Skip to main content

Prairie State Delivers

Prairie State Delivers

Operating in one of America's top counties for P&Y-class bucks, this outfit continues to prove itself as a premier bowhunting destination.

It seems hard to believe, but hunting in Illinois was new to me just a half-dozen years ago. The good folks at Hunter's Specialties first introduced me to the famously prized whitetail real estate across the Mississippi River and just north of St. Louis. Having the opportunity to see some of the biggest bucks of my life, this Keystone State bowhunter couldn't wait to get back, and I returned a couple of years later.






Considering my antics on stand, Outfitter Greg Guerrieri, cameraman Steven Jones, and I were all thrilled to call this a wrap.

Then I had the opportunity to hunt the state with Illinois landowner and magazine friend Scott McIlvoy. I took my first P&Y-class buck with Scott aiming a video camera over my shoulder. Scott hosted me the following year when Bowhunter TV Videographer Larry D. Jones took a beautiful 140-class buck for our show.


And then long-time Bowhunter Magazine Conservation Editor Dr. Dave Samuel began talking to me about Mid-West Trophy Outfitters. "Jeff, you've got to come out and hunt with me at Greg's place," he told me. "Greg runs a great operation, and his guides are all bowhunters. They really know what they're doing." The guys on the magazine staff have all learned to pay close attention when Dr. Dave talks whitetails, or anything else for that matter, and I soon promised that I would join him the following year -- and shoot a buck on video.

I later met up with Mid-West Trophy Outfitters' owner Greg Guerrieri at the monstrous Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA, which is also the town our magazine calls home. Greg and I were soon making plans to shoot a future television show. It was only later that we learned that Dr. Dave had fallen gravely ill and would not be able to join us.

Greg's team operates out of three different Fulton County locations -- Bushnell, Ellisville, and near the Spoon River -- and hunters typically have only a few minutes' drive to the farm(s) where they hunt. And while Mid-West has access to about 10,000 acres of outstanding Illinois hunting ground and books hunters for only a few weeks each year, the team works with landowners year-round to provide a quality experience for all involved.

From coordinating agricultural and hunting efforts, like strategically placing stands, planting special food plots, and doing their best to harvest does, to keeping in close communication with their hunters, Greg and his team of guides are simply crazy about big whitetails and are thrilled about the opportunity to put all clients in position to harvest the biggest bucks of their lives.

That happened for me on a cool, damp morning this past November. Poised on a Summit Deer Deck with cameraman Steven Jones at my back, I watched over a leaf-littered two-track running downhill on the crest of a wooded finger leading to a big creek bottom. The morning had been quite calm. Only a trio of other deer had passed above our stands.

Then a bobble-headed turkey gobbler came running up the hill. He circled oddly in front of us and then returned in the same general direction.

Minutes later a mature doe arrived on the scene from the uphill side of our setup. She milled around in near bow range for some time, waiting and seeming to have no place to go. Steven and I watched her, wondering when she'd pick up our scent as the wind swirled about us, but apparently she never caught a whiff of us.

The doe still stood in the brush across from us when I caught sight of what I thought were the backs of turkeys feeding up out of the parallel draw. As I watched, the turkeys morphed into deer. And then I saw antler tips. With that, I immediately eased into shooting position and called Steven's attention to the buck.

"Shooter," we whispered, nearly in unison.

A strange calmness settled over me as I watched the 150-class buck drift upward out of the draw with two more does. Steam poured out of his flaring nostrils. He postured, and his body seemed to insinuate his will over the situation. A yearling doe jumped and pranced about awkwardly, picking her way toward our setup.

And I knew the buck would follow. He'd be in range.

Then, suddenly, without warning, that little doe stopped at a little more than 20 yards and lifted her head in a nervous arc, twisted back toward the buck, snorted, and then bounded back over the top of the hill. Momentarily, the big buck stared our way, without a clue, and then followed the two does back into the draw, gone forever. Nothing is more memorable and compelling than the one that got away, and as strange as it may seem for me to say so, on that particular day it was okay.

"In this country, we're not just hunting one buck," Greg told me. So, as a cold front moved in, bringing steady rain, we moved to another hilltop setup. "Be a ghost on stand," Greg said, reminding me of his operation's overall emphasis on stealth. And before long, a number of bucks had passed our hot corner.

First thing the next morning, a thick-bodied buck walked right under me and paused as if directed to do so. And while I knew from first-hand experience that much bigger bucks cruised these woods, this was an opportunity I just couldn't pass. I had a promise to keep.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Tree Saddle Hunting: Tree Climbing with an Aider

Tree Saddle Hunting: Tree Climbing with an Aider

Go farther, hunt deeper, and trek lighter while enjoying all-day comfort with the newest tree saddle hunting gear and tactics.

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg begins the scouting process in Kentucky on his first whitetail hunt of the season.

Better Bow Practice: Pick a Spot When Aiming

Better Bow Practice: Pick a Spot When Aiming

On this edition of "Dead On," Hall-of-Fame bowhunter Randy Ulmer shares advice on picking a spot to aim at when practicing with your bow.

Turkey Decoy Beatdown

Turkey Decoy Beatdown

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist witnesses a hen trying to destroy one of his decoys while hunting turkeys in Kansas.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We all need a spot to place our feet in life … and even more so when in the saddle. The two options are a platform or ring-of-steps.Best New Tree Saddle Hunting Platforms & Ring of Steps Treestands & Blinds

Best New Tree Saddle Hunting Platforms & Ring of Steps

Bowhunter Staff - January 03, 2021

We all need a spot to place our feet in life … and even more so when in the saddle. The two...

Whether you prefer hunting from a tree or on the ground, there is something new for you this year.New Treestands, Ground Blinds & Tree Saddles for 2021 ATA Show

New Treestands, Ground Blinds & Tree Saddles for 2021

Jace Bauserman - January 11, 2021

Whether you prefer hunting from a tree or on the ground, there is something new for you this...

Seeing is believing with this year's crop of exciting new optics.New Optics for 2021 ATA Show

New Optics for 2021

Taylor Pardue - January 12, 2021

Seeing is believing with this year's crop of exciting new optics.

A climbing aider is a device that you use in conjunction with a stick that helps you gain more height per stick, but at the addition of very little weight to the stick setup.Best New Tree Stick Climbing Aiders Treestands & Blinds

Best New Tree Stick Climbing Aiders

Bowhunter Staff - January 04, 2021

A climbing aider is a device that you use in conjunction with a stick that helps you gain more...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Hunting seasons don't just happen in the fall. Editor Curt Wells details some spring bowhunting adventures to extend your time in the outdoors!Don't Forget About Spring Bowhunting Stories

Don't Forget About Spring Bowhunting

Curt Wells - March 20, 2018

Hunting seasons don't just happen in the fall. Editor Curt Wells details some spring...

My family and I are opportunity hunters. No matter the species, if there is an open season, oddsHunting Seasons Are Full of Life Lessons Stories

Hunting Seasons Are Full of Life Lessons

Fred Eichler - December 15, 2017

My family and I are opportunity hunters. No matter the species, if there is an open season,...

As hunters, we need to give the respect we want to receive from others.Respect for the Hunt & Other Hunters Stories

Respect for the Hunt & Other Hunters

Dwight Schuh

As hunters, we need to give the respect we want to receive from others.

It's often said archers do it The Journey For A Longbow Super Slam Stories

The Journey For A Longbow Super Slam

Nathan L. Andersohn - July 31, 2018

It's often said archers do it "the hard way," but hunting with a longbow is, by far, the...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Bowhunter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now