At Backwoods Whitetails we impose no antler restrictions, no trophy fines or trophy fee's. We understand that
We refuse to forget that the reason we all started hunting was because we each simply loved the fact that we
even though it may not personally be a trophy to us, it might were able to be hunting!!
The TRUTH about trophy management in Illinois
While most outfitters claim to have an effective buck management program. What the client doesn't know or
realize? Unless an outfitter is operating a high fence hunting operation, there is no possible way to 100%
effectively manage their herd to allow the bucks to grow to a desired potential. That even goes for the outfitter
that has 5000 acres in one square block.
Being a resident hunter of Illinois my entire life, I have witnessed the harvesting of several button bucks, 1 1/2
and 2 1/2 year old bucks by resident hunters each and every season. They either harvest for the love of the
hunt, for the purpose of meat or because it is the biggest buck they have ever harvested in their life to that date.
Now don't get me wrong! There are several resident Illinois hunters that are trophy class hunters. They will set
their own personal standards high and have no problems passing on bucks of a young age class in hopes they
will make it through the season to be bigger next year. That class of resident trophy hunter waits it out and
chooses to harvest only bucks of a 4 1/2 or older range. Bottom line: What some outfitters don't tell clients is?
Most of the bucks that they are making their clients pass up (because they don't meet the OUTFITTERS
minimum requirements) actually only have a 50 -50 chance of being harvested by other or local hunters. The
state of Illinois does not require any outfitters to impose any type of antler restriction or fine for shooting bucks
of lesser standard. So without a statewide management program....How can any management plan be effective?
How is it that a deer is worth an extra $500 or $1000 on one side of the fence.....but it jumps onto the neighbor
and is suddenly "FREE"?
How do I know this? Each year at Backwoods Whitetails we run 50+ trail camera's on all of our privately owned
leased farms. Much like (or should i say exactly like) other popular outfitters (that have minimums with fines) in
our area. Each of our leases are spread out and split up in several farms. Some of these leased farms being two
to five and even 40 miles apart. Each of these farms are bordered by other farms that are owned / hunted by
local hunters and sometimes even leased by outfitters "claiming" to have a management program in place.
Now, on our trail cams, we get several trail pictures of the exact same bucks from different farms from 1- 5 and
even up to 5 miles apart. Now take a look at this BUCK TRAVEL RADIUS MAP and ask yourself just how big
even a three mile radius actually is. Then consider just how many different bucks are free range traveling those
individually owned or outfitter leased properties that are within that radius. For example: In just one of our areas
(within a three mile radius) we have three or more different outfitters operating with antler restrictions that are
surrounded by SEVERAL properties being owned and hunted by several local/resident hunters. Want to know
exactly what is being harvested in a small area? Spend three days during the first firearm season in Illinois and
take a drive around to see what some of the local hunters are loading into the back of their trucks to feed the
family. I believe you will find their dinner plate has no antler restrictions and nor did it cost them an additional
$500 to $1000 for shooting that nights meal.
Now Seriously think about it!! You are hunting with an outfitter that advertises having a managed deer herd.
They claim that through using antler minimums (that are reinforced by a fine if you shoot a buck that doesn't
meet "THE OUTFITTERS" desired minimum) that "THEIR" farms have more and bigger deer than the outfitter
down the road. Now...... While hunting with this outfitter, you shoot a buck that doesn't meet the outfitters
minimum standard. Now you are forced to pay him a "fine" of $500 to $1000. I would hope that you are asking
yourself this question...... WHAT DID THE MONEY I JUST PAID GOING TO DO TO and/or FOR the MANAGEMENT
OF A WILD AND FREE ROAMING DEER/BUCK HERD? Realize that those fines are just a sales gimmick to make
you think "Hey....if this guy has a 140 minimum? Hell there must me ALL KINDS OF 140s running around"!!
RIGHT?......WRONG!!! These fines are a scare tactic to keep you from shooting bucks that make them look
bad as well as for the outfitter to........ MAKE MORE $$$/ BUCKS?? The reality is..... deer is dead and wont be
getting any bigger for next hunter, the next year or even passing on his genes! So, come on guys. Are the fines
really in place to help improve your 100% Wild n Fair Chase Hunt. Or are they just to make you only "watch" the
deer and keep you from shooting the bucks? Because most hunters have no clue how to not only judge what a
bucks size is. But allot of times the buck comes by you at a quick pace leaving you with a quick / one shot
opportunity and thus......You don't get the time needed to make a $1000 decision. SO....... (Do you go to Disney
Land to only watch the rides?) OR again. Is it really to help encourage you to pass on the buck in hopes he will
make it past all the other hunters that are within the uncontrolled 5mile travel radius. Hey.... MAYBE he will make
it and maybe he wont show up next year and be bigger? But what you don't know wont hurt ya right? It kind of
just hurt your hunt though huh? Personally I think all it did was manage the outfitters bank account and help
drain yours!! And now I will let ya in on a little reality secret!! This is what actually goes on with the bucks
throughout a years time in Illinois.
Buck Home Range & Travel: Through the use of todays technology of 50+ trail cameras. We have annually
monitored the daily activity and travel patterns of specific whitetails bucks. Through several years of our own
research, we find that bachelor groups of bucks will spend time in a small core are in their home range from late
January to Mid-October. What happens once the peak of the rut hits? Because mother nature tries to prevent
inbreeding by making the bucks travel around to breed several doe. Maybe 1 shooter class buck out of a
bachelor group of 5 will stick around and wait to breed a local doe. What happens to the rest? We have found
those exact same bucks start showing up on our other trail cameras on our farms from 3 -5 miles away and we
begin getting pictures of bucks we have never seen before. So, when you are passing up that buck that doesn't
meet your outfitters minimum standards, ask yourself this....... WHO'S BUCKS ARE YOU REALLY
Remembering that Illinois is referred to as the flat land. During the Peak rut, bucks have been reported to
traveling up to ten miles in search of a hot doe. Even resident trophy hunters (that hunt a specific trophy bucks)
have logged hundreds of hours running trail cams, glassing fields and walking for hours and days on end, in
the spring to find shed antlers from a specific bucks that might fit their fancy. Some local trophy hunters have
reported that specific bucks they were hunting had been harvested, during the rut, up to 10 miles away from
where they annually found their shed antlers and/or had trail cam pics of the animal in the summer months. So
when inquiring about booking a hunt and the outfitter says they have an antler minimum. Keep in mind that
without a high fence, the buck that you seen today will more than likely be gone tomorrow. Just because an
outfitter says he has 25000+ acres, doesn't mean they have that much property as a whole. When inquiring
about booking a hunt with any outfitter, ask if their properties are split up and bordered by other properties that
are owned and hunted by resident hunters. Don't be afraid to ask, just how is it that they can legitimately
manage their buck herd?
TRUTH IS...Trophy hunting is simply an attitude. While hunting.... it is OK for each of us have our own different
personalities and desires. Some like the hunt simply for the experience, some look for the character of the rack
and yes...some look it for the size of the rack. Some of us like it simply for the love of the hunt!! Me? I just love to
hunt while looking for a nice buck that I am personally happy with. I don't and wont ever downgrade another
hunter or place him in a category of being less of a hunter for shooting a smaller buck than I wouldn't. I say
congrats on a successful hunt and that every hunt, as well as every deer. is a trophy experience!!
If you want to know more about hunting with Backwoods Whitetails or just hunting the Illinois whitetail. Give us
a call or send us and email. We would be happy to help you better understand.
Why No Antler Restrictions?
No Fines, No Fee's and No Minimums and still killing bucks scoring 170 inches
No Fines, No Fee's and No Minimums and still killing bucks scoring 170 inches