Five Heartland Lodge Activities to Take to Heart

heartland lodge

Be it upland birds, waterfowl or even trophy whitetail deer, there are certainly a lot of ways you can immerse yourself in world-class hunting at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. However, one of the things that makes this western Illinois resort so special is the number of non-hunting opportunities that can be integrated into your visit. In fact, the extensive gamut of activities makes Heartland a great place to bring your spouse or perhaps even the entire family. Whether you go solo or book a luxury suite or cabin for the fam, here are a few ways to ratchet up the enjoyment of a trip to Heartland.

Experience the Mighty Mississippi

The Mississippi River is the main flowage of America’s largest watershed. Paul Robeson sang about it, Mark Twain wrote about it and the Spanish and British empires arm wrestled over it. It’s definitely worth a quick look-see, and the Great River National Wildlife Refuge (25 minutes west of the lodge) is a great place to do it. Build in a little extra time on your way to or from the lodge to check out this bastion of American geographical and cultural history.

Take In a Story

Heartland owner Gary Harpole is an extremely attentive fellow. As such, he spends a good portion of each day at the lodge, including visits with guests in the communal spaces. Gary is a great raconteur who can make even the mundane seem interesting. Get him talking about one of his Alaska trips or the story about how Heartland Lodge was conceived, and you’re in for a real treat.

Whitetail deer buck

Spy a Monster Buck

Heartland is located in Pike County, which is considered by many deer hunters to be the best county in America for trophy whitetail bucks. Huge-racked deer abound, which explains why the lodge is actually more famous for its big-buck hunting than its wingshooting. Keep your eyes peeled while riding the back roads to and from the bird fields (or waterfowl blinds), and you just might glimpse the largest deer you’ve ever seen.

Go for a Ride

Some folks never tire of walking up gamebirds. Others eventually do. If you find yourself in the latter group while at Heartland but still want to partake in the outdoors, sign up for a couple of hours of ATV or side-by-side riding on the property’s many miles of scenic trails. It is guaranteed to be both fun and easy on the legs. Just be ready to brake for those aforementioned deer.

“Firepit” Like a Champ

It’s early evening. You‘ve logged a great day of bird hunting and followed it up with a prime-rib feast in the Heartland dining room. Could it get any better? It could if you grabbed a nightcap and settled in by an outdoor fire for an hour or two before hitting the sack. Stocked with comfy chairs, plenty of firewood and all the chocolate, marshmallows and crackers necessary to make s’mores, Heartland’s firepit area is the perfect way to end the perfect day.

Harpole’s Heartland Lodge is a full-service Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Lodge. To learn more or make a reservation, call 800-717-4868, email or visit

Heartland Lodge Luxury Suite

Photographs courtesy of Harpole’s Heartland Lodge and Pixabay.

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