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Pike County, Illinois Dreamin

Pike County, Illinois “Dream ’in”
By Tony May

Most Hunters have two things in common. They include hunting and good music. One might associate the title of this article with the hit single from the “Mamma’s and the Poppa’s.”
The Song, “California Dream ’in”. The lyrics state : “I can see the leaves are brown and the sky is grey. California dream‘in on such a winters day.”
Myself, if the leaves are brown and the sky is grey, the only place that I wanna be is good ole Pike County, Illinois.
As a whitetail deer enthusiast and a hunting guide you tend to travel all over the United States. Not only chasing whitetail deer but all sorts of big game. That would include elk , black bear, mule deer, big cats and the wild turkey..
Before I was a whitetail deer guide , I was a elk hunting guide in Colorado. I remember my first year guiding for elk in the Rocky Mountains. I was a young man in the Rockies for the first time. It was a whole new world to a backwoods redneck from Pennsylvania. I cant even begin to explain the emotions that one experiences, the first time that he steps foot in the Rockies. The Colorado Rocky Mountains, the first time you have ever step foot on the ground, bugling bulls and a redneck from Pennsylvania.. Are you feeling it yet? I remember thinking to myself , pinch me as I must be dreaming. At that point, I was in love! It also made me wanna think about calling my wife and telling it I wasn’t going to be coming home. My better judgment later in the guiding season made me reconsider the situation . Must have been the most serene location that God ever created on the planet. Words just cant describe what I felt out there on a cliff with my 10X52 Nikon’s bino’s glued to my eye lids.
After a few years went by guiding in the Rockies, I started to get a deep desire to hunt and guide whitetails again. Bowhunting whitetail deer was my first love. Guiding took a back seat for a year to bow hunt whitetails in PA again.
Back in PA bow hunting whitetails was great. But something was missing.
I’m sure you all heard the phrase called, “A piece of the puzzle was missing.” I found that to be my position. I couldn’t figure it out. My mind was in PA bow hunting whitetails but my heart was in the Rockies Mountains.
One night while surfing the internet looking at whitetail deer hunts I came across a web site for IMB Outfitters. At the bottom of the web site was a icon for employment. I thought, “What the heck, its guiding, and its whitetail deer, but in no way could it ever be as good as the Rocky Mountains.” My secondary thought was, “You’ll like IMB Outfitters because they are the best whitetail outfitter in the country.” I filled the application out, and sent it in for review, thinking that nothing will every come of it. The next day the phone rang. IMB Outfitters was responding to my application. My interview took place via telephone. I recall that night at the dinner table my wife ask me why I was so quiet. I told her about the interview, and right off the bat she told me to go work for IMB Outfitters. I thought to myself , I am fortunate to have such a supportivfe wife and also thought, “I wonder if by being away from home for a couple months willl damage my relationship.” I have to admit I was fearful at first. She told me that I was the most miserable person to live with since I stopped guiding. She told me to go fulfill my dreams of being employed in the hunt industry. That’s all I had to hear. I accepted the position and packed my guiding gear. I found it to be challenging and fun.
I guided in all the states that IMB Outfitters had to offer, which include Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, but had not guided for IMB in Pike County, Illinois until 2006. The following year I got moved to Pike County, Illinois to guide the whole season. Despite having a great time employed at IMB I still looked upon the Rocky Mountains as my most coveted location on the planet Earth.
I had read alot of the hunting articles on Pike County, Illinois deer hunting over the last decade, and heard all the talk from the hunters, the TV shows, etc. but what I discovered was beyond my wildest dreams. Upon my arrival unto the IMB Outfitters Illinois Division I was greeted by one of my fellow guides, and a four year veteran in guiding in the state of Illinois. His name was Tyler Evans. After a few rounds of Pike County, Illinois deer hunting stories, Tyler had me “jacked up” to go and do some scouting on some of IMB Outfitters leased ground in Pike County, Illinois.. We were at one property for one hour and forty five minutes and he showed me 9 Boone & Crocket bucks. Those numbers didn’t even include the other bucks on the other properties that we viewed. I looked over to Tyler and ask him to use his cell phone. I called Darrin Bradley, the Owner of IMB Outfitters, and told him that if he ever took me out of Pike County, Illinois that I would quit. Since then, I don’t think about the Rocky Mountains anymore.
From Pennsylvania to the Pike County Line in Illinois is about 12 ½ hours. When traveling West on Interstate 72 through Illinois. Roll your truck window down any where, smell the air, and look at the terrain. Do it 2 or 3 times if you have to. Once you cross the Illinois river look at the big rock wall North of the Interstate. Their will be a highway sign that reads “Pike County, Illinois.” At this point you’ll need to roll your truck window down again, as well as look at the terrain. I guarantee the environment will smell and look totally different. At that very moment I feel a burst of sunshine in my chest. A warm feeling inside. I’m breathing Pike County Illinois air, and looking at the finest whitetail habitat in the world. I’m feeling like a ten year old again and I just got that new BMX dirt bike from Santa Claus under the Christmas tree. Don’t be surprised if 5 miles down the road a Monster whitetail deer runs across the road in front of you off of IMB Outfitters ground. Don’t worry we have the other side of the road leased to. If you are coming to hunt with IMB there is a good chance that you will see him or one like him during the course of your hunt with IMB.
Hunting in Pike County Illinois is some what strange to most people for the first time. At the lodge, prior to your first outing I have witnessed veteran bow hunters get buck fever without even leaving the lodge parking lot yet. When I see that look in their eyes I always ask “What’s wrong?” They often reply, “Ive been dreaming of hunting Pike County, Illinois for years. The articles, the TV shows, the other hunters we have spoken to. Is it all true?” The answer is a simple, “Yes.”
Pike County Illinois is and always will be legendary. The sky looks like a pearl after a rain, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, etc. In a moments notice a twig snaps behind you, and the buck of your dreams waltzes within weapon range. Your heart races, your leg shakes, as your arrow or bullet finds its way to the end of the rainbow. He falls over after a short gallup as you realize your monster buck is laying before you. In Pike County, Illinois dreams do come true. Pike County Illinois is the Super Bowl of Whitetail Deer Hunting..
After you return to the lodge and get a warm meal, your head hits the pillow to ponder on the days events. When you wake up at IMB Outfitters the next morning walk outside onto the porch and take a big whiff of that Pike County Illinois air. Look off into the landscape. Its unimaginable. Its something you can’t bottle up and take home. Its something you have to experience if you’re a trophy whitetail deer hunter.
Pike County, Illinois Dream ‘in {on such a winters day}

Tony May

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