In 2016 we are celebrating our 20th anniversary here at Hadley Creek Outfitters. Over the past two decades, we have honed our hunting strategies and how we target these big, Illinois bucks. A part of that success is our approach to using tree stands and how it fits in to the broader strategy.
When we speak with first-time hunters to Hadley Creek, some of the most common questions are about our use of tree stands. How often is a stand hunted? Do you change locations based on conditions? In light of those questions, we’d like to share how we typically do things here.
There’s no “Off-Season” here at Hadley Creek Outfitters. When you’re obsessed with hunting giant whitetails, the preoccupation never rests. Our tree stand and hunting strategies begin with the start of the New Year.
The first thing we do after a busy hunting season is to sit down with our guides and go over the layout of each farm. You see, each guide is assigned a farm or farms. Rather than bouncing around to different properties, each guide has a certain assignment that he knows like the back of his hand. He knows where every shot opportunity happened that past season, which stands produced deer and which had flaws.
Throughout the winter, we will discuss stand locations, productivity of each location and what needs to change the following season. Before the ground ever thaws, we have a specific game plan for every single farm that we hunt.
Of course the final plan and strategy for each farm revolves around a number of factors, including crops, CRP, timber, food plots and terrain. We usually average a stand for every ten acres. That means, if a big buck moves through any given property, no matter what route he chooses, he’ll have to walk past at least one of those stands.
After crops and food plots are in the ground every spring, we turn our attention to setting stands. Our staff spends a large part of the summer here in Pike County preparing stand locations, trimming trees and fine-tuning adjustments. By the time our first hunters arrive for the season, our farms are ready to hunt, no matter what conditions we face.
- Stand Use
The advantage of pre-hanging our stands means that we don’t (or very rarely) have to make adjustments or moves during the hunting season. Our hunters simply walk in and walk out with a minimal amount of intrusion. Limiting intrusion and having a stand ready for any situation is a huge advantage.
This strategy isn’t cheap. Typically, we’re only using one out of every 25 stands on any given day of hunting. But investing in this high volume of stands, and avoiding intrusion on our farms during the season is a huge part of our success.
When a hunter arrives at Hadley Creek, he or she can be sure that they won’t be hunting an over-used stand location. Many times, when your guide takes you to a stand, it may not have been used for weeks, if at all that season. No matter where your guide places you, you can be sure of one thing – with hundreds of options to choose from, it’s because he thinks it’s the best possible location to kill a giant deer that particular day! Not only are Hadley’s guides whitetail-obsessed, they’re competitive. They keep tallies on each other throughout the season. In addition to the friendly competition, they receive a kill bonus for every buck that hits the ground.
Finally, at Hadley Creek you won’t just be hunting different stand locations every day. You’ll be hunting completely different farms! Each day, you get to hunt with a different guide on one of his assigned farms. If you want to go back to a particular farm, you can request to go back with the same guide for another day. Otherwise, you get to move on and hunt a different location with a new guide. Our clients really enjoy this system. It keeps things fun, interesting and fair.
If you have any questions about hunting with Hadley Creek Outfitters in Pike County, Illinois, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 217-335-3804 or contact us on the website.