!! This just means that they are a little sensitive and punishment will only make it worse. Most young puppies will grow out of this behavior.

Try to direct them away from problem areas! If they do have an accident somewhere in the house clean it thoroughly with a commercial product that will eliminate the odor. Then keep the pup away from those spots for at least a month if possible.

Please be patient with your new family member as they are learning. Harsh punishments will sometimes delay training and all that is needed for potty training is a startling reaction. You do not want your puppy to be afraid of you or learn that he cannot do his business in front of you. If the pup begins to eliminate inside a loud "NO" or stomp your foot on the floor will usually stop them and then you can immediately take them outside to finish the job.

There is always going to be mistakes in training but hopefully these tips can help you on the road to success in potty training/crate training. Expect a puppy to have accidents because as we all know no one is perfect and it takes time to learn.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Thanksgiving Why Not Eat Some Pheasant

Did you know that we have some great recipes for pheasant over at

This Thanksgiving why not try a tasty pheasant dish instead of the same old roasted turkey.

One of my favorite pheasant recipes:

Smoked Pheasant Recipe

Prep Time:  1 hour   |   Cooking Time:  3 1/2 Hours   |   Servings: 6

1 1/2 lbs. of Thick Sliced Bacon
3 Pheasant

1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup of Pickling Salt
1 can of unsweetened Apple Juice (46 oz)
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil
2 Tsp. Sage
2 Tsp. Thyme
2 Tsp. Liquid Smoke
Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Once mixed, place equal part of the brine into three Ziploc bags.  Place one whole pheasant (preferably skin on) and insure the bird stays completely covered. Remove all air from the bags.  Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

1 lbs. Country Sausage (BelAir Meat Counter) OR Spicy Pork

1 Pound Country Sausage (BelAir Meat Counter) Or spicy pork sausage ½ Red Bell Pepper ½ Yellow Bell Pepper
5 Red Pearl Onions
4 Clove of Garlic
3 Stocks of Celery
1 Stick of Butter
Chop up peppers, onions, celery, and garlic. Heat a large skillet and melt the butter careful not to burn the butter. Place peppers, onions, celery, and garlic in the hot butter and fry until tender. Then brown the sausage in with the peppers, onions, celery, and garlic. Do not over cook the sausage.
When the pheasant is done marinating fill the cavity completely full with the stuffing.

Smoking:After birds are stuffed, tie the bird’s legs and wings up close to the bird.
Wrap the entire bird with bacon using toothpicks to hold the bacon in place.
Smoke for about 2 ½ hours using hickory chips the entire time.

Baking:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a broiler pan, cover the bottom of the pan with water and add 2 tsp of liquid smoke to the water. Place the birds on the top grate of the broiler pan and cover all with tin foil.
Bake for approx 45 min. remove tin foil and bacon and cook until the bird is done and golden brown. Spoon out the stuffing and serve it on the side.
This meal is to die for.

Caution:Stuffing should never be left in the bird. Care is to be taken when handling any fowl. Always insure the bird is completely done using a meat thermometer. (170 Degrees)
Friday, October 15, 2010

Any Deer Hunters In The Crowd?

Hi everyone, I know this blog is really focused on pheasant hunting but for any of you that chase whitetail from time to time I wanted to share one of my favorite resources:  Deer Hunting Tips from the gang over at Foremost Hunting has some great nuts and bolts articles on how to bag big trophy bucks.  If you chase deer check out the page.
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hunting Dog Socialization 201

As you learned in the previous socialization article (Hunting Dog Socialization 101), socialization is crucial to your dog’s training. In the simplest of terms, socialization is introducing your dog to new people, places, and experiences. This process teaches your dog to be comfortable and confident in new situations. The socialization process begins the very first day the dog is in your home. The first article detailed the best way to start socialization within your home. Here we will look at introducing your dog to new places and people.

Regardless of what you will be showing your puppy, it is very important that you not allow the dog to become scared or hurt. This will negatively color the socialization process, which can be difficult to undo. A puppy that has adequately bonded with you should feel comfortable with most new situations as long as you are nearby. You have developed a trusting relationship where the dog should be able to trust you to protect him. This next step of socialization cannot happen effectively if this relationship has not been built.

It is natural for a dog to be curious about new places. You should certainly encourage this, as long as it is proper and legal. Be aware of any safety issues as you bring your dog to new places, and look into local laws regarding leashes. If possible, the dog should be able to explore freely, off-lead, in many areas. Even if your area has strict leash laws, it is likely there are areas that are created for unleashed dogs. Allow the dog to take rides in the vehicle with you, even if you are just running a quick errand. Take the dog with you to parks, lakes, woods, and friends’ homes. Dog parks are ideal in that they expose puppies to other dogs and to other human owners. Be aware of his reaction these situations and be ready to intervene if the puppy is acting inappropriately. As for other humans, kindly ask them not to offer your dog treats. In this stage, it is important that you are the only person in charge.

You should always remain in firm control, keeping the dog safe and secure. In a situation where the dog leaves your side to explore, call him back every so often and reward his obedience. In this you are building the trusting relationship where you are in control, but still encouraging his natural curiosity.

Beginning commands can be taught as you are building this relationship and teaching socialization. Between eight and twelve weeks old, the dog should be able to learn the basics like: no, sit, come, heel, and stay. Early training will ensure the success of later, more specified hunting training.

In a puppy’s life, nearly every moment holds potential for training. It will take concentrated effort, but your time and energy will be well worth it when the time comes for more in-depth training. At that point, the dog will be obedient, receptive, and ready to learn.
Friday, July 02, 2010

Hunting Dog Socialization 101

Long before you can tackle the art of training your hunting dog, you will start the necessary process of socialization. In a nutshell, socialization is introducing the dog to new people, places, things, and experiences in an effort to help the dog adjust to new situations well. We have all seen the dog that become skittish whenever you enter a new environment. The goal of socialization is too avoid behavior changes that accompany new places or events and build your dog’s confidence. It also establishes a foundation upon which all other training will build. In the end, this process will have created a companion that can roll with the punches on and off the hunt.

Bringing Home Puppy

Your brand new puppy will arrive to your home excited, but wary. More than likely the pup will feel out of sorts and lost. However, most puppies quickly realize your home holds new adventures. Keeping a close eye, allow the dog to explore his new surroundings. Keep in mind that puppies can be destructive (in many ways), so it is important to take precautions with valuables. Also, although you will be watching, keep a bit of distance to allow the dog to experience the surroundings without your constant shadow. The puppy will return to you soon enough, at which point you should shower him with love and affection. Any attention should be calm; stick with back or head rubs and using his name while you are petting. At this point, playing competitive games (like a tug of war) or rough-housing is not recommended, simply because it can send a message to the pup that you are buddies on equal footing, instead of establishing you as the boss.

Going Outside

In the outdoors, give the pup plenty of freedom to explore, as long as it is safe. Allow him to explore as you watch from a distance. Right away, you can begin using his name and calling to him to come. If he obeys, reward him with a small treat, and then allow him to return to his exploration.

Puppy Place

Your new puppy needs to have a space that he knows is his. It may be a crate in the home or a kennel of some sort outdoors. It should be a place where the dog feels safe and secure. It should not be a place where the dog is sent after misbehavior, but instead it should be associated with good things. Many owners choose to feed puppies within the crate for this very reason. It is important to train the dog to sleep at night within the crate. Whining should not be rewarded with your attention, as it teaches the dog to whine again whenever he wants or needs something. It is certainly not easy to listen to the whining, but it should last just a few nights before he realizes the whining will not work.

Introducing the Family

Your family needs to know the process of socializing and training the pup. It is very important that they expect the same behavior from the dog as you do. In most cases, misbehavior can be followed by a calm, but firm “NO.” At some point, you or a family member may be tempted to yell, but this can often confuse a dog and make them more excitable. Also, hunting dogs will need to become comfortable with loud noises, so do not clap or use other loud noises in discipline. Instead, grab the skin between his shoulders and lightly shake the dog. This motion is uncomfortable enough to be unpleasant to the dog, but does not hurt him or make him afraid.

Related Gundog Articles:

Introducing Your Puppy To Hunting

Crate Training A New Puppy

How to Choose a Gundog Puppy From a Litter

Training Your Hunting Dogs and Kids

Retriever Puppy Training Tips

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gun Dog Training Between Seasons

Picture for a moment an NFL football player in March or April. Although he is not in the height of his season, regularly working with the team to improve plays and build stamina, he cannot afford to be stagnant. Athletes depend on their bodies to continually succeed, so they must train consistently, even when games and events aren’t regularly scheduled.

The same can be said of your hunting dog. Although you are not depending on his prowess during the lazy days of summer, it is still important to maintain your dog’s level of fitness and ability. You cannot expect the dog to jump back into the game without any maintenance of the dog’s skills. Your dog is an athlete who works strenuously to please you during the hunt. And the simple truth is this: it takes more than a week or two before bird season to maintain the level of skill necessary for a successful hunting experience. There is nothing worse on the first day of the hunt than having a dog full of a year’s worth of enthusiasm and only an hour or two of stamina.

Hunting can be tiring for us, but we are not literally running all day long, as are our hunting dogs. The dog enjoys this work, but it is still demanding on his heart and lungs. His muscles should be toned and ready for exertion. Another important thing is that your dog maintains tough pads on his feet. His feet should be able to physically withstand hours of running on rough and unpredictable ground. These are all things that can be maintained with mild, but consistent workouts consisting of runs, retrievals, and basic drills.

Another issue to consider is the dog’s exposure to climate control. If your dog resides in an air-conditioned home for the spring/summer/early fall, exposure to hard work in an uncontrolled climate can take its toll on the dog. The first day of the hunt has the potential to be quite warm or quite cold, depending on the area, and your dog should be prepared to work in that climate. It is not ideal to leave the dog outside all summer either, but consistent exposure to the outdoors will help to prepare him for hunting season.

Worse yet, the sudden exertion on the part of a dog that has been allowed to be lazy for 9 months can cause debilitating injuries. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments can be damaged if they are suddenly overused. Hunting dogs have such a desire and passion for the sport that they will actually hurt themselves in their enthusiasm. This can lead to a disappointing hunting season with your best hunting buddy out of commission.

An unfit, unprepared hunting dog reflects poorly on his owner. It is as if you have “put away” the dog during the off-season, much like you put away your orange vest. Spend a night or two each week during the off-season to exercise and condition your dog for the future hunt. Increase this time as the hunt approaches, adding drills, swimming, roading, and retrieving.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Importance of Your Dog’s Diet

The better we as humans eat, the better our bodies function. We can avoid excessive sickness, weight gain, and fatigue, among other things, if we are eating well. As the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” The same can be said of our hunting dogs. If you are expecting optimum performance from your dog, you should be providing the best diet possible. This does not mean you should spend more on your dog’s food than your own, it simply means that you should be cognizant of the ingredients within your dog’s food and make changes where necessary.

Dog Food

The first ingredient in your dog’s bag of food should be chicken or lamb (or it could be a pricier meat like buffalo, duck, or salmon). Meat byproducts are often found in lesser quality foods, which signify the use of any number of extra pieces of the animal that were not able to be used in the grocery store for human consumption. There should be at least 20% protein in the dog’s food, supplied by the highest quality meat ingredients you can afford. Along with this, the food should have about 10% fat. Beware of fillers. Corn is a common ingredient in dog food, but is very difficult for dogs to digest and fills their stomach so there is less room for more nutritious foods. In some packaged dog foods, oatmeal is used as a filler; oatmeal is much friendlier to your dog’s digestive system and therefore a much better choice. Some manufacturers are responding to the needs of healthier ingredients and have begun adding fruits and vegetables, which will also help round your dog’s diet.


Depending on your dog’s level of activity, the quantity of food you are serving him or her will change. During a high-activity time, the body’s demand for calories to burn will be higher, necessitating more food. On the other hand, if it is the off-season and the dog is spending a lot of time resting and napping the quantity of food you supply should be less. However, cold weather requires more food than summer temperatures (up to 50% more).


The consumption of water is vastly important to your dog’s health. Water aids in the digestion and absorption of food, as well as regulating the dog’s internal body temperature. Toxins and waste are carried away from the body with water. Just for survival, the dog needs at least 2 ml of water for every pound the dog weighs each day.


For a dog that is in need of an additional boost of energy or if they are recovering from injury or sickness, you can add a boost to their diet with just a few ingredients. Boil chicken or liver until done, then put in the food processor or mash it well. Add about ½ cup to the dog’s regular food. Other additions can be: a raw egg, ½ cup yogurt or cottage cheese, and salmon oil (or other fish oil).


A quality, well-balanced diet leads to energy, well-developed muscles, a thick coat, and insulation against cold weather. Less illness will plague your dog and injuries can even heal more quickly if your dog is well fed.