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The History of Deer Hunts in the Midwest

The History of Deer Hunts in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska
4393 words

Most whitetail enthusiasts are aware that in order to consistently harvest trophy whitetail deer in the Midwest your best choice of strategy is to book a hunt with a credible deer outfitter. When I began deer hunting it was as simple as knocking on a farmer’s door and obtaining permission to hunt. At that time hunting was not a means by which farmers earned money. The farmer looked upon deer as “the pest that ate the crops” he was taking to market. Those were the days when hunters literally walked into the woods carrying 2 X 4 boards and plywood to build deer stands. We didn’t know what a 4 Wheeler was, and to purchase one just to pursue deer was considered a bit insane. We didn’t have magic scent suits, or 300 feet per second compound bows. We just hunted and enjoyed it, despite the fact it was much more work. Thank God those days are over, and despite a small minority of hunters that wish they could beat on doors for free hunting most of us realize a good deer outfitter is your key to success.

Outfitted hunts have been occurring in parts of the World like Africa, Alaska, and the Western United States for over 50 years. In those locations hunters can easily find a good hunt outfitter to pursue big game. The reason is because outfitting has been perfected over great periods of time in these places. Midwestern deer outfitters have been doing business only about 15 years. Further studies suggest the average Iowa deer outfitter providing Iowa deer hunts has been in business less than 2 years. The average Missouri deer outfitter providing Missouri deer hunts has been in business less than 3 years. The average Pike County Illinois deer outfitter providing Pike County Illinois deer hunts has been in business less than 5 years. The average Nebraska deer outfitter providing Nebraska deer hunts has been in business less than 3 years. This would insinuate whitetail hunters need to be selective when it comes to selecting any whitetail deer outfitter in the Midwest.

Pike County Illinois Deer Hunts

As a deer outfitter that provides Iowa deer hunts, Missouri deer hunts, Pike County Illinois deer hunts, Nebraska deer hunts, and Kansas deer hunts with 13 years in full time business I have seen the rise of the market of Midwestern deer outfitters. I recall when I first began my outfit service I provided only Pike County Illinois deer hunts. At that time their were only 3 other Pike County Illinois deer outfitters I knew of at that time which was in 1995. In fact when I quit my full time job in 1995 to become a full time provider of Pike County Illinois deer hunts I didn’t know if I would be successful enough to provide for my family. Little did I know I was getting involved in the deer hunting world at just the right time. Most often times your success has everything to do with your timing. In 2008 it was reported that over 413 Illinois deer outfitters were currently conducting business. Most of these entities providing Pike County Illinois deer hunts are what I call “the redneck outfitter”. You know the one’s with the reduced pricing on small tracts of land with a 3 or 4 page website. You’ll know them as they have small websites, low quality brochures, and very few photos in their photo galleries or a photo gallery with many photos of the same deer over and over. Especially in a time when hunters want to save money its very tempting to hop aboard this train and cut corners. One thinks to himself, I can save money and still hunt deer in Pike County Illinois. They think their can’t be that much of a difference. Far from the truth. These small guppie Pike County Illinois deer outfitters providing Pike County Illinois deer hunts may have the best of intentions to place you on trophy deer but few understand how to do so. You will also find these types outfits selling Pike County Illinois deer hunts most often times don’t understand how trophy deer move across a given piece of terrain. You will think your saving a few dollars however your not. Why? How would you like to purchase a Pike County Illinois deer hunt being a New York resident. You would book the hunt, wait all year to participate, drive over 12 hours to get to camp, and then discover your with a Pike County Illinois deer outfitter that doesn’t know how to get you on a big deer, resulting in all your money being wasted instead of money you saved. While I assure you not every hunter will have a good Illinois deer hunt in our camps due to weather and their own hunt ability I can assure you IMB Outfitters will be organized, with statistics on every treestand, and a strategy to employ that is intelligent and worth the drive out. To this day I am simply amazed with the number of outfits selling Pike County Illinois deer hunts, sporting 4 page websites holding less than 2 dozen photos in their photos galleries, out of horrific lodge conditions that continue to mass produce by the dozens season after season. As a Pike County Illinois deer outfitter I hear the horror stories of hunters across the nation.

Just recently I spoke to a hunter who was wanting to purchase a Pike County Illinois deer hunt on the phone. He told me he had his Pike County Illinois deer outfitter choice narrowed down to two companies. IMB Outfitters and another Pike County Illinois deer outfitter I cannot name out of a fear of “suit”. He told me what other outfitter he was considering and both he and I traveled on our computers simultaneously to view and compare both websites. I was quick to point out the other Pike County Illinois deer outfitter he was considering had one paragraph and one photo on their homepage. (IMB Outfitters has 8 paragraphs and a half a dozen photos on the homepage along with a video of Alex Rutledge talking about IMB.) The opposing website was only 5 pages long. (IMB Outfitters has over 35 pages of informative information surrounding not only Pike County Illinois deer hunts but also tons of data regarding strategies, tactics, videos, etc.) The opposing Pike County deer hunt outfitter he was considering had 9 photo in their photo gallery and 5 of the photos were of the same buck. (IMB Outfitters has hundreds of photos of deer harvested with us) The opposing outfitter had won no outdoor industry awards. (IMB has won over a half a dozen outdoor awards) The opposing Pike County Illinois deer outfitter had not sponsors supporting them which is often a sign of credibility. (IMB Outfitters possess’s and displays over 2 dozen sponsors, 14 of which are Fortune 500 Companies in the Hunt Industry.) After a brief discussion surrounding the difference in the website I told the hunter he was looking at the typical “redneck” outfitter who sells Pike County Illinois deer hunts. After I pointed out these things he automatically saw the difference between an organized professional outfitter providing Pike County Illinois deer hunts and “the other guys”. Needless to say he was smart and booked a hunt with IMB Outfitters. Before taking his deposit on the hunt I ask him why he had considered the other deer outfitter. He stated, “The Owner told me his hunters kill a lot of 180 inch plus whitetail bucks every year.” I then pointed out that while IMB Outfitters was displaying 160 to 200 inch deer all over their website that the opposing outfitter he had thought of booking with only had one 160 inch deer or better on his website. I ask the simply question, “If the other outfitter selling Pike County Illinois deer hunts is harvesting 180 inch deer all the time don’t you think he would post them on his website?” Of course the answer is yes, however they weren’t present. You may save a buck with a fly by night outfitter but most times you won’t shoot at a buck with a fly by night outfitter.

One type of Pike County Illinois deer outfitter you will also discover due to the County’s unprecedented reputation is what I call the “Factory Outfitter.” This is the Outfitter who has multiple lodges in one location and runs as many Pike County Illinois deer hunts as they possibly can. These are companies that carry investors that expect huge gross earnings to divide between themselves. At these types of Pike County Illinois deer outfitters you will find treestands are overhunted and normally a lack of care and enthusiasm is present. I only wish I could name them, but do to lawsuits surrounding slander I have to keep my mouth closed. All I can say on these Pike County Illinois deer hunts is be careful. Look for an outfitter that has won awards, is recognized by the hunt industry in arenas that can’t be paid for, etc.

Our Pike County Illinois deer hunts range in price from $2250 to $3500 which includes lodging at a 4 Starr Facility. Prices are dependent upon what date and weapon you wish to utilize. You may visit our Pike County Illinois deer hunts at

Iowa Deer Hunts

Iowa deer hunts are quickly becoming one of the most popular choices among all whitetail hunters abroad. When booking an Iowa deer hunt one needs to be extremely careful. As a Midwestern Whitetail Outfitter with 13 years of experience, accomplished Outdoor Writer, and a hunter on 27 Pro Staffs in the Hunt Industry with over 13 Pope and Young Bucks to my credit trust and believe the average Iowa deer outfitter is rather wet behind the ears or located in the wrong zone. Iowa deer hunts need to be booked in Zone 5 of Iowa. Accept nothing less. Just because your hunting with an Iowa deer outfitter doesn’t mean your hunting where the best Iowa deer hunting is occurring. Iowa deer outfitters are generally just farmers allowing access to their farms, or relatives of farmers who’s dream is to sell Iowa deer hunts for a living. This is a state that if you don’t select the right Iowa deer outfitter you probably will be very disappointed and never experience the magic of Iowa deer hunting.

It is my professional opinion there are only three Iowa deer outfitters that are organized to the point of qualifying for consideration. One of these Iowa deer outfitters is a good man but he is not in Zone 5 thus I couldn’t select that Iowa deer outfitter, however I’m sure he’ll tell you his Zone is just as good as Zone 5. That is simply not the truth and can be easily proven by checking the Pope and Young and Boone and Crockett Record Books. Early in the history of Iowa the biggest bucks came from the extreme Northeastern Zones but now the Record Books are being rewritten by the Iowa deer hunts which occur from Zone 5. Do your homework and you’ll see I am telling the truth. Iowa deer hunts vary a great deal from one zone to another. Settle for nothing less than Zone 5.

In Zone 5 of Iowa I only know of one Iowa deer outfitter that provides Iowa deer hunts. That outfitter is IMB Outfitters. It is my opinion that every other Zone 5 Iowa whitetail deer outfitter I know of has less than 3 years of experience, leases very little amounts of acreage, provides inferior lodging, most don’t even have guides to put you on trophy deer that are patterned, and in a nutshell just aren’t up to speed. While many of these folks are fine people they just don’t understand nor possess the experience to provide a quality Iowa deer hunt. Most generally these so called Iowa deer outfitters are just farmer’s son’s selling Iowa deer hunts. At first glance you might think you can travel to your Iowa deer hunt not needing a guide and not caring how nice the lodge is just as long as you save a few bucks but lets look at the other side of the coin. If the Iowa deer outfitter providing Iowa deer hunts will allow you to hang your own stand and walk out the whole property in search of where to hang your deer stand you can bet several groups have been in on the ground before you doing the same thing. I promise you that 3 or 4 guys walking out a property looking for deer sign on which to hang stands will spook deer off the property much faster than anything. Remember if an Iowa deer outfitter will let you walk it out then they have let others walk it out. Then you always have a hope or a belief that as a non resident of Iowa you possess enough hunting skills to find and harvest your own trophy deer even if you know nobody else has walked the farm out. I learned years ago that deer evolve differently in different states and that Iowa deer hunting is very different than Illinois deer hunting. Iowa deer are much different than Missouri deer. Iowa deer hunts call for the hunter to employ Iowa deer hunt tactics. Tactics that irregardless of how good a hunter you may be, in the State of Iowa you may be operating on a “novice” level, believe it or not.

For example: The first few years I was an Iowa deer outfitter providing Iowa deer hunts I was in disbelief of how trophy bucks and even does behaved and moved across terrain so much differently than Missouri deer. Missouri deer normally bed at first light and travel at last light. Missouri deer run from vehicles especially if they slow down or stop. Missouri deer don’t normally just waltz right out into the open field and tolerate any human activity what so ever. The reason Missouri deer do this is because they have been reared in a State that allows rifle hunting for many days at a time. Missouri deer are used to being killed from very long distances and don’t feel safe in the open or during daylight hours. Iowa deer will walk right out in the open. Iowa deer will move midday. Iowa deer will put up with much more human activity. Why? Iowa mandates hunters use shotguns. Therefore Iowa deer feel safe in open areas and are not as skiddish. Often times during an Iowa deer hunt the biggest of deer will bed and live in a draw 60 yards long and 20 yards wide. Iowa deer are just plain strange. Going to Iowa and participating in a do it yourself hunt can be heart breaking.

Our Iowa deer hunts range in price from $2250 to $3500 which includes lodging at a near 4 Starr Facility. Prices are dependent upon what date and weapon you wish to utilize. You may visit our Iowa deer hunts at

Missouri Deer Hunts

While whitetail hunters are talking about Ohio and Kentucky being the “sleeper states for trophy whitetail deer” I submit to you that Missouri is the #1, Sleeper State in the Nation. In 2005 the Missouri Department of Conservation employed an antler restriction on bucks taken in Missouri mandating that any buck shot must at least have 4 points on one side of the rack. The results have been nothing short of amazing. Missouri deer hunts may be the best kept secret in the hunt industry. On all hunters IMB Outfitters keep statistics of each time they go into the woods. Look at the steady trend of higher and higher success rates of Missouri deer hunts since 2003:

Time Period 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003

Nonrut Bow 105% 66% 62% 66% 60%
Rut Bow 152% 128% 106% 85% 86%
1st Gun 167% 141% 118% 117% 71%
2nd Gun 138% 104% 88% 69% 71%
Muzzleloader 88% NA 200% 33% NA

The aforementioned success rates depict the average success rate or chance each hunter has on a Missouri deer hunt to shoot at a record book whitetail deer.

I recall beginning our Missouri deer hunts in 2003. In 2002 when I began signing up Missouri Landowners they did not even know what a deer outfitter was, much less the amount of money a farmer could make from deer hunts in Missouri. Because of this I literally don’t even know another Missouri deer outfitter in my area with the exception of one. Due to this IMB Outfitters has been able to lease the best properties and employ Quality Deer Management Programs on these farms to grown larger and larger whitetails. Missouri deer hunts are simply spectacular as long as you are in the right area. The best Missouri deer hunts are conducted in Macon, Shelby, Putnam, and Knox County. This is a group of Missouri Counties that year after year continue to lead the State in deer harvest numbers and record book buck entries. While it may be hard to believe it is very difficult to find the quality of deer in any other counties in the State of Missouri than these. Missouri deer hunts need to be booked in these counties with a credible Missouri deer outfitter.

Just in 2009 I am beginning to see the coming of the fly by night outfitters with the small websites, cheap brochures, small amounts of acreages, and below average lodges. Much like Iowa deer hunts, these “fly by nighters” are generally sons of farmers or farmers that simply don’t have the whitetail deer knowledge needed to consistently place you on trophy whitetail deer, much less know what to supply you with to make you successful during your Missouri deer hunt. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times. You might save a buck with one of these “wanna be” Missouri deer outfitters but you probably wont shoot a buck with them. As aforementioned it’s simply no fun to wait all year long and arrive at a camp only to realize you’ve wasted your money. It’s one thing to book with a credible outfitter and run into bad weather or watch other hunters be successful around you while your experiencing bad luck, its far different to walk into a Missouri deer outfitter and watch the whole camp crash and burn due to a lack of experience the outfitter possess’s.

Having been a whitetail outfitter for 13 years I can honestly say in the first couple to three years I was in business I felt my way around the dark room of outfitting. In the early stages of my outfitting career I didn’t know what I was doing. It has taken 13 years of refining our program which has resulted in our business receiving many outdoor industry awards, the accumulation of outdoor accolades, the production of higher and higher success rates. I learn something new every year. Most Missouri deer outfitters are still in the early stages of learning how to provide a good Missouri deer hunt. At this point I wouldn’t even consider any other Missouri deer hunt than with IMB Outfitters. No matter if the opposing hunt is lower or higher in cost. Outfitted hunts are one thing that the price doesn’t always reflect the quality. For example a couple years ago I turned down the leasing of a farm in Pike County Illinois where we provide Illinois deer hunts because I didn’t think the property was good enough for our program. Two days later another Illinois deer outfitter leased the property. That Illinois deer outfitter’s prices were much higher than ours. To think the property they were running hunts on was too inferior for me to consider. Also their lodge was not near as nice as ours nor did they possess as much property as us.

Our Missouri deer hunts range in price from $2250 to $3500 which includes lodging at a near 4 Starr Facility. Prices are dependent upon what date and weapon you wish to utilize. You may visit our Missouri deer hunts at

Nebraska Deer Hunts

Nebraska deer hunts are also one of the best kept secrets in the whitetail world. Remember Nebraska is bordered by Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. Nebraska deer hunting is surrounded by reknown whitetail states and is often times overlooked. I recall the first time a Nebraska landowner phoned me and ask me to consider providing hunters with Nebraska deer hunts. I wasn’t particularly “moved” by the opportunity but tried to keep an open mind. After I walked the ground out I literally sat on a creek bank scratching my head thinking, “Nebraska deer hunting is great.” I thought to myself, “I’m gonna be a Nebraska deer outfitter also.”

Nebraska deer hunts offer two types of terrain, both of which have produced extremely large trophy bucks. Some Nebraska deer hunting terrain is located in plush crop planted river bottom property that looks a lot like Illinois or Missouri. The second type of Nebraska deer hunt terrain is located in what we call “hill country” which looks a lot like Texas or Oklahoma. In either type of Nebraska terrain we are on very large deer. We consistently harvest 170 inch and better bucks. Why? The State of Nebraska Parks and Wildlife had never allowed non resident gun hunting prior to 2005. Because of this the bucks simply haven’t had the pressure on them to thin them out. Therefore many Boone and Crockett Bucks await you on your Nebraska deer hunt, however no Nebraska deer outfitter or no outfitter for that matter can guarantee you’ll harvest a Booner. (A buck over 170 inches.)

Nebraska deer hunts are not of high quality throughout the entire State as the terrain of the State drastically changes the further west you get. The best Nebraska deer hunts are located in the extreme South Central portion of the State. This is simply an undiscovered area which someday will be much more popular as hunters discover it, but for now the Nebraska deer hunts and Nebraska deer outfitters are somewhat scare but hold a secrete in quality which should be your motivating factor in giving a credible Nebraska deer outfitter a try.

Nebraska deer outfitters are few and far between, unless you get out in the Western half of the State where the whitetail hunting is very weak. This is a region where I don’t even know of any other Nebraska deer outfitters in our area, giving us first choice of the best properties. That is our Nebraska deer hunts have produced success rates that are simply unbelievable, and our Nebraska deer hunts regularly provide our hunters with Boone and Crockett encounters, especially during the rut dates. Nebraska deer hunt tags are easy to obtain on the internet and can be statewide or area specific.

When a hunter phones our office to book a whitetail hunt very few mention our Nebraska deer hunts. Everyone normally wants Pike County Illinois deer hunts or Iowa deer hunts. Our Nebraska deerhunters love this. In fact I had one of our Nebraska hunters turn to me this year and humorously told me not to be telling our hunters just how great Nebraska deer hunts are. Nebraska offers rifle hunting during the peak of the rut, making the firearms hunts hard to beat.

Our Nebraska deer hunts range in price from $2250 to $3500 which includes lodging at a brand new hotel with meal tickets at a very nice restaurant nearby. The prices are all inclusive of the hunt, meals, and lodging. Nebraska deer hunts are dependent upon what date and weapon you wish to utilize. You may visit our Nebraska deer hunts at

Kansas Deer Hunts

The State of Kansas is my least favorite of all the States we outfit. While I love Kansas turkey hunting it honestly seems Kansas can be an “all or nothing” hunt. Kansas as a whole is not a State that holds big whitetails throughout. Only a couple small regions produce the majority of its entries in the Boone and Crockett Record Books. It always seems when your around a group of hunters talking “whitetail” someone starts telling Kansas deer hunt stories. They talk about 190 inch deer they saw but never harvested. I always try to be honest so rather than try and convince you to book a Kansas deer hunt with us I would tell you that in Kansas very few farms hold big areas of timber. Therefore deer are isolated in small draws or laying in wide open CRP fields. One of the smartest things I’ve heard Myles Keller (The man who has killed more trophy whitetails than any other hunter in history) said is you must be able to travel to and from stand locations without being detected. Kansas deer hunts don’t afford you this opportunity. Kansas deer seem to setup for bedding at vantage points wherein they spot you before you get to the stand. That’s why you here the Kansas deer hunt stories about what the hunter saw, but didn’t kill.

Kansas is just a hard State to hunt whitetail deer in…………..PERIOD.

If in fact your sold on Kansas deer hunts and you want to give it a poke, the good news is that in 13 years of business we have only hunted a half a dozen hunters in Kansas total. This means Kansas deer receive very little pressure and may mean our Kansas deer hunts hold bigger whitetail bucks.

IMB Outfitters is located in Zone 1 of Kansas on the Northeastern border of the State.

Our Kansas deer hunts range in price from $2250 to $3500 which includes lodging at a hotel with meal tickets at a very nice restaurant nearby. The prices are all inclusive of the hunt, meals, and lodging. Kansas deer hunts are dependent upon what date and weapon you wish to utilize. You may visit our Kansas deer hunts at

Needless to say the greatest areas to consistently harvest trophy bucks is the Midwest. Illinois deer hunts, Missouri deer hunts, Iowa deer hunts, Nebraska deer hunts, and Kansas deer hunts are your best shot at taking down the buck of a lifetime. Don’t skimp and end up on a wild goose chase with some fly by night outfitter. Cutting curbs on a trophy whitetail hunt normally will cost you during your outing. Book with the Best in the Midwest………IMB Outfitters.

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